Obama gives every impression of believing if he had been given the opportunity to barnstorm around the country giving the same speech outlining the same laundry list of old chestnuts — the minimum wage, green energy, infrastructure — it might have turned out differently.
Electoral rebukes of this magnitude usually cause some reaction in their recipients. An invigorating policy departure. A new tone. A surprising staff shake-up. No, the president made clear in his post-election news conference, it will be more of the same, only more so. Given multiple opportunities, he refused any memorable characterization of Tuesday night’s results, like thumpin’ (George W. Bush after 2006) or shellacking (Obama after 2010). He wasn’t getting drawn into that game, although wallopin’, spankin’, thrashin’ and whoopin’ were all still available.
The president was resolute in not showing a hint of self-deprecation or humility. He only gave a strong sense of disappointment — not at himself or his party, but at all those awful people in Washington who care about politics and image so much more than he does. Notably, he made clear that the executive amnesty he put off until after the election is still imminent, despite the fact that Republicans vigorously campaigned against it and won. This ought to get the new era of bipartisan comity and productivity off with a real bang.