It’s fair to say that from 2007 through 2010, the mere words “Speaker Pelosi” gave many NewsBusters readers the willies. If some lefty activists and enough voters get their way, you’ll have the chance to hear a lot of “Speaker Obama.” On Wednesday, Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate discussed and endorsed a Change.org petition calling on Barack Obama to run for the House of Representatives in 2018 from Illinois’s 1st congressional district, the idea being that if Obama won the seat and Democrats took control of the lower chamber of Congress, Obama would become Speaker of the House.
Mathis-Lilley noted that Obama’s national favorability rating is 53.5 percent, though he acknowledged that figure “reflects the reality that, as a soon-to-be-ex-president, [Obama is] no longer involved in contentious advocacy for specific policies. He’d likely become less popular the minute he stepped back into the political fray. But the hypothetical Obama for Speaker campaign would still pretty clearly be the Democrats’ best chance at swinging Congress.”
Moreover, Donald Trump is “the least popular incoming chief executive in modern history by a large margin. Speaker Obama would be a formidable national foil to President Trump…An Obama who occasionally speaks out about issues of public importance while mostly, like, working on his memoirs is one thing. An Obama with formal powers over the legislative process is another thing altogether, and the prospect of putting such a trusted figure in a high-leverage position would likely motivate midterm Democratic turnout more than anything Obama may be planning to do as a civilian.”
Besides, contended Mathis-Lilley, there’s a precedent:
Obama…was only elected to the Senate in 2004, and he’s only 55 years old today. That’s pretty young! In an era of shorter life expectancy, John Quincy Adams ran for Congress at age 64 — and, as it happens, he did so after the election as president of a loose-cannon populist [Andrew Jackson] with authoritarian tendencies who engaged in white-nationalist ethnic cleansing and had claimed Adams’ own presidency was illegitimate. Does history ever repeat itself as neither tragedy nor farce, but as a reason for hope?
One of the premises of this scenario is that the 1st district’s current representative, Bobby Rush, will retire after his upcoming term. Obama primaried Rush in 2000, and Rush won easily.