The negative reaction is not because the new MBP is terrible when viewed in a vacuum, it is because people who would like (or actually need) more powerful hardware than the one-size-fits-all approach that seems to be Apple's current course are no longer catered to, or so it seems.
Personnally, I don't really care about the touch bar one way or another, but what I do care about is that I would like to have one machine I can do all my work on, which involves a wider range of things one a daily basis than is typical (e.g. video/image editing, GPU powered number crunching, coding, and sitting in moving vehicles plugged into a bunch of stuff). In the past few years, the 15" MBP has been the machine to do it all, but in it's newest incarnation(s) I am no longer sure it would still be the best tool. It seems like gimmicks are added, but useful extras are stripped away. Maybe it's just in the uncanny valley of progress with USB-C, but for the moment the way they went about it all or nothing seems like a major inconvenience, with all the "legacy" hardware I need to attach. And there's minor things like removing the power brick's cord.
As such, my first instinct is also to bitch and moan, as now it looks as though I need to find a new setup in the near future, and damn Apple for building something for the median user, but not for me. I, too, like to think that though I have an atypical usage pattern, what I do and how I talk about it benefits Apple enough that they should at least invest a bit of effort to try and keep me on their platform.
I don't mind getting new connectors. I wasn't outraged at no headphone jack on my iPhone, even though I listen to my earbuds every day. Ok, so I need a little 2" dongle, big deal. Apple used the space for other things, cool, makes sense, moving on. An all C-style port MBPro, ok, that's fine with me. Progress. Move on and I'll take the latest Thunderbolt speeds.
But, the touch bar, yah, I dunno. One one hand, I was totally one of those people that, when I saw the iPhone and Steve said we're going to use a virtual kbd, I was like, awesome, makes sense, move on. Touch bar I _could_ see some cool uses. I do like the touch id part. That seems useful. I would agree tho on underwhelmed on specs that were late and raising the price. I've always maxed out my Mac laptops, so they've always been expensive, but technology is supposed to get cheaper every year and besides touch bar, there's no real new tech in the MBPro.
I like Tim Cook, no grudge against him. But it does feel like the peak of Apple innovation is over. iPhones are all just incremental every year. Apple TV is like, meh (even tho I have one and that's all we use on our tv). The Mac Pro is stagnating while Microsoft (of all companies) actually released a kick ass looking new desktop - hell hath frozen over. Apple has exited the screen business. Their Airports, which once (a long time ago) were really good, are now just meh. I have all these products and more and there is now a definite push going on to dumb down of all their products in regards to the Pro user. The sun is setting on us.
I'm not horrified by this per se since what really seems to be going on is Apple is milking it now. They probably have another 5-10 years where they can do this, but after a while, I think people in general are going to start looking for alternatives. Developers I work with are already talking about this - the influencers are on the move.
All a company has to do is create a good enough MBPro circa 2010 with modern specs, clean up Elementary so it looks less like a cartoon desktop, and get some bigger name native apps and they would be set. If you could enable 'grandparents mode' while keeping pro mode in tact, then the influencers might be able to recommend it.