05/01/2011 04:53 pm ET Updated Jul 01, 2011

2012: Obama vs. Obama

Seth Myers had is exactly right. At the White House Correspondence Dinner on Saturday night, Myers said that given the paucity of viable candidates so far offered up by the Republicans for the coming election, Obama's only viable opponent was going to be Obama '08, the charismatic, exciting idealistic harbinger of hope who captured our hearts and minds.

Obama '12, on the other hand, Myers said, is tired, worn down, graying and hesitant. Although the campaign trail may energize him, bringing back some of the fire in the belly, the American electorate will be more wary this time around. The crowds will be smaller and the message darker. The problem is, however, once that voter gets into the booth, draws the curtain (where they still have curtains to draw), what will he or she finally do?

If the Republicans settle on Romney, the Tea drinkers will bolt and vote for Ron Paul, who will probably run a third-party campaign. If the Republicans are foolish enough to nominate a Tea drinker, the moderates will either sit it out or vote for the new Centrist Obama. As for the Progressives, they will swallow hard and stay with the incumbent, who, after all, is at least sane.

What Myers did Saturday Night (Live) was to do what the pundits have not done: tell it like it is and pose the right question. Basically he asked us what is the American voter to do? Both the Near and Far Right are crazy, and the Obama Administration appears to be adrift on its raft in a turbulent sea.

I have argued in this space recently that Obama's best shot is to bang away at the signature issues like health care and taxes for the rich and see if the voters are frightened enough of the Tea Party to throw them out. If that happens, the second term could supply that drifting raft with a rudder and even an engine (solar-powered, of course).