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First Pelosi, now Reid. President Obama has made a specialty of trashing Republican leaders in public. One outcome of this deliberate indiscretion is that he trashed his own leaders at the polls. You have to ask how something like that happened, after he won a fairly convincing victory over Mitt Romney just two years ago.

American voters have proclaimed for years now that they want leaders who can work together. They’ve said, “We don’t care how polarized the country might be: find a way to talk to each other. We pay a lot of our money in taxes, and in return we expect leadership that thinks about our welfare, not the welfare of some party or powerful interest group.” They look at the behavior of the Democratic triumvirate – Pelosi, Reid, and Obama – and they conclude quickly enough: that’s not the kind of leadership we’re talking about.

What is it about second terms that makes recent presidents fail so thoroughly? Look at this brief history:

  • Kennedy – murdered so he could not seek a second term (yes, it was a little more complicated than that).
  • Johnson – driven from office in the streets.
  • Nixon – driven from office in Congress, from what? Overreach by the Committee to Re-elect the President!
  • Ford – not in office long enough to fail thoroughly.
  • Carter – managed to fail in his first term. Lucky enough to be spared a second one.
  • Reagan – remembered now as a great president, but the second term Iran-Contra affair was not a happy time for him.
  • Bush – not destined for a second term, as he was elected to serve Reagan’s third term.
  • Clinton – Monica Lewinsky and impeachment. That’s all you need to know.
  • Bush Jr. – no matter what the propaganda machine spits out about the Iraqi surge, the second term showed the magnitude of the first term’s blunders.
  • Obama – we don’t have perspective yet on his second term, as he is not halfway through it, but results of the 2014 midterms give you an idea.

That’s ten presidents over fifty years, and a pretty sorry history it is. It’s a reminder that politics is played for keeps. It’s a reminder that if you want to have a friend in Washington, find a friend that wags its tail and barks when you come home at night. Loyalty is supposed to be the supreme virtue in politics, but the price of loyalty is pretty high. Harry Reid can tell you that. The price of holding power is pretty high, too. If you manage to get re-elected to the White House, get ready to be disgraced.

That returns us to yesterday’s congressional elections. The Republicans have the Senate now, and Obama has two long years ahead of him with nothing to do. He has demonstrated that he cannot – indeed, that he does not want to lead in foreign and defense policy. As for domestic policy and leadership, the judgment at the polls is pretty definitive. Keep in mind, too, that the Republican party is divided. It has some good leaders, but its membership is fractious. It won the Senate majority yesterday not because it is united in what it represents. It won the Senate because voters are relatively united in their disapproval of the president and his leadership.

Yesterday’s midterm elections demonstrate a number of things, most of them debatable. Whatever significance you read into the results, Obama has demonstrated over nearly six years that he has little interest in working with Republicans in Congress. He is not even that interested in working with Democrats in Congress. President Barack “I have a pen and I have a phone” Obama has demonstrated that he is mostly interested in himself. Barack Obama is vain: he thinks too well of himself. Vanity in a leader, under certain circumstances, means weakness and defeat. If you want to understand the meaning of weakness and defeat in today’s Washington, pay a visit to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to see how they’re feeling today.