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Posted at 3:58 PM ET, 11/16/2010

Should Obama really decline to run for a second term?

By Kevin Huffman

In a widely-read Post op-ed, Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell make the truly unique argument that President Obama should not run for reelection in 2012. In the central thesis of their piece, they argue:

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.

The authors believe that the president is hopelessly compromised because of the national political division (which, now that they think about it, he created). So even though Obama may have some good ideas and want to do good things, he's just too much of a lightning rod and should step aside so that he can really be a beacon of hope (or at least a flashlight of hope or maybe a nightlight that we sometimes look at when we remember it's there) while a new era of bipartisan cooperation ushers itself in.

Wow, I thought as I read Schoen and Caddell's piece. Gosh. Perhaps Barack Obama truly is the cause of all that is wrong in America. And yet as compelling as I found this argument, I couldn't help but notice that more than a thousand readers commented on the piece, and these commenters were often at odds with each other. Despite Schoen and Caddell's best intentions and their desire to just make the country better, the situation on the ground changed over the course of the weekend. I can now say with certainty that their op-ed has created divisiveness. The causal link is quite clear: before they wrote their piece, nobody had commented on it. And yet, after they wrote it, people had many unkind things to say to each other.

It pains me to say this -- and I don't come to this lightly -- but it's time for Schoen and Caddell to hang up their pens and walk away from the op-ed page.

They have many important things to contribute to the national discourse, but it's my belief that they cannot achieve their goals of national unity by continuing to write. Paradoxically, if they cease writing, we can return to the highly civil political discourse we all saw in the two decades preceding their current opinion writing.

This suggestion cuts me to the quick; I had such high hopes for Schoen and Caddell when I first read their bios. And yet by hanging up their pens, I am confident that Schoen and Caddell will serve two important interests. First, they will preserve their own ability to lead discussion since nobody will question their motives. Second, we will avoid the tragic consequence of dueling vitriolic comment threads. We have a unique opportunity right now, when Post readers are clearly so anxious to agree with each other and with all of the other op-ed writers, and I would hate to throw this chance away through continued divisive opinion pieces.

By Kevin Huffman  | November 16, 2010; 3:58 PM ET
Categories:  Huffman  | Tags:  Kevin Huffman  
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For some reason, I could not list any comments on their site and saw no comments. They were short-sighted in that gridlock will continue long after the current President leaves office. The Republicans are feeling their "cheerios." It is interesting that you suggest these commentators go away; and it is apparent too many believe them to be the Democrats they were years ago. I will have to follow their columns better in the future more thoroughly, and I agree they are devisive. So are the other columnists, although not intentionally, in my opinion. It is amazing how many people read the columns of those they detest, say they won't read these same columns, and will cancel the "Post." Yet, there they are again. I'm sure the "Post" likes some of the controversies because it means people are reading their newspapers. What is upsetting though is that there is very little thought going into reactions to the columns. Vitrial, with no commonsense or suggestions, dominates too many of the responders. There is very little, if any, suggestion on how this country can improve. These columnists apparently perpetuate that way of thinking.

Posted by: snoopsmom | November 16, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Mr Huffman,

of course NOT. BHO should run again so that either HILLERY or whomever the TEA PARTY/GOP runs against either of them will humiliate him & help us destroy the DIMocRATS party.

IF he doesn't run, he will NOT be "the poster child", that will bring TENS of MILIIONS of angry voters out to the polls to defeat the DIMocRATS by the score from the local courthouse, the HoR, the Senate & the WH.

just my opinion.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 16, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Post partisan?

That's a joke, right?

This piece is truly awful by the way. These guys who penned the original piece are not abject failures at everything they have touched for the last 20 months and they have documented successes at some point in their pasts. Thus they have nothing in common with obama so the comparison falls flat.

Posted by: standard_guy | November 16, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Post partisan? Oh wait, I get it - "Post" and "partisan", not "Post partisan"

Well, how is that any different than the rest of the paper?

This piece is truly awful by the way. These guys who penned the original piece are not abject failures at everything they have touched for the last 20 months and they have documented successes at some point in their pasts. Thus they have nothing in common with obama so the comparison falls flat.

Posted by: standard_guy | November 16, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

@standard_guy: You may not have liked the things that were done, but this prez has accomplished many things in his 20 mos. I wont go into them, but you know what some of them are-- you are just pretending to be that thick. And he would have done more if it were not for repub. obstruction. Lawd! How I'm beginning to despise some of you people---G*F*Y.

Posted by: dirktazer | November 16, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

texasnative, your writng, which I am sure you think is cool, really just shows the lack of intelligence pushed in your home state. Just what this country needs, to be run by a bunch of dimwits who can't form a complete sentence and want to foster their ignorance on the rest of us.

Posted by: mikel7 | November 16, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey Kev,

Great comparison! Everyone in the GOP thinks Obama is the cause of all the partisanship, while they forget it started waaaaaaaaay before him.

Limbaugh has been around a long time, stoking the partisan furor, and the GOP has gone right along with him in it!

The GOP thinks it has won a big coup. They should remember how fickle Americans really are, and that dissatisfaction in these next two years could come home to roost with their ouster in the next election cycle.

Americans will eventually figure out that it is primarily Republicans that hold the corporate purse strings, and that it is Republicans that have kept unemployment as high as it is because they refuse to create the jobs. (The selfish Bas**rds!!).

I hope they realize that the French revolution could happen in America if they continue to oppress the average working man too much. Before long, you might have some wanting to bring out the guillotine too....then we would see if the corporate profits and obscene bonuses were worth it....

Again, GOP, be careful what you wish for. Average Americans will only put up with your crap for so long!

Posted by: JJOhio | November 16, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I believe the word for this article is "irony", but it seems that this has been lost for many of the people who have commented.

Posted by: doughkj | November 16, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

There's a reason why Rush Limbaugh has been around 22 years and Obama is having a hard time with just 2 years in office. We could only hope that this community organizer in a big boys suit would walk away from all the destruction he has caused. But you see, with everyone he has ever been around him is a socialist and he is going to try to cram as much as he can down our throats in the short time he has left!

Posted by: releggneh1 | November 16, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe all of the negative things people have to say about Obama... heart-breaking, really. He is my hero. My eyes get watery every time I hear his name. Hero Hero Hero!

Posted by: cjthomas1 | November 16, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Why are conservative commentators so clueless? I see it here, I see it in all the other articles in the WaPo. Don't you all know what sarcasm is? Apparently not.

I'll grant you, here we have sarcasm tinged with truth where as the referred to article Schoen & Caddell wrote was sarcasm based on idiocy....What? You mean they meant what they said? Jeez, what morons.

Posted by: kindness1 | November 16, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Only 2 more years left of this class discourse and class resentment, and then we can get back to creating jobs by stimulating industry and investment, not vilifying those that move our economy forward, and over-taxing those that have achieved any bit of financial success. BTW, the Nobel Peace prize that was handed in advance of the larger body of work is still working for that body of work...Any clue when we will see that? What a political commentary from Scandinavia that was.... Bill Clinton was more deserving.

Posted by: sergio0889 | November 16, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Schoen and Cadell were just floating the latest "move over and give the Presidency to Hillary" trial balloon. It was a stupid idea the Obama will certainly not take.

Posted by: FelipeV | November 17, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: John61254 | November 17, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

This is an excellent piece that skewers the wacky thinking put forward Schoen and Caddell. Jesus Christ would be vilified by the Republican party attack machine if he was a Democrat.

Regarding posts by some readers criticizing Obama's accomplishments, I advise that those people read the news more carefully than they have done heretofore. The stimulus saved millions of jobs, the bailouts stopped the economy from continuing its freefall, and the healthcare bill will reduce the deficit while allowing many people to have healthcare who were denied it previously. Not too bad for two years work. Sergio's comments were very interesting because they reinforce what seems to be the Republican strategy (let the country burn so we can get back in power and help our rich backers start making fistfuls of money again). Another example of that strategy was in the news today with the report that Republicans were opposed to the START treaty. I lament the fact that many Americans believe the Republican Party is on their side when it clearly is not.

Posted by: pjhansen | November 17, 2010 6:09 AM | Report abuse

This article reeks of sophomoric sarcasm, and I've always thought that sarcasm is a weapon of the weak.

Let's face it: Oblahblah came into the office (albeit, not with my vote) with unprecedented good will. I always thought he was a big bag of hot air, but I told myself on election night 2008 that maybe, just maybe, he would govern as a centrist and could build some unity in the country. WRONG! The Great "I Won" made it clear from the very beginning that he couldn't give a rat's rear about anyone else's opinion. Even now, it is painfully obvious that this guy dwells in an alternate reality where his problem is one of messaging, nor policy. He is always the least knowledgeable, least competent person in any room he goes in, unless it's one with a bunch of kids wanting him to dance as in India.

It was the height of stupidity for Dimwits and the oh-so-precious "Independents" to put this guy in office. He had not one solid credential other than giving a lot of pedantic, cliche-ridden speeches, during which liberal women would drop like flies and idiot commentators would have thrills run up their legs or liken him to God or call him "The One". The media would regularly print photos of him where a light behind his head just "happened" to give the appearance of a halo. How stupid have we become? How immature? Where are his college transcripts? Where is the evidence of his supposed "intellect" and "brilliance"? I'll tell you where: In the fantasies of the Left and guilt-ridden whites who think "hope" is an action item and "change" always means something positive.

So Huffman, you can dish out all of the sarcasm you like, but the very fact the Schoen and Caddell wrote such a piece a mere half-way into this disasterous Administration and that it is the subject of such interest should tell you something. Obama is a disaster...a narcissist of the first order, and borderline sociopath. If for nothing else, he ought to be impeached for directing his AG to sue a sovereign state for attempting to enforce the equivalent of federal immigration law. His partisan rhetoric -- particularly leading up to the 2010 midterms -- is beyond the pale. Utterly classless. He has bowed and scraped before the world and now wonders why they don't listen to him.

He is an unmitigated disaster and ought to resign immediately but most certainly should not run again. Being a lazy goldbrick by nature, I doubt deepdown that he even wants to.

Posted by: RedderThanEver | November 17, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Redder - you criticize Obama for being classless yet most of your post consists of name calling. You criticize him for being classless yet your ID is Redderthanever. Are you also a lazy goldbrick by nature?

Posted by: pjhansen | November 17, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Great piece.

It DOES highlight the point that all the opposition has to do is to adopt a strategy of 'Party Over Country', lie about everything (death panels), name call (Marxist, Maoist, Stalinist, Statist, juvenile delinquent), and obstruct everything (ala Trent Lott)...

THEN....corporate lobbyists can get those who lost the election in the streets to scream that DC is not listening to the minority, while assuring that DC does not listen to the majority.

THEN..... say the other side is polarizing, and should give up.

Good plan, if you have no principles or concern for the nation.

Posted by: sickofthemall | November 17, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

THere is one answer that removes all mystery. They sold out. Now they blather.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | November 17, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Kevin Huffman offers the perfect retort to the blather from Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell. Of course it is somewhat tongue in cheek, but even though spoken in jest there is some truth to it. Schoen and Caddell
are cleary shills for Fox and should be cast aside into the wastebin of histor.

Posted by: tommytunes | November 17, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: charik | November 17, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Interesting way to point out the ironies and parallels.
I am of the opinion that everything wrong with this country is being blamed on Obama because he is not a white straight male. And somehow W. Bush gets a "Get out of jail free" pass.
Opponents may not agree with universal health care (was that the ONLY thing our polarized political system was able to accomplish?), but attacking Obama personally is just plain ignorant.

Posted by: ChemEStudent | November 17, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Here's what President Obama should do: Tell everybody that he will be running for a second term,but run the country like a courageous one term president.Do what's in the best interests of the American people.Fight the radical right agenda of the Republicans and boost the morale of the wishy washy Conressional Dems.Start by fighting the $700 billion budget busting Bush tax cuts for the rich.Veto any extension.Use the bully pulpit.Stand up for the working and middle classes.Get the heck out of Afghanistan and Iraq ASAP.Then,the Democratic Party and the voters will demand that Obama run for a second term.As Obama said,better to be a great one term president than a mediocre two term president.

Posted by: johnbird1 | November 17, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree with a few of the posters. This is a trite piece, the comparison falls flat, and what is more, both writers he castigates are dedicated dems who are motivated to speak sense to their party.

They were being diplomatic in their language, but they know what many of us do:
1. Obama's arrogance is intolerable.
2. He is the most anti-Israel president in my lifetime (gave 400 million to Hamas so they can keep firing rockets at Israelis).
3. He's in bed with George Soros who seeks to literally dismantle our country so that O can bring about his "transformational change."
4. He bends over backwards to not offend Muslims, but won't set foot in a synagogue.
5. For all the Bush bashers - he has doubled THAT deficit in just TWO years.
6. He will not be wise enough to be Clintonian enough to move toward the center. He will be to blame for that - not Republicans. For all the whining about the midterms: Americans may vote against someone or something a lot, but it remains, they also vote FOR something or someone
7.For all the rants about who the ideologues are, Obama is the quintessential leftist ideologue (see number 6).

Posted by: jay_thompson | November 17, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Not only should they put their pens in storage, they should stop drinking. The Republicans will never work with the President. They made that clear from the beginning and their actions during the midterm elections made that even clearer.

Posted by: collegebound1 | November 17, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse


fwiw, my dissertation committee thought my writing was quite acceptable.= i'll take their learned opinion over yours, thanks.

on "PP" i write to "my audience" (which is mostly DIMocRATS, i.e., SEMI-literate, lunatic leftist, hate-FILLED, SELF-important, prejudiced & terminally deluded extremists.) & see no good reason to write in a more formal style, as most of the DIMs wouldn't understand anything more complicated.

laughing AT you! ====> but, pray continue, as everyone here needs any number of good "belly laughs" at YOUR expense.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 17, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Big smile.. I enjoyed your column, Hoffman.

Posted by: Gracefulboomer | November 17, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

The most disturbing aspect to the Schoen and Caddell saga, is that the once respectable Washington Post thought such crap deserved to be published at all.

Posted by: CardFan | November 17, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Great way to make a point. I have to laugh at the defenders of the writers; they did not get the tongue-in-cheek character of your way of making the point that the writers blew it. Proof that you did a very good job.

Posted by: withersb | November 17, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"if [Schoen and Caddell] cease writing, we can return to the highly civil political discourse we all saw in the two decades preceding their current opinion writing."

Really? The last two decades were characterized by highly civil political discourse? In what country? Not the one I've been living in.

Vitriolic public discourse has a long history in America. Are we to hold Schoen and Caddell responsible for the writer who characterized his opponents as "despicable for their attachment to self-interest, self-consequence, and an unbounded popular influence?" Or for the one who compared them to "the witches in Macbeth, dancing round the chaldron of sedition, each throwing in his proportion of spells, for the confusion of his country?"

Those comments appeared in the Albany Journal, in the debate over ratifying the Constitution.

That would be in 1788.

Posted by: margaretball7 | November 17, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

The decision may not be Obama's to make.

Already, members of the democratic wing of the democratic party are talking up the idea of a primary-and-caucus challenge to Obama in 2012.

Posted by: seattle_wa | November 17, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse


How's life over at the Churches Center for Theocracy and Public Policy?

Posted by: djbigsplash | November 17, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I commented on the Schoen and Caddell article suggesting that their thinly veiled racism couched in a weak argument was an indicator of ignorance of our democratic process and a threat to our future as a nation. I also stated that Schoen and Caddell should not write for the Post or any other publication because they are not fit to be published or read. Their position lacks merit and facts. No one called for Bush to not seek a second term and he was the WORST president in 50 years. However, he was respected and feared by Congress and the American people. President Obama does not seem to warrant even basic respect from the Congress (the "You Lie" comment) and especially the GOP. Asking the American people to wake up and see what's really going on is like asking your dog to understand its training and to do it flawlessly: not going to happen.

Posted by: bhrising | November 17, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

There was little Obama could do under the circumstance much more than he did since he in his first year inherited a huge national debt run up by the Bush admins, a major recession, high unemployment, high trade deficits due to major loss of manufacturing jobs during Bush admin, a $3 trillion deficit plus the additional $9 trillion accumulated national debt, 2 wars to pay for, and military/defense spending making up 60% of his first discretionary spending budget. The only other major expense other than mandatory SS and medicare (which have trust funds) was interest on national debt, which was generated due to high military spending increases during Reagan,Bush, Bush admins without raising taxes to pay for it. The only way to significantly reduce spending and deficits is greatly reducing military spending somehow.
Which the Republicans aren’t asking for. Most were voting to prevent Obama from accomplishing things and looking good but harmed the U.S. at the same time.

Posted by: berniew11 | November 17, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Excellent. Shoen and Cadell will surely agree with you, because you are using their own carefully thought out reasoning ;).

Posted by: gwens2 | November 17, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

For his own well-being, Obama should not run in 2012. His ego will be virtually destroyed at his consistent failures....the Chicago Olympics fiasco, the 2010 Election fiasco, the Asian trip Fiasco. He has already conveyed to the public his concern that "personal charm is often not enough to get agreements".

That will really sink in if he runs in 2012 because he WILL lose. If he withdraws, he can always tell himself he was a great one term president. That's a small price tp pay to be see the back of him.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | November 17, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Actually, In response to jay_thompson:November 17, 2010 10:21 AM

I think

The writers he castigates are dedicated dems like Dick Morris is a “dem” .
The truth is,

1. Obama's humility and outreach to the other side is why many who put him in the WhiteHouse are disappointed now.
2. He has caved into Israel at a time when even handedness is called for.
He did NOT give money to Hamas, that is just right wing propaganda.
3. He has NEVER been in bed with George Soros who is unhappy that Obama is so deferential to the free marketers.
George Soros is not as bad, and certainly no worse than The Kochs, the Coors and the Scaifes, who want to bring about a fascist state.
4. He tries to restore our good name lost by the last administration who did a lot of business with the bin Ladins and the buddies, (Baker/ Botts who defended the Saudis against the 9/11 families.
5 When someone destroys your house, you have to go into deficit spending to fix it.
6. He would have to go VERY far to the left to move towards the center.
If the American people had wanted Republican light in 2008, they would have voted for it.

That they feel they got Reagan when they wanted FDR is why many stayed home for the midterms.

There are no ideologues.

Only people trying to fix the problems and people who want the country to be as much pain as possible so that they can take power.

Bob Novak already said that was the GOP.

Posted by: sickofthemall | November 17, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mr. Huffman.

That was one of the funniest pieces I've read in ages!


Posted by: Cobalt1 | November 17, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Very nicely done, Kevin Huffman.

Any progressive who has held their nose and watched Fox has inevitably seen Caddell and Schoen represent-- falsely-- the "fair and balanced Democratic viewpoint" on such segments as Hannity's "Great American Panel."

Neither has ever said anything positive about President Obama. Never. They are indeed, as an earlier poster stated, shills for Fox. For whatever reasons, they are bitterly and viscerally opposed to the president.

In an earlier Washington Post op/ed, they had the unmitigated gall to call themselves "traditional liberals." Traditional liberals are for universal health care, gentlemen. We have been for 100 years.

I know what a liberal is; I know what a Democrat is. Caddell and Schoen are neither. They are frauds. Yet those conservatives and moderates and independents who watch Hannity and O'Reilly and wherever else Caddell/Schoen lurk on Fox believe, "Wow, there really are Democrats who not only disagree with Obama; they hate Obama."

It's bad enough that they make believe they are Democrats on Fox, but the Washington Post should know better. They should not be given a forum to offer any advice to the president.

Would the WP have printed a column by Boehner, in which he called for the president to announce for the country's sake that he would be a one-term president? Nonsense.

Posted by: tttvance | November 18, 2010 3:27 AM | Report abuse

Just came across this today and I love it. What a refreshing response to one of the jaw-droppingly dumbest columns (by Schoen and Caddell) in years if not decades.

Thank you so much and please write more columns more often. They are (nearly always) among my favorites.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter1 | November 23, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

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