Obama 'Humbled' by Agony of Midterm Defeat

But defended his policies in post-election press conference

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President Obama told reporters that Tuesday "was a long night for a lot of you, and needless to say it was for me," in a long press conference following his party's huge loss in the midterm elections. The vote was "humbling," Obama said--to a point. The president blamed his loss on people being frustrated with the slowly recovering economy, not his policies, Chris Rovzar writes at Daily Intel.

In fact, Obama said his error was not in passing too much of his agenda, but not enough. "Over the past two years we've made progress but not enough progress ... I've got to take direct responsibility for the fact that we've not made as much progress as we want to make." There will be no "re-litigating" of health care, the president said. But a climate change bill seems to be a lost cause.

  • Not Humbled Enough, Ace of Spades fumes. "So far Obama's major nod to getting whooped last night is to speak slower and with a tinge of sorrow in his voice. Beyond that? Nope, not really. Big Takeaway...Obama rejects notion that his policies were rejected by voters last night. Says his policies are not moving the nation backwards, rejects notion that was message of last night. He's not going the Clinton way."
  • Health Care Reform Is Still Pretty Popular, Jonathan Cohn insists at The New Republic. "Just now, at the White House press conference, a journalist asked President Obama about the one in two voters who say they favor repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Obama noted that one in two don't want repeal, which is true." But actually, a lot more than that favor the law. "For the last few weeks, polls have consistently shown that between 40 and 50 percent of Americans answer 'yes' when pollsters ask about repeal." But specific parts of the plan, like the prescription drug benefit, "remain wildly popular." The voters who answered exit polls last night "a disproportionate number of senior citizens... Younger people are far more likely to support the Affordable Care Act. And their votes will count more, relatively speaking, in the next election."
  • A New Democratic Agenda, The Washington Independent's Jesse Zwick reports. "No mention of cap-and-trade, no mention of immigration reform. Pushing health care reform when he had a large majority in both chambers made sense strategically. Pushing education reform and investments in clean energy makes sense now that he doesn’t."
  • Giving Up on Climate Change, Michael D. Shear notes at The New York Times. "Obama all-but threw in the towel on getting comprehensive climate change legislation in the wake of the Republican surge in Congress after Tuesday’s election. Asked for areas of compromise, Mr. Obama said flatly that it is 'doubtful' such legislation could pass in the Congress for the remainder of his term. He made it clear he has no plans to pursue what he has said in the past was going to be a part of his presidential legacy. ... Mr. Obama appears to want to seek a scaled-back approach to energy legislation, saying that the new political reality 'doesn’t mean there isn’t agreement that we should have a better energy policy. Let’s find those areas where we could agree.'"
  • An Empty Call for Niceness, The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports. "The defining feature of his remarks was his re-commitment to the notions of post-partisan dialogue, collaboration and what he called 'civility.' ... It was the type of rhetorical touch that defined Obama's presidential campaign as well as his first two years in office. It's also a posture that has been resoundingly rejected by the Republican Party, which ran successfully on straight opposition to the president's agenda. For those watching, the words seemed to ring a bit hollow. Even the president himself seemed skeptical about the practicality of his pledge."
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