The Republican uproar over Tuesday’s debacle, so reminiscent of the Dems’ implosion after John Kerry’s 2004 shellacking, has focused on political strategist Karl Rove and the $400 million he spent — detractors say wasted — on useless TV spots for Mitt Romney.

But don’t forget that it was Rove who warned repeatedly years ago that Republicans needed to reach out to Latinos in order to remain competitive. And his former boss, President Bush II, picked up a healthy chunk of Latino support.

Any presidential candidate who mentions the phrase “self-deportation” — infuriating Latinos and driving up turnout — will find it difficult, if not impossible, to win.

Some of the initial GOP fury over voters’ incomprehensible ignorance, naturally, tended to be somewhat incendiary.

“We are in a war. We’re in a war to save this nation,” Michael A. Needham, chief executive of Heritage Action, an arm of the Heritage Foundation, said in a video message.

And highly regarded conservative legal analyst Ed Whelan , weighed in on National Review Online with this: “Great nations rise and fall. Anyone who takes for granted our country’s continued vitality is a fool.

“As I see it,” he continued, the election confirms “my fear that the great American experiment in constitutional republicanism is in grave peril, if not doomed. I very much hope that I’m wrong, and I will continue to work to prevent my fear’s ever being realized, or at least to defer as long as possible the date of the grand and awful collapse, but the fundamentals look terrible.”

Well, the GOP still controls the House. And Republicans — especially if they stop nominating the likes of Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin should be able to retake the Senate in a few years. And by then the duck will be quite lame.

So not to worry.

The Day One that wasn’t

The Romney presidential transition office is closing up shop by week’s end, we’re told.

The operation had been in high gear in recent weeks as it looked as though the former Massachusetts governor could well become president of the United States.

But, of course, it was not to be. So the transition, housed on a couple of floors in a federal office building at Third and C streets SW, has been told to close things down. About 150 people have been working there.

The operation was “fully up and running,” a source said, with desks, telephones, computers and such. (The equipment and operating funds were set up by a 2010 federal law to ensure a smooth transition of power.)

The General Services Administration “has been exceptionally good to work with: very professional, cordial, responsive and helpful every single day we’ve been there,” transition spokesman Mark DeMoss told us. “I have not heard a single complaint.”

The Romney team even had its Web site all ready to go, and — whoops! — someone put it up online. Political Wire got a screen shot before it was taken down.

The Web site is for “The Office of the President Elect” and has a snappy picture of Romney plus a couple of quotes about how he’s “excited about our prospects as a nation” and how “The 21st century can and must be an American century.”

It notes that the inauguration is on Jan. 21.

Letting Ryan be Ryan?

Paul Ryan wasn’t elected vice president, but the congressman’s consolation prize is that he gets to head back to the relatively small pond of the House GOP caucus as one very big fish.

He planning to keep his chairmanship of the House Budget Committee — a nice platform on which he can await his next move, though he’s going to have to get a waiver from his fellow Republicans to do that, since he’s bumping up against term limits.

Granting him that waiver might cause a few headaches, says none other than former House speaker Newt Gingrich, the guy who instituted the term limits on GOP committee chairmen back in 1995. “If he gets a waiver, who else will get a waiver?” Gingrich mused to our colleague Karen Tumulty.

Will Rep. John Mica , who wields the gavel at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee? Like Ryan, he’s term limited at the end of this Congress, and it looks like he wants to hang on to it.

“They’ll have to work that out,” Gingrich says

Pushing the envelope

Even before the new wave of senators arrives to help diversify the joint (a Buddhist and a lesbian are joining the ranks), let it not be said that the Senate isn’t already an inclusive place.

A recent e-mail from the Senate sergeant at arms is a case in point: It informs staffers that the Senate’s two post offices are now stocking a variety of holiday stamps meant to appeal to every denomination and flavor of holiday reveler, from the keep-the-Christ-in-Christmas people to the secularists.

(Seems a smidge early, since we’re still picking at the last of the Halloween candy, but surely, the marble halls are packed with Type A personalities who will have their holiday cards addressed and stamped before the turkeys are out of the oven.)

Anyway, the post offices are stocking stamps in categories that include “traditional” (heavy on Jesus), contemporary (Santa!), Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. The only folks feeling left out might be those who don’t celebrate anything at all.

What, no Grinch stamp? No fiscal-cliff stamp?

With Emily Heil

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