As Barack Obama contends for a second term in office, two very different narratives vie to define his presidency. One sees Obama as a skillful political player and policy visionary—a chess master who consistently sees several moves ahead of his opponents (and the media). The other sees him as unsuited to his job and overwhelmed by events—a pawn incapable of overcoming a second-rate staff and the obstructionism of congressional Republicans. In the March 2012 issue of The Atlantic, national correspondent James Fallows, a longtime analyst of the presidency, took historical measure of the 44th president. This ebook features Fallows’s definitive essay, along with new commentary and an extended conversation between Fallows and senior editor Ta-Nehisi Coates.