Somehow I Don’t See This In My Crystal Ball

President Lyndon Johnson famously responded to overwhelming public criticism of his handling of Vietnam by announcing that he would not serve as President for a second full term — he channeled the long-dead General William Tecumseh Sherman, who said “If nominated, I will not accept; if drafted, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.”

This created chaos for the Democratic party in 1968, and paved the way for Richard Nixon to explore entirely new and different ways to get into political trouble concerning Vietnam.

Today, it is easy to see that President Barack Obama has run in to strong — I’m not sure “overwhelming” is accurate, but “strong” certainly is — public criticism of his handling of the economy. Is the solution a Polk-like “one and done” for Barack Obama? 

Survey says: irrelevant, because it’s not gonna happen. It’s fundamentally contrary to the President’s personality not to seek re-election, just as it was fundamentally contrary to his personality to decline a Nobel Peace Prize he demonstrably had not earned.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. It's fundamentally contrary to ANY President's personality not to seek re-election. You can't be arguing that LBJ's decision was influenced by a personality that didn't crave power. He made that decision because he knew he had no chance of winning, not because he had some Cincinnatus-like disinterest in authority. Obama still has a very good chance of being re-elected, particularly when one considers the weak field of potential GOP challengers. The two situations are not equivalent, and personality has next to nothing to do with it.Also, what on earth would you have had Obama do with the Nobel prize? He would have received criticism no less strident from the Right had he declined it. I'm confident that he didn't want the prize, at least not at that point in his career, and had to do the best under the circumstances. Indeed, he used the occasion of his acceptance speech to make a pragmatic argument in favor of military intervention, which was (in my humble opinion) actually rather a brave, statesman-like thing to do.

  2. I'm amazed at the sheer gall and dishonesty of people calling for President Obama to lame-duck himself. Especially on the grounds of hatred stirred up by (1) the sh*t-pile left by the GOP, and (2) the GOP lie campaign.

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