Matthew Continetti, writing for the Washington Free Beacon:
Remember when President Barack Obama was likable? Once upon a time the public viewed the incumbent more favorably than his challenger by large margins. These days Obama’s favorable and unfavorable ratings are similar to Mitt Romney’s. The televised debates have unveiled the current administration as alternately listless, manic, angry, soporific, rude, bullying, aloof, and thin-skinned. Americans who have just begun to tune into the election are seeing the president unmediated. They no longer are looking at him through the scrim of fawning press, majestic settings, and roaring crowds. And they are discovering that Obama is not so likable at all. He is actually something of ajerk.
Those who read coverage of the Obama administration closely will have known this for a long time: The president is cold, abstract, prickly, and insular. His brand of cerebral partisanship is better suited for liberal blogging than for leading the free world. He doesn’t enjoy interacting with strangers or even with associates outside his immediate clique. He has few close friends. He relies on about half a dozen senior advisers. His impromptu speech is given to cutting, sarcastic remarks.
Put him in front of an adoring and obsequious audience and he will be charming and suave. But the real Obama is revealed the second you remove the klieg lights. This isn’t a guy who will spend his post-presidency more or less running the Democratic Party, a la President Bill Clinton. Obama will spend his retirement as a solitary member of the irritable left, receiving honorary degrees, appearing on MSNBC, and scribbling for Salon.
The president’s unsociability is one of those obvious facts that are conveniently overlooked. Earlier this week Neera Tanden, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress, caused a mini-controversy whenNew York magazine quoted her saying, “Obama doesn’t call anyone, and he’s not close to almost anyone. It’s stunning that he’s in politics, because he really doesn’t like people.” Tanden, who has worked for Obama, later “clarified” her remarks. What she meant to say, she tweeted, was that Obama “is a private person.” Note, however, that one can be a private person and still not “like people.” Tanden did not really take back her words. Nor should she. Her initial comments were factual and honest.
Whole thing here.