On my book "tour" to promote my new book, "The Great Destroyer," hosts keep asking me to explain how President Obama can maintain high personal approval ratings when his policies are unpopular and his record is abysmal.
I first want to challenge the underlying assumption. I don't believe that President Obama is as well-liked or, at this point, even as likable as he is reputed to be. He hasn't behaved in office as a person most would consider "likable."
Assuming these polls are being accurately reported, I tend to think that many people are responding favorably to the question of whether they like Obama personally largely because the media narrative has been and remains that he is likable.
When the media keep pounding us with the notion that he is likable, people may fear they are revealing their own personal failings if they confess that they aren't particularly fond of him. It could make them look out of step or expose them as negative people.
People are much likelier to be candid in the privacy of the polling booth, but even if I'm wrong about this, I don't believe that people will allow their personal fondness for Obama to outweigh their assessment of the disastrous consequences of his policies, which are far more relevant to their lives and to their children's future than their personal opinion of his likability.
So what about his behavior and his demeanor supports the media narrative that he is eminently likable?
From the outset, the media have portrayed Obama as a uniter, a post-partisan, a man who wants to bring us together as one as he ushers in his new era of hope and change for America. Even after more than a year of his intentionally divisive and hyper-partisan behavior, they were depicting him as a man committed to conciliation and compromise.
In fact, at one point, as I chronicle in my book, the media reported that Obama and his advisers had made a conscious decision to change their approach to dealing with Republicans. Henceforth, Obama would be more combative, be more aggressive, be more partisan and take his case to the American people in stark terms, showing the dangerous contrast between his policies and those of Republicans.
This was after Obama had already engaged in incredibly divisive behavior by behaving as a bully toward his opponents and others he routinely singled out for vilification and treating Republicans as though they were not entitled to a seat at the table of government.