Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In A Positive Development, Discordant To Some

It's another annoying GEICO commercial (video below; I apologize) with Maxwell the pig, a far inferior character than the gecko.  As the plane is about to lift off, Maxwell brags about his GEICO app to the two stewardesses, one of whom turns to the other and says "I'll believe that one when pigs fly."  Max turns to the passenger across the aisle and asks, evidently rhetorically, "Did she seriously just say that?"

Peggy Noonan, once a marvelous speechwriter to Ronald Reagan, is too old to qualify for employment as a stewardess but on Sunday's Face the Nation "power table" she played the role of Maxwell's skeptic.    Echoing the sentiments of Bob Woodward, Dee Dee Myers, and Condoleezza Rice( all of whom Crooks and Liars' John Amato described as whining about President Obama being "a real meanie to Republicans") Noonan stated

Hmmmm....well, it's true on the Hill speakers and such don't quite control their conferences and caucuses as they have, but what's different for the last few weeks say, since the President was re-elected is that he's playing it in a way differently than previous presidents. Previous presidents get a win, whether it's close or not, and then they try to sort of put their arms around everybody and summon them in. We're essentially a 50-50 country still. Instead of 'let's all be together,' he's been very sharply definitively 'us guys' vs. 'you guys' by going at the Republicans on the Hill. By speaking in a way that is very...sour about why Republicans take the stands they take, he, I think... it's a new way to play it, a tough way to play it and dicey way to play it.

It doesn't take a pig to respond "Did she seriously just say that?"

On May 29, 2000, a few months after George W. Bush was appointed President by five of nine Supreme Court Justices, Vice-President Dick Cheney said on the same program (Face the Nation)

So we're going to aggressively pursue tax changes, tax reform, tax cuts, because it's important to do so, partly for economic reasons, partly because we have this growing surplus and some of it ought to be returned. We're going to pursue education reform and Social Security and Medicare reform, because those are important national priorities and need to be addressed.

The suggestion that somehow, because this was a close election, we should fundamentally change our beliefs, I just think is silly. These are not radical positions. These are good, solid proposals to address important national issues, and we'll continue to pursue them.

After the 2004 election, Bush declared "When you win, there is ... a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view.  And that's what I intend to tell Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president; now let's work."   Then-Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan gushed "He has, I would argue, a mandate Now.  You can bet he's going forward boldly.  He announced it today in his victory speech. He said 'Honey, I'm not just going to lower your taxes. I am transforming the tax system.'"  Two days later, Bush no doubt sent another tingle up Noonan's leg by warning reporters "I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style."  (No matter the consequences.)

That's Peggy Noonan's interpretation of putting an arm around everybody and summoning them in.

Call it a mandate, or not.  But Barack Obama's margin of victory was greater than that of George W. Bush in 2000- when he lost he national popular vote- as well as in 2004.   Though Obama's margin was smaller than that of Bill Clinton in 1996, the Illinoisan won a majority of votes in both his campaigns, which completely eluded Clinton.

The issue is not whether Obama has received a mandate, which depends upon how one defines the term and interprets election results.  Rather, it is whether the President shapes his second term in light of a victory larger than that of George W. Bush and more impressive than he is given credit for by Repub detractors such as Peggy Noonan.

Presumably upsetting Noonan, President Obama yesterday gave a surprisingly progressive acceptance speech at his inauguration.  Notably absent of the trademark Obama obsessiveness with bipartisanship, it set the proper tone for a second term against the backdrop of an opposition party marked by obstructionism.  It was a good start, but as Sigmund Freud might have (or might not) have said: sometimes a speech is just a speech.

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