WOW, THAT WAS EASY
I'm sure it won't surprise you that Peggy Noonan was profoundly saddened by President Obama's speech on Tuesday ("The speech was an unusual and unleavened assault on the Republican Party.... The speech was not aimed at healing, ameliorating differences, or joining together").
I particularly enjoy the part of her column in which she attempts to criticize the speech by putting on her history hat:
I guess what's most interesting is that it's all us-versus-them. Normally at this point, early in an election year, an incumbent president operates within a rounded, nonthreatening blur. He's sort of in a benign cloud, and then pokes his way out of it with strong, edged statements as the year progresses. Mr. Obama isn't doing this. He wants it all stark and sharply defined early on. Is this good politics? It is unusual politics. Past presidents in crises have been sunny embracers.
Is this true? Have past incumbent presidents running for reelection -- oh, say, the guy who was in office in early April 1984 -- been, at this point in the election year, "sunny embracers" who dole out nothing more than gentle love taps to the other party, while occupying a "benign cloud"? Is angry, vicious Barack Obama radically defying the unwritten rules of political politesse by engaging in attacks in the early spring?
Let's go to the wayback machine....
REAGAN ATTACKS CONGRESS'S ROLE ON MANY FRONTS
By FRANCIS X. CLINES , Special to the New York Times
Published: April 5, 1984
WASHINGTON, April 4-- President Reagan, entering the third month of his re-election campaign, challenged Congress tonight on a broad array of foreign and domestic issues.
Mr. Reagan, in a nationally televised news conference, repeatedly criticized Congress for its role on such issues as Lebanon, El Salvador aid, restrictions of the War Powers act, public school prayer, his fairness toward the poor and the "sleaze factor" charges being lodged against his appointees by Congressional Democrats.
The President, less than a week after withdrawing forces from the coast of Lebanon, said flatly that Congress "must take a responsibility" for events in Lebanon. More than 260 Marines died during the President's controversial commitment of American troops to a multinational peackeeping force in Beirut.
A Complaining Tone
Mr. Reagan described in a clearly complaining tone the Congressional debate on the topic, "'Oh, bring our men home, take them away,'" and declared: "All this can do is stimulate the terrorists and urge them on to further attacks."
After such a commitment of troops, the President contended, "You have rendered them ineffective when you conduct that kind of a debate in public."
The President was noticeably more combative toward Congress, too, in denouncing as "not helpful in what we're trying to do" a proposal approved in the Senate that would limit his request for El Salvador aid.
He complained that such questions as the President's freedom in international diplomacy should be made subject under the War Powers Act to "a committee of 535 individuals, no matter how well intentioned."
His remarks this evening amounted to his strongest criticism yet of Congress's attempts to differ with or modify his policy initiatives....
I think my work is done here.
Oh, but one more thing. Here's some of Noonan's horror at Obama's tone:
The speech was an unusual and unleavened assault on the Republican Party. As such it was gutsy, no doubt sincere and arguably a little mad. The other party in a two-party center-right nation is anathema? There was no good-natured pledging to work together or find common ground, no argument that progress is possible.
Yes, imagine! The president -- however sincere and gutsy -- is actually arguing that the other party is completely out of the mainstream! And he's the president! It's mad -- mad, I tell you!
Hmmm ... what was that famous thing Ronald Reagan said about the Democrats when he was president? The line you helped write, Peggy?
They're so far left, they’ve left America.
Right! That's the one!
Oh, but I'm sure that was completely different, because Reagan probably winked at someone after the speech, in that sunny, embracing way of his.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)