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Midterm election shellacking: Obama must adjust

Obama got a shellacking in this midterm election. As Bill Clinton did, he must now change course by taking smaller steps and reaching toward the middle.

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Voters threw a bucket of cold water on Democrats in this week’s midterm elections. As the chief Democrat and commander in chief, President Obama must dry off and adjust to a new political climate.

It will be tempting for the White House to feign a course correction and bipartisanship, but not really change course.

The president, for instance, might refuse to see the elections as a referendum on his leadership, justifying that outlook by exit polls that showed equal dissatisfaction with both parties. And, after all, these were races for congressional, state, and local offices, not for the Oval Office.

Mr. Obama might also see the country as more disappointed by the economy, than by his stewardship, though he said today he took responsibility for failure to grow jobs more quickly. He might also view the House turnover to the GOP as a distorted public statement – the result of a Republican base that was simply more fired up than his own party.

There’s an element of truth in all of these conclusions. But if the president focuses on them, he’ll miss the larger truth that this “shellacking,” as he put it, was also a referendum on Obama Part I.

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