Last night may have been a bloodbath for Democrats, but just so you know, Barack Obama is totally fine. This wasn’t a shellacking at all. Not even a bare repudiation. Nope, this was just a case of a guy who was facing uphill odds and had to sit on the bench while the rest of his team did the work, and now feels like they did a pretty solid job and, well, he’s got a tee time in a couple of hours and he’s going to just take the rest of this week off.
Two things were clear long before the votes were counted on Tuesday night: President Obama would face a Congress with more Republicans for his final two years in office, and the results would be seen as a repudiation of his leadership.
But that was not the way Mr. Obama saw it. The electoral map was stacked against him, he argued, making Democrats underdogs from the start. And his own party kept him off the trail, meaning he never really got the chance to make his case. “You’re in the Final Four,” as one aide put it, “and you’re on the bench with a walking boot and you don’t get to play.”
The Republican capture of the Senate culminated a season of discontent for the president — and may yet open a period of even deeper frustration. Sagging in the polls and unwelcome in most competitive races across the country, Mr. Obama bristled as the last campaign that would influence his presidency played out while he sat largely on the sidelines. He privately complained that it should not be a judgment on him. “He doesn’t feel repudiated,” the aide said Tuesday night.
Let’s face it. Even Kim Kardashian, if I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, recognized that the 2014 midterms were a referendum on the Obama agenda. He said it himself at every opportunity. But hey, it’s within the first 24 hours, so we’ll give him sometime to be delusional. Joe Biden is probably planning a weekend kegger to celebrate his hair plugs, anyway. It’ll be nice for him to blow off some steam.
Republicans do, of course, have a choice. Their tidal wave is the result of a reaction to the President’s policies, and maybe, just a little bit, to his behavior. Over the last few months, Americans have lost faith in their President over his foreign and his domestic policy and it shows. They may have voted for change, but they’re looking for leadership, and the Republicans, numbers as good as they are, will have to show leadership to hold on to their seats in 2016 and beyond. Some may think that this isn’t the time to work with Democrats, but it might be exactly the time to show they stand for something: Republican solutions to Democrat-defined problems. Doing so might have the twin effects of making them look productive and making Barack Obama look like the only barrier to his agenda was his lack of ability to compromise.
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