Obama As A One-Termer?

According to an Iowa congressman, President Obama has said he wouldn't mind being a one-term president if that's what it takes to get major health care and energy reforms passed. Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) told reporters after a town-hall on health care that, during a meeting with Blue Dogs (of which Boswell is one), Obama said he'd be willing to get bounced after four years. From the Radio Iowa blog:

"The president (said), 'I'm not going to kick the can down the road.' And he said that and I said, 'Well, that's something I'm kind of used to from southern Iowa, you know.  I know about kicking the can down the road.' And he said, 'No, if it makes me a one-term president, I'm going to, we're going to take it on because the country is in need of us taking this on.' I respected that very much."

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who has criticized Obama sharply for not investigating or prosecuting his predecessors in the executive, has suggested it will happen if health care doesn't pass, or if it's a weakened, compromise bill.

"They'll blame Barack Obama. Heads he loses, tails he loses," Conyers told liberal activists at the Busboys and Poets coffee shop in Washington, DC two weeks ago. "We've got to tell Obama now, or he'll be a one term president."

So is it worth it? Sacrificing a second term for health care and energy would leave unaddressed the third pillar of Obama's domestic platform: education. To some in Obama's voting coalition, that's at least as important as the other two. If a moment arrives in the next few months when health care reform isn't so popular, but it can be done, Democratic losses will happen in Congress first, and the White House second. It's unlikely that Republicans will take a supermajority in the Senate in the next two cycles, and a stopgap of Democratic filibustering would leave Obama's changes to health care and energy intact.

But it's also unlikely that such a moment will arise. Democratic lawmakers--those on the front lines in 2010--would see their careers cut short before Obama's, so it's questionable whether Obama could get those Democratic votes on a truly ambitious package and force health care reform through Congress if it was unpopular enough to cost him a second term.