Obama might do his party a big favor. 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.
The column went viral, getting more readers at one time than the Tribune story on the Rod Blagojevich verdict getting. (Tribune web editor Ben Estes tells me the column has gotten more than a half million page views.)
“I’ve been writing a column for 30 years, and none has ever gotten as much reaction as this one,” says Chapman. “Why? I think it was mainly because the suggestion that Obama not run for re-election came from someone at his hometown newspaper. What surprised me was how the response was split. It wasn’t conservatives on one side and liberals on the other. Some conservatives and liberals liked it, and some conservatives and liberals hated it.”
Jay Leno picked up on the column, but commented on it as if were the official position of the Tribune, which prompted editor Gerould Kern to issue this statement:
Like other columnists who appear on our Commentary pages, Steve presented his own particular point of view. We think Steve is an accomplished, insightful and thought-provoking columnist. But the voice of the Chicago Tribune as an institution and our positions on important public issues are embodied in our editorials that appear on the Editorial Page opposite the Commentary Page. The Chicago Tribune endorsed Barack Obama in 2008. Since then, we have supported a number of his actions and opposed or criticized others. As is our customary practice, the Tribune will make endorsements in the presidential race in 2012.