- - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

President Obama didn’t sound all that chastened when he met White House reporters on the day after what happened to him Tuesday night. He sounds still committed to doing whatever he can to radically transform America.

He won’t get away with it now. Harry Reid will soon be unable to block bills from reaching his desk. The congressional Democrats who survived the electoral bloodbath realize that voting in lockstep with the White House is a one-way ticket to early retirement.

The public wants no more of him and his works, yet the closest to contrition that Mr. Obama could muster was a few words of meaningless boilerplate about cooperation. “I’m eager to work with the new Congress,” he says, “to make the next two years as productive as possible.” Talk is cheap, and that’s what Mr. Obama’s 75 minutes of blah blah blah was, cheap talk.

He put the burden on Senate Majority Leader-to-be Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner to compromise their convictions and leave his own untouched by reality. To use the war analogy the Democrats were so fond of this season, when Japan surrendered at the end of World War II, the warlords surrendered to the Allies, not the other way around. That’s how wars end.

Mr. Obama gave no hints of his intention to yield on his push for a job-killing increase in the minimum wage, or preserving costly EPA regulations. He seems determined to kill the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline.

It’s easy to understand why Mr. Obama still thinks his “my way or the highway” approach will work. He learned from the brief government shutdowns that as long as he doesn’t budge, the Republicans will cave, and he gets what he wants.

Liberals are already at work pushing the comfortable myth that Tuesday’s elections were lost because Mr. Obama wasn’t liberal enough. “The White House failed to define any agenda for voters in 2014,” says the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “Progressives will remold the Democratic Party in [Sen.] Elizabeth Warren’s image.”

Mr. Obama faces a dilemma on how he wants the final two years of his presidency to play out. His inner Saul Alinsky tells him that “there is only the fight,” that he must resist compromise with the Republicans. That would be unlike another Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who wisely and successfully made peace with reality in 1994 and moved to the center, signing landmark welfare-reform legislation and balanced budgets.

Mr. Obama could replicate Mr. Clinton’s success by, for example, rebuffing the environmental extremists and finally approving the Keystone XL pipeline. We’re not naive enough to think that’s likely, but we can always hope.

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