For Liberals who are embarrassed to have seen President Obama even bother to sit down with Bill O'Reilly (again) and who are especially pained that he let himself be a human punching bag...let me suggest his logic here.
First, as we approach the 2014 mid-term elections the Republican Party hasn't been so fractured since Ross Perot ran as an independent against GW Bush Sr. and thereby made Bill Clinton president. The Tea Party (led by Hannity and Limbaugh) and the Moderate Republicans (led by Boehner) are in open warfare and in every district in this country there will be disenfranchised conservatives of one stripe or the other who will despise their nominee almost as much as their Democrat opponent.
The ONLY thing that could unite these disparate conservatives and allow the Republicans to have a robust turnout at the polls is hate for and fear of the President. This has been their only uniting theme for some time now...'Obama is a dictator, flouting the constitution and making laws up out of thin air'.
Surely we Liberal-Progressives would have loved to hear the president call O'Reilly a 'hateful old white racist'. His approval would have soared if he'd done that, but he would have fed the conservative meme of being a Stalin-esque would be dictator. Instead president Obama came off as a mild mannered person who refused to fight fire with fire. Even when he said O'Reilly was being unfair he sounded like he wanted make friends, not call in the storm troopers.
The president's performance lacked the 'kick-ass' his supporters wanted, but it was perfect to set the table for the two wings of the Republican party to kick each others ass in November.