Peggy Noonan is grumpy because, in her opinion, the president of the United States didn't play nice in the fiscal cliff negotiations:
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.Yes -- and that's really awful, because Republicans are trying so hard to be reasonable. Right, Peggy?
... I doubt now he has any intention of working with [Republicans] on big reforms, of battling out a compromise at a conference table, of having long walks and long talks and making offers that are serious, that won't be changed overnight to something else. The president intends to consistently beat his opponents and leave them looking bad, or, failing that, to lose to them sometimes and then make them look bad. That's how he does politics.
Well, in fact, Noonan acknowledges that they aren't:
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, or at least the other side's big mouths are always braying they'll take him down. They tried to capsize Bill Clinton, they tried to do in Reagan, they called him an amiable dunce and vowed to defeat his wicked ideology.So, to sum up Noonan's point: Obama is trying to crush his opponents. That's horrible and dangerous. Obama's opponents, in turn, are trying to crush him. That's perfectly OK -- hey, what did you expect, you silly Democrat? That's just the way things are.
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.
And if Obama responds to people who want to crush him (a reasonable desire) by trying to crush them instead (a depraved desire), it's because he and his team "are traumatized by the normal." (Because the traumatized combatant always beats the untraumatized combatant, right?) Whereas his opponents want to crush him because ... well, we never actually find out why Noonan thinks they want to crush him, except that that's just the way things are now. He's a frog and they're scorpions. Of course they have to sting him. It's their nature.