No, it's not a new head-scratcher from some Tea Party candidate. It's Barack Obama, in an interview with The New York Times:
In an hour-long interview with Times White House correspondent Peter Baker, Mr. Obama predicted that his political rivals will either be chastened by falling short of their electoral goals or burdened with the new responsibility that comes from achieving them.
"It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible, either because they didn't do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them," Mr. Obama said. "Or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way."
Obama's not an idiot, so I find it hard to believe that he actually believes this. Often in the past I've argued that his nods to bipartisanship are mostly strategic: If Republicans take him up on it, fine, but when they don't, he can say he tried, and they're the ones who are making it impossible. It's debatable whether that has been an effective strategy. But is it really necessary to set down a marker now on how you hope they're going to be responsible? Does that actually accomplish anything?
Whether Republicans win the House or not, they're going to be a significantly more conservative party than they are today. They're going to pick up seats in both houses, and many if not most of those new seats are going to be occupied not by serious people who want to get down to the business of governing but by Tea Party candidates who a) have crazy ideas; b) don't know the first thing about government; c) don't particularly care; and d) won their primaries by promising to be as partisan in their opposition to the administration as possible. Nor are the people they'll be joining a collection of serious legislators eager to impress upon their new colleagues the importance of responsible legislating. The GOP of 2011 will make the GOP of the 1990s -- the one that took 140 hours of sworn testimony on the burning question of whether Bill and Hillary Clinton abused the White House Christmas card list -- look like a group of sober statesmen.
-- Paul Waldman