Obama on the Midterms: ‘I’ve Got to Take Direct Responsibility for the Fact That We’ve Not Made As Much Progress As We Want to Make’

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President Barack Obama took to the podium in the White House just now to talk about the Republican wave that crested after yesterday's elections. "It was a long night for a lot of you, and needless to say it was for me," he said, no doubt thinking back to the lost glory of 2008. "Some election nights are more fun than others. Some are exhilarating and some are humbling." In his brief speech, he focused on the economy and not the idea that the results of the elections were a referendum on his own first two years of office. "Today's vote confirmed what I heard from people all across the country. People are frustrated ... with the pace of economic recovery," he said. "Over the past two years we've made progress but not enough progress ... And I'm the president of the United States. I think I've got to take direct responsibility for the fact that we've not made as much progress as we want to make." In the question-and-answer period, Obama admitted he hadn't made as much progress as he would want on issues like earmarks, energy independence, and even just building consensus.

How does it feel getting thrashed?

"It feels bad," he said.

"The most important contest we face is not the contest between Democrats and Republicans. In this century the most important contest we face is between America and our economic competitors around the world," he said. "No person or party has a monopoly on wisdom. [But] I'm not so naïve as to think that everyone will put politics aside."

When asked about health care and a possible repeal, Obama was firm: "I think we would be misreading the results of this election if we thought Americans want us to re-litigate some of the issues that we spent the past two years litigating."

And in a moment when he seemed to speak directly to despairing progressives, Obama also noted: "I do believe there is hope for civility. I do believe there is hope for progress. And that's because I believe in the resiliency of a nation that's bounced back from much worse than what we're going through right now."