Dionne: Obama needs to be like Reagan and speak in nonsensical parables
Gregory: he also needs have mindless optimism
Noonan: yes Reagan and Obama were both young Presidents
Gregory: um what?
Noonan: also Reagan had a clear plan - incite racial resentment, appear in front of a lot of flags and, build up the deficit and leave the problem for later
Gregory: people loved that
Actual hackery below the fold with Peggy Noonan still banging that we're a center-right country drum. Sorry Peggy, but we're not.
MR. DIONNE: You could have embarrassed me. That was, that was pretty good. I do think that, in fact, that is precisely what needs to happen. Peggy mentioned there were no magic words, and I agree with that. This is not about magic. But if you go back to Ronald Reagan, the person that Peggy worked for so effectively, Ronald Reagan spent a lot of time not lost in the weeds of policy. He made large arguments, and he made large arguments against the other side. He spent a lot of time saying this old, failed liberalism doesn't work anymore. And I think what you need from Obama--in all of the speeches he's given, he has not made a consistent argument, provided a consistent narrative of where I want to move the nation. I think you're beginning to see that in the last few days. And Massachusetts, it's very strange to say, could turn out to be a blessing if it leads to a course correction 10 months before the midterms. The Democrats didn't see what was coming in '94; boy, they do now.
MR. GREGORY: Right. And, Peggy, it's interesting. Lou Cannon, who you know well, the Reagan biographer, wrote this week that, you know, the conventional wisdom that somehow this is the unraveling of the Obama presidency might be wrong. This could be--Reagan's first year, '82, was bad; landslide in '84. This is what he wrote, actually: "[Reagan's '84 re-election landslide] would not have happened without the economic recovery; no president is immune to prolonged economic downturn. But Reagan's performance in '82 was also crucial. ... Millions of Americans responded to Reagan's unflinching optimism and believed he would do the right thing. By that measure, if he can once again display the rousing audacity that marked the campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama can make a similar comeback."
MS. NOONAN: Let me tell you what I think is the difference between now and 1982. Yes, you have two young, new, compelling presidents, and they're going through a hard time in their first year. Here are the differences. One, Reagan was on the same page as his public with regard to what the great issues of the day were: the economy and national security, the Soviet Union. President Obama has not been the same page, he's been going down a different road. Two, Reagan in '82 had a clear plan that everybody knew. He said, "I'm going to cut your taxes and it's going to help get us out of it. I'm going to squeeze inflation out of the system." Because it was a clear plan, people gave it time. In the end, it seemed to work. Three, Reagan was a conservative president in a center-right country. That's not true with Mr. Obama, whose political philosophy is still, oddly, unclear in a way. It seems to--we see the impulses of it in his programs, but we're not sure what the basic thing is. But America remains a center-right country. So I don't buy the parallels of '82 and now.
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