The Stern experiment was a complete failure, this sounds like pre-promotion on an exit strategy.
Agree. In showbiz managing public perceptions is everything. If you want the public to not see Stern's tenure as a failure, the first thing you do is publicly proclaim you want him back. He will go along gladly as it allows him to claim "they wanted me back but I don't like the workload" and save face.
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." ~Frederic Bastiat