Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson

President Obama leaves office on Jan. 20, 2017 – or does he? The Internet is abuzz with talk about the myriad of ways Obama might seek to extend his White House role – sparked in part by radio conjecture from conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh – and now at least one likely presidential candidate, Ben Carson, has weighed in to say: Don’t worry, Obama will leave.

First, the question from WND to Carson: “Who would stop Obama from remaining in office past his second term?”

And Carson’s reply, via email: “We the people would oppose it through our Constitution, the 22nd Amendment of which forbids more than two terms. Even some of the timid people in the other two branches of government would be willing to stand behind the fortified walls of our Constitution.”

Sounds reasonable – but the buzz persists.

As far back as February 2014, Limbaugh was raising the “what-if” about an Obama who refused to leave office. Then, he was discussing the three-year extension for the employer mandate in Obamacare on his show and said, “Now they’re delaying the thing until after Obama’s gone, although what evidence do we have that Obama’s leaving? ‘Well, Rush, I mean the Constitution says –’ Yeah? And the Constitution also says he can’t do what he’s doing here. … So when you make jokes about Obama having to leave office … why?”

Limbaugh spoke of the issue again on one of his most recent radio shows, after a caller bluntly asked: How would we get Obama out of office if Democrats wanted him to stay?

Limbaugh’s reply: “Let’s fast forward to, say, May, June of 2016 … [Obama] would go on television and say that the Democrat field is so weak that he’s not confident that Mrs. Clinton can win. He might even take steps to make sure she can’t win. You know, sabotage her campaign. And then call a national speech to the nation in which the main point is that it’s beginning to look like the Republicans will win the White House and this is something that he can’t risk. Not after eight courageous years of transforming America. … So as a service to the nation, he is going to forget the Twenty-Second Amendment and either not leave office or run for reelection himself as the Democrat nominee. Just imagine that scenario. I don’t care how unreal it sounds, how unbelievable it sounds. Imagine it. What would anybody do? What would Mitch McConnell do? What would John Boehner do?”

Limbaugh’s conclusion?

“We’d be done,” he said, adding that the Supreme Court would turn away the case, based on standing, while the media would cheer Obama.

He then warned: “Put all this in the mix. This guy’s out there thinking about this. It’s hard to believe, it’s so unlikely.”

But it’s still possible, Limbaugh said.

“What would the Republicans do? I think the odds are the Republicans might call an emergency constitutional convention and amend the Twenty-Second Amendment, permitting Obama to do this because their fear of being critical of Obama would destroy their chances of winning with the Independents,” he said, on his Friday show.

And it’s not as if Americans aren’t wondering the same scenario.

The news forum for “The Sean Hannity Show” is filled with discussion of just such a hypothetical. The leading question: “What if Obama found a way to suspend, or dismiss, the 2016 election cycle, or results, and refused to leave office? What would your reaction be?” And another forum, Quora, asked similarly: “Will President Obama leave office after two terms, as per the Constitution?” Replies varied.

“Yes, he will,” wrote Susie Downing. “This is one of the things I love about my country. Every four or eight years, on January 20th, the most powerful man in the free world packs his bags, gets on a helicopter and leaves.”

Steven Franklin, a self-described retired history teacher, wrote: “This is a silly question. Second, no president in the history of the United States ever tried to remain in office at the expiration of his term.”

Craig Priestley reminded of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 “who insisted on running for a third term … [and] went on to win a fourth term.” It was shortly after the 22nd Amendment came into being. But, Priestley added: “The only way Obama could stay on for a third term, therefore, would be by amending the Constitution again.”

And yet one more wrote: “In any country, nobody governs without the consent of the military. … In a viable democracy, we don’t see military coups, but if an American president tried to circumvent the Constitution to remain in power, he would likely lose the support of the military in very short order, no matter what party he represented.”

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