November 3, 2010

MIDTERMS + 1: Sucking, Or Sucking it Up?

Charles Dharapak/AP

Yes, this photo is today’s “day after midterms” wallpaper.  And it symbolizes a perfect collusion between an all-too-generic interpretation (guy takes hit, guy chastened) and and a conservative ones (President reeling from policy slap-down from the American people).

The only thing is, both readings are wrong.

The fact of the matter is, Obama wasn’t expressing any remorse or feeling of self-reproach over policy in his press conference today, only process.  In terms of the prospect of getting anything done, bipartisanship might be a requirement now, not a Presidential style or a Presidential vision, but Obama’s words today reflected a “show me” attitude toward his enemies opposition more than anything else.   Nobody knows better than Obama does that the Republican leadership is coming out the mid-term victory smelling blood in the water, that the first (fantasy) order of business is taking his head off with a vote on repealing the health care legislation.  To accept that Obama is so chastened by the experience as to pull his punches, certainly anymore than he has for the past two years, is both selling Obama short and also buying into the rightwing meme that Obama is just another Democratic wimp.

That being the case, let’s go back to the wallpaper. Given Obama’s competitive streak, we’re aren’t looking at a guy who is licking his wounds as much as we’re looking at a guy feeling wounded, in the immediate moment, over getting roundly licked.

(caption: President Barack Obama listens to a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010.)

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Michael Shaw
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