There is an odd ritual to electoral disasters. The press pushes for the president to take responsibility. There will be calls for heads. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stepped down only one day after the midterm elections. Bill Clinton wavered for two months before declaring the “era of big government is over.”
It would be stunning if Obama does not face the inquisition. It’s inside baseball. But it’s also what’s done. And the gravity of moment calls for sincere comment. It would look worse to cower from the spotlight and split town.
Contrition is the hard part. Escaping overseas is psychic relief. Presidents savor their time abroad. It makes them feel presidential. And images come home of them looking presidential. When presidents are smallest, diplomacy enlarges (with notable exceptions, see Kennedy-Khrushchev).