We keep hearing that Obama has checked out and is no longer interested in being president.

But was he ever especially interested in the work of being president? From the very start, what seemed to interest him was giving speeches and campaigning.

For the rest, he appeared to believe that just being his glorious self would somehow magically cause all the things he wanted to happen to actually occur, with a minimum of effort.

And although that sounds rather deluded, in a sense it was reality-based in his case. Isn’t that more or less how much of his life had gone until now?

Obama never was very engaged with the work of government, although much of his career has been spent in government. As president, even his signature “accomplishment” early in his administration, Obamacare, was designed and pushed mostly by others (Pelosi, for example), who did the heavy lifting for him.

That doesn’t mean he’s not an ideologue with leftist goals; it merely means that he wasn’t very interested in the day-to-day specifics of the hard work he’d have to do to reach them.

Obama is used to adulation and feeds off it, and when the adulation stops he doesn’t seem very interested in going on with the activity. Campaigning and elections are tailor-made for a personality such as his. They feature speeches and promises and debates (words) rather than the need to work with others and accomplish something concrete. The main activity is travel—constant movement—and speaking before adoring crowds.

Most important of all, they are time-limited and have an easily-defined and perceived payoff—the election results, which Obama has almost always (with the single exception of his run for Congress to unseat Bobby Rush) won handily.

Campaigns last about a year or a little more, and then the candidate gets his/her reward. It is a relative sprint compared to the longer-distance race that is a presidency, especially a two-term presidency.

Finally, we know that Obama is easily bored. No less an expert on Obama than Valerie Jarrett has said so, in the strongest possible terms: “He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.” That, from the woman who (except for Michelle) probably knows him best and is closest to him.

So, no surprise. Perhaps Obama hasn’t checked out because he never completely checked in.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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