The problems for Republicans are threefold: First, many on the right seem overtaken by a visceral dislike of Obama that is faintly reminiscent of Democratic attitudes toward President George W. Bush. This partisanship is manifesting itself in dangerous ways. It’s one thing to oppose Obama’s initiatives; it’s quite another to be seen as rooting against American interests.
Second, Republicans continue to engage in the same sort of knee-jerk attacks on Democratic “weakness” and naked appeals to American militarism that, while once resonant, have lost their political luster.
Third, Bush-administration-era views — and political appeals — on national security continue to dominate the GOP. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat strikingly noted this week that Obama passed up a chance to “establish himself” as an “American president” by failing to turn down the Nobel Peace Prize. Considering that even in late 2003, at a period of growing tension in the trans-Atlantic relationship, 84 percent of the country believed that it was in America’s national security interests to be liked and respected around the world, it’s hard to see how this would make Obama “more American” or better liked.