How does a President whose own aides use analogies that come painfully close to the “lame” in lame duck assure the nation that he’s still relevant? One White House source for the New York Times described Obama as “on the bench in a walking boot” during the midterms, which is not coincidentally how Americans see Barack Obama as a leader over the last couple of years. Obama will face the media at 2:50 pm ET today to give his reaction to the second historic drubbing his party has taken in midterm elections in his presidency in an attempt to argue … what, exactly? That he can lead in a country that has so soundly rejected him that even MSNBC commentators declare that “the Obama era is over”? How do you sell that message after declaring that midterms have nothing to do with his presidency?

Very, very carefully, the Wall Street Journal suggests:

In 2010, Mr. Obama had almost made it through his hourlong, post-midterm news conference without coining a lasting shorthand to define his party’s losses. He had taken nine questions and had deprived the media of the optimal sound bite.

But in answering the final question, about whether he was willing to make changes to his leadership style, Mr. Obama let down his guard.

“This is something that I think every president needs to go through, because the responsibilities of this office are so enormous,” he said, before adding: “I’m not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night. I’m sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons.”

West Wing aides have held a series of meetings in recent weeks to plot Mr. Obama’s response to the midterm elections. They have crafted an agenda and brainstormed different approaches based on various outcomes.

And they have repeatedly discussed how to ensure Mr. Obama doesn’t utter a 2014 version of “shellacking.”

Maybe they should stay away from sports analogies, too. Obama’s “jayvees” remarks in January of this year set him up to look utterly lost on foreign policy over the summer, when the “jayvees” of ISIS swept across Iraq and Syria and went on a genocidal campaign and brought back slavery on an industrial scale. Last night’s basketball analogy only underscored that impression. To use another sports analogy, it’s as though the Obama team keeps grabbing the ball from its opponents and making showy dunks, only to find they ran the wrong way on the court.

Obama will want to continue the pretense that last night had nothing to do with him, but even the somnolescent media has noticed that Obama actually did go on the campaign trail. And CBS, at least, notes that his input was apparently not terribly well received:

Steering clear of the many Democratic Senate candidates running in red states where the president was particularly unpopular, Mr. Obama stuck to only blue states where he was more likely to help rather than hurt.

Did the president ultimately hurt the nine candidates he campaigned with in the lead-up to Election Day? That’s hard to say. He certainly didn’t help much: Five of the nine candidates lost their races, and that number could rise to six if Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy does not eke out a last-minute win in his re-election race.

Plus, all the time he spent fundraising for Democrats did not result in their maintainingSenate control. The upper chamber is now firmly in the grasp of Republicans.

So … stay away from sports analogies, and stay away from an honest description of the worst Congressional results for Democrats since the New Deal. Seriously — Republicans now have their largest majority in the House since Herbert Hoover:


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As of 12:30 a.m. ET, ABC News had projected that Republicans had won 239 seats in the House to 180 for Democrats, which already gives the GOP a stronger hold than they had in the previous Congress, when they had a 34-seat majority. ABC News projected that by the time the night is over, Republicans will have gained between 14 and 18 seats in the House.

While majority control of the Senate has been the primary point of discussion through the midterm elections, President Obama could face the largest House majority since the Great Depression if Republicans win a net-gain of 13 seats in the lower chamber today.

As of 11:40 this morning, the GOP had 243 seats locked in the House, with Democrats only clinching 176 and 16 more races too close to call. An even split of those would produce 251 Republican seats in the 114th Congress, a majority of 67 seats.

Obama wants to argue that none of this has to do with his leadership and his policies, at least according to the current White House spin. If they want to keep that message up, they’d better not take any questions from a suddenly-curious national media.


Update (AP): Imagine it.