The president's inability to say anything more substantive than tired talking points during the debate last night should be frightening to his supporters and all Americans. Especially when it became clear to him early in the debate that fluff and stuff wouldn't hold up in comparison to Romney's clear grasp of facts in depth. The president's spinners want to blame inadequate debate preparation, but that raises two serious responses. First, Obama is already notorious for his failure to engage on policy and the legislative process. He really prefers campaigning to governance. If he can't get himself roused to prepare for the part of his job he likes, one shudders to think how disengaged he is from his real responsibilities. Second, debate prep should be a much more daunting task for a challenger than the incumbent.
I can understand how someone could begin campaigning for office and choose to focus on all the details relevant to the campaign -- fundraising, speeches, generating talking points, etc. without bothering to become a policy wonk. If they haven't previously been immersed in the details of the job, months of campaigning would not give them any better understanding of the details of policy issues. They might need to do some serious studying prior to a debate to become conversant on the wide range of potential issues which might come up.
But a sitting president is in a much different position. He's been getting daily intelligence briefings, conducting cabinet meetings, formulating policy positions, making decisions, hiring staff, appointing people to important positions, and evaluating performance. He's been in charge and presumably has a very good idea of what policies he supports and why. He supposedly has been monitoring the performance of his government and has an understanding of what is going right and what needs improvement. He supposedly has been actively involved in managing the affairs of the nation.
He shouldn't need any preparation to be able to explain what he's been doing and why!
Yes, he might need to brush up on the details of Romney's proposals and he might need some practice in coming up with the best comebacks, opening statements, closings, etc. But when pressed, he should be well-versed and solidly prepared to defend his own work over the last 4 years. Those details and explanations should be at his fingertips every day. Last night, Obama couldn't explain what he's supposedly been doing.