Peggy Noonan Compares Obama To Nixon For Some Reason (She's High)
She had packed away her respirator after the big Ebola scare and joined the rest of the great city in resuming a normal life. After all, the holidays were coming. Soon would be Thanksgiving, with its feasts of turkey and stuffing and wine. Then holiday dinners and parties, with feasts of meat and potatoes and wine. Then Christmas itself, with feasts of ham and pie and wine. Then New Year’s…
The holidays are also a lonely time of year for some people. As she trod the aisles of the stores and bodegas with their Christmas trees, gaily-wrapped gifts, and those candelabra thingies the Jews like, Sister Peggy Noonan of the Order of Our Lady of the Diazepam Torpor contemplated loneliness. She thought of the power of great leadership and the loneliness of those chosen to wield it, of presidents and kings forging their solitary path with only the judgment of history for company, of how she should have skipped slathering spicy mustard all over that corned beef sandwich she’d eaten for lunch at the Carnegie. Arrogance, the downfall of political columnists and politicians alike!
This came to mind when contemplating President Obama. After a devastating election, he is presenting himself as if he won. The people were not saying no to his policies, he explained, they would in fact like it if Republicans do what he tells them.
Had President Obama said such a thing in his press conference the day after the election? She was sure he must have. It felt like something that graceless man would say. He would never have said something along the lines of “We can surely find ways to work together on issues where there’s broad agreement among the American people. So I look forward to Republicans putting forward their governing agenda. I will offer my ideas on areas where I think we can move together.” Because that would not be the Obama she had grown to know in her hazy, cobwebbed mind these past six years.
I have never seen a president in exactly the position Mr. Obama is, which is essentially alone. He’s got no one with him now. The Republicans don’t like him, for reasons both usual and particular: They have had no good experiences with him.
And they have tried so hard! It’s not as if they swore from the day of his first Inauguration to say no to every single idea he ever proposed, to deny him any legislative successes and a functioning government at all! That is just not how things are done in a great Republic. Surely it must all be Obama’s fault.
She found herself in Bloomingdale's, standing at the perfume counter, where bottles of fancy scents stood at attention like a Marine honor guard. She unscrewed one and inhaled deeply, like a common street person huffing spray paint fumes from a paper bag. Her eyes rolled back in her head and a wispy line of drool ran from the corner of her mouth down to her chin.
She thought of Richard Nixon. Had she seen a president as lonely as Nixon at his lowest point, wandering the White House halls late at night with a tumbler of scotch, snarling gibberish at the portraits that lined the walls as his administration crumbled around him? Nixon with those eyes like a cornered rat, those sycophants carrying bags of unmarked bills into the Oval Office and depositing them on his desk. And now Obama. There was a connection here, she was sure of it. Perhaps if she huffed one more perfume bottle…
But Nixon had one advantage Obama does not: the high regard of the world’s leaders, who found his downfall tragic (such ruin over such a trifling matter) and befuddling (he didn’t keep political prisoners chained up in dungeons, as they did. Why such a fuss?).
Nixon’s isolation didn’t end well.
So Nixon…Obama. Obama…Nixon. There was a point here, she was sure of it. She eyed another perfume bottle, ignoring the Bloomingdale’s employees gathered at the other end of the counter, watching her and whispering. Surely one more good huff and all these thoughts would coalesce into a sensible point...
A few weeks ago a conservative intellectual asked me: “How are we going to get through the next two years?” It was a rhetorical question; he was just sharing his anxiety. We have a president who actually can’t work with Congress, operating in a capital in which he is resented and disliked and a world increasingly unimpressed by him, and so increasingly predatory.
But probably not.
Note: If you find yourself paywalled as the Wall Street Journal, simply type the title of Peggy’s column (The Loneliest President Since Nixon) into Google, and presto! A link with no paywall.