Peggy Noonan is, without doubt, America's most hilariously ridiculous opinion columnist, someone forever pleading that we ignore piffle like "facts" and focus instead on the collective emotions that are bubbling just out of our awareness until she identifies them. But in her column today, she does something that we ought to take note of, because I suspect it will become a common Republican talking point. Noonan asks why Obama is so darn mean to Republicans, and answers the question thusly:
Here's my conjecture: In part it's because he seems to like the tension. He likes cliffs, which is why it's always a cliff with him and never a deal. He likes the high-stakes, tottering air of crisis. Maybe it makes him feel his mastery and reminds him how cool he is, unrattled while he rattles others. He can take it. Can they?
He is a uniquely polarizing figure. A moderate U.S. senator said the other day: "One thing not said enough is he is the most divisive president in modern history. He doesn't just divide the Congress, he divides the country." The senator thinks Mr. Obama has "two whisperers in his head." "The political whisperer says 'Don't compromise a bit, make Republicans look weak and bad.' Another whisperer is not political, it's, 'Let's do the right thing, work together and begin to right the ship.'" The president doesn't listen much to the second whisperer.
Ah yes, we keep having these fiscal crises because Obama "likes cliffs." Don't you remember when he convinced conservative Republicans to hold the national economy hostage over the debt ceiling in 2011? And you do know that he's forcing them to do the same thing in a couple of months, right? They don't want to, but he's making them. Those congressional Republicans are desperate to compromise with him, but he just won't accept all their generous offers! And he sure is "polarizing." After all, if a majority of Republicans have consistently believed that Obama is lying about being born in Hawaii and is a foreigner, and if his opponents regularly charge that when he adopts Republican ideas on things like health care it's because he is a socialist motivated by a hatred of America, then there's really only one person to blame. And when a member of the Republican Senate leadership writes, "It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well being of our country," that just shows how much Obama loves creating these crises! And what do you know, in that op-ed, Senator John Cornyn makes the same argument, that in all of the crises of the last couple of years, "the White House has purposefully slow-walked the process in a shameless attempt to score cheap political points."
Mark my words, over the next couple of months we're going to be hearing this a lot: Republicans will argue that these crises are all Obama's fault not so much because his ideas are substantively wrong (they'll mention that too, of course), but because he just wants it that way. And because he's so mean.