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February 7th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Why is Pres. Obama a polarizing figure?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has the most polarized approval ratings for a second-year president since Dwight Eisenhower.

A new Gallup Poll shows 81% of Democrats and 13% of Republicans approved of the job Mr. Obama was doing as president during his second year.

This 68-point gap is up from a 65-point gap during Mr. Obama's first year as president. That was also a record.

Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are the only other presidents who had gaps of at least 50 points between party approvals by their second year in office.

This isn't to say that Mr. Obama is the most polarizing president ever. That award goes to President George W. Bush. He had three years in office with a gap in party ratings that topped 70 points.

But Bush's earlier years in office were less polarizing - mostly due to the support he received after the 9/11 attacks.

As for President Obama, he arrived in Washington full of talk about unity and bipartisanship. And his initial approval ratings were among the highest for any post-World War II president. But Mr. Obama quickly lost most of the Republican support, while maintaining high ratings from Democrats.

It's worth pointing out that this isn't just about Pres. Obama. Our country seems to get more polarized every year. On average, nearly all of the presidents since Reagan have more polarized ratings than those before him.

And we can probably thank hyper-partisan news on cable, the Internet, and talk radio for some of the growing divide.

Here’s my question to you: Why is President Obama such a polarizing figure?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Michele writes:
I blame the right wing media for throwing chaos into the mix by pumping the public with lies and manipulated information. I believe fear is their motive. Fear of this new guy who threatens to work for the middle and lower classes. And best of all is fear of the color of his skin. I really don't know how they sleep at night.

Paulo in Sheridan, Oregon writes:
Pres. Obama's polarizing effect is easily explained by the 80/20 Rule. 80% of Republicans and right-wing media blowhards expected Obama to clean up Bush's mess within 20 months. The remainder, like Limbaugh and Beck, expected it within 20 minutes.

Seth writes:
Egocentric attitude on display. His answer to O'Reilly's question yesterday asking what was the "worst thing about the job". Instead of the obvious...visiting wounded warriors, meeting parents of soldiers killed in action, etc., he said it was being in a bubble where the couldn't do things like have a regular conversation because everything he says is analyzed, critiqued, reviewed. etc. Self-absorption is a polarizing characteristic.

Paul writes:
I think the majority of Americans are center-right. I believe most people don't agree with President Obama's policies. The direction he would like to take our country in is not in step with most Americans.

Dave in Phoenix, Arizona writes:
I don't think he is. I think FOX News makes him out to be.

Richard in Kansas writes:
Because he is an intelligent black man who also represents the changing demographics and cultural identity of the country. And that scares the hell out of a lot of white people.

Maje in Vancouver writes:
It's not that President Obama is polarizing, it's that the country is bi-polar: Republicans-Democrats, Christian Right-Everyone else, folks who like Sarah Palin-folks with brains, kids who are naughty-kids who are nice. If Santa Claus was in the Oval Office, his polls would be evenly split.


Filed under: President Barack Obama
soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. Jayne

    Any Democrat would be polarizing and any Republican would be polarizing. That's the climate these days. Black and white, no gray.

    February 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  2. Jon Campbell

    Come on Jack! Are you forgetting how "polarizing" GW Bush was? Obama is doing exactly as he should be doing. He is the one person I would want in the room with me when it is time to make a big decision. Can you imagine Palin or Bachmann in that same room?

    February 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  3. Varick Janbazian: New York, NY

    It's the same reason why Bush was such a polarizing figure. The bottom line is fundamentally they don't differ in the policies they've set forth. The problem is the left and the right are too brainwashed to see it nothing more than a Dem v. Rep issue. The real issue is that Obama, like Bush is just a front for big corporations. No left, no right, no jobs, no money. Just a struggling lower and middle class with a gap further widening between them and the rich.

    February 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  4. roseann

    Because the republicans can not just disagree they demonize their political opponents..They started trashing him as his feet hit the ground..they act like spoiled children who lost a game..they will not even stand up and tell the truth to their peeps about our president..you know like how he is a united states born citizen or how he isn't a socialist..instead they stand up and lie and let the right wing nuts carry on with their stupid conspiracy theories..That is why Jack.
    new hope,pa.

    February 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  5. scott

    i thank we all know why,all Presidents have had there problems.but the other element is his race.all the haters from top to bottom have came out, want give the man who has the world problems to deal with a break..divided we fall.use to watch until his election campaign

    February 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  6. Wilson Caliz

    Jack first and foremost he is the First Minority to become President of the United States
    Second he has taken certain challenges that have polarized our nation even before he took office and he has done well on some and not so well on others

    February 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Joe R - Houston, TX

    President Obama is such a polarizing figure simply because his philosophy is the polar opposite of that held by the founders of our country, the concept of self ownership, state sovereignty and freedom in general.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Alice

    It's truly hard for one man or person to try to make a change when no one wants to listen or wants them to succeed. In President Obama case, he is a careful person who looks at both views and tries to satisfy everyone. It’s not going to happen when we have too many personalities in Congress. Stop trying to please everyone and do what you think is right for the American people.

    Congress need to stop worrying about elections and do what you can do for the people (not these big businesses that is hurting the people) while you are in office.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  9. EBC

    Geez, Jack...

    Every President is a POLARIZING figure. Obama is NOT the first and he certainly won't be the last. I love how the media spins things to boosts their own rating!!! Nice try Jack!

    February 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  10. John from Alabama

    Jack: The reason you liked President Obama was because he reminded you of President Kennedy. President Kennedy was either loved or disliked. The same is true of President Obama an his personality. People either love President Obama or they plot his defeat in the next election. All I know is that he 1000% better than George W. Bush.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Pisher from Harrisburg

    President Obama is not a polarizing figure. It is polarizing figures and the media who profit from making him so. Obama brought this country together with his candidacy. Americans want him to succeed and this polarizes the press and the opposition parties who seek to pounce on his every move. He is a good man tackling difficult issues and seeks to be a consensus builders. Talking heads and pundits and opposition leaders will not allow that and so they rip at him like jackals and vultures. It is they who are the polarizing figures, not President Obama.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  12. Richard, in Kansas

    Because he is an intelligent black man who also represents the changing demographics and cultural identity of the country. And that scares the hell out of a lot of white people.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  13. Ray in Knoxville

    Jack, when President Clinton was elected, the fairly new right wing propaganda machine that was talk radio launched a series of attacks on his character, his politics and his wife. 16 years later, they are doing the same thing to President Obama, only now you can add the color of his skin into the equation. The right will deny it, but as a white man, born and bred in the south, I hear it every day.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  14. Mike in Toronto

    Jack

    It's likely because there is a clear divide between those of us with compassion, intelligence, selflessness, vision and common sense with those that only think of themselves, their nature to be greedy, their arrogance as well as their limited country and world view.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  15. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Some people speak from the heart and you can just see in their eyes that they truly care. To me he is one of the few people in Washington that cares about our future as a country.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  16. Bradley, Portland, OR

    He's a polarizing figure because he talks like a Democrat but rules like a Republican.

    The Democrats are disappointed by his actions, or lack thereof, and the Republicans don't like the things he says in his speeches, even as he gives them nonstop tax cuts and a health insurance reform plan that was developed in the mid-1990s by Republicans like Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich as an alternative to "Hillary Care."

    So nobody's happy.

    February 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  17. Mike in Toronto

    Jack

    It's likely because there is a clear and definate divide between those of us with compassion, intelligence, vision the ability to look at the bigger picture with some common sense with those that are narrow minded, have difficulty moving beyond the past with a great deal of arrogance and a sense of entitlement and a willlingness to tell others how to live their lives without any appreciation for everything good that government does for them.

    It's not President Obama that is polarizing Jack. Your looking at the wrong side.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  18. David of Alexandria VA

    I guess I've never learned how to trust him. He spent two years villifying business and hugging the unions, now he's all about making up with business and snubbing the unions. When he syas things like "I'm going to fix immigration," I have no idea whether he's going to deport everyone or give them amensty. With his imprecision and crowd-pleasing oratory style, he can't help but mightily disappoint someone

    February 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  19. Greg in Arkansas

    Obama offers practical solutions that address complex problems where as voters are used to simple political slogans that identify general problems.

    Many people are not capable of understanding the "big picture" so they prefer the answers fit on bumper stickers or within 30 second sound bites.

    In this day and age of electronic-instant-information, people are too lazy to research an issue for the facts and instead, rely on media-talking-heads to tell them what they want to hear.

    Contest and confrontation SELLS in the media marketplace, if there were no 'polarization', you....Jack....wouldn't have a question today....and maybe you could take another day off to think of a Palin question to ask.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  20. Maje, Vancouver, British Columbia

    It's not that President Obama is polarizing, it's that the country is bi-polar: Republicans–Democrats, Christian Right–Everyone else, folks who like Sarah Palin–folks with brains, kids who are naughty–kids who are nice. If North Polar Santa Claus was in the oval office his polls would be evenly split.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  21. Frank in Indiana

    Its not President Obama, its the GOP.

    Ever since Newt was elected, they have done everything to get and stay in power. Lie, cheat, steal, rig the system. From the State of Texas to the US Supreme Court, the GOP is all for corporations.

    That is money and power running to Wall Street, Jack. Read your US history, corporations are always corrupt and there are swindlers who will always steal from the taxpayers. Its GOP, Inc.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  22. Peg from N.Y.

    It is due to the fact that he is very much misunderstood. People claim he is more guarded as a person, now that he is President. That fact comes with his job.

    People need to listen well before flip comments become the news of the day.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  23. Barbara Leavitt

    I believe it's because he talks about peace and regardless of what the Conservatives say..............not only do the American people want peace so do the rest of the people of the world. That's why people all over were so excited about his getting elected.

    Henderson Nevada

    February 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  24. Paul, Parry Sound, Ontario

    Why is President Obama such a polarizing figure? Well, he is and he isn't.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  25. Conor in Chicago

    I often wonder if it is because of his name. Would people freak out so much about the guy if his name was Fredrick Allen Templeton? Probably not.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  26. Mike in Denver

    President Obama often portrays himself as a Robin Hood-esque figure. Those that are on the receiving end love him, while those that he is taking things away from hate him. And let's face it, we all love a hand-out, but hate getting stuck with the bill.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  27. saad

    I'm write from my side about our foreign policy , example what happen in Egypt, the first day from the Egyptian revolution , mr/ Obama he teak Mubarak side from the first day , when untied state play in Mubarak side ,USA to stand on wrong side always we support to stand with people side because this is the right side ,when any thing happen the people they allows remember who stand with them and also the people never forget who stand with them in difficulty time.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  28. Cheryl in Bluffton, SC

    Most Americans like President Obama, Jack, but the media gives way too much attention to the crackpots who believe with all their hearts that he is a secret Muslim, Manchurian candidate, socialist, anti-American devil. I feel sorry for the half-dozen or so sane Republicans left in this country.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  29. Lady Lindy

    Our President is only a polarizing figure to those who either do NOT understand, or CHOOSE to not understand, that having a person as intelligent as Barack Obama as our President means that he listens to all sides of each issue and then makes the tough choices that are best for the majority of Americans. To the rest of us, he is just a damn good President and we are glad he is leading us (albiet slowly) out of this mess we're in.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  30. Andy in Vancouver, BC

    One word – misinformation. Right now, the left doesn't like him because he's not left enough, and the right doesn't like him because he isn't right enough. That alone should make him a moderate that should win over a lot of people. Instead, the constant drumbeat about secret muslim/radial/communist/etc. keeps playing on long after its been proven false.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  31. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    Conservative media was gunning (in the political sense) for him ever since he won the Democratic nomination just like they have trashed Hillary ever since her attempt at universal health care during the Clinton administration. According to the Rush/Coulter/Fox cabal all liberals are out to destroy America and now there is a liberal in the White House!

    February 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  32. Stephen Paul

    Jack at this point in time anyone in the Oval Office would be a polarizing figure. Neither Congress nor the President are addressing our significant issues at hand. The USA is still giving away billions to foreign countries while our people are financially hurting. The USA is printing money, giving it away as bonuses and the Vice President tells the "people" to "hang in there?" The big guys in the Congress want to dip into our social reform monies like SS, Medicare, Medicaid instead of cutting foreign aid, military waste, their own health care and retirements; is it any wonder the American people are very close to doing what the Egyptians have just done. It's bad out here and this discussion of one or two job points going up or down each day is a joke. We need a REAL leader, one who really "gets it" and cares about our people. I try to be upbeat but looking at the real data and the real government gives me a real pause!

    Steve

    Nashville, In

    February 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  33. Bill, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    Maybe because of after eight years of Bush. Makes president Obama look like a polarizing figure.

    February 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  34. Kyle S. Irvine, CA

    Well for starters, he is the first African American to be elected president, he displays charisma, youth, energy while speaking publicly, and he has a smile worth a million dollars. Most people like tall dark and handsome.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  35. katiec Pekin, IL

    The American people realize he wants to do what is best for us and our country. People are beginning to see through the hypocritical, fear mongering, false bill of goods the republicans sold them Why it took this long is a mystery as they have made no secret of supporting Wall
    St, big business over the welfare of us and our country.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  36. Sylvia from San Diego

    President Obama is a polarizing figure because he only cares about one thing....... HIS BIG EGO!!! With all of his rhetoric, he should consider joining the ministry as a preacher... I think the country would be better off....

    February 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  37. lou

    I think it speaks to the whole state of affairs in politics today. Some people really take their party too seriously. Go on any blog and it's filled with rants with people calling each other libtard and repukes. And they are dug in to their beliefs. Obama is just the guy in the eye of the storm.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  38. Curt in Avon, Indiana

    It's simple, Jack, republicans hate President Obama because he is black, highly intelligent and, you know, "uppity".

    February 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  39. Steve, Clifton, VA

    Jack

    As usual you have missed the point. President Obama is not the polarizing, it's the Republican party who spends multi millions of dollars to paint him as a polarizing figure. It is racism dressed in a tuxedo as opposed to a cheap suit.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  40. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    unfortunately, Jack, a LOT of it has to do with his RACE.

    there are just those in America that think the ONLY one qualified to be President of the United States is a "WASP" (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) Male who is a "Born Again" Christian. NO ONE ELSE may APPLY.

    and as you stated, you also have the ultra-right stoking the flames of hatred on a certain cable news channel (for sure NOT Cnn) AND so called "conservative" talk radio.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  41. Robert Slaven

    Obama is a polarizing figure for two reasons. One, too darn many Americans just can't get over the idea of someone non-white in the White House. And two, he's avoiding the culture wars fostered by the plutocrats to keep voters away from the realization that the GOP exists only to enable the rich and the corporations to keep stealing from the poor and middle class.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  42. Brandon

    I don't agree with everything he does, only some. To me that makes him the man in the middle. That is where I want my President to be.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  43. Loren, Chicago

    Because he was cast as a messiah, that he had the answers to all of our problems as a nation. No man can perform to those expectations. In any event, what we need is a candidate who accepts that our country is the best to begin with, and what it really needs is evening out the rough edges, no grand gestures, no big plans, just a government that gets the day-to-day done in a competent and efficient manner.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  44. Russ in PA

    Because the man is a typical progressive Democrat that can't learn to keep his hands off our rights, our freedoms, our money. Did he end the wars? No. Did he do anything to protect our rights? No. Did he fail to realise that the free market is the system that served as the means to raise the expectations and worth of countless millions of people? Yes.

    Really, what has he done to further the rights and freedoms of the average American? Nada...

    February 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  45. Paul Austin,Texas

    If for no reason at all he is the complete negative of the Palin way of thinking. He even seemed to make points with his O'riely interview Sunday prior to the game. This guy is just good.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  46. sharon

    First..........he thinks.
    Second ........he then acts.

    He does NOT jump then ask someone to throw him a "rove raft".

    February 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  47. Kim Smith

    We can thank the wrong-headed "politically correct" movement for planting the seeds of polarization. As this type of social manipulation gets taken to it's extreme, polarization becomes the final by-product.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  48. Paulo, Sheridan, Oregon

    President Obama's polarizing effect is easily explained by the 80/20 Rule. 80% of Republicans and right-wing media blowhards expect a Democratic president to fulfill his election promises with 20 months. The remainder, like Limbaugh and Beck, expect it in 20 minutes.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  49. THEJACK

    The real Question is why are the American people so polarizing?

    February 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  50. David

    I don’t know about polarizing but the president is intelligent and very cautious of his words and language. You don’t have to like or agree with all his decisions but the guy is smart and I am glad to have a real president for a change

    February 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  51. ken, atlantic city, nj

    Obama turned out to be a big disappointment. Everything was yes we can during the campaign now it is no we can't. All you hear from his corporate mouth is more tax breaks for the rich, more welfare for big corporations, more farm subsidies for big corporations, 0% loans for banks, more free trade, more job outsourcing, more hiring of illegals, more war, more home foreclosures ,more defense spending, more nuclear power plants, more oil wells, higher gasoline prices, and bigger deficits. If you believe in obama and you live on main street you are living in fantasy land.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  52. David from Herndon, VA

    Because the standard of living for 95% of the country is falling off the cliff, and people are looking for somebody, anybody to blame.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  53. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    bipartisan is always what people wish they would see from their government representative because people know the challenges faced by all! Polarization always happen more when there is a crisis that affects a lot of people at the same time! And these past two years have been filled with one crisis after another! Add to the mix with let's not forget the party of no at the time; which now the same party of no is called to govern from the election result. In the end, the President and government representatives had to make decisions and they did!

    When you add as you write the fact that hyper-partisan news on cable, the Internet, and talk radio contributes to some of the growing divide then we do know that people cannot make a clear opinion based on a few sound bites and or on the process from making decisions as it is mix with political games and does not reflect the real work done as people do work together!

    What counts is the President and elected officials did make decisions for the good of the country and the people.

    We can always look back and think : imagine how much more work would be done if we were to work together! And it is exactly what we saw happen in the lame duck session! Hopefully, it is to be continued from all!

    February 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  54. Ed from California

    To me he's not. Finally we have a decent man in the oval office. His handling of the economy (with no help at all from the FOX-plicans), our world standing with other nations, Tucson, Egypt, communicating with the American people have been outstanding. I don't get my news from one source, sorry Jack. You have to look both ways, listen and here's the hard part, be reasonable and use some common sense before you can come to a logical conclusion to some of today's and every-day's problems. I saw the "interview" yesterday with the President. FOX'News" should be embarrassed by that interview. That man was rude, and clearly has an agenda, and a narcissist. What's the factor? Rupert needs to wise up.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  55. Carolyn Shawgo

    I think it is because he is black and he has so much confidence, some people interpret that as arrogance. I have been fascinated to hear people talk about him and review their prejudice that they did not know they had. I am older and I am a person who asks a lot of questions so consequently I have had a chance to talk to a lot of people about this. We are moving as fast as we can and we will beat this prejudice view and he is a good person to be a person, not a black man, not a white man, a person just like you and me. Vancouver, WA

    February 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  56. honest John in Vermont

    Obama is a lot like garlic–either you love it or you can't stand it. Some want extra garlic and some want none.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  57. Stephanie

    The whole country is polarized on every issue, Jack. Why should it be any different for the views of thePresident?

    February 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  58. Paulo, Sheridan, Oregon

    President Obama's polarizing effect is easily explained by the 80/20 Rule. 80% of Republicans and right-wing media blowhards expected Obama to clean up Bush's mess within 20 months. The remainder, like Limbaugh and Beck, expected it within 20 minutes.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  59. Lee

    He's not; it’s just so many have left the reservation of their senses that all things normal seem polarizing to them. They are mad at Wall Street pay but call in socialism when one addresses the pay problem. They want democracy for Egypt but refuse to accept the outcomes of elections in other countries unless it fits their ideology. They trust nothing, want everything, blame everyone else, and they say it's President Obama that’s polarizing, give me a break...

    February 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  60. AzRose

    I believe it is the media more than anything with regard to Obama. He is more visible than most past Presidents, it seems he is always on TV and not just news channels. The View comes to mind, Much of it is his fault also, if he kept a lower profile he would not be nearly as polarizing as he is now. I think he enjoys the lime light too much.

    Rose
    Glendale, Az

    February 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  61. ted vetter

    Well Jack,
    Next to listening to W for 8 years, Obama looks like a brainiac.
    Looks, physical shape, speaking voice, youth, family man,
    education and commitment doesn't hurt.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  62. Joan

    No one believes him .... he's so full of baloney we can sense it through the TV. Our Demcorat neighborhood and us long time Dems say "never vote for him again".
    Joan
    Wi

    February 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  63. Joe of Kent Island

    President Obama landed in the White House during one of America's must divided and difficult periods in history. Congress has been at an all time low in credibility and action, so all eyes and hearts went out to a shinning new start to pull us out. Problem was, the presidential battle never ended in November, it continues today. Any move the president makes is a miscalculation to one side or the other of his own party.

    President Obama did not create the polarization, he walked into the forces laid out many years prior.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  64. JONIQUE

    President Obama is a polarizing figure because he cannot for the life of him ,look like the previous presidents. If he were white-anlo-saxon-protestant, he would rival the likes of John Kennedy, altho Kennedy was Catholic. I remeber how people hated Kennedy because he did not fit the WASP perception, poor man, he was Catholic.. however, many white Americans voted for these two. So America, there is still hope.
    from a white anlo saxon white intelligent woman who voted for JFK and Barack. In fact, I just received a beautiful card from My President and his family. so there you haters of Barack, smoke that in your pipe!

    February 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  65. Gordon NJ

    At a 2004 Veterans for John Kerry campaign event, one of our guys showed up with a life-size cut-out for George Bush as Hitler. We had a chuckle, but the head of our group immediately told him to pack it away. "You can disagree with the man, but you should always show respect for the office of the President of the United States." This was good grown-up advice that kept us from alienating the conservatives we were campaigning to. Where are the grown-ups in the Republican Party and the right wing media? Everything they say seems designed to drive Americans further apart.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  66. Anne

    With 24/7 cable news channels, everything that he does or says becomes news. I am surprised he hasn't been criticised for the brand of toliet paper he uses.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  67. Dee

    Democrats are so invested in having supported Obama, that they will gladly go down with the ship before they admit they made a mistake. Obama never had the experience needed to be the executive. Once he sat down and had to face the reality of the office, his decision making changed and he will never be able to admit how wrong he has been. Conservatives knew from the beginning he didn't know what he was doing and time is proving out the predicitons. If liberals were honest with themselves, they would admit that he has been such a failure. Hence, no polarization.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  68. Laura, Florence, KY

    Sadly I think part of it is racism and the rest of it is that he is actually trying to DO something instead of the status quo. He's not in the pockets of the "haves and the haves more" like W was and they can't stand it.

    President Obama is obviously an intelligent, thoughtful man. Too unlike his predecessor for the right's comfort.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  69. Gigi Oregon

    The only reason for the gap to me is...Republicans are too stubborn to give credit where credit is due. Or poor losers...they would die first rather than say any thing nice about the opposing party.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  70. AB

    This is nonsense Jack!! Every U.S. president is inherently a polarizing figure–some people will like him and some people will hate him. This comes with the position of being president. I am sure you have more important things to write and talk about than this crap.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  71. Scott Stodden

    Because He's All About Unity And Solving Problems And Getting The Job Done! He's Done So Much Since Taking Office Back In January Of 2009 Such As Pass Health Care, Financial Reform, Made Sure Kids Have Money To Get A College Education, ETC... He Has Goals As President And Has Pretty Much Done Everything He Said He Would Do! I Love President Obama He's My True American Idol!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    February 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  72. Valerie in Raleigh

    The Republicans have worked hard to make him a polarizing figure. And why? Because he's a Democrat, he is an African-American, he is trying to do well for the average American by putting the breaks on the underhanded activities to the R's to make the rich even richer and they feel only Republicans have the right to rule. After 8 years of the not-so-sharp GW Bush, an intelligent and educated black man now sits in the White House and it has sent the R's into a feeding frenzie. Keep at it Mr. Prez, you have my total support.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  73. Jim

    Jack,

    For exactly the same reason that Abe Lincoln was such a polarizing figure. He saw the nation in deep trouble, he tried to do something about it, a large segment of the population couldn't stand the idea of his actually succeeding in fixing the problems, so they devoted themselves 24/7 to demonizing him and propagandizing every good thing he tried to do. One more thing he'll have in common with Lincoln – a century from now he'll be remembered as one of our greatest, most courageous presidents.

    Jim
    Reno, Nevada

    February 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  74. Pete from Georgia

    Why ??
    He is an egotistical, elitist, theoretical "know everything" who, in fact, knows almost nothing of America, it's people, it's capitalist system and what make's it tick.
    Simply put....................he's not an "American". He's not even very good at pretending he is.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  75. Al Bode

    Palin's comments remind me of the inaneness of an old Humphrey Bogart
    line. Asked, "What kind of man was he?", his response was, "Just like any other man, only moreso." Her remarks are just like any of her other remarks, only moreso.

    Al Bode
    Charles City, Iowa

    February 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  76. Kevin of SD CA

    He is polarizing because he is an arrogant socialist who wants to spend the private sector working classes money on his welfare state mentality handout programs.

    Does it take genius to see that no one is putting government employ, and officials entitlements on the chopping block? Does it take genius to see that waivers are being given to Obama’s big corporate welfare friends while continuing to stick the working class with the bill for Obamacare, and government’s pensions, and entitlements?

    Take all the money going into government, and welfare handouts and put it into Social Security and Medicare. The media and government is just a bunch of thieves, and educated arrogant idiots that need to do the real sacrificing now instead of continuing to extort form the working class!

    We should be throwing out the bums here like they are doing in Egypt! Who gave these Dictators around the world billions? I’ll tell you who, it is a bunch of Ivy League Morons that have sold the USA out for the last 30-50 years! You get waht you reward! What you outflow you inflow!

    You don’t want to balance our budget, and keep our tax dollars, and jobs here then you need to find someplace else to live!

    February 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  77. Bill, South Texas

    Jack,

    Why is President Obama such a polarizing figure?

    He is bright, right as in correct, cares for people, would tax corporations and stop the billions they get in corporate welfare. But, they own the rest of the government,. He would ask billionaires to pay a fair income tax.

    But most Americans are not intellectually equipped to understand the issues so they hang on the media's emotional hate mongers one line lies and their propaganda which is bought and paid for by the Murdoch's of the world.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  78. Renee Peoria,Ill

    Are you sure polarizing is the right word? Sometimes I think GOP stands for grand old prejudice. Conservatives are the most likely to hang on to old ideas and notions in the name of tradition and the least likely to embrace anything new, even if it's right, and especially if it in any way threatens their world view. A black president may not be necessary but it's long past time we got over the concept that only white males can be president. No matter how good or bad of a president he ultimately turns out to be a lot of people just aren't ready to give up that old prejudice. They're afraid it might lead to giving up other prejudices (i.e. gays, people of other religions, ethnic groups etc.)

    February 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  79. Vivian Hansten

    Lots of difficult decisions to make and methods of solving things, make for polarizing opinions, but the real thing, I think, is racial prejudics. Alas.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  80. chris brown fl.

    i think its a matter of class not political affiliation he seems to be for the lower [There is no middle class] people. This makes the re-pubs nervous. He also Say's things that they are afraid to say. in short they fear him. He might start a movement where people care more about each other instead of the money you can make off them. Maybe he makes them look in the mirror

    February 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  81. A dieing American

    Because he is a Democrat. The two political parties are supposed to keep Americans divided. there is a reason for this and I think it was President Lincoln addressed it, something about a house divided cannot stand. Does "we will destroy you from within ring a bell"?

    February 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  82. Pat in Michigan

    In this economy God himself would be a polarizing figure. President Obama by all the hype was supposed to be his other son and solve
    all problems with the wave of his hand.Well it doesn't work that way and political hacks who make a living inflaming the public have a ready made scapegoat.
    they will tell you their ideas will save the country with a wave of their hand. It isn't going to happen with them either. so pick your poison.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  83. michele

    I blame the right wing media for throwing chaos into the mix. by pumping the public with lies and manipulated information.
    I believe fear is their motive. Fear of this new guy who threatens to work for the middle and lower classes....and best of all is fear of the color of his skin.
    I really don't know how they sleep at night.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  84. jim in Alabama

    Jack, Obama in and of himself is a polarizing fitgure to many due to his mixed race alone. When you add to that the fact that he has tried to push forward a progressive agenda, he's been met with lies, inuendo and misinformation about his agenda from the Republicans as well as total lack of coooperation. The Republicans have used fear tactics of socialism, communism, Muslim, and other lies to make sure that this president failed and so far, it's had a tremendous impact on the progress of this administration and this president. It's sad when so much information is out there and so many don't bother to research the facts about what Republicans are really trying to do before making a decision on who to vote for.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  85. John

    The composition of the republican party has greatly changed. They are not a party that has a vision regarding what it takes to tackle the problems that face our nation. Their only concern is to gain power so that they can construct the fantasy land concept they hold about the nation. And to be the water carriers for the large corporations and their paid agents. Instead of speaking of a better and brighter future, they play on people's fears and predjudice and steer backward toward a time that never really existed. The last 30 years have been tragic.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  86. Michael K (Baltimore MD)

    He doesn't so much react as think. People need action and flash. The bulk of the electorate have little or no patience with deliberate reason. They want viscera and this rational man does not play that game. Thank you, Mr President and the 2008 electorate!

    February 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  87. James

    Obama is polarizing because he's willing to take on the challenges that Republicans are afraid to. While the GOP would rather middle and lower income people went broke to pay for healthcare and insurance, Obama is willing to try to give people an equal shot at affordable healthcare. While the GOP would rather stick by big oil and see the planet deteriorate, Obama is looking to the green jobs and energy sources and of the future – wind, solar, fuel cell technology, etc. Perhaps if enough republicans grew a spine, they would realize that the president is trying to do right by the American people and Americas future and maybe they would try to do the same. Maybe, but I won't hold my breath on that one.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  88. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua

    People don't like making fools of themselves. The ones who screamed his Health Care reform would kill our Grandmothers, made fools of themselves. The ones who screamed bailing out our auto industry was a bad investment, made fools of themselves. Those who screamed he had no American birth certificate, made fools of themselves. On the other hand, folks who let him go ahead and be president, are looking pretty intelligent.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  89. Rajinder Goyal

    America is going through a period when there is more and more talk of conservatism. Extreme right wing republicans have given the impression that only conservative policies can work to rid the country of whatever problems it is facing. People should remember the laws of nature. As a physicist, I place great faith in the motion of a pendulum. It doesn't stay in the right or left position, but only in the center. Politics is much like a pendulum.

    President Obama has been following either 'to the left' policies, or lately, more centrist policies. So, there is a very clear divide between those on the right and those on the left. And that should explain why in the minds of most Americans, the President is a polarizing figure. Its not because what he is doing is wrong, but it doesn't satisfy the political instincts of most conservatives.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  90. JOhn .... Marlton, NJ

    Speaks out of both sides of his mouth ... Deep pat heart he is a extremist organizer selling his role as robin hood and at the same time 'parading' around as a central figure

    February 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  91. Paul from Madison WI

    Obama is a polarizing figure because we are polarized as a nation. We don't want to know or even care what he thinks or even of his experience. He was asked what is most difficult about the job as president but was criticized because he didn't give the answer that he was supposed to give. Why ask a question if you already have decided the answer? I understand about the bubble and respect the answer. It complicates every part of the job including knowing the real and difficult consequences of his decisions of participating in a war knowing young people will be put in harms way and pay the ulitmate price. When we decide to stop playing games as a nation we might actually get some things done that are worth while. For that to happen we have be able to have honest communication.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  92. Mike in St. Paul

    Because he is an academic and an intellectual. The people that feel polarized are the ones who vote for candidates because they would like to have a beer with them, or they too have kids who play hockey, or the candidate in question validate these polarized voters by referring to them as "more American" (Sarah Palin) or "normal" (Michelle Bachmann).

    February 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  93. Paul P.

    President Obama is a victim of circumstances. In such a critical economic and political time where Americans security feels threatened, where some are beginning to reassess their place and standing in the world, a black President comes along with an odd sounding name and some progressive ideas which brings out the worst fears in some, and those feelings are spread quickly and widely nowadays. It all boils down to fear, Jack.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  94. Ron in Ohio

    Jack, President Obama is a polarizing figure because that is what the Republicans try to make him. They want more power. One could ask if they are better off under Republican rule. Hmm. Seems they do everything against citizens while fooling too many to believe what they say. Their goal is to win back the White House, not serve people, so they aim at the President every opportunity. Case in point, the determined effort to take away health care improvement from the people. So, the GOP and their unruly children, the Tea Party polarize all they can.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  95. hank tioga,pa

    Lies and half truths will always come back to haught the individual that broadcasts them,as with obama.He has lost credibility and at times shows leanings toward racism. People can't trust a person with these characteristics

    February 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  96. Gerry luimes

    As a transformative president with exceptional and typical leadership skills that even have some prominent conservative Republicans caused to warm up to him,together with a super human attempt to repair a damaged economy, as well as the former lame Mc.Cain campaign to lampoon Obama as "The One-arrogant,vain,self important elitist it is no wonder that some people come to impossible conclusions,aided by certain media characters ready to shower sour grapes.
    gerry at edmonton.can

    February 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  97. Barbara L.

    The GOP was clobbered in 2008 and decided to follow a no-exceptions "Obama is a crazy socialist" line of rhetoric to keep the GOP from completely imploding. Dealing with the Great Recession, people were scared and open to believing extreme rhetoric. But, after two years and alot of progress on the economy, that line of extreme "half of country are communists" rhetoric is getting really tiresome and is starting to backfire. The independents are sick of extreme rhetoric and are looking for serious solutions to serious problems.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  98. Bruce Heinemann

    Obama is not a polarizing figure! Its true that the country is politically polarized and as the leader it all gets focused on him.

    He has an extraordinary intellect and vision, and despite the right wing rhetoric seeks to build consensus. If anybody is paying any attention, not cooperating in any way with Obama, even at the risk negatively impacting our country and its recovery, is the number 1 stated goal of the repubs...period. It is a real testament to his leadership skills that he has passed so much(important) legislation in spite of the obstructionist's all out efforts. Also, just in case nobody's paying attention, the repubs as a party and ideology are first, last, and always, utterly desperate for absolute power and control, by whatever means necessary to achieve their ends... think Nixon, think Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby....etc.

    Also throw in the fact that there is still, unfortunately a not insignificant portion of the population(descendants of the slave owners and their spiritual brethren) that are absolutely terrified of the thought of a president with the ethnicity of the slaves now running things(think Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Jeff, "watch how you talk to white people, boy" Sessions, Hailey Barbour, et al) and you will get a much more complete context for the very inaccurate assertion that Obama is polarizing. Its the haters and their lies that are polarizing.

    Try to wrap your head around that politicos!

    February 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  99. rick, salt lake city

    Its not the President that is polarizing, its our political landscape, you mentioned Regan,Clinton, and George Bush, politics have been so partisan since Regan and it has only got worse, due to media, passionate(hateful) redrick from both parties, and the way congress act like children with name calling, and mud slinging, they have help create the divide between parties, the President is the leader of the party so there easy to lable polorizing.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  100. hank tioga,pa

    Lies and half truths will always come back to haught the individual that broadcasts them,as with obama.He has lost credibility and at times shows leanings toward racism. People can't trust a person with these characteristics,thus the polarization

    February 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  101. Paul

    I think the majority of americans are center right. I believe most people don't agree with President Obama's policies. The direction he would like to take our country in is not in step with most americans.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  102. Mary Kay Kidwell

    President Obama is not polarizing us. We are polarizing ourselves. We have become a nation of mindless puppets, dancing to the tunes of loudmouths like Limbaugh, Beck, etc., who care only about sensationalism and ratings. In addition, our legislators behave like children who refuse to play by the rules and would rather whine: "If you don't play the game my way I'll take my marbles and go home."

    Mary
    Indiana

    February 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  103. Steven M

    It's not that Obama is a polarizing figure, but rather that the Republicans choose to polarize the public with propaganda about him.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  104. Bill Smith

    The issue is not President Obama. The question should be why are the Republicans such a polarizing party.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  105. Gary Cameron

    Who hasn't this man trashed? Oh, that would be the Imams.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  106. Kyle from Magdalena, NM

    President Obama is a polarizing figure because the republicans want to see him fail. Republicans dont make as much money if a Democrat is trrying to spread the wealth. When the House is Democratic again, you
    WILL see a gain in the economy.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  107. Gordon Gunderson

    Two reasons: One, he has taken positions far from the middle; we tend not to get excited about centrist figures. Two, he has personally exacerbated it by demonizing people like me - honest, concerned conservatives (who may on occasion watch FOX). Bottom line: He took his election and congressional control to mean he could say and do anything he wants. Oh, third reason: The most haughty, narcissitic President ever. Americans like humility, humor and authenticity. Like Ronald R. You sire, Mr. Obama, are no Reagan."

    February 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  108. laudyms

    Polarization is a ploy- a tactic to keep us distracted while multinational corporations loot America with the full collusion of both political parties. Globalization has produced an elite that no longer has real allegiance to the USA and which has subverted the democratic process. Once they suck us dry, they’ll just move on.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  109. George

    It's we Americans that have become polarizing,just ask anyone from around the world. Why would our leadership not reflect this.
    George
    Chester,Ct.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  110. Steven Zeledon, II

    That's easy, it is because so many Republicans are still carrying the remnants of Jim Crow disease.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  111. Ed Fertik

    Don't you get it yet Jack? Obamunists want socialism for our country and the rest of us don't. It's that simple.

    Ed
    Philmont NY

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  112. Carson

    Hi Jack,

    From a viewpoint north of your border I'd say because he IS a democrat and NOT a fundamentalist. Pretty simple really. The opposite would apply had the results 2 years ago been different.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  113. Doug

    we don't like our presidents to seem smarter than us, rather perversely. throw the whole "uppity/racist" issue into the mix, and you've neatly summed up the attitude of most of our misguided, easily hornswoggled republican white middle/lower middle class.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  114. Nandita

    Doesn't this tell more about our contry rather than about the President?
    The two parties are polarized because we have a person of color as our President. The poll should take this into consideration.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  115. Trudy Boxall

    I am a retired female medical professional, have live in the South all my life. I firmly believe the reason Obama is a polarizing figure is the unspoken racism in the entire country. It is not acceptable to use overt racial comments, so the criticisms are to sow doubt as to his validity and all his actions are suspect to this population in the country. It is NOT only in the South.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  116. Seth Brower

    Egocentric attitude on display. His answer to O'Reilly's question yesterday asking what was the "worst thing about the job". Instead of the obvious...visiting wounded warriors, meeting parents of soldiers killed in action, etc., he said it was "being in a bubble where the couldn't do things like have a regular conversation because everything he says is analyzed, critiqued, reviewed. etc. Self-absorption is a polarizing characteristic.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  117. Sherrie S. Cutler AIA /Boston

    Our President Obama is not polarizing. The media is polarizing with it's unrelenting, unfettered attention given to the truly polarizing figures like Palin, Beck and Limbaugh.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  118. Annie, Atlanta

    I don't see the President as being polarizing at all. But I do see the right wing radio and tv pundits sucking up all the oxygen trying to convince us that he is. But that's just me.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  119. Pat Bateman

    Simpole Jack.He always been a polarizing person Americans are just realizing that..His second term will even be better.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  120. Polly

    The media in particular you know who, has not let up since before Obama was elected on how "wrong" he is on everything from his birth to Egypt. That comes even though most of those goons know little or nothing about world issues in the first place.
    Every flock needs a sheep however and there are plenty of those in this country believing anything they are told.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  121. DA

    That's easy Jack. The answer is race. President Obama the black man gets normal president criticism and equal amounts of what black men in America get everyday. It's not surprising.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  122. Jim

    The one thing we know it isn't because of race or at least that's what they all say.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  123. Claudia

    Is Obama the polarizing figure or is it something else about him? Take a drive down south, Jack and you won't need to ask us.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  124. Brian

    Because when one party actually makes changes that are good for the majority of the country it is a threat to the party NOT in power. Certainly NOT what the party out of power wants!
    The better the job President Obama does, the more polarizing he will be...to the extreme right.
    Until they get the power back of course!

    February 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  125. J. Edwards

    He comes from a minority and leads the majority.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  126. Glenn Bell

    Glenn Bell (Fort Worth, Texas). Obama is polarizing because most Americans want a strong national defense and borders. Many question his alligence and christianty because he wrote in his book, "The Audacity of Hype, my bad I mean hope (lol)", that should the political winds change that he would side with the Muslims.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  127. Janet in Ohio

    I recently read that 18% of voters believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim. The combination of his race and lineage is too much for those parochial Americans who would prefer that we are all still living in 1952. Add to that the devasting economic results of the Bush Administration policies that he inherited . . . it's amazing that so many Americans are informed enough to understand how hard he is trying for all of us.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  128. JD Palatine

    Time to face the facts. He has been demonized even before he took office. He has been continuously attacked, even when the facts revealed like the 20 million a day trip. He is black.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  129. Sharon in Chicago

    Any Democrat is a "polarizing figure" when it comes to the Republicans. As we saw with Bill Clinton: They will contiually search for faults and continually oppose whatever ideas are put forth. The Republicans drove this country off a cliff and have been nothing but obstructive to eveything Obama has tried to do. Obama won the Presidency on a platform that included health care. He also inherited the biggest Republican-made mess possible. For Republicans to nit-pick every smal detail in any legislation, get a hoard of concessions in the final Bill, then continue to oppose it or try to repeal it is not only counterproductive, it is downright stupid, ekspecially when they have no constructive alternatives. If they do like something Obama proposes, they will continue to lock arms against it less he get any public recognition. Obama has, for the most part, either fulfilled his campaign promises or tried very hard to do so in the face of blanket opposition from Republicans no-matter-what. How any Republicans got elected in the last go-round is beyond me. It does not matter who the Democrat is, the Republicans with make him/her controversial, lying if the truth is no sufficient.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  130. Cathy in Alabama

    Jack, you talk about "hyper-partisan" news right after you have a Palin-bashing party on your own show? Why not ask what people think about Obama's constantly changing ideas on Egypt? Why not ask what people think about a high-ranking Democrat (Chuck Schumer) stating that the 3 branches of government are the House, the Senate, and the President?
    If Palin had said something like that you would have brought it up every day for months, but your OWN hyper-partisanship always makes sure that you read mainly liberal replies and ask questions that very often are intentionally stated to make Republicans look bad.
    Pot-kettle.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  131. Ashera, Canada

    Blogger-shpere; simple.....But, the party of 'NO," and those Democrats, fearing losing their $$$, from porky pig and lobby pigs. Only proves one thing; the me me give-va me and only me.....in both houses. Really do not give a, snow ball chance in hell; about the everyday citizen stiff and their family. But, trying to decipher between the lines, on what is true or lies; really has to defined clearly. Wikileaks and people who become whistle blowers; to reveal documents and details, fear of their lives. They are the heros. And, we the people must support them! And stop listening to just media hype, with the lost of substance.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  132. George Norrell

    I believe Obama's polarizing effect is due largely to the fact that a large portion of Americans were not really ready for the change he brought to the White House simply by being elected. Why else do we still suffer the ignorant rantings of the "Birthers" and outrageous statements from the "Cult of Rush"? If President Obama had been a white male there would not even be a Tea Party. We still have a long way to go as a nation.

    George
    Amarillo,TX

    February 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  133. Patrick in Mchigan

    because the republicans recognized right off, that Obama's intentions were to do the good for the American people that they had insisted for years couldn't be done. Republican's are afraid of someone that takes the middle class values to heart while they (Republicans) have there hands in the pockets of big money. He's ruining all the corruptness they've worked hard for years to establish

    February 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  134. Lydia D. York

    Jack: With all due respect, I can't believe you're asking such a stupid question. President Obama is "such a polarizing figure" (IF that's even true) because he's BLACK. There – I said it. You can dress it up, dance around it or sidestep it all you want – but, that's the sad truth.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  135. Rose

    Polarizing? No. President Obama has tried too hard to be nice and that has led to the Republicans to criticize everything he says or does. Once he accepts this is the way it will be, he will assert himself in the way his party has wanted from the start.
    He is a nice and gentleman and being mean is not in his DNA. After his first term, he will change and that will be the change he campaigned on.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  136. Ethan from Rosedale, NY

    Partly due to his race but greatly due to the hate filled rhetoric spewed by many right leaning media personalities. If a lot of news outlets were less bias and more objective, I believe this polarizing gap wouldn't be as great due to people actually getting to hear the facts and being able to make up their own opinions through seeing and hearing those facts. Channels like Fox News don't promote that type of thinking with their heavily bias reporting. .

    February 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  137. Debra

    any time a person challenges the popular beehive mentality... it creates tension.
    Debra
    New York!

    February 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  138. Tom Fresceo

    It's called democracy Jake, if President Obama was not a polarizing figure, and America was not a nation of different view points,well.. it would be something like Egypt.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  139. Jack B.

    Why is Obama such a polarizing figure? Because the N word is no longer politically correct. All of the racist republican/tea party can't just come out and say what we all know they want to say (we don't want no N word for a president). It's the basis for a lot of the partisanship going on in our country today. Sure, there has always been partisanship, but add race to the matter and you have our politics of today.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  140. Dave

    He's remarkably unifying all things considered. He's confiscating all the guns, he's an illegal president born offshore, he's a Nazi communist taking over the economy, he destroyed our health care –yet he's less polarizing than George W. Bush. Imagine how much more support he'd have if he weren't confiscating all our guns or were a legal president.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  141. Lori S. Texas

    The reasons Obama is polarizing really have very little to do with Obama at all. First, our primary system favors the extremes of both political parties. Second, dissention makes good press. Third, these are harder economic times and people are more stirred up, and finally he is the first african american president and people tend towards the status quo. Change might be desired, but it is also difficult.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  142. Larry in Maryland

    Jack, it's his skin color. Point blank. period. Anyone who believes in "post-racial" America is delusional. Look at the schools, churches, and jails. This country is still far too segregated and it shows in our demands and scrutiny of the 1st "black" (he is as much white, isn't he?) president. Being the 1st in this country is always tough. (Jackie Robinson was polarizing at the time, although he's now looked upon as a hero.) It's that simple.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  143. Tom Henry

    Jack,

    Why is Obama polarizing? I'd rephrase to better reflect the the underlying question "Why has the public become polarized about Obama?"

    It's more simple than it seems...
    a) it's in the interest of the opponents to divide the electorate and to mobilize their supporters. As Pres Clinton (I think) said "It's the marginal turnout, stupid."

    b) the media outlets do unwittingly (some more than others) contribute by making "news" out of dubious polls – so that they can have something against which to pit their pundit guests.

    Considering the hoprrible truth that G W Bush proved to us in the run up to his war... if you repeat something often enough people will come to believe it (in that absence of ant alternative.

    Lve what you do on the air!

    Sincerely,
    TomH

    February 7, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  144. Ken in NC

    He is a polarizing figure because those on the right fear the country will benefit from having a president that is smarter than they are (which is easy). He is intelligent and knowledge scares the hell out of ignorance.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  145. Doug Findley

    President Obama seems polarizing because America is polarized. The Republican party is and has been a party of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. Their demand for a continuation of tax cuts that have not had any positive effect on our economy is patently absurd. Middle class Republican party members are attracted by strategies designed to appeal to people with fundamentalist Christian beliefs, conspiracy theory advocates and those people that feel they can't live without their assault weapons.

    The job held by our President is an awsome burden, for him to have to fight tooth and nail for common sense policies slow the process to bring changes that will benefit the majority.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  146. Lewtheax

    Today’s political rhetoric is the source of our current nation-wide polarization. Americans are catering to applauding combative methods of making a point or taking a position on issues. It is part of the same fabric that’s boosting our desire for reality TV. Drama sells and drama gets attention. This will continue until our country reaches a clear national crisis that has common relevance to all Americans.. i.e. the two World Wars and the Great Depression.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  147. Marguerite

    From Seattle

    Mass marketing of negativity by all of the different special interest groups who are pushing their agendas through a lot of high priced and glitzy disinformation advertising campaigns to the gulible American public coupled with the idea by the media that criticizing the President for everything he does is good for ratings.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  148. Marc cugnon

    Obama himself is not a polarizing figure, not more than any other president. The media are what polarize us.Last night I watched the interview of our President by Bill O'Reilly. I know what I saw. This morning I listened to the commentators of both sides of the political spectrum...how can journalists be so biased that their analysis of the same event is so diametrically different?
    How do they live with themselves?
    Very well I understand, financially very well!

    February 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  149. Amos Annan

    He is only "polarizing" because the right attacks him on every possible issue.

    He has really governed from the center, yet the right has attacked everything for political gain in the next election.

    In the current political climate where facts mean nothing, it means that every politician will be subject to this from now on.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  150. L. R. Illinois

    President Obama never did have the republicans on his side. They have been against him from the start. He has a D before his name ans his skin is not the same color. It is a shame, he could do even more for our Country if they would would only quit blocking everything and let him do his work. He is a very intelligent man.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  151. Janie in Louisiana

    In my opinion, President Obama is so polarizing for severals reasons.
    The job situation is terrible. He did not pay homage to Republicans in the ways they deem he should. His administration, as many have before him, has made mistakes. Oh! And let's not forget, he is the first African American president and that would be quite a challenge, even if the Republicans, under the guise of 'Tea Party' activitists, had not branded him a socialist- muslim, born in Kenya. Oh! He is 'looking black and talking 'white' and racists really hate that! If you do not blieve me, just pull up some of CNN's old tapes of 'Tea Party' activitists with signs that say those things or people walking around with stuffed monkies on their back, etc.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  152. Jimmy from Maine

    President Obama is, and forever will be, a polarizing figure in the name of things he stands for, represents, and the rhtetoric with which he defends those ideals. His great Presidential crusade, health-care, or "Obama-care" as it has been dubiously labeled by his red, elephantine constituents, is a direct assault on the principles conveyed to said constituents. The fact of the matter is that President Obama is a black man who threw in the face of older white men the fact that he could, and would, do whatever he pleased when he rammed the healthcare bill through. That is still an ideal, unfortunately, that a large portion of the population is having a difficult time accepting. His eloquence is at times portrayed as bombastic; his intelligence as arrogance. Whether one is for or against any of the issues that a president of any party, democrat, republican, or independent, brings to the table let that person come to that conclusion on his/her own; without the assisstance of an increasingly "polarized" media.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  153. Jeff from Florida

    Obama isn't the problem here. It's the talk shows on cable television and the radio that are to blame. These shows offer twisted and cherry picked facts which are used only to bolster the view points of the given talk show host. Obama has become a lightning rod to this polarizing phenomena due to the fact that many American people have been misinformed and in a way brain washed into their so called personal beliefs which are actually only a mirror image of the views potrayed on the shows they most tune into. Everyone has ability to be manipulated and misinformed to believe in something that may not necessarily be true. So in truth Americas recent polarization phenomena is due to a lack of knowledge and information on the subjects at hand. Misinformation is the new threat to civil democracy in the modern age.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  154. dusty

    The President ,as so many before him waffle's like leaf in the wind. As he approaches reelection time he is all of a sudden a friend of business when just a few short month's ago they were the (EVIL doer's !) a politician is a politician.Will the public ever learn we have seen this president bob and weave more than Mohammad Ali. Gay Right's when it's politically necessary ,Health care when it works for him, instead of against him .I believe the biggest problem was the Health care throw down they shoved down everyone's throat that has made him so polarizing ,to the left and the right .

    February 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  155. Tom

    So the same parry that thought America wasn't ready for a black president in 2008 disapprove of Obama?? Big surprise...

    February 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  156. jean2009

    I actually find the polarizing right wing conservatives the problem, not the President.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  157. Jenna

    Why is Obama polarizing?

    Obama isn't polarizing Jack, the GOP is. From the moment he announced that he was running until today. Have you heard a single Republican say that he stands with our president for the good of the nation? I sure haven't.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    February 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  158. Ray

    theanswere is quite simple, too much propaganda disguised as news, to a population that will not ta.ke the time to verify what they hear

    February 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  159. Larry from Florida

    You ask why Obama is so polarizing, then you follow with back with Palin's thoughts on Egypt? I respect her right to oppose the President, but is she really an expert on middle east policy? Why not Rice or Powell? Someone who understands the problems. We as a nation we should agree on our response, and on the most part do. but you interject conflict where there should be none.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  160. Frank

    Jack, extremist language (on both sides, but...) especially on the right, the charges of socialism without definition, the claims of anti-Constitutionalism by those who choose interpretations without regard to amendments and Supreme Court rulings, take advantage of people who've not read the Constitution since the 8th grade. The commentators expound with such passion that those who choose not to research these claims for themselves are led to believe the charges. I sincerely believe that Fox and MSNBC have done the country no good. Editorials on the social medea by those with no background upon which to base an opinion, are equally scary.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  161. Amos Annan

    Another reader said this:
    "He's confiscating all the guns, he's an illegal president born offshore, he's a Nazi communist taking over the economy, he destroyed our health care. Imagine how much more support he'd have if he weren't confiscating all our guns or were a legal president."

    Am I missing something here?

    When did Obama confiscate any guns? New heath care rules haven't even started yet!

    These crazies believe the lies they are being told.
    No wonder there is polarization.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  162. judy

    Obama is working to protect average Americans from the most wealthy and powerful people in the world who pump out propeganda against him. Too many people are not able to understand that money talks and rules so many of our politiciiiians, the greedy Insurance companies,the powerful oil Companies and drug companies. Obama is battling all of this while trying to undo damage to our country that happened long before he even ran for office. He does not have enough time in his day to battle against the propeganda and still do the important work before him to properly work to save our country. He has put the welfare of America ahead of his political career. That is what has caused such polarization.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  163. Tonie

    He has had to tackle the hard things with the economy he inherited. I don't find Obama polarizing. I don't know of any of the Republicans I would want to help fix the mess they made. Indeed most of the ideas they have will make it worse.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  164. Carl

    The answer is very simple Jack!....The "unfair" and "unbalanced" reporting by the "sly one" and others in media, resonates like gospel among their viewers and listeners. Remember "pulling the plug on grandma" that was reported as a fact on health care reform.

    Carl
    Suffolk county N.Y.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  165. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    George W. Bush needed 9/11 to rescue him from being impeached. Beside that, he left so many "loose ends" aka " I leave that to my successor" that no president – of either party – would do any better in the ratings.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  166. José

    President Obama is not polarizing, its "We"..the ignorant people of this country who choose not to educate ourselves about the topics that are polarizing this country. We choose to listen to one media outlet or political party to get our information from and leave it at that, anything different and its a lie. We are more educated about American Idol and Jersey Shore than we are about the issues facing our country.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  167. Greg

    I suspect there are some right and left wingers who will never vocalize approval for somebody with a capital D or R, respectively, behind their name. Next, there are a small percentage of people who have an inexcusable problem with President Obama's skin color. The bulk, however, of his approval rating polarity comes from the likes of Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, Freedom Works and shortsighted Republican elected officials, allowing and touting the lies of loons like Betsy McCaughey, Sarah Palin, James O'Keefe, Andrew Brietbart, Pamela Geller, Orly Taitz, etc. etc.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  168. Joe Ft Walton Bch Fl

    Obama can make good speeches, using his teleprompter. He can gather crowds, and they will return and listen to him regardless if they believe in him or not. He has done nothing that anyone on the street can do. Take that teleprompter away from him, he will lose the election.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  169. Cee..... La.

    Obama is polarizing because in 2008 many people were only listening to McCain/Palin, and they didnt know beans about his ideas they listened to Fox News, beck, Insanity Hannity, and then they woke up and OMG they had a black liberal,Muslim, african, non citizen for a President.......and they havent shut up since.......

    February 7, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  170. T. Anthony Drake

    Why is President Obama such a polarizing figure? First, I believe the question is poorly framed. It is not the president who is the source of the polarization but rather those who consider everything that he does to be wrong. Thus, the question should be, why do so many find themselves so extremely outraged over this presidency? While some harbor legitimate disagreement with his politics, the ire of the most venomous and ruthless opponents is rooted in racism. Such individuals would gladly see the nation and the people of this country suffer if it means ultimately making President Obama look bad. And we have never seen a time in which Republicans were less willing to extend or receive the proverbial olive branch from a Democratic presidentl. Too many of these individuals have one agenda, and the good of the United States is subordinate to their hatred for President Obama. That's downright unpatriotic and a tremble for their fate, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, when I reflect on the reality that "God is just."

    February 7, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  171. Janet

    He has been consistently demonized by Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh et.al, as well as the television and radio networks that give these merchants of fear, half-truths and outright lies a forum a means to communicate their poison. What is their motivation? Here are a few:

    1. A gigantic ego trip and love of power and control
    2. Massive financial gain
    3. Racism

    Thank you for having the guts to say on-air what you think of the statements of these merchants of fear.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  172. Tim in Texas

    The president is not polarizing. The media is. The TPGOP all get their news from one set of sources and the Ds all get their news from a different set of sources. We might as well be living on two different planets. The only thing that brings us together is when somebody else attacks us. Then we're all Americans.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  173. Rick

    I think that when you abstract the debate to the level of like/dislike, then it becomes very easy to say yes.... and very mindless. Speak on topics at a level of reasonable detail and consider alternatives to his policies and I think people would find his policies much less "polarizing". I thought this actually was the job of the press.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  174. Shawn, Portland - Or

    Ed from California – I liked your comments.

    I think Obama tries to go out of his way to unite. These crazy-bags on the right that are blaming Obama for everything have total amnesia on how Bush left things. BTW – how many young people died or were wounded in Iraq for Bush's pet war. Has anyone seen those weapons of mass "deception"?

    Jack, love your comments and how you keep it real. That said, I've got a blog topic for you: "Should Bush face criminal charges in the US or elsewhere for ordering and condoning torture?" I like Obama, but if he tortures people I would expect accountability. Where is our accountability?

    February 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm |