I’m sure by now most everyone has read, or at least read about, that Sunday WaPo op-ed by Democratic pollsters Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell. It’s a long one, but you can get the gist pretty early on. Here’s what you need to read:
This is a critical moment for the country. From the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, America is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future. Under these circumstances, Obama has the opportunity to seize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and to galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made. The only way he can do so, though, is by putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones.
To that end, we believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.
If the president goes down the reelection road, we are guaranteed two years of political gridlock, at a time when we can ill afford it. But by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, Obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.
We do not come to this conclusion lightly. But it is clear, we believe, that the president has largely lost the consent of the governed. The midterm elections were effectively a referendum on the Obama presidency. And even if it was not an endorsement of a Republican vision for America, the drubbing the Democrats took was certainly a vote of no confidence in Obama and his party. The president has almost no credibility left with Republicans and little with independents.
Putting aside the flowery language about restoring trust and bringing back the hopenchange, you’re left with one message: Schoen and Caddell simply don’t believe Obama is re-electable — and that his party is going to need the next to years to clear enough of his wreckage to give Hillary Clinton (or whomever) a shot at winning the White House in 2012.
Last January, Obama said he’d rather be a “really good one-term president.” Maybe he can find solace in being half right.