While the 2010 mid-term election is still a couple of days away, President Obama's party is expected to lose numerous seats in both the House and Senate that might put him in the same position that President Bush faced four years ago, having to work with a majority from the opposing party. President Bush decided to put a good spin on his first remarks after the 2006 mid-term elections.
"Why all the glum faces," President George W. Bush asked reporters the day after his party lost both the House and Senate to Democrats. It was that mid-term victory which put the Speaker's gavel in California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's hands and made Nevada Senator Harry Reid the Majority Leader. But instead of licking his wounds, President Bush held a White House press conference on November 8th, just one day after experiencing a loss that would foreshadow 2008 when Americans voted to elect President Obama two years later.
Despite his opening joke, President Bush congratulated Democrats on their victories and as the leader of the Republican party, he accepted responsibility for the loss. Political analysts viewed the Democratic turnout as an "anti Bush, anti war" vote. President Bush told reporters he pledged to work with his new Congress.
Bush announced to reporters that he had placed phone calls to both congressional Republican and Democratic leadership members telling each side they fought well. He also told the incoming leadership everyone should put aside their differences and work together. In his conversations with Senators Reid and Dick Durbin (IL), President Bush said, "we can work together over the next two years."
President Bush made a point to say he knew "when campaigns end and... governing begins." President Obama's campaign rhetoric has Republicans taking a "back seat" while Democrats steer the country forward. Mr. Obama has accused Republicans of being the "folks that nearly destroyed our economy" and the party that practices "scoring points ahead of solving problems." But the President has also made concessions about how he will need to deal with a Republican majority, telling The National Journal in a recent interview, "I think it's possible for us to be more deliberate, to spend more time building consensus."
Fox News contributor and former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin says Republicans "should not compromise on principle" when it comes to working with Democrats in order to govern. Palin was asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about the prospect of Republicans gaining control of the House and Senate should the election fall their way. Palin elaborated saying compromise is what cost some Republicans their seats during the primaries to Tea Party candidates. "That's been part of the problem -- is those who have decided to go along to get along and make these compromises, not when the results have been a woeful economy, and not when the results have been a lessening of our national security, those things that are foremost on American voters' minds today," Palin told Wallace during the Sunday interview.
President Obama's schedule leaves him no time to grieve or celebrate as he departs Friday morning for a scheduled 10-day overseas trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. President Obama's Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, faced the same situation.
Still smarting from the "Republican Revolution" gains made in 1994 when Georgia Representative Newt Gingrich and his party swept to power in Congress, Clinton left his domestic troubles behind and headed to Asia to attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. President Clinton had his Chief of Staff Leon Panetta meet with the incoming Republican leadership at the White House during his absence. But in a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, ten-days after the November 6th midterm, President Clinton said he wanted to forge ahead with a bipartisan partnership. "There are a lot of things we can do together," Clinton told reporters during the press conference, "so I'm very hopeful. And we do need a lot more changes, and we can do them together if we are determined to put America first and not put partisanship first."
President Obama will have months to work with the outgoing Congress before new members, and potentially new leadership, start their term in January.