ChiTrib editor: Say, maybe it’s time for Obama to withdraw from 2012

posted at 2:00 pm on September 18, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

It’s one thing for John Fund, Allahpundit, or me to speculate on whether Barack Obama will bother running for a second term.  It’s another when one of the editors of a home-town newspaper tells a President to pull out.  Stephen Chapman of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board writes in today’s paper that it’s time for the battered champ to hang ‘em up:

I checked the Constitution, and he is under no compulsion to run for re-election. He can scrap the campaign, bag the fundraising calls and never watch another Republican debate as long as he’s willing to vacate the premises by Jan. 20, 2013.

That might be the sensible thing to do. It’s hard for a president to win a second term when unemployment is painfully high. If the economy were in full rebound mode, Obama might win anyway. But it isn’t, and it may fall into a second recession — in which case voters will decide his middle name is Hoover, not Hussein. Why not leave of his own volition instead of waiting to get the ax?

It’s not as though there is much enticement to stick around. Presidents who win re-election have generally found, wrote John Fortier and Norman Ornstein in their 2007 book, “Second-Term Blues,” that “their second terms did not measure up to their first.”

Well, there’s a scary thought.

So what would happen if Obama voluntarily stepped aside?  Chapman has the same thought that occurred to me last month:

The ideal candidate would be a figure of stature and ability who can’t be blamed for the economy. That person should not be a member of Congress, since it has an even lower approval rating than the president’s.

It would also help to be conspicuously associated with prosperity. Given Obama’s reputation for being too quick to compromise, a reputation for toughness would be an asset.

As it happens, there is someone at hand who fits this description: Hillary Clinton. Her husband presided over a boom, she’s been busy deposing dictators instead of destroying jobs, and she’s never been accused of being a pushover.

This presumes that Obama would go gently into that single-term good night, the first President who declined to run for another term since LBJ.  If he did, it still wouldn’t solve all of the Democrats’ problems.  The “deposing dictators” is a cute line, but she was part of the decision process that ended up refusing to submit the Libyan adventure for Congressional approval.  And the dictator hasn’t entirely disappeared yet, either, and we’re still not sure what will end up taking his place.

Even if Obama appeared to retire on his own a la LBJ, there would be a significant number of Democrats who would believe he’d been pushed — and pushed out by the Clintons and their clique.  It’s no secret that Obama wanted to keep the Clintons at as much arms-length as he possibly could.  He has not included Bill Clinton very often in official efforts even though Obama could clearly benefit from Clinton’s skills, and on the one memorable occasion where Obama called on the former President, Clinton ended up taking over the stage.  Hillary would appeal to the voters Obama is losing — suburban families in the Rust Belt and Midwest — but a palace coup in the Democratic Party could split the hard-Left progressives and would certainly poison the relationship between the Democratic Party and black voters.

And if Obama won’t go on his own, then there is no play for Hillary.  If she tried running a last-minute primary challenge now, all of the above comes into play — and she doesn’t have the time to build an organization that can compete with Obama’s in the field now.  (Neither does anyone else, either.)  After all, Hillary had the Clinton machine ready to deliver her to her 2008 coronation when Obama out-organized and out-boxed her, usurping her spot at the top of the ticket, and as an incumbent only has more resources on which to call this time around.

I’ve said repeatedly that I think a withdrawal by Obama is a low-probability event at best, and I still believe it to be a long shot.  However, when the home-town papers are starting to make the call for retirement, it’s maybe not quite as much of a long shot as before.

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Please Obama don’t withdraw! I want to experience the wonderfully delicious schadenfreude watching you and Michele slink away from the peoples white house in utter shame when the people exercise their judgment upon you and your despicable cohorts whom have infested the white house for 4 years. AND the whipped cream and cherry on top of my schadenfreude will be watching the racist blacks in this country go apoplectic accusing the same “enlightened” people who voted for that Marxist in 2008 of being dyed in the wool bigots.

csdeven on September 18, 2011 at 11:21 PM

The Tribune has fewer conservatives on their Op/Ed page than the NY Times. This douchebag Chapman poses as a “libertarian” but he’s a solid liberal on most issues. He’s also a nitwit.

That paper is a complete piece of garbage now.

Jaibones on September 18, 2011 at 11:25 PM

To the degree the press neglected its function as watchdog and turned cupbearer to a styrofoam demigod, it is a partner in the flaws and failures of what is turning out to be one of the most miserable performances in the modern history of the American presidency.

ted c on September 18, 2011 at 11:27 PM

I just got home from work-officially on my weekend!-and just learned that the LIB-une thinks that Zero shouldn’t run again.
didn’t they endorse Zero in 2008?
No matter-the Sun Slimes is sure to think that he’s the Second Coming of the Savior…so it evens out.

annoyinglittletwerp on September 18, 2011 at 11:31 PM

Owebama’s gotta go. Too bad the press is 3 1/2 years late on this one.

Laura in Maryland on September 18, 2011 at 11:33 PM

Some good thoughts. But if Obama looks like he is tanking in the polls, I can see Dems spin it and campaign it that “we need to elect Dems in Congress and Senate to counter the obvious coming win of a crazy Tea Party controlled Republican.” (even if it’s Romney) Kind of light a fire under the Dems to get them to the polls even if some don’t care about Obama.

Elisa on September 18, 2011 at 9:30 PM

That’s a possibility. Perhaps you’re right. We’ll know in the fullness of time.

SlaveDog on September 18, 2011 at 11:34 PM

bw222 on September 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Ed isn’t a Rino, dipstick-he’s a proud conservative…and Chapman’s a known libertarian.
He’s not a conservative.

annoyinglittletwerp on September 18, 2011 at 11:35 PM

MTF on September 18, 2011 at 10:52 PM

Now, will the morons who have been lapping up his bile and calling us racist and xenophobes FINALLY admit they were wrong?

csdeven on September 18, 2011 at 11:36 PM

Enjoy your audit.

rogerb on September 18, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Speaking of which…this year we were audited…twice.
Hmmm.

annoyinglittletwerp on September 18, 2011 at 11:38 PM

Step down when you can declare ‘Martial Law’…?

… You guys are in for a real wake up call.

Seven Percent Solution on September 18, 2011 at 10:18 PM

Oh, it won’t be called “Martial Law”. It will be called “The Executive Order for Comprehensive Civil Security Reform” and will be enacted in a effort to provide the most transparent administration ever.

SlaveDog on September 18, 2011 at 11:44 PM

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/mary-kate-cary/2011/09/17/james-carvilles-right-about-the-white-house-staff-but-thats-it

The White House is losing the left, and fast. Last week it was New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd suggesting—and perhaps hoping—that the “flailing” President Obama may be a one-termer. Then it was Washington Post writer Dana Milbank dismissing the Obama presidency as “irrelevant.” Now it’s the Ragin’ Cajun, former Clinton strategist James Carville, asking the White House to “show us you are doing something.” In fact, he writes, “Fire somebody. No—Fire a lot of people.” Carville wants a wholesale change of staff in the White House, and believes that the current people are the ones who got the country into this mess in the first place. “This is what I would say to President Barack Obama: The time has come to demand a plan of action that requires a complete change from the direction you are headed,” he wrote. Amen to that.

ted c on September 19, 2011 at 12:07 AM

I hardly think Chapman writing this is a huge break in the MSM dam – he’s always been more of an independent fiscal conservative, but he’s not even true blue on the money side, having endorsed various taxation schemes in the past which were anything but conservative.

The fact it is being openly discussed shows Obama’s weakness as a candidate for reelection, though: Presidents are almost always favored to win reelection. The only sitting Presidents defeated for reelection in the general election in the last 100 years were Taft (GOP split), Hoover (Great Depression), Carter (weak and ineffective), and Bush the Elder (weak economy & strong independent candidate). On the other hand, the only President reelected in a very close race was Truman. Incumbents tend to win handily, or lose.

Adjoran on September 19, 2011 at 1:21 AM

Unfortunately, Chapman’s article is a blog. It appears it did not run in the print version of the paper.

Corky Boyd on September 18, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Not sure why you say that … it sure ran in my copy of the rag.

Jaibones on September 19, 2011 at 2:19 AM

Owebama’s gotta go. Too bad the press is 3 1/2 years late on this one.

Laura in Maryland on September 18, 2011 at 11:33 PM

And a few trillion $$$, give or take.

galvestonian on September 19, 2011 at 4:47 AM

What ever happened to the presidential campaign debt Hillary was trying to discharge long after her loss?

FeFe on September 19, 2011 at 5:36 AM

Its’s too late for Obama. He’s been found out.

kingsjester on September 19, 2011 at 6:05 AM

Since before he announced his candidacy the libtard press has been working hard to construct a facade of presidential-ness around Obama. Now you want them to grab their tools, climb down from their scaffolds and start doing the same for Hillary? Talk about a major change-order. Where are the construction details…the building permits…has EPA signed off on this? This is going to take some serious overtime.

Extrafishy on September 19, 2011 at 6:07 AM

The end is nigh.

RDE2010 on September 19, 2011 at 7:33 AM

I’m blaming Congress for most of this trash that has happened to our country. Congress makes the laws and owns and operates the checkbook. The POTUS does not make the budget, Congress does this and we have yet to have Congress make a budget. Obama is pulling the strings on the puppets in the House and it’s sad that both parties are at fault for being so naive.

mixplix on September 19, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Obama is pulling the strings on the puppets in the House and it’s sad that both parties are at fault for being so naive.

mixplix on September 19, 2011 at 7:44 AM

I think it’s fear, not naivete’. They have been so terrified at the prospect of being called out for opposing Obama’s sainted blackness that they dared not stand against anything he wanted. From ridiculous policies to even more ridiculous SCOTUS appointments, anything, regardless of the cost to the nation, was A-OK with them.
But that was no excuse. They were just cowardly scum.

Extrafishy on September 19, 2011 at 7:59 AM

Hillarycare to the rescue!

heshtesh on September 19, 2011 at 9:19 AM

I think a more likely scenario would be the Dems searching for a third party who could syphon votes from the Repub and let Obama win. Palin and Perry are smart to court Trump.

Elisa on September 18, 2011 at 9:36 PM

A cornered dog is dangerous.

Dr Evil on September 19, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Ace has the goods. This National Post piece explicitly blames the media sycophancy for the mess in which we find ourselves, in having elected an obviously incompetent President.

A few more like this and even the NYT will feel obligated to take a bite out of the President’s reputation. Obama should be in full panic mode, just as Carville suggested.

MTF on September 18, 2011 at 10:52 PM

It’s nothing but a thang….Obama was the first Black President. Now he’s going to be the first bi racial President….see how easy that was? George Orwell warned us there would be days like these.

Dr Evil on September 19, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Come on, ‘o’ needs to stay in so Palin can wipe the floor with him.

ChuckTX on September 19, 2011 at 9:58 AM

As it happens, there is someone at hand who fits this description: Hillary Clinton.

Obama’s run the democrat party off the rails, it’s in the ditch, bankrupt on issues. Who in their right mind would step forward with absolutely no momentum? Hillary ain’t dumb.

Herb on September 19, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Obama’s run the democrat party off the rails, it’s in the ditch, bankrupt on issues. Who in their right mind would step forward with absolutely no momentum? Hillary ain’t dumb.

Herb on September 19, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Exactly, she would know that she would be doomed a loser…best to wait for 2016…however, her greed may get in the way of logic.

right2bright on September 19, 2011 at 10:22 AM

The ideal candidate would be a figure of stature and ability who can’t be blamed for the economy. That person should not be a member of Congress, since it has an even lower approval rating than the president’s.

Hillary IS a former member of Congress (Senator from New York) from 2001-2008.

Given Obama’s reputation for being too quick to compromise, a reputation for toughness would be an asset.

Obama doesn’t really have a “reputation for being too quick to compromise”. Remember during the health-care debate he told reporters “I won”, and told John McCain “the election is over”?

Obama seems to always insist on “all or nothing”, which worked when Democrats controlled everything, but is a lousy strategy when there are political opponents, such as House Republicans, who do have some real power in the Government. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were both able to negotiate with a House controlled by the other party and get things done. Obama’s problem is that he knows nothing about the negotiation with those who disagree, because he has always been surrounded by yes-men in his Chicago days.

Her husband presided over a boom, she’s been busy deposing dictators instead of destroying jobs,

Bill Clinton “presided over a boom” because House Republicans at the time dragged him kicking and screaming to lower taxes and welfare reform, and he “moved to the center”. It’s not clear that Hillary would be as willing to negotiate as Bill Clinton, although he would certainly be whispering advice into her ears.

About the only dictator that Hillary helped depose is Gaddafi, and it’s not clear that the new Libyan government will be more friendly to the West. Hillary actually tried to HELP the dictator of Honduras, while the legitimate government of Honduras used legal constitutional means to depose him! Where was Hillary when the Iranian people tried to depose Ahmedinejad? What will Hillary do if the Palestinians claim statehood? Follow her boss in snubbing our best ally in the region (Israel), which cost Democrats a House seat from Brooklyn and Queens?

Steve Z on September 19, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Yes, if Hillary ends up as a candidate, all the old scandals will resurface, and her handling of State will finally get a bit of the review it has needed for the last three years.

Even so, it’s not something I want to see.

Run, Barry, Run. You cannot win, but go down fighting.

Freelancer on September 19, 2011 at 7:15 PM

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