Since there is no other job that prepares you to be president, the best presidents are the ones with the ability to learn on the job and the willingness to change. First, the Obama White House has to admit it is heading in the wrong direction. Then it needs to bring all hands on deck, toss overboard a few who currently have their hands on the wheel—and turn hard to change course.

Some, including Sens. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) and Evan Bayh (D., Ind.), are saying that the outcome in Massachusetts is an indication that Mr. Obama and the Democrats need to move to the middle and focus on trying to make bipartisan deals. This, of course, is exactly what the Democrats have been doing all year. If they redouble their efforts to curry favor with the Olympia Snowes of the world they’ll be making a grave mistake…

In the past week, the president and his team have upped the populist rhetoric. But if they want people to believe their fiery pronouncements about taking on powerful interests and the status quo, they need to remember that the middle, the place the Evan Bayh crowd wants them to move toward, is exactly where the status quo resides.