First comes the dispiriting electoral defeat, then comes the circular firing squad.
It's a time-honored tradition in Washington, but the backbiting escalated quickly on Tuesday night as Democrats watched Republicans capture their Senate majority in decisive fashion. The blame went to the White House, as it usually does, in a lengthy Washington Post retelling of the Democrats' failed bid to keep the Senate.
But what makes this year's infighting unique is that it did not come in the Beltway ritual of anonymous quotes, but in on-the-record criticism of President Obama's operation from the top aide to outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. David Krone, Reid's chief of staff, told reporters Philip Rucker and Robert Costa that Senate Democrats were "beating our heads against the wall" and "never going to get on the same page" with a White House that he described as unwilling to do what it took to defeat the Republicans.
That Obama was unpopular and unlikely to be in a position to publicly help vulnerable Democratic incumbents was a given. The principal complaint was over money, as Obama aides balked at requests from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to transfer millions from accounts the president controlled and for Obama to aggressively raise money for Senate super PACs. “I don’t think that the political team at the White House truly was up to speed and up to par doing what needed to get done,” Krone said.