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 believe President Obama’s character would fall under the category of being an Active-Positive. He always makes sure to address an issue to the country when something major is happening. President Obama tries his best to look out for the best interest for our country and wants to improve it in a ways he thinks can work. He is passionate about his work and is very involved. President Obama has a high self-esteem and is a people friendly person. He likes to get involved in many ways to show the country and the people here he cares.

    • President Obama character falls under active positive because of his decision to pull troops from IRAQ and latar on from Afganistan . he promissed to pull the US troops from both and he did.

  2. I believe that President Obama has a Active-Positive character. Even though I do not believe that Obama is necessarily doing all that he possibly can to benefit our country, I do not believe that he would be under any other character category. He is not Active-Negative because he does not seem as though he is trying to escape from anything. I honestly believe he is our president because he is passionate about the importance of the job. Obama is definitely not Passive-Positive because when he speaks, he seems as though he has a high amount of self esteem. Finally, Obama is not Passive-Negative because even though many believe he does very little work, you can see that he truly does love his job as president.

  3. Curt Czartoryski

    President Obama falls under the active-positive catagory. He always finds a positive side of things. He makes himself very visible, addressing the country when ever there is a major event. When speaking he speaks with a lot of enthusiasm and high self esteem. Pus he works hard to accomplish his goals.

  4. Chantise Bennett

    I believe President Obama has an active positive character, I think he is very dedicated to his work and policies, and does not fail to do what is best for our country.What makes him so great is that he is very “approachable”. Many people like him because of his friendly nature and because of the dedication that he puts into his work.

  5. President Obama falls under the active-positive category. He doesn’t seem shy when there is an issue involving with our country. I believe he’s determined to accomplish his goals throughout his term. I believe that he has a vision for our country and being less active is not an option for him.

  6. Whether or not I am a supporter of Obama or not, I can’t deny the fact that he most accurately falls into the category of “active-positive.” He is very present and involved in his work and it is obvious to all of America’s citizens. Even younger generations know his name and what he looks like, and it’s not just because of their parents or the news. They are aware of who he is and what he stands for. Furthermore, an example of his positive tendencies is the Healthcare Policy. Although many disagree with his policy, I doubt they can deny the fact that his intentions are good and his policy is designed to help those in need. All in all, he isn’t the type of president that sits around and has others do his work, he is involved and cares about helping America.

  7. President Obama is active-positive because he is always addressing the topics that need to be addressed at this time. he never seems to lack self esteem he seems confident at all times. He is also always trying to do whats right and get his goals accomplished.

  8. Obama falls under the active-postive category characteristic. Obama is always out there achieve goals with a positive attitude. President Obama speaks most of his speech with high self-esteem and confident. Obama’s administration has ended the Iraq war and build a strong relation with major countries around the world.

  9. I take president Obama as a active positive because he adresses the American people when an important issue is being displayed. When it comes to speaches he speaks in a firm positive attitude and is confident in what he believes. having a confident president and knows what is best for the country is this man right here. He is always positive when negative things arise and adresses it the best way he can.

  10. The character of a President is indeed important to take into consideration during election months. The character of any person is also important. Character, in a way defines us. If we can study and analyze the person’s character, we can predict their habits and more. For a President, it’s extremely important to have good character. Their character will tell us if they mean well, can do their job, and actually do what they say they’re going to do. As for President Obama, he is most likely a Passive-Positive. He means well and has the nations interest in mind but some of the things he says he’s going to do, he really doesn’t or rather, puts them off.

  11. Barack Obama is an Active-Positive President. Since the beginning of his first term in office, he has voiced his concerns over key critical issues and pushed to get his plans put into action. He comes out and says what needs to be said as well as connecting to the american public. He thinks about what can be done to right the wrongs of society, and he fights for solutions.

  12. patryk bryniarski

    In my opinion Obama is a active-positve President. I belive he is a good speaker and adresses things well to his audience. He is a friendly president because of his way of getting to people, he approaches things willing to make things better in his term. He is confident with his speaches and shows his people that he cares or at least tries to make things better for citizens of United States.

  13. President Obama is a posittive president since he is always so confident in his speechs. He always seems to have a perfect defense and make everything sound okayI believe he’s determined to accomplish all his goals throughout his term and he will make things better he just needs time. he is not a shy person either.

  14. It is hard to argue against President Obama and his drive for results. In that light I had to vote active-positive. Although his drive for results is almost matched by his desire to retain power, as argued by his pundits.

    I feel he has shown a good track record in dealing with all sides of the political spectrum. And although at most times he has faced harsh opposition and a critical eye on all of his actions he has remained true to his morals and political beliefs.

    I feel when studying our chief executives a keen eye must be placed on these governing styles, as they often serve as themes to a presidency. A lot can be attached to new candidates based on their perceived leadership styles allowing for studies into “The Perfect Candidate.”, or some similar route of thought.

  15. In my oppinion, Obama would be most accurately described as an active postive character so far. He has accomplished a great amount during his time in office, and with as much intensity from republican opposition as there was as well. According to an article on written some time last year, Obama has completed 37% of the promises he made before the 2008 election, had 14% of his promises comprised with republicans, 10% of his promises were stalled at that point, and 22% were still being worked on. That leaves 17% of the 508 promises he made 5 years ago completely untouched. But with more than 80% of his promises made completed or being worked on (keeping in mind that he probably hasn’t been taking a vacation for the last 5 months or so) and a little less than 3 more years in office, it seems to me like a rather active presidancy.

  16. Sean McDermott

    Obama is an active-positive president without a doubt. The problem though are the issues he’s “trying” to fix. I honestly can’t stand his attack on guns. I can’t stand ObamaCare, his foreign policies and the stupid things he’s done such as stepping in to the Trayvon Martin issue and blaming issues on Bush. Honestly can’t stand Obama.

  17. I believe Obama has a passive-positive character. He has a lot of positives ideas, but I feel like he doesn’t really do anything to get things done.

  18. James McGee Jr.

    I believe President Obama is Active positive, so I fully agree with Brian Walsh. I do believe it was Mitch McConnell that indicated that the single most important job was to make President Obama a one-term president. However, I recall President Obama riding with that as well when he indicated that he would be a one term President if the economy at the time didn’t turn around. Unfortunately we still have millions of individuals unemployed or under employed, however, don’t fault President Obama, running this government is a demogracy and the American people felt that Obama had many challenges to overcome in the first 4. I personnally feel it is necessary to allow a President two-terms, in one term it appears that the first year is getting to really know the ins and outs, who’s an adversary and who’s not. Then the second year you’ve set your plan out and now you’re trying to get support for that plan, thrid year; you’re in constant battle, and nothing really gets accomplished, the forth year is being back on the campaign trail. In closing 4 years doesn’t work, multiple terms are needed in an effort to make a difference review our presendential history. (Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, *Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama – incumbent)


  19. Michael Hernandez

    Obama is an Active passive president. He was able to discuss the problems with America and try to voice his opinion giving a face to americans across the nation to see. He always seems to be involved and works hard to solve certain issues and to accomplish goals.

  20. Obama is an active-positive president. He is very confident in speeches and he’s always looking to acomplish new goals. Its good to have an active-positive president backing our country.

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