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Roger L. Simon

Does Barack Obama want to be president?

June 21st, 2010 - 10:32 pm

Ever since viewing his depressing and disconnected “energy” speech last week, I have been mulling whether Barack Obama actually wants to be president anymore. That was an address given by a man who looked very much like he didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to continue. He appeared slumped and worn, as if he aged eighteen years in eighteen months. His demeanor was oddly distracted.

I am not being metaphorical here — I am quite serious. The more I have thought about this, the more I am convinced Barack Obama no longer wishes to be president. The degree that he admits this to himself, I am not sure. But I rather suspect that in the small hours of the morning he fantasizes he were anywhere but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And who could blame him? By almost any measure, he is doing a terrible job.

Of course, as we all know, Obama didn’t really expect to be president. This was to be a trial run. And then it took off. He ended up in the White House with virtually no experience that prepared him for the task. His superior intelligence was supposed to carry him through. Only intelligence — whatever his level — is just one component of leadership, and probably far from the largest one.

But the question here is not his qualifications. They are no longer particularly relevant. This is a beaten man, struggling to show he is not, even though everybody knows he is.

The media claque that put him in office is getting disaffected and now his party allies in Congress are beginning to disregard him, sometimes for the better. One of the early symbols of Obama’s disconnection was his remarkably unemotional reaction to the democracy demonstrators in Iran. His Iran policy continued to be a phony concoction of non-existent dialogue and toothless sanctions, right up to the latest round at the UN.

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