The Character of a President

How important is the character of a President when studying the governing styles of the nation’s chief executive? For political scientist James David Barber, it is very salient in trying to understand how a President governs.  Presidential character, as Barber defines it, can be divided into four parts.

1.  Active-Positive:  Presidents who fall under this category are very active in their job, have high levels of self-esteem, and work hard towards accomplishing goals.

2.  Active-Negative:  Those who fall under this category tend to be aggressive in their work, but act as if “they were trying to make up for something or to escape from anxiety into hard work.”

3.  Passive-Positive:  In this category, Presidents tend to lack self-esteem but have a positive outlook on the results of political decisions.  They look for rewards from others because of their positive outlook on life, not because of the work that they do.

4.  Passive-Negative:  This is someone who believes that they have place in the political system, but a.) does little in his work and b.) does not enjoy the work that he has to do.  These individuals believe “that they ought to be in politics” despite their sour nature.

In short, Barber goes on to say, “Active-positive Presidents want to achieve results (George Washington, for example).  Active-negatives aim to get and keep power (John Adams).  Passive-positives are after love (Thomas Jefferson).  Passive-negatives (James Madison) emphasize their civic virtue.”

71 responses to “The Character of a President

  1. I think President Obama falls under the active-negative group. He wants to achieve certain things but does it very aggressively, and wants to show everyone what he is doing. I do not think this is a good character trait for the President to have. A good character trait for the President should be Active-Positive not active-negative.

  2. Barack Obama is definitely an active-positive president. His levels of self-esteem are probably off the charts. He has worked his way up from a community organizer in Chicago to the President of the United States. President Obama makes sure to take the initiative when others can’t. He has signed executive orders to make sure that Congress knows that he won’t just sit all day and wait. And on top of that, he is the first African-American President. If that doesn’t make him have a high level of self-esteem, I don’t know what will.

  3. Elizabeth Lenz

    I think that president Obama is an Active-positive. when he gives presidential speeches he always looks happy to do them and doesnt seem to just look at it as his presidential duty. He seems to be very happy to serve the country.

  4. The President should be Passive-Positive. The U.S. is seen as a bully to the rest of the world and a passive President would bring a new face to the American government. To think on all issues and to brainstorm on all problems.

  5. shannon siaperas

    I believe the President’s role should be active-positive. Our country needs a President who is concerned about making positive changes, and makes those changes happen. In my opinion President Obama would fall under the active-negative group.

  6. Jennifer Hendel

    I think that President Obma is active- positive. At first I wasn’t sure how to vote so I voted unsure/don’t know. After giving it some thought and looking back on some of the things that I have actually paid attention to when it comes to the decisions and actions of the President I decided that I think he is active in a positive way I think that the President does work hard in accomplishing goals and feel that he is not looking to escape from other aspects of his life.

  7. Vanessa Menchaca

    President Obama falls with the active positive group of types of presidents. He falls with that because when he is on tv and we see him giving speeches he seems happy and seems like he loves what he is doing. Barack Obama definetly has a high level of self esteem. BUt he does try and get stuff done for our country but he is failing at it and spending more money then he should be. So he also falls under as some traits of some of the other character types.

  8. I think that President Obama is a active positive type of president. There is just something taht always seems positive about Obama all the time. He seems like he is really trying to do better for the country even though he isnt getting that much done for the U.S that doesnt fall squarley on him though. That also weighs in on the republicans and democrats not working together to work as one to help the society. Instead they just look at it as a game and only want what they want.

  9. I think that President Obama is definitely active-positive. He has a very high level of self esteem but not in a conceded way. His speeches are always strong and he never looks down or upset. He always seems like a happy person. He does as much as he can to help people.

  10. Muhammad Shukair

    Barrack Obama is the Active-Positive type. In general he is always somewhere or pushing what he thinks. He speaks with an edge, that edge is simply confidence. He is restless when it comes to promoting the 5-6 things he stands for. He is both as active and Confident I have ever seen a president. He may just be good at hiding his doubts, but from what I can see strictly Active-Positive.

  11. Charlene-Grace Crisostomo

    I believe that President Barack Obama is active-positive type. As it is described in the blog, and active -postive president is very active in hisjob and works toward to achieve his goals. As I can see, President Obama is very eager and dtermined when he set his objectives, he does as he says.

  12. Ania Tomaszewski

    Presidents should be active-positive. President Obama does fall under that category in certain areas. He is very charismatic and delivers his ideas very well. He also works very hard to get issues across and things done. He tries to stick to his word and do what he feels is best.

  13. The character of a President is crucial. Some say that you can tell a lot about a person through their character. That said, the character of a leader should be that of a hardworking, devoted, humble, ect.. person. In a position of power, so highly esteemed, character is extremely important. Charged with leading a Nation, given control, the President ought to assume a character of Active – Positive. As mentioned, Active – Positive demonstrates all if not most dominate leadership qualities. Such qualities should be emulated among not only Presidents but also leaders and even every day individuals.

  14. khadeeja jabri

    I believe that President Obama falls under the active-positive category. His levels of self- esteem are very high; I say that based upon his appearance and his way of presenting his ideas during his speeches. President Obama is a hard working president who is determined to achieve his goals. He does not work to get any compliment from anyone, he’s only doing his job.

  15. I would say Obama is active-positive. He is by all means a very powerful and confident speaker. He tends to address topics with a strong voice and positive outcome. He seems to genuinely care about what he’s doing and expects to see change. If you notice, all his speeches indicate some sort of change that needs to and will be accomplished.

  16. I would consider President Obama to be an active-positive president because he has been President for two terms now. If he was not successful he would have not been elected again. He has tried to bring back home all the troops and when he speaks you can hear the confidence in his voice. Even though many disagree with his success, there has to be an understanding that it is not easy to fix the economic problems in just a couple of years. He has also tried to give the people of this country all health care. I feel that he cares about the country and tries to do the best for the ordinary American people.

  17. I feel that President Obama is active-postitive. At the 2009 inauguration President Obama inherited many challenging including a multi-trillion dollar debt. In my opinion, I think he is actively working hard trying to make our nation robust. To me, he has a great deal of confidence which also seems to inspire confidence in others. Obama will need to continue to be active-postitive to eliminate are everlasting challenges that our country encounters.

  18. President Obama is an active-positive character. For being very active in their job Obama has tried to do what he can for his country. For example be there when those horrible shootings took place in our country. He takes time to get our nation and support one an other in horrible times. Every time Obama is on TV he looks to have very high self-esteem when he is talking. As for accomplishing goals he is trying to do as much as he can no other presidents I think can accomplish everything they say so quickly.

  19. I think President Obama would fall under the active- positive because as many people said he is the president of a two term time frame. If he was not doing what he “said” he would be doing the people of his country would not vote him back into office. There some actions President Obama does that will fall under the other perspectives but as a whole i think this best fits him for what he does or tries to do for the people

  20. Rachel Miglieri

    President Obama is definitely a active-positive person. He shows a great amount of confidence in himself but also for our country. Whenever Obama says he is going to strive to do something, he actually follows through to make a difference.

  21. Like any other president, they strive to make the country a better place no matter what kind of problem(s) they are going through. Every president should be place in the positive activist category. It is not possible to make a nation wide press conference and have low self esteem. President Obama may have his flaws but he continues to give the nation his at most best. I do not just agree with my vote but a few others as well. Like the active negative. The president must be aggressive with his job. There is no time for softness when in the presidential seat. President Obama shows confidence in the work he performs and acts in.

  22. Obama is a passive-positive president. He is after love and never wants to be criticized. He uses executive order because he does not want to put up with people disagreeing with him in congress. He is there for the spotlight, constantly going on television programs trying to show that he is a cool, young president.

  23. Jeanan Abunada

    Barack Obama falls under the category as an “active-positive” president. Obama is always awake and cheerful as he gives his speech to the people. He is always energetic as he speaks and it draws the people to him. He accomplishes this goal because citizens are going to pay more attention to someone with that type of quality, rather than someone who is completely dull. Barack Obama stands by his decisions, even though the outcome may not turn to anyone’s favor. Obama is confident with his decisions and he makes sure the people realize that.

  24. President Obama fits into every category!
    He is looking for the love of the people by making laws that are “supposed” to help those people but most of what he has done will hurt the people in the long run. An example of this is health care reform and he will get the job done on health care reform no matter what! He has great self-esteem. He wants to stay in power and gets off on being in power. As to passive negative he does not do the actual work he just takes credit for it.
    I chose that President Obama is passive positive because this is the most prevalent of the four choices.

  25. President Barack Obama fits into the active-positive category. Obama’s self esteem goes a very long way. Obama has a very great way to get his expression out to the people. In every speech he sounds so convincing and he shows/tell you that he is going to accomplish on what he is speaking.

  26. I believe President Obama is Active-Positive. he is a very confident man when speaking and is agreesive on his stance for the country he does not let negativity stop him from what he feels and says exactly whats is on his mind and when faced with presure he seems to always have an answewr and does the right thing to lead this great nation in the right direction.

  27. Obama is definitely an active-positive in my opinion. Just by listening to him give a speech emphasizes power the way he controls the people and crowd. He has very high self-esteem and wants what is best for the United States and Americans. I truly believe that Obama did not become president so he can have power or just for reputation but to help aide America and make it a better place that what it is. He works very hard. If you take a look at Obama photo before he became president and after only four years, he started having grey hair which shows that he works very hard and is patience.

  28. The President falls under the group of Active-Positive, He is working hard to get our financial problems solved but he also comes across as negative for he is blaming the other parties for not cooperating in his plans.

  29. Scott Rasmussen

    I believe the president has an active-positive character. Every time I see one of his speeches he always seems very confident in himself. He is also hard working and seems to be determined to do whatever he can to accomplish his goals.

  30. I believe that President Obama is active-positive. He gives 100% effort for the betterment of the country. No one is perfect, but he has faced many obstacles and does not stop trying to make the right decisions.

  31. To me President Barack Obama is the active-positive group. He works hard and he looks very comfortable when he talks in public. He laughs, jokes, and even sings sometimes. His self-esteem is way up high. I like that in our President. He wants to make some changes in our country, but not everything is up to him and he can’t just do what he wants to do. It is not his fault that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together, and instead of trying help our country they make it harder for everyone, including the President.

  32. I think President Obama would fall under active-negative. He hasn’t gotten much done in his four years that have completely changed our culture for the good. It feels like the things that he does do he does it jus to say he is doing something so when voting is around the corner he can bring up what he had done. To me he seems like he just wants the position but doesn’t do all that is necessary to meet the standard of a George Washington or Abraham Lincoln in being a active-positive president.

  33. I think Obama is a active positive president. You can tell in his speeches that hes confident as ever and the way he talks to a crowd moves people. He tries to accomplish certain things becaus i think he wants to actually chang the way we are living. He also always seems positive and always thinks he has a solution to our problems.

  34. Aneta Bukowska

    I think that president Obama falls into the active negative characteristics. Seems to me as if he talks more about getting things done, then actually doing them. He has been in office for several years yet I think he promised more then he actually did. I don’t doubt his ambitions and plans for this country, but just like every candidate he is in it for the win.

  35. The President goes under the Active-positive group to me, he works hard on helping everyone with their financial problems and keeping everyone on the right route to without loosing everything, he also though goes with negative because he blames the people on his side for not choosing the same interests as he has in his mind.

  36. Alexander Bacon

    I would consider President Obama to be active positive for two reasons. He is open-minded and he cares about the people. He always has the can-do attitude that people look for in a president and potential presidents.

  37. I definitley think president obama falls into the active positive. He gets things done in an efficient and clean cut manner. From watching President Obama give speeches you can definitley tell he enjoys what he does and has a positive outlook.

  38. Presient Obama would fall under active posittive. He has been very active with his work and followed through on some of his plans; such as the health care bill. He has very high self esteem and this trait makes him an active positive president.

  39. Many voters today vote for a president who has good a good sense of character. Perhaps the reason Obama was favorited to win this past election was because of his active-positive character. In the middle of the 2012 presidential race when hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, President Obama flew to New Jersey to help Governor Christie who, at the time, backed Mitt Romney. Because of his fast actions and positive attitude, many people around the country, including Governor Christie took Obamas side durin the election.

  40. I beleive Obama is a active negative. I think that he has brought up many topics and has tried to change everything the way he wants them to be changed. I just think that most of the things that he does only hurts the country and only seperates the country even more.

  41. Patricia Vargas

    In my opinion the president is passive-positive. It seems that he cares a lot about people’s opinion and how the citizens see him. He hasn’t worked as hard as how he us. Our country has had so many problems but it seems that he is not so involved. He cares about medicare and increase taxes and everyone is down for it. It was clear that he couldn’t handle the job and commitments for the first 4 years so I do not understand how people follow the rest. He is proud of other peoples job and he attribute it to him.

  42. I think Obama is active negative. When you see him doing speeches you can tell he has pride in himself being president. He also has gone with his words of helping the economy, and introducing the health care bill. Obama cares about the country and citizens and you can tell when he is doing speeches in how confident he is.

  43. I would have to say that president Obama is a passive positive president. He does not come off aggressive but he does have a dream of where he would like this nation to be. I do not really see a whole lot of dedication from him though.

  44. President Obama appears to be Passive-Positive, in some ways. He doesn’t seem to do too much work in the form of being president. He likes to take credit for work he has not done. The only trait he has outside of this category is his self-essteem is very high.

  45. Maisem Nakhleh

    President Obama seems to be Active-negative because he seems to say one thing but does another. He gives people hope for a better future but nothing has changed for the “better”. Actions speak louder then words but unfortuantly his actions are what he didn’t promise us.

  46. Alicia Kolerich

    President Obama is definitely active-positive. He cares very much about the the peoples opinion. He is always very confident when giving a speech and genuine. He does everything he can to better our country.

  47. Alejandro Ballesteros

    President Barack Obama’s character is Active-Positive. When we gives out his speeches, he tends to be confident and says things with a tone that states that he has everything under control. President Obama takes the people’s opinion into consideration when he makes decisions.

  48. I think President Obama is Active-Positive. He genuinely cares about the citizens of the United States. His emotions are evident in his speeches and he is not ashamed to shed a tear on t.v. for millions nationally and internationally to see. We don’t see everything that goes on behind closed doors but for as gentle and in control as he seems in public I feel he fights like a lion for what he believes in for this country.

  49. In my opinion I think Barack Obama is a active -positive president . He portrays a great deal of passion into what he does. He seems strongly motivated with a high amount self esteem as well . Furthermore, he’s a true activist , because he executively signed orders to the Congress to specify his dedication throughout his campaign.

  50. President Obama is Active-Positive. He is often involved in the nations’ events, such as all of those shooting incidents that happened. He called the schools and talked about them. He often speaks with a ton of optimism. For example, his slogan is “Yes we can”, implying that we can grow as a nation and solve our issues.

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