Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Member Calls On Obama To Forgo A Second Term

Yes, Barack Obama is running for a second term.

The blogosphere lit up yesterday over an Op-Ed column by Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Member Steve Chapman calling on President Obama to forgo running for President in 2012:

There is good news for the president. 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.”

Presidential encores are generally a bog of frustration, exhaustion and embarrassment. They are famous for lowest moments rather than finest hours. Richard Nixon was forced to resign in disgrace, Reagan had the Iran-Contra scandal, and Bill Clinton made the unfortunate acquaintance of Monica Lewinsky.

Administration officials get weary after four years and leave in droves. The junior varsity has to be put into service. New ideas are hard to come by.

Someone said that when a man is smitten with a beautiful woman, he should remember that somebody somewhere is tired of her. Likewise, the most inspiring presidents get stale after years of constant overexposure.

Ever helpful, Chapman even has a candidate in mind that would be ready to take Obama’s place:

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 is all fun speculation, but that’s all that it is. Hillary Clinton has already made it clear numerous times that she has no intention of running for President in 2012, or any time after that for that matter. The only person who has made their 2012 plans clearer is Chris Christie, and that’s only because he’s threatened suicide if the reporters keep asking him. Equally fanciful is the idea that Barack Obama is suddenly going to wake up one morning and decide to repeat Lyndon Johnson’s March 1968 move and decline to run for a second term.  Say whatever you might about the President, but it’s clear that he sought the Presidency because he wanted it. The idea that he’d walk away from it because of some bad poll numbers is simply silly. Already, no doubt, there are those whispering in his ear about George H.W. Bush’s high approval ratings in 1991, and Harry Truman’s come from behind in in 1948.  He’s not going to give up now, and it’s fundamentally silly to think that he’s even giving a moment of thought to this proposal.

Some who have written about Chapman’s piece have found significance in the idea that this comes from one of the President’s hometown newspapers, but I think that betrays a bit of a simplistic way of looking at things. Yes, the Chicago Tribune endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008. However, it’s worth noting that President Obama was the first Democrat that the Tribune had endorsed since its founding in 1847.If this had appeared in the pages of The New York Times, I might be more impressed. Finding something like this in the pages of the Chicago Tribune? Not exactly earth shattering, especially considering that Chapman has previously written for magazines ranging from Reason to National Review to The Weekly Standard.

Over at his own place, Dave Schuler raises an interesting thought that comes out of Chapman’s piece though:

I have a serious question arising from the column cited above. Can anyone think of a president’s second term that was more successful, more distinguished than his first term? I can’t think of one in my lifetime.

I can think of any number of less than distinguished, even disastrous second terms, however.

Barring another massive party switch in Congress, which seems unlikely, it’s highly unlikely that a second Obama term would have the same domestic successes, if you can call them that, as the first. Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner would likely lead the exodus of first term Cabinet members. By 2014, if not earlier, Senators and Governors on both sides of the aisle would being maneuvering for 2016. If the Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton Administrations are any guide, the second term would be taken up with investigations by Congress. If Eisenhower is any guide, it will be taken up by a sense of drift. More likely than not, President Obama will look overseas for his legacy, perhaps with another quixotic effort at Middle East peace. The one possibility for an enduring legacy would be in Supreme Court appointments, but even there the prospect of a Republican Senate majority (or even a vocal minority) will restrain him from selecting nominees that stray very far from the middle of legal thought.  By 2015 or so, they’ll start talking about planning the Presidential Library, and he’ll only be 54 years old.

It makes one wonder if the Confederates might not have been on to something when they created a six-year single term Presidency.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    One of the dumbest op-eds of the year. What a waste of time…

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    @Tano:

    I agree, Tano, and said so in my post on it over at my place.

  3. Nikki says:

    Barring another massive party switch in Congress, which seems unlikely,…

    Since there have been several polls out over the past couple months showing anti-incumbent fervor at an all time high, why do you believe this, Doug?

  4. @Nikki:

    Primarily because redistricting has created a whole new set of districts that are either “safe Democrat” or “safe Republican.” The number of districts in which the chances for a real flip is arguably smaller than it was in 2006, 2008, or 2010.

    Not to mention the fact that anti-incumbent fervor is not a reliable indicator of what will happen in individual races.

  5. Idiot says:

    The Democratic party gets 90% of the black vote and needs it. How exactly will they maintain that if they push asside America’s first black president?

  6. Sam says:

    If Obama has taught me anything, the day before he plans a speech, buy short!
    Every time he plans a speech the DOW tumbles. Today is no exception.

  7. Sam says:

    OMFG!!!! The editorial writer used his middle name!! SHAME ON HIM!

  8. Sam says:

    President Downgrade ObamAA+ is a narcissist and therefore will never step aside, regardless if it would be better for America or not.

  9. WR says:

    Yes, I will run out to take advice from a board member of what may be the worst-run corporation in America. Maybe he should focus on his current job — destroying the last remnants of the Los Angeles Times — before sticking his nose elsewhere.

  10. @WR:

    Just to be accurate, Chapman is a member of the Editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, not a member of the Board of Directors of Tribune Corp.

  11. Sam says:

    Looks like the LAT is not so high on the One any longer either!”

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/09/obama-jobs-speech-right-now-dick-durbin.html

    “Everybody remembers the urgency of President Obama’s attitude toward the awful jobs situation.

    Back in early August, Obama said the jobs situation was so urgent that he was going to give another speech about it — in a month or so, in September after his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.

    And then in September the president announced he would give his major jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7. But he neglected to check with congressional leaders first. And they suggested the 8th. So, since it was their House, the 8th it was.

    “Tonight,” the president said in the first 34 of his 4,021 words to a national television audience that night, “we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse.”
    And, hey, the debt ceiling had been raised to $16 trillion. (Speaking of which the president speaks on the debt this morning in another speech because he’s a Real Good Talker.) So why not spend a half-trillion more to look like he’s doing something about the terrible jobs situation with 14+ million unemployed?”

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    It makes one wonder if the Confederates might not have been on to something when they created a six-year single term Presidency.

    Possibly the only good idea they had, but a good one it was.

  13. Hey Norm says:

    Paraphrasing husband Bill…It’s much easier to be a hero when you are out of the line of fire.
    Does anyone think Hillary, or John McCain and Sarah Palin for that matter, would be doing any better today? Let’s get serious.

  14. Dave Schuler says:

    Does anyone think Hillary, or John McCain and Sarah Palin for that matter, would be doing any better today?

    Now there’s a rousing campaign slogan.

  15. ponce says:

    Barring another massive party switch in Congress, which seems unlikely…

    Because the Congressional Republicans are soooooooooooo popular with Americans?

  16. Drew says:

    “Now there’s a rousing campaign slogan.”

    Some things induce belly laughs.

  17. ponce says:

    Primarily because redistricting has created a whole new set of districts that are either “safe Democrat” or “safe Republican.”

    I heard on the radio this morning that this is the first time in 40 years that the Confederacy has undergone a redistricting with a Democrat in the White House and they’re have a hard time getting the justice department to sign off on their gerrymandering.

  18. Hey Norm says:

    “…Now there’s a rousing campaign slogan…”

    Are we are making up slogans?
    Or are we commenting on an idiot from the Trib and his op-ed?
    Drew wants to make up slogans too…so you got that going for you…which is nice!!!

  19. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yes, silly early morning misreading on my part. But I’ve got about as much respect for their editorial board as I do for their board of directors, so…

  20. Hey Norm says:
  21. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The Chicago Tribune still is being published??

  22. mantis says:

    Right wingers sure are keen on Hillary Clinton these days. I’m sure Democrats would be very wise to heed the advice of people who want them defeated.

  23. Nikki says:

    Right wingers sure are keen on Hillary Clinton these days. I’m sure Democrats would be very wise to heed the advice of people who want them defeated.

    And yet, the right-wingers do seem intent on taking Democratic advice and nominating GWB II Electric Boogaloo.

    And yes, Texas does appear to be having difficulty getting the DOJ to sign off on their Voting-Rights-Act-violating gerrymandering.

  24. Matt SF says:

    I am going to have to agree with Steve on this one. There is no way Obama can look back on this term and call it a success, so why run again? Just step aside and let someone else take control.

    Chicago Storage

  25. Racehorse says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Actually the Conderate government came up with some novel ideas considering the short time they had to put a government together and their short existence.

    “Old times there are not forgotten”

  26. An Interested Party says:

    Actually the Conderate government came up with some novel ideas…

    Oh? What were those novel ideas?