Peggy Noonan encapsulates the vapid Republican political narrative in one article. In a nutshell the Republican argument against Obama is comprised of two paradoxes: (1) Obama is weak because he cannot enforce his will and Obama is overbearing; and, (2) Obama is naive for believing in bipartisanship and Obama is cruelly dictatorial. Let’s just jump in.
1. Obama is too weak and too strong
[Obama] did not unveil, argue for or put on the table the outlines of a grand bargain. That is, he put no force behind solutions to the actual crisis facing our country, which is the hemorrhagic spending that threatens our future. Progress there—even just a little—would have heartened almost everyone. The president won on tax hikes, but that was an emotional, symbolic and ideological victory, not a substantive one. The higher rates will do almost nothing to ease the debt or deficits.
True, but probably because he offered a “grand bargain” before and the Republicans told him to go to hell. While spending is actually not a real crisis, Noonan overlooks the fact that Obama has trimmed federal spending and was seeking spending cuts as part of his original fiscal cliff offer…that the Republicans refused. Indeed, one of the biggest cost-cutting measures in modern American history is the Affordable Care Act and the Republicans blamed Obama for those cuts. And yes, these tax hikes will do almost nothing…except be orders of magnitude larger than a single specific spending cut that Republicans put on the table. Compare an annual increase of over $60 billion to cutting PBS.
He didn’t try to exercise dominance over his party. This is a largely forgotten part of past presidential negotiations: You not only have to bring in the idiots on the other side, you have to corral and control your own idiots.
Um…I don’t recall Obama failing to get enough votes from his Democrats, but I digress.
He didn’t deepen any relationships or begin any potential alliances with Republicans, who still, actually, hold the House. The old animosity was aggravated. Some Republicans were mildly hopeful a second term might moderate those presidential attitudes that didn’t quite work the first time, such as holding himself aloof from the position and predicaments of those who oppose him, while betraying an air of disdain for their arguments.
Wait, what? I thought Obama failed to put force into his solutions. I thought Obama was too busy trying to corral Republicans that he forsook the Democrats. But now we return to the tale that Obama is “aloof” and “uncompromising.” It’s a story that cannot survive the reality of his almost nauseating efforts to sweeten deals for mainline Republicans in order to convince the Cowardly Orange Lion, John Boehner, to throw his radical fringe overboard.
2. Obama doesn’t understand that bipartisanship doesn’t work and is not bipartisan enough
The president didn’t allow his victory to go unsullied. Right up to the end he taunted the Republicans in Congress
Taunting? The conservatives are morphing from the rugged individualist cowboys of old to the biggest whining crybabies in politics.
Mr. Obama’s supporters always give him an out by saying, “But the president can’t work with them, they made it clear from the beginning their agenda was to do him in.” That’s true enough. But it’s true with every American president now—the other side is always trying to do him in…We live in a polarized age. We have for a while. One of the odd things about the Obama White House is that they are traumatized by the normal.
A lot of the president’s staffers were new to national politics when they came in, and they seem to have concluded that the partisan bitterness they faced was unique to him, and uniquely sinister. It’s just politics, or the ugly way we do politics now.
OK, so Obama and his staff are all dumb for not respecting the polarized age.
After the past week it seems clear Mr Obama doesn’t really want to work well with the other side. He doesn’t want big bipartisan victories that let everyone crow a little and move forward and make progress. He wants his opponents in disarray, fighting without and within. He wants them incapable. He wants them confused.
Noonan just finished calling Obama was stupid for not realizing that bipartisanship is completely impossible. Now he’s incompetent for not approaching politics with a bipartisan lens. Where’s my whiskey? I need a drink.
Someone in the media needs to put a camera on Noonan and ask her to resolve these paradoxes. Or any conservative I suppose, but Noonan is a genuinely smart person, so I’d be interested to hear how she proposes to repair the hole in space-time her logic ripped open.