President Obama's hometown newspaper has some startling advice for the commander-in-chief -- quit while you're behind.
Citing the president's record-low approval ratings and unease in the Democratic base, a Chicago Tribune editorial writer recommended over the weekend that Obama need not feel obligated to run for a second term.
Steve Chapman said that with Obama facing the prospect of a double-dip recession and, if he wins reelection, a gridlocked second term, it might be better to call it a presidency and let someone else -- maybe Hillary Clinton -- carry the Democratic mantle in the 2012 election.
"I checked the Constitution, and he is under no compulsion to run for re-election," Chapman wrote in the Tribune. "He can scrap the campaign, bag the fundraising calls and never watch another Republican debate as long as he's willing to vacate the premises by Jan. 20, 2013. That might be the sensible thing to do."
Chapman said the high unemployment already makes it difficult for Obama to run. He noted that his recently unveiled jobs bill has not yet lit a brushfire of support, and that his party just lost two special elections in Congress.
"In hard times, voters have a powerful urge to punish incumbents. He could slake this thirst by stepping aside and taking the blame. Then someone less reviled could replace him at the top of the ticket," Chapman wrote.
Though ex-Obama rival and now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has brushed off talk of presidential aspirations, Chapman said Clinton would be just the right fit.
"Her husband presided over a boom, she's been busy deposing dictators instead of destroying jobs, and she's never been accused of being a pushover," he wrote. "Not only that, Clinton is a savvy political veteran who already knows how to run for president."
Obama was the first Democratic candidate for president ever endorsed by The Chicago Tribune. Chapman was on the board at the time.