Presidents facing disastrous midterm election results almost always respond by shaking up their staffs to meet changed congressional realities and signal to voters that their message has been heard. But every indication is that President Obama is going to be immune from the impulse that gripped Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, George W. Bush, and Clinton.
"Anyone who leaves will leave of their own volition, not because they were pushed," promised one longtime confidante to the president. There will be no presidential firing spree no matter how bad the news on Election Day.
This will disappoint many Democrats in Congress who blame the White House staff for leaving them without sufficient political cover in a tough campaign, as well as many Republicans who view this White House as ham-handed in its dealings with the opposition party. But it will not surprise many in either party who have come to expect this kind of non-reaction from the "No Drama" president who prides himself on maintaining a steady course.
From the day of his first inauguration, Obama has shown an aversion to firing people. Partly, that is because he resists getting rid of a loyalist just because the Washington crowd tells him to do it. Partly, it is because he believes he has a better understanding of the person's contribution to his administration than does the crowd. And partly, it is because he thinks the person already in place is the best qualified to fix a mess instead of taking the time to train a new person. Certainly that was at play in his reluctance to dismiss Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius when she was under fire for the start-up of the health care website. And when he was being pushed to fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Both eventually left, but in neither case did Obama want to fire them.