We learn from the Times that:

Mr. Obama made clear to advisers that he was not happy about debating Mr. Romney, whom he views with disdain. It was something to endure, rather than an opportunity, aides said.

Well, now, one certainly feels compassion for the president. The sheer, nearly unendurable tediousness of it. Having to take time out from chatting up Barbara Walters and hitting up the whales of Las Vegas for more cash in order to argue policy with the mere presidential nominee of a major American political party. The stuff you have to put up with in that job.

This, of course, is just one more refinement of the president's alibi. He thought he was going to a "discussion," David Axelrod tells us, and found himself, instead, in a debate. Heaven forfend. He was distracted by the cares of state, according to some other aide. John Kerry didn't do a good job of playing Romney in the rehearsals, whispers another. And so on. Could it have been something he ate?

Or, one thinks, maybe the president lost because the didn't have much of an argument and made it about as well as anyone could have.

Still, how could we expect him to bring his best stuff when he would be debating man for whom he feels disdain in an event he felt he had to endure?

We expect too much of the man, sometimes. Really.

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