Partly, this is because Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton. When the Democrats lost in 1994, Clinton’s reaction the next day was: “They sent us a clear message. I got it.”
You didn’t hear words like that from Obama on Wednesday…
Obama will also have to find a way to work with Boehner, who is no Gingrich. He’s not as brilliant, but he’s not nearly as accident-prone either. Gingrich was a messianic insurgent who believed his ideas would conquer the nation; Boehner is a Chamber of Commerce conservative who believes in raising money, counting votes and staying doggedly on message.
That makes him more dangerous to Obama than Gingrich was to Clinton, because he’s less likely to self-destruct. Boehner has already said that he’s studied the lessons of the Gingrich era; he says he won’t even threaten to shut down the federal government in next year’s budget battle, let alone actually do it. His message on Wednesday was bland and, except for a promise to try to repeal the healthcare law, almost content-free. “The new majority here in Congress will be the voice of the American people,” he said. “This is a time for us to roll up our sleeves and go to work on the people’s priorities: creating jobs, cutting spending and reforming the way Congress does its business.”