by Rob Schwarzwalder
January 23, 2014
A new Associated Press-GfK poll on President Obama finds that “while (President) Obama’s likeability numbers have recovered somewhat, doubts about his decisiveness and honesty persist. More than half of Americans wouldn’t describe him as decisive or honest. Fifty-two percent don’t find him particularly inspiring.”
Yikes. “Taking stock of President Barack Obama at the five-year mark in his term, less than a third of Americans consider him to be an above-average chief executive. Nearly twice as many find him likable,” the study finds.
A couple of years ago I wrote a column on likeability and politics. My comment then: “Character counts far more than likeability. A person can be winsome, charismatic, and funny, and also be a serial adulterer.” Or a chronic liar.
No president has an easy time in the Oval Office. The stresses and demands inherent in the job of being leader of the free world are enormous. On any given day, a president has to engage with a host of frequently unrelated issues.
Additionally, every president has flaws, character and managerial and philosophical. Expecting perfection or exact consistency of anyone is a standard no one can meet.
But we have a right to expect bedrock honesty and intentionality of purpose from the leader of the country. Telling falsehoods (“if you like your doctor and your health insurance, you can keep them”) and repeatedly splitting the difference on critical policy matters represent a failure of leadership.
Indecision and a lack of integrity are not character qualities we need in a President. As one’s character is capable of change, let’s hope (and, more importantly, pray) Mr. Obama will determine to be a person of honesty and wise and certain judgment in his final years in office.