Peggy Noonan makes much the same point as I’ve been making about the different sort of presidential leadership we need:
If you jumped into a time machine to the day after the election, in November, 2012, and saw a headline saying “Obama Loses,” do you imagine that would be followed by widespread sadness, pain and a rending of garments? You do not. Even his own supporters will not be that sad. It’s hard to imagine people running around in 2014 saying, “If only Obama were president!” Including Mr. Obama, who is said by all who know him to be deeply competitive, but who doesn’t seem to like his job that much. As a former president he’d be quiet, detached, aloof. He’d make speeches and write a memoir laced with a certain high-toned bitterness. It was the Republicans’ fault. They didn’t want to work with him.
He will likely not see even then that an American president has to make the other side work with him. You think Tip O’Neill liked Ronald Reagan? You think he wanted to give him the gift of compromise? He was a mean, tough partisan who went to work every day to defeat Ronald Reagan. But forced by facts and numbers to deal, he dealt. So did Reagan.
An American president has to make cooperation happen.
It doesn’t matter if the Republicans are racists. It doesn’t matter if they’re crazy. It doesn’t matter if they’re determined to make you fail. That’s the job. If you don’t want to do the job, don’t seek the job. The tragedy of it all is that I don’t see any prospects on the horizon for the next president doing a much better job regardless of who it is.
I don’t think that the peculiar environment of Chicago or Illinois politics has prepared the president for what he faces at the national level. There is no Chicago Republican Party to speak of and the Illinois Republican Party has been in disarray for more than a decade. Indeed, Barack Obama’s election to the senate came about in part as a consequence of that disarray.
Now he faces an organized, determined opposition that holds one house of the Congress and may well hold both houses in the next session, setting the stage for gridlock. Under different circumstances than we presently face I’d consider gridlock an improvement. Here’s what will happen under gridlock.
There will be tax increases for nearly all Americans as various tax cut provisions, e.g. the Bush tax cuts, the suspension of FICA payments, etc. expire. There will be automatic cuts in equal measure in defense and the non-defense discretionary programs. Whatever remains of the PPACA after the Supreme Court’s decision will go into force. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security expenditures will continue to increase faster than their revenues, which are already less than those expenditures, do.
Europe and China will continue to teeter towards recession. I think it’s pretty likely that we will, too. Portions of Europe may already be in a full-fledged depression. North Korea will continue its half century brinksmanship. Iran will continue whatever nuclear development program it’s embarked on, peaceful or otherwise. The world will continue to move even if we stop.
Have a nice day.