(1998 Herblock cartoon via the Library of Congress.)

Like Atrios, I’m unfortunately old enough to remember the last time a Democratic presidency ran aground on (among other things) the shoals of a Republican victory in the midterm elections.

So I’m just as unsurprised to see, almost immediately after Tuesday’s debacle, the GOP and its media allies warming up the overseas “puke funnel” by laundering scandalous allegations through the foreign press — in this case, the supposed $200 million/day price tag for President Obama’s trip to India.

The desire to make the other party’s most visible and powerful politician a figure of controversy and (hopefully) ridicule is par for the conservative course.  But as in the mid 1990s, control of the House of Representatives changes the equation from

[ Dubious accusation + GOP-orchestrated hissy fit = days of cable news coverage ]

to

[ Dubious accusation + GOP-orchestrated hissy fit = Full-scale congressional investigation ],

leading to weeks or months of cable news coverage amid a tidal wave of subpoenas and hearings.

Will the Republicans be able to completely re-enact their ’90s fantasies, with an unscrupulous and aggressive special prosecutor giving himself permission to pry into every nook and cranny of the White House?  Well, they can dream, can’t they?

Meanwhile, President Obama may think he’s already learned the hard way how thoroughly committed the right wing is to preventing him from achieving even an ounce of his much-desired bipartisan cooperation.  But as is usually the case for slow learners, the lessons are just beginning.