You watch and wonder: Why does it always have to be cliffs with this president? Why is it always a high-stakes battle? Why doesn't he shrewdly re-enact Ronald Reagan, meeting, arguing and negotiating in good faith with Speaker Tip O'Neill, who respected very little of what the president stood for and yet, at the end of the day and with the country in mind, could shake hands and get it done? Why is there never a sense with Mr. Obama that he understands the other guys' real position?First, hahahahahahahahaha!
It's not as if Mr. Boehner and the Republicans wouldn't deal. They've been weakened and they know it. A year ago they hoped winning the Senate and the presidency would break the stasis. They won neither. Mr. Obama not only was re-elected, it wasn't that close, it was a clean win. If the president was clear about anything throughout the campaign, it was that he wanted to raise taxes on those he calls the rich. So you might say that a majority of the American people just endorsed that move.
No one would know this better than Mr. Boehner, who has risen to where he is in part because he's good at seeing the lay of the land and admitting what's there.
Second, if she seriously wants to know why everything seems like a crisis, maybe should should ask George W. Bush, who left behind an economic crisis and two failed wars, or maybe she should ask Mitch McConnell, who started using the filibuster from day one to undermine the popular will, or maybe she should ask John Boehner who decided that threatening government shutdown and manufacturing a debt limit crisis was a good idea. And let's not forget: The only reason we're in the middle of yet another policy drama is that Republicans (a) decided to pass tax cuts that expire and (b) insisted during the debt limit fiasco on a massive automatic spending cut to kick in at the end of the year. And it's John Boehner and Mitch McConnell who are refusing to accept the verdict of the electorate on election day—a verdict that even Noonan recognizes is legitimate.
Of course, Peggy Noonan doesn't really want to know why everything always seems like a crisis. She just wants to create a rhetorical framework to make Republican behavior seem reasonable. The problem for her is that reality keeps on getting in the way.