During his press conference this afternoon, President Obama took responsibility for the Democrats losing control of the House of Representatives. He said, “So there is not only sadness about seeing them go but there is also a lot of questioning on my part in terms of could I have done something differently or done something more, so that those folks could still be here. It’s hard, and I take responsibility for it in a lot of ways.”
Here is the video from CNN:
In response to a question by ABC’s Jake Tapper about how the loss feels, Obama said, “It feels bad. You know the toughest thing over the last couple of days is seeing really terrific public servants not have the opportunity to serve anymore, at least in the short term, and you mentioned they’re just some terrific members of Congress who took really tough votes because they thought it was the right thing. Even though they knew this could cause them political problems, and even though a lot of them came from really tough swing districts, or majority Republican districts, and the amount of courage they showed and conviction they showed is something that I admire so much I can’t overstate it.”
The President took responsibility for the loss, “So there’s not only sadness about seeing them go but there’s also a lot of questioning on my part in terms of could I have done something differently or done something more, so that those folks would still be here. It’s hard, and I take responsibility for it in a lot of ways.” Obama went on to praise the character and class of the defeated Democrats, and he hoped that they would continue to serve the public.
President Obama made one critical mistake early in his term that in hindsight sealed the Democrats fate for 2010. He didn’t have a plan for job creation. This White House greatly underestimated how dearly they would pay at the polls for the unemployment situation, and that is exactly what this election was about. It wasn’t about healthcare reform, or smaller government, or the deficit, it was all about the economy and jobs. The stimulus package should have only been a part of the plan. It should have been used to stop the bleeding. It needed to be followed up with a jobs plan. This was Obama’s biggest mistake. Once the Democratic Senate decided to in fight over healthcare, and not pass a bill, the die was cast for the midterms.
While Obama does deserve some of the blame for the loss, there is plenty more to go around. When the Democrats had 60 seats in the Senate, Harry Reid was unable to get his own caucus to work together on anything. In the House Nancy Pelosi went rogue, and didn’t bother to work with the Senate or the White House. (Does anyone remember Pelosi defying both the White House and the Senate by planning to pass a second stimulus package?) Responsibility also rests with the Democratic incumbents who chose to run away from Obama and their own accomplishments. A special degree of responsibility belongs to Democratic voters who couldn’t be bothered to show up on Election Day.
Hopefully, the Democrats have learned a lesson from this election. The Republicans didn’t win because all of the sudden the nation decided to like the GOP again. They won, because Democrats were viewed as not addressing the issues that mattered most to voters. The economy and jobs have traditionally been a Democratic strong suit in the minds of voters, but Obama and the Democrats got sidetracked by healthcare reform, and never fully recovered. President Obama and his party need to be focused on the economy every day for the next two years. If they do this, they will be victorious again in 2012.