Does Obama even want a second term?

The Week
Obama speaks at a campaign event in Los Angeles on Oct. 7: If the president isn't tired of his job, as some political analysts believe, he has to do a better job of showing he wants a second term.
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Obama speaks at a campaign event in Los Angeles on Oct. 7: If the president isn't tired of his job, as some political analysts believe, he has to do a better job of showing he wants a second term.

Obama supporters and political reporters are still trying to explain Obama's listless debate performance, some arguing that Obama might not want to win

Add President Obama to the list of Democrats unimpressed with his performance in the first presidential debate against Mitt Romney. After marveling that Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, and other musicians who'd played at a Sunday fundraiser for him "just perform flawlessly, night after night," Obama quipped that sadly, "I can't always say the same." The audience laughed, but other Obama supporters aren't so amused, says Byron York at The Washington Examiner. In fact "for some liberal writers, the concern goes deeper": What if his "lackluster" debate "was an indication that he doesn't even want a second term as president"? Well, does he?

If Obama wants to win, he must prove it: The president has now been "pretty terrible" in three nationally televised performances: The debate, his convention speech, and a 60 Minutes interview, says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. So it's time for the "cut-to-the-chase question:" Is Obama "maybe tired of being president?" If the answer is no — and I hope it is — then he needs to send "a forceful signal that he has the zest for the job for another four years," and fast.
"Does Obama even want to win the election?"

SEE MORE: Is Team Obama getting overconfident?

The debate was just an off night: For a president "such as Obama who is not wholly a freak or narcissist, the job entails unique psychic fatigue," says Henry Porter at Britain's The Observer. But the listless Obama of debate night was gone by the next day, possibly vanquished by Mitt Romney's brazen, dishonest pandering; it was clear that the president who showed up to his late-week rallies "still has an appetite for the job." Democrats are self-defeatingly casting about for what's wrong with Obama, but the likeliest explanation is simply "he had an off day — we all do."
"Has a disillusioned Barack Obama lost the will to win?"

Obama's just not a very good debater: Actually, the best explanation might be that Obama is "overrated as a candidate," says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. He's a cerebral pragmatist who's not comfortable throwing punches, and "he's a terrible faker" — it was pretty obvious Obama didn't want to be on stage with Romney last Wednesday. The president has his strengths: He's "the single most talented big-speech giver (the convention speech notwithstanding) and fundraiser currently operating in politics." But his limitations make him uniquely unsuited for modern TV debates.
"Is Obama overrated as a candidate?"

SEE MORE: Is President Obama heading for a landslide victory?

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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