This kind of talk is going to pick up after the first of the year, especially if the economy remains stuck in the mud and the GOP is able to appear effective in battling the deficit. The Washington Post article by two prominent Democrats - Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell - may be the first salvo in an effort by regular Democrats to cast off the deadweight of Obama and seek out another candidate:
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.
This is a well meaning recommendation but not very realistic. Obama as a lame duck would be even less effective. Not only has he lost the "consent of the governed" as the authors point out in the article, but his ability to drag his party along with him in what Schoen-Caddell thinks he should do would be extremely iffy due to the unpopularity of his policies. The people may give him high marks for his selflessness, but that doesn't mean they would support another stim bill, or a continuation of the Obama agenda.
Nevertheless, a wall has been breached and the notion is out in the open. We'll see after the first of the year if there are any Democrats who will challenge the president in 2012 primaries. If that happens, anything is possible and the idea of a one term president who removes himself - or is forcibly removed by his party - comes into play.