Democrats took a shellacking, but the big loser was the Untied (no typo) States of America, with the electoral map now looking like a big red blob with thin blue parentheses on both coasts.
Politically, the President is still dazed, but there are early signs that Republicans will turn out to be sore winners with a Tea Party headache that won't go away.
Some GOP Senators are livid that Sarah Palin and her Sancho Panza, Jim DeMint, cost them control of the upper house, while leaders of both are stuck with contradictory promises to cut spending and taxes yet somehow stimulate the economy. Sound bites for disaffected voters, meet reality.
"Republicans," says a New York Times report, "are standing by their campaign vows to slash spending for domestic programs immediately by at least one-fifth--$100 billion in a single year—-even as many mainstream economists say such deep cuts could further strain the economy and should await its full recovery...(T)hey will try to deny money to put Mr. Obama’s new health care law into effect, though they have not made clear what they would do to make up the cost savings that would be lost if they succeeded in repealing the law."
Irony alert: Health care hatred could lead Boehner, McConnell and their cadres into a Pyrrhic victory now just as passage of the reform bill was a turning point in the President's downfall.
Paul Krugman, a better economist than political analyst, takes aim at the idea that Obama “overreached by focusing on health care rather than job creation during a severe recession,” but his own chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and lesser voices were warning back then that the spectacle of a long, messy fight over a monstrous abortion of a bill, whose effects were in the future, would be a Pyrrhic victory and turn off voters not only on the issue at hand but the workings of government as well.
This week's balloting confirms the rage against incumbents spawned back then and is more crucial to today's political climate than Krugman's caviling now that there was little the President could have done to improve the economy instead.
To the extent that politics is perception, the American people saw an ugly process producing a bloated, bargain-marred mess and taking attention away from their immediate economic worries.
Health care reform was a useful cudgel for GOP naysayers but, if they fall victim to their own slogans, it could turn into a boomerang now.
Update: Eric Cantor, the GOP House whip, announces his intention to repeal "Obamacare piece by piece," blocking funding and the regulations to implement the health care law, some of which would require limiting money to the IRS, a good example of tearing down the house to kill a mouse under the floorboards.