Although it is way, way too early to begin to think of 2012, it is possible that President Obama will choose not to run again in 2012.
Why? Because he has planted the seed of possibility that he simply will walk away and not risk a humiliating defeat.
Three times during recent interviews, he has raised the possibility of “not running again” or, as he told Diane Sawyer last week, being a “good one-term president.”
Why would a new president already float the idea that he might just chuck it all?
Is it because he is scared of losing in 2012?
Or is it a ploy to look as if he is “above” politics?
Or is it something deeper? Is it that he is a diffident, emotionally distant man who does not really enjoy the rough and tumble of inside-the-Beltway politics?
Sure, he loved all the adulation as he campaigned for president. But since his honeymoon ended last summer, he has had a rough “go” — what with his patriotism, intelligence, judgment, and citizenship questioned.
Both Barack and Michelle Obama, going all the way back to the 2007-2008 campaign, at times acted as if it was a step down for them to deign to run for the Oval Office. She once said in 2008, as things were getting rough with the Clintons, that this would be the “only time” the Obamas would go through this.
Now, in office, President Obama says, “It’s better to be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.”
Hmmmm — a “good one-term president” will get re-elected and thus have a chance to be something Obama never mentioned: a great two-term president.
So far Obama is not even a mediocre one-termer. He is on track to be a failed one-termer; another Jimmy Carter.
He does have time to turn things around. If the economy improves and if the unemployment rate drops substantially, he can get re-elected.
No matter what happens, he will be able to be renominated. A black Democratic President cannot be defeated for the 2012 Democratic nomination. Talk of a Hillary Clinton challenging Obama in the Democratic primaries is pie in the sky. Ain’t gonna happen.
But what might happen is this: When 2012 begins and unemployment is at 9 percent, polling shows Obama in deep, deep political trouble. In polls, he loses head-to-head match-ups to several Republican candidates. Democrats are panicked — especially after huge 2010 midterm losses in the House and Senate. There is a sourness in the political system and among a nervous electorate.
In the midst of this, Obama surprises the nation by announcing that he will not run again; he says, “I want to devote this year to governing, not campaigning.”
It might happen.
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