On the day after his party was routed in the midterm elections, President Obama sounded like a man eager to test the notion that the new Republican Congress could render him irrelevant for his final two years in office.
Rather than seeming chastened by an evening that saw the GOP pick up at least seven seats in the Senate and more than 10 in the House, Obama instead appeared to relish the idea that the new dynamic could either result in some legislative breakthroughs or, alternatively, provide him with a means to rehabilitate his tattered political reputation.
At a press conference at the White House, Obama expressed a willingness to work with the new GOP caucus, but at the same time challenged it, suggesting that if incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner are sincere about wanting to legislate, they'll need to demonstrate it to him. "I take them at their word they want to produce," Obama said Wednesday. "They're in the majority. They need to present their agenda."
The president's posture was a far cry from the tone of contrition that some critics sought, and betrayed a belief within the White House that if put to the governing test, Republicans on Capitol Hill might flunk it, torn apart by internal stresses. And even if the caucus does succeed in sending bills to the Obama's desk, they may be so incendiary that he could benefit politically by vetoing them.