PITTSBURGH—Citing three years of exhausting partisan politics, constant gridlock in Congress, and an overall feeling that the entire nation has "completely lost it," President Barack Obama openly asked a campaign-rally crowd Tuesday why he'd want to serve another term as president of "this godforsaken country."
"My fellow Americans, I come to you today to ask, why?" Obama said to 1,200 people gathered inside a gymnasium at Taylor Allderdice High School. "Why can't our congressional leaders work together to create jobs? Why can't Wall Street ever be held accountable? And most important, why on God's green earth would I voluntarily subject myself to this nonsense for another four years?"
"I'm dead serious," the president continued, saying that any reasonable person would have walked away the moment the Senate minority leader announced his main priority—above creating jobs and improving American health care—was to make Obama a one-term president. "I'm asking if anybody out there can come up with even one reason why I'd want to endure this unmitigated shit show for another minute, let alone through 2016. What's in it for me, exactly? Can anyone answer that? Anyone at all?"
After a long silence during which crowd members mostly just shuffled their feet and stared at the ground, Obama said, "Yeah, that's what I thought."
Arguing he'd have to be certifiably insane or some kind of sadistic freak to extend his presidency, Obama asked why anyone with half a brain would willingly open himself up to constant vilification by media strategists, or place himself in a situation that involves so much work for such little reward. He also asked the audience how "messed up and sick" he'd have to be to devote nearly a decade of his life to an unending cycle of political gamesmanship that stifles progress at every turn.
At one point during the 40-minute address, Obama wondered aloud if anyone could blame him for wanting to avoid another four years of idiotic questions about his birth certificate, racist immigration laws, Eric Cantor, citizens who know in their hearts the country must switch to renewable energy but simply refuse to do so, the South, antigay bigotry, and "just all of it, really."
"Today this nation faces difficult questions," Obama said. "For one, how bad must it have gotten for a politician to gladly—gladly—give up the most sought-after elected position in the world? And also, of all the people listening to me right now, is there even one of you who would honestly want to trade places with me? There isn't, is there? And I don't blame you."
In the coming weeks, Obama will reportedly continue to take his anti-second-term message across the country, asking ordinary Americans if they agree that his being on the ballot in November would make him a complete and total moron. Sources within the president's new "One Goddamn Reason" campaign confirmed he is genuinely curious to see if one American citizen can tell him why leaving the White House isn't the best thing he could possibly do for himself and his family.
"I have a pen and some paper right here," Obama said Wednesday morning at a town hall meeting in Ohio. "Let's list the pros and cons of being president. Con: There are people out there who literally want to shoot you dead. Con: We live in a country seriously considering a Newt Gingrich White House. Con: You can help 40 million Americans receive health care, sign legislation that regulates a financial system run amok, give the order to kill Osama bin Laden, help topple Muammar Qaddafi's tyrannical regime without losing the life of one American soldier, end the war in Iraq, repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, stave off a second Great Depression, take out more than 30 top al- Qaeda leaders, and somehow everyone still calls you the next Jimmy Carter."
"Can anyone out there name a pro?" continued Obama, gesturing at the silent crowd with his pen. "That's okay. I asked a bunch of people in Pittsburgh the same exact question yesterday, and they couldn't, either."
While many Beltway observers questioned Obama's new strategy, saying the president could hurt his chances of serving a second term by saying he doesn't want to serve a second term, others argued Obama seems to have finally rediscovered his voice.
"Whenever I watch him on the stump asking a crowd, 'Why am I fucking here right now?' or saying things like, 'I think I'd rather die than do this job again,' he's so fiery and passionate I'm reminded of the 2007 Obama," Democratic strategist Karen Finney said. "The one who thought he could make a difference before a broken, nonsensical political system and an insane populace robbed him of his humanity, ripped out his heart, and left him for dead.