Yes, I know, incumbent first term presidents always get to run for a second term. To do otherwise might suggest — heaven forfend! — that his party could have made a better choice four years earlier. Nevertheless, I can see some real advantages that might arise from forcing Barack Obama to defend the 2012 nomination against a challenger from the left.
For one thing, if Obama has to defend his positions against a real liberal, it is likely to take the wind out of the sails of those on the right who accuse him of being a socialist. He would be forced to defend the things he did (and elected not to do) during his first term , and demonstrate just what a "moderate" (free-market worshiping corporatist toady) he really is.
His Democratic challenger could be anybody from the Democratic Progressive Caucus other than Dennis Kucinich. (While I hold Dennis in high regard, despite the olive pit episode, he's been turned into a joke by even the liberal media.) I like Jan Schakowsky, but the candidate need not be anywhere near as liberal as she is. Russ Feingold might provide the right combination of liberalism and name recognition.
If only for amusement value, the candidate could run on the same platform Obama espoused in 2008, and appear on cable and Sunday morning news shows affirming how thoroughly Obama had sold out the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Obama could pull out his bullshit about the importance of bipartisan compromise, and how only he could "unite" America. A good time would be had by all.
In the meanwhile, Republican primary contenders would appear more and more extreme — unless the Rapture carried away a big part of the Republican base and the party actually wound up nominating Mitt (Obamacare) Romney. The independent voters who, like Obama, prefer "compromise" to anything resembling principle, will move back to the Obama camp.
After losing the primary to Obama, the progressive stalking horse would take on the task of bringing disaffected liberals back into the Democratic fold — suggesting that his or her challenge "influenced" the Democratic platform (as if a party platform ever might turn out to mean anything once the election is over.)
A second Obama term, at least, probably would mean that things wouldn't get too much worse for a while. Who knows? No longer having to worry about re-election might even allow Our President's testicles to descend from whatever cranny of his gutless abdomen they've been hidden in since 2008. At the very least, it might give organized labor enough time to find its own long-misplaced balls, and become a viable progressive force again.