One Term?

Posted on August 9, 2011 by

Democrats Harry Truman in 1952 and Lyndon Johnson in 1968 were eligible for another presidential term but chose not to run.

It’s a shame and a national tragedy that Barack Obama’s conciliatory governing style has failed in the face of republican intransigence.  But the fact is that his presidency has been marginalized. 

Talk broke out this week about a Hillary Clinton primary challenge but that probably can’t work. 

I’ve been thinking lately about the possibility of this president taking the Truman / Johnson route. 

Even though Mr. Obama’s base would probably hold in 2012, there seems to be almost no faith left in his leadership.

So he tells the nation that he wants to spend all his energy rebuilding the economy, not fighting for re-election.

His one-term presidency – spared a humiliating defeat – is seen as a great and noble historical transformation.

This gives Hillary Clinton – or any other democrat – a clean slate and a clear shot.

Comments (21)


  1. John Richardson says:

    Wow! Throw the president under the bus! WTF Lou! This guy is facing one of the most challenging presidencies in generations, one not created by him by the way and Democrats are already digging his grave. Herein lies the bigger problem as I see it: Democrats have political ADD. This is a combination of a collective weak spine – one which we should draw on from the Tea Party acolytes – and the innate ability to buy the conservative rhetoric about this president.

    Buck up guys. Let the fighting begin. Oh, in case you misunderstand me, that means fighting the republicans not ourselves.

    • Patricia Jankowski says:

      Lou, I absolutely agree. It’s so naive to blame Obama because he did not accomplish all of his goals in his first term. I think many people simply do not have any idea what he is up against. We must not withdraw our support. He needs a second term and we need to be behind him.

  2. Charlie King says:

    We can only hope you are right Lou.

  3. Al Austin says:

    You’re way off base with this one Lou! Our president is still the strongest and most credible candidate in the field. The only one termers will be the Tea Party members of congress who are obstructing our government, dragging down our economy and world markets. Why are these people only focused on cutting government and fighting taxes when millions are losing their jobs, homes, retirements and savings? I’m sorry, but that ain’t on the President Obama. He’s playing with the deck he was dealt. We need to send him a congress that wants to govern for the people.

  4. Stepping down is an intriguing prospect which I seriously doubt anyone in the administration would even entertain. However, by manifesting some selfless sense of responsibility like you suggest, Obama might actually show us the cajones he hasn’t revealed to us as yet. It might even provoke a draft Obama movement to keep him in office.

  5. Raven says:

    I think that’s a terrible idea. He has nothing to be ashamed of. He inherited a mess and was blocked and fought every step of the way. Yet, he has managed to hold his head high and conduct himself in an honorable way – despite what his opponents do. If he chooses not to run again, because it’s a thankless job, then that’s up to him. But he should not be chased out or looked at as a failure. He still has a lot of fans.

  6. John and All are absolutely right. Please see jonathan chait’s of TNR response to the Westen article in the Times. and then this:

  7. Rod Bradley says:

    It is in difficult times that leadership proves itself. Leading from behind, “leading” by refusing to fight for anything, “leading” by refusing to listen to the needs of the people, “leading” by decisions based on political calculations (lead by so-called professionals who also live in another world), “leading” by stating the obvious and doing nothing because there is no imagination and no vision — is not leadership.

    He just doesn’t have it in him, and I think he knows this. This makes the scenario of a “real” democrat running (I don’t think that’s Hillary) a faint possibility. But I think Obama’s core arrogance (the one place where he does have cojones) will trump. But he has been dropping hints.

    Obama is a nice decent progressive republican, a college professor who likes to “lead debates” — and thinks conciliation with irrational people out to destroy you can solve problems. I think his “leadership” speaks for itself. Alas.

    A speech is not action.

    It is time for a mass march on Washington by the honest majority. Looking for honest leadership.

  8. Greg II says:

    It does amaze me. So many progressive complain about the president’s lack of conviction. And at first opportunity, what do you do, display lack of conviction and no spine.

  9. The president will not/should not resign. The cast of potential candidates is miserable, a group of folks with no brains, hearts nor courage. Leadership in politics is an oxymoron. Obama may have lost his passion but he is the only hope we have if he can “mature” in his second term and stand up to the Tea Party terrorists who have declared a jihad on American workers.

  10. maya says:

    I can’t agree, Lou. People keep quoting the Drew Weston article–but seriously, it is much more dangerous.

    This awful debt ceiling crisis/stupid game of chicken, will definitely scare enough capital to flock to the Dems and the S&P president’s endorsement of how Obama is handling this will help. So my prediction/problem is Obama will get support from people who would like him to be more neoliberal. Tea Party is out of control of the Republicans and costing people money–so right a lot more money could go to Obama as the *rational voice*. I don’t have polling #s, sorry in Canada, but this is my prediction (playing @ pundit ;)

    So we need to recapture this moment. The first thing, is for him to call out the Tea Party and the Republicans–pinning this on them and saying, this is our country GIVE A DAMN. The message about America being a AAA country no matter what is stupid.

    We need a clear ENOUGH! from Obama. Then he has indicated support for corporate tax increases, and we have another kick at the can re: corporate tax cuts (i know the bill says we don’t but that is what has to be stopped).

  11. Salvador Sanchez says:

    I have been saying for a long time now: Obama must be challenged through a democratic primary otherwise we might wake up the day after election in Nov. 2012 and learn that Republicans have captured the White House.

  12. Jeffrey Del Bosque says:

    During a recent trip to DC where I got to see the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II memorial, and even hear our naval jazz band play on the steps of Capitol Hill I felt a pride for our country that I have not felt in years, and I felt a corresponding anger at how our country is being torn apart by folks more interested in money and power then in governing. Other than a few decent folk(including Obama), the majority of our politicians are too busy holding court with lobbyists and power mongers to deal with the major issues of our times–the obvious failures of our economic/capitalistic policies, global warming, etc. Though I still like and respect Obama, he is not a Lincoln or a Roosevelt, and at this time in history we need an amazing leader. I’m just not sure that our current political system is capable of producing such a leader, and if it did, that the person could mentally or physically survive all of the attacks they would face. I remain hopeful that we the people will slowly transform the system and pull the pendulum to a more progressive place, such that a real leader can rise up and support some rational solutions to our problems.

  13. Ron Auer says:

    Often our response to President Obama’s perceived ineffectiveness is a reaction to what may be his confidence in the commitment, intelligence, and integrity of all Americans, particularly those in Congress. He was naive to assume that all Americans, and perhaps the Tea Party congressional freshmen and their ideological and intransigent contributors, surely commit themselves to our process of legislation and sound governance in all open-minded seriousness. Surely now he is reconsidering these admirable beliefs. He was a community organizer, which required just that sort of faith and not innate cynicism and manipulative scheming. Knowing that a belief in the integrity and grace of the body politic is now unfortunately a bit optimisti, he will be more a lion than a poet, more a voice than a soundbite, and more a unifier than a negotiator. Winston Churchill’s voice and leadership unified the vast majority of humanity during immeasurable challenge, and the world prevailed. President Obama now knows that the policies of Lord Chamberlain are not effective in deeply challenging and irrational times. If he abandons appeasement and truly leads, a second term will be hugely welcome.

  14. Stephen says:

    What is stunning about Obama is his inability to seize the opportunity in these many crisis and teach. The wars, the economy at home and abroad present him with teachable moments. He fails to deliver narratives in his speeches—and narratives are how we learn—that show us the way forward. If he is so smart, why does he allow the Republicans to pin our budgetary problems on “entitlements” and not on our wars and worldwide police force?

    • Rey says:

      Agreed Stephen! It is a very good question…i read one of the links posted here…i believe it was on “cut the crap” and titled “Obama is smarter than us”. While the author made some valid arguments as to why we should view his choices as a success and we should stand behind him with support in the form of essentially ceasing with critiques…it still left me with this question? If he is so smart and those making critiques are so not smart and not properly informed…why has he not made a blatant effort to inform us dummies of the process? Does he like is potential voting base in the dark, dumb and un-informed? Why let this potential voting base be frozen and inactive by allowing critiques based on the perspectives of un-informed minds linger with no direct action against it? These questions leave me in the same place…questioning the whole array of politicians and their true agendas and feeling I am watching theater. That’s why people in the middle stay home and don’t vote.

  15. Bill Voegeli says:

    I’ll see you and raise, Lou. Obama should quit right now, and let the Democrats and the country sort out whether they want Joe Biden to be an interim, caretaker president or someone who could be elected for four years in 2012 in his own right. It turns out, as Drew Westen reminds us, that eight years in the Illinois Senate that included many votes of “present” on the controversial issues; plus four years in the U.S. Senate, two of them spent as a presidential candidate; plus a few speeches and some law school teaching; leaves a fellow – at least this fellow – woefully unprepared to be president. It turns out, it’s good to run – something. Something bigger than the Harvard Law Review.

  16. Alan K. says:

    The only problem with this scenario is that right-wingers (and maybe more voters than we’d like to admit) have an even deeper antipathy towards a woman as President than they do as a black (and we see how that’s brought out the worst in them).

  17. Todd Becraft says:

    NY Times 08/10/2011
    “A Test for Obama’s View of a One-Term Presidency”

  18. Teyanna says:

    Not likely, Lou. Obama is sitting on at least 86 million in campaign donations, more than anyone else Republican or Democrat. Let the games begin!

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