Barack Obama Wants to be a One Term President

Wed, September 7, 2011

Democrats, Presidential Campaigns, Republicans

Am I the only one who senses that President Obama just isn’t himself lately?  I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the original “Yes We Can!” enthusiasm has waned after two-and-a-half years of the GOP “defeat Obama at any cost” machine.

But even taking the usual presidential exhaustion into account, I can’t help but notice that Barack Obama just doesn’t seem to be himself lately.  His appearances seem forced and uncomfortable.  At televised appearances he looks like he’s just going through the motions and I keep wondering why.

And then it occurred to me that maybe Obama doesn’t want to win a second term in the White House.

Of course, he has to run — the last time a sitting president who was eligible to run for a second term decided he wasn’t interested was Lyndon Johnson.  He knew he couldn’t win in light of the Vietnam War, so for the sake of the party, he stepped aside. (Of course, it turned out that Johnson didn’t really do the Democrats any favors since we ended up with Richard Nixon).

Exhibit A in the “Obama isn’t going to run” argument?  He really didn’t seem to up for the whole debt ceiling debate with the GOP.  When he finally talked to the nation, there were no fightin’ words.  There was no sense of the Obama who fired up voters in 2008.  There was just someone who couldn’t believe he was having to convince us — again — that partisan gridlock wasn’t going to solve anything.

Then he sort of looked like Droopy the Dog as he backed off soon-to-be-enacted EPA regulations for cleaner air (which would only benefit our kids’ health, after all),  saying that was better for businesses and job creation.

He pretty much handed the media a week’s worth of pointless, but costly, criticism when he headed off on summer vacay.  No one piece of  evidence screams, “Get me back to Chicago!”  But when the President decided to take the family to Martha’s Vineyard, he set himself up for criticism that he was being all golf-y and elite again — conservatives love to reprise that one.  (FYI conservative media — lots of normal folks go there, too).  I get it that if he vacations at all he has to go somewhere a little remote and protectable — hence, an island!  But if he had really wanted to keep from doing any more damage to sagging his poll numbers, maybe he just should have stayed in the White House, watched some DVR’d movies with the kids and microwaved some popcorn.

But the piece de resistance in my hunch that maybe President Obama has a calendar with the heading, “Countdown to January 2012″ is a re-election slogan that appeared in an E-mail received by one of my friends  – “Let’s Do It Again.” Seriously? That’s a major come down from Hope and Change.  If he really wants to stay in the White House until Malia is in high school, his people better get to work on something with a little more spirit.

Collectively, President Obama’s recent decisions and actions have a feeling of hopelessness and ambivalence.  Sort of like he’s thinking that Jimmy Carter didn’t do so bad personally after just one term in the White House and he’s looking for Carter’s speed-dial to get some post-presidential tips.

Sure, the President seemed like the old, peppy Obama at the Labor Day rally.  And I’m sure that someone is going to tell him he needs to lose a little bit of the professorial demeanor for his jobs speech.  But if President Obama really does want to win in 2012 (and I’m not sure he does), he’d better dig deep.  Because after the GOP debate at the Reagan library, it’s clear that the group of candidates are collectively ready to take him down, regardless of which one of them lands on Pennsylvania Avenue.

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As we are now firmly entrenched in the 2012 campaign, if you want to read something that will give you some real hope about voters and the whole process, please check out my new book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (Bright Sky Press, 2011).

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13 Responses to “Barack Obama Wants to be a One Term President”

  1. Ben Donahower Says:

    I certainly hope he runs, but if his heart isn’t in it, I certainly hope he doesn’t!

    And if he doesn’t, I don’t often agree with Cheney’s advice but Hillary should run!

  2. Amy S. Says:

    Really,can you blame him? Here is a President who has tried to reach across the aisle, as he did in Congress, to solve huge problems which he inherited and he gets completely stonewalled by the right and criticized by his own party for capitulating to the Republicans and not doing enough. Total no win. I’d run for the hills too.

  3. PunditMom Says:

    Ben, if I thought for a minute that Hillary would actually run, I’d be with you. Especially after that “ringing endorsement” that she got from Dick Cheney on one of the shows last week when he was peddling his new book.

    Amy, I don’t blame him. But the thing is this — he’s the one who decided he wanted to be leader of the free world, and I don’t think you get a pass to just be all sad and visibly discouraged, especially when you’ve got over 300 million people depending on you. I definitely have my days when I’m ambivalent about what I’m doing and get a little down in the dumps, but it’s just the Pundit Family who bears the consequences, not America. At the very least, he ought to suck it up and show the kind of enthusiasm he used to sell us on his abilities.

  4. aimee @ smilingmama Says:

    How can we get this post into Obama’s blog reader? I think he needs to hear it.

  5. annie Says:

    He’s a human being not a DC Comic superhero. And when the ppl who are supposed to be on your team are turning on you (the vacay thing was such a red herring. Congress was on recess and he’s briefed daily, and this isn’t exactly the 1800′s in terms of him being able to receive info and send order. He can’t take a week out of the entire summer to get away?)

    Personally, I think he should have gone into this thinking he’d get only one term. He might have gotten more done if he’d believed he only had four years to do it.

    The prospect of a Dem primary season on top of this sideshow GOP primary is too depressing for words, so I hope he does run. But with the economy unlikely to recover (experts say to expect it not to and that 2013 is likely to see the next major upheaval) and given the mood of the country, I think as long as the GOP puts up a half-way stable candidate who can find a theme and hammer it – Obama is toast in 2012. Can’t blame him for not looking forward to that.

    Americans have been mostly ungrateful, whiny and willing to believe that the fault lies anywhere but with themselves these last several years. They elected Bush twice, turned a blind eye on two wars, never questioned tax cuts that couldn’t be paid for or new entitlement programs that basically couldn’t be funded – just as long as they could overspend and watch reality tv. Why should Obama take the blame or stick around for the next act? He tried. The people weren’t having it. He should be allowed to pack up, go home with his family and have a live again.

  6. PunditMom Says:

    Annie, I agree with the idea that he should have gone into the White House assuming he’d only have one term. I wish all presidents would do that, because as soon as they step foot through the door, the first thought is re-election. I don’t think there will be a Dem primary — I think Obama is it. I’m just not sure he can win if he doesn’t get his heart in it, regardless of the red herrings that become big stories or the political players who’ve thrown him under the bus.

  7. Cliff Says:

    I agree its as if a body double has taken his place. During his campaign I worked with the local democratic party. Signing up voters, telling them my reasons for voting for this man called Barack Obama. I housed and fed one of the Obama Fellows during the entire campaign and worked as the Volunteer Organizer at the local HQ. We all were in awe of this man and his platform. Was Barack the political savior we all looked for could he bring this country back from the brink. Perhaps we wished and hoped for too much. Two military invasions, millions of people out of work with no hope of finding a job. The GOP pissed at having a black man in the White House the GOP with untold corporate funds to make sure here was a man one and done. I doubt if anyone can fix this countries woes. Not in my life time for sure. We as a country have spent too many years at the “Trough of Greed” feeding on the less fortunate while some are not guilty most are. We are for the most part an ill-trained workforce coming from a manufacturing culture leaving us a day late and a dollar short. So is this the same man we thought could save us from ourselves.

  8. PunditMom Says:

    Cliff, I think there are many people who worked very hard for Obama who are a bit in shock at the moment.

  9. Sara Says:

    I’m with Cliff. I went all-out for the 2008 campaign. I called people, knocked on doors, donated (much to my budget-minding husband’s chagrin), accumulated dozens of t-shirts and rode a bus to the Democratic National Convention. At this point, Obama would probably get my vote in 2012, but my heart isn’t in it anymore. :/

  10. Debbie Owensby Moore Says:

    I agree that Obama seems weary. But a president gets more accomplished in his second term because he isn’t concerned about being re-elected. If President Obama doesn’t want a second term, wouldn’t he be coming out with guns a blazing now? Wouldn’t he insist on his way more during each political fight?

  11. Michael Harris Says:

    I think he’s been so beat up by everything that has gone on in the last few years. He hasn’t caught many breaks. It’s hard to stay positive in the current economic and political environment.

  12. Geena Says:

    Didn’t he say during the debate “Michelle and I will spend next years anniversary at home, in private”.
    He was referring to his wedding anniversary?
    No, he sees it as a rigged game and a hopeless game. Lets face it the U.S. IS going over the fiscal cliff in the near future. So much has been left unfixed and rigged he has zero power. He is not seeking a 2nd term. I think part of it was he being the first ‘Black’ president. It was like a huge rush everyone coming at him and now he realizes: guess what? The root of all evil is in the House and Senate an NO American is paying attention to that. A presidenet really has no power anymore in this country and I belive he has seen that ugly light. Welcome back to Chicago. We hard working taxpaying people will be left with an arrogant and mean rich boy for president in Romney. He was gievn his wealth and he has had ‘others ‘Do his filthy business.LOOK OUT.ttp://

  13. Chimpelle Obongo Says:

    Really? You think Hussein, who has had the support of the VintageMedia (read mainstreammedia) for 4 years is not running at full speed simply because he has lost the zip? How about the fact that he was never prepared for the job he sought and is in way over his head? The reason his poll numbers re down is because Americans are opening their eyes to the empty chair president and they are choosing to go in another direction. Hussein’s new motto should be FOREWARNED.

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