When a midterm electorate delivered him a stinging rebuke in 2010, President Barack Obama called it a shellacking.
Obama's successor, famously belligerent, had much more to crow about Tuesday, having picked up U.S. Senate seats for the GOP, but ultimately it was a heavy loss in the People's House that ought to guide President Donald Trump toward a more gracious post-election attitude toward governance.
In Louisiana, our delegation in Congress was sent back for two years, including the House's soon-to-be minority whip, Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish. Scalise is a supporter of the president's policies, but he has also worked hard over the years to disagree in politics without being disagreeable.
The national result is all the more remarkable because it occurs in the midst of a strong economy. The Republican Party suffered severely in the House, nevertheless. It is definitely a rebuke, and probably rooted as much in the president's behavior as in policy differences, although those are wide between the parties.
GOP leaders, including Scalise, should take from this the lesson that the president needs an attitude adjustment, and it is not presumptive Speaker Nancy Pelosi who will have the most influence with him. It is his own party's leadership.
Scalise needs to do better if he wants the Republicans to retake the House. When a Republican congressman assaulted a reporter, and Trump praised him for it, Scalise defended the president.
The American people expect grace and dignity in their president. Those qualities have been lacking.
Further, a House in Democratic hands mandates a willingness to bend on both sides. In the days after such a hardfought contest, that might seem difficult to arrive at, but there is time — if there is a president willing to change his ways a bit.
We like the comment of U.S. Sen. John N. Kennedy, R-Madisonville, who was not on the ballot this year. “As a Republican, I’d prefer to have both chambers stay in Republican hands, but the world is not going to spin off its axis just because the House is one party and the Senate is the other," Kennedy said of the returns. "It still means we can get a fair amount of work done if everybody puts aside their differences and forgets about scoring political points.”
That has to be true of both sides, including Kennedy, who is always eager to score political points. But this is an observation that the president should take to heart.
And if he is to do so, it is the Republican leadership in the Senate and the House who must school its president on how to better achieve results for the country.