President Barack Obama’s got a decidedly downbeat message from his hometown newspaper on Monday – please don’t run for re-election.
The message did not come directly from the Chicago Tribune, but from a distinguished member of its editorial board, veteran columnist Steve Chapman.
Even so, the fact it was printed in the Windy City’s most prominent newspaper, which endorsed Obama in 2008, is a major blow to the president.
“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,” wrote Chapman, who said that Democrats have a more-than-able replacement candidate in 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.
“Not only that, Clinton is a savvy political veteran who already knows how to run for president. Oh, and a new Bloomberg poll finds her to be merely ‘the most popular national political figure in America today.’ “
Clinton has said repeatedly that she has no intention of standing for the presidency, saying she is done with elective politics.
Reaction to the piece was swift. Writing on Hot Air, Ed Morrissey said, “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.”
Chapman’s column, entitled “Why Obama Should Withdraw,” started by pointing out that, when Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984, his slogan was “Morning in America.” Obama’s slogan in 2012 should be “Midnight in a Coal Mine,” Chapman suggested.
“The sputtering economy is about to stall out, unemployment is high, his jobs program may not pass, foreclosures are rampant and the poor guy can't even sneak a cigarette.
“His approval rating is at its lowest level ever,” added Chapman, who has sat on the Tribune’s editorial board for 30 years. “His party just lost two House elections — one in a district it had held for 88 consecutive years. He's staked his future on the jobs bill, which most Americans don't think would work.”
The Harvard-educated columnist pointed out that nothing in the Constitution forces a president to run for a second term. Obama, he said, “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,” he added. “Why not leave of his own volition instead of waiting to get the ax?”
Chapman said that a president’s second term too often is difficult anyway.
“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.”
And with the likelihood of the GOP holding both Houses of Congress, a second-term could be a nightmare for Obama. “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner will bound out of bed each day eager to make his life miserable.
“If he runs for re-election, Obama may find that the only fate worse than losing is winning. But he might arrange things so it will be [Hillary] Clinton who has the unenviable job of reviving the economy, balancing the budget, getting out of Afghanistan and grappling with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
“Obama, meanwhile, will be on a Hawaiian beach, wrestling the cap off a Corona.”
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