I think this is what Pat Cadell, an old liberal warhorse from the Carter White House, and a former Clinton Administration pollster, Douglas E. Schoen, are trying to tell President Obama and the nation:
People? See this here? This is the abyss.
Take another step, and you just might fall into it. That would be bad.
Basically, your -- all of your -- intransigence, venom, hatred of people unlike yourselves and willingness to do anything -- anything -- to make sure that you win and, more importantly, your "enemies" lose is pushing us toward that abyss. You are on a path that leads over the edge and into nothingness.
Nothingness as a people.
Nothingness as a coherent political entity.
And certainly nothing in the way of a decent life for your children or future generations of Americans. Some of you have forgotten the meaning of commonweal -- you think it's a dirty word, some radical notion cooked up by Karl Marx or Friedrich Engels.
Others of you believe in commonweal, only you think it's an excuse for some of you to wield the power of the state as a bludgeon against people you hate . . . ironically because you contend they are "hateful." Of course, hateful nowadays is a moving target, unaffected by objective standards of judging such.
One side or another of you may prevail -- that's certainly doable. It will be your funeral.
WHAT IS IT that Cadell and Schoen have written that I feel the need to boil down for you?
Oh, nothing much. Just an op-ed piece in The Washington Post calling on Obama to forgo running for re-election in 2012.
They want him to throw politics out the window, try to stop the division of America into warring camps and to, in effect, form a bipartisan national-unity government for the remainder of his term.
They think that either he does that, or there will be hell to pay. For all of us.
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.IT'S A reasonable suggestion. I'd call it "taking the high road," only radically so.
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.
I also can't imagine any American politician actually doing it. I hope I'm wrong, because I think I might -- tentatively, at least -- associate myself with their remarks. Read on.
If the president adopts our suggestion, both sides will be forced to compromise. The alternative, we fear, will put the nation at greater risk. While we believe that Obama can be reelected, to do so he will have to embark on a scorched-earth campaign of the type that President George W. Bush ran in the 2002 midterms and the 2004 presidential election, which divided Americans in ways that still plague us.WOW. Just wow.
Obama owes his election in large measure to the fact that he rejected this approach during his historic campaign. Indeed, we were among those millions of Democrats, Republicans and independents who were genuinely moved by his rhetoric and purpose. Now, the only way he can make real progress is to return to those values and to say that for the good of the country, he will not be a candidate in 2012.
Should the president do that, he - and the country - would face virtually no bad outcomes. The worst-case scenario for Obama? In January 2013, he walks away from the White House having been transformative in two ways: as the first black president, yes, but also as a man who governed in a manner unmatched by any modern leader. He will have reconciled the nation, continued the economic recovery, gained a measure of control over the fiscal problems that threaten our future, and forged critical solutions to our international challenges. He will, at last, be the figure globally he has sought to be, and will almost certainly leave a better regarded president than he is today. History will look upon him kindly - and so will the public.