Obama Accepts Blame for Midterm Losses

by Chris Tognotti

If you're the sort of person who cares about progressive politics and causes, it's quite possible you're still smarting from what went down last week. The 2014 midterm elections were more or less an unmitigated nightmare for the Democratic Party, with the Republicans seizing a majority in the Senate (and thus control of both houses of Congress), in some races dominating their Democratic opponents well beyond the scope of what many polling firms predicted. On Sunday, President Obama admitted "we got beat" in the midterms, and shouldered his share of the blame for his party's heavy losses.

It's not the first time he's spoken about this — he also held a press conference in the immediate aftermath of the elections. Speaking to reporters in the East Room of the White House, he declined to use a sound byte-ready turn of phrase to describe what happened, as he did in 2010 by calling the Democrats' rough midterms a "shellacking," preferring instead to focus on the domestic initiatives he still wanted to strive to accomplish with the GOP-led Congress.

Speaking to Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer on Sunday, however, he offered a more somber acknowledgement — the Democrats got blown away, and as the standard-bearer of the party, that's on him.

Another saying of Harry Truman's was "the buck stops with me," the buck stops right here, at my desk. So, as the head of the party, if it doesn't do well, I've got to take responsibility for it. The message that I took from this election, and we've seen this in a number of elections, successive elections, is people want to see this city work. And they feel as if it's not working. ... and they know one person in Washington, and that's the president of the United States.

Obama was responding to Schieffer's quoting of the soon-to-be-former Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, who laid the blame on the President's poor approval ratings. Of course, there's no telling now how differently the elections would have played out were his ratings higher, but it is undeniable that some Democratic candidates tied themselves into knots trying to disassociate themselves from Obama. This was particularly true of Senator Mitch McConnell's challenger, Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who got into an awkward spot when she publicly refused to say whether she'd even voted for him, citing her right to a secret ballot.

The White House/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In spite of the arduous position he's now in, with a bright red Senate and House to work with for the final two years of his term, Obama tried to strike an optimistic tone, saying he still loves being President.

I still consider this the best job on Earth, and I'm here to squeeze every ounce of possibility, and the ability to do good, out of this job and these next two years.

Of course, there's one very high-profile pre-midterm pledge that many of his supporters are anxiously and increasingly impatiently waiting on — his planned executive order on immigration, which activists have been calling for with increasing urgency. House Speaker John Boehner has already warned that such an order would "poison the well" in Congress, but the White House insists they're gong to move forward with it regardless.

Images: CBS News; Getty Images