In the WSJ, Peggy Noonan notes the “thumpin” George W. Bush took in the midterm elections of his second term when his party lost six Senate seats and 30 House seats, and reminisces about his gracious response to a reporter’s question.
For those who think Mr. Obama has faced unusual levels of rhetoric, consider this question from a reporter to Mr. Bush:
“Thank you, Mr. President. With all due respect, Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes and, as recently as yesterday, dangerous. How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line to the presidency?”
This is how Mr. Bush replied. “I’ve been around politics a long time. I understand when campaigns end and I know when governing begins. And I’m going to work with people of both parties. You know, look, people say unfortunate things at times. But if you hold grudges in this line of work, you’re never going to get anything done. And my intention is to get some things done, and soon—we’re start visiting with her Friday with the idea of coming together.”
How will President Obama respond to the aftermath of this midterm election? Will Mr. Obama be gracious enough to perhaps take a page from President Clinton’s midterm trashing in 1994 when Bill Clinton took responsibility and admitted that voters were more conservative than he was? As Ms. Noonan points out here, by doing so, Mr. Clinton artfully gave himself breathing room not only to gather his forces but also to open the door for his “historic compromises with the Contract Congress.”