After the midterm election results rolled in, President Obama took off to India, a country that welcomed him with open arms. Over East, Obama talked about rebuilding the economy. There was dancing. There were the world leaders semi-excited to see him at the G20 conference. And today, on his last day abroad, Obama visited the Great Buddha in Japan's small coastal city of Kamakura, where, as a 6-year-old boy, his mother once took him for green-tea ice cream, a day he remembers fondly.
Meanwhile, left to her own devices, Nancy Pelosi was wreaking some havoc at home, fists raised, noting that Obama will have to be "perfect" to win another term, and, yesterday, locking down a Democratic lineup that would look exactly the same in the minority as it did in the majority, with James Clyburn in the made-up position of "assistant leader."
Reflecting on all of this during the fourteen-hour plane ride home from Japan this afternoon, Obama had some things to say to reporters:
"My expectation is, when I sit down with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner this week, there are a set of things that need to get done during the lame duck, and that they are not going to want to just obstruct, that they're going to want to engage constructively. They are flush with victory after a campaign of just saying no. But I'm sure the American people did not vote for more gridlock. There are going to be some disagreements. There may be some need for compromise. But we should be making sure that taxes don't go up for middle-class families. And then we're going to have a whole bunch of time next year for some serious philosophical debates. I spent the first years trying to get the policy right. In that obsessive focus on policy, I've neglected a few things that matter a lot to me."
And then he landed, reemerging in familiar America once again, honeymoon over. Back to the grind.