I give Peggy Noonan credit for saying, in her latest column, that it's highly inappropriate for Republicans to invite Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress next month. But she's also upset that British prime minister David Cameron is lobbying members of Congress personally on Israeli sancions -- and, of course, she's offended by the man in the White House, whose State of the Union address and other recent utterances, she says, have been lacking in respect:
After forgetting to be gracious to the victors of the 2014 election, or even to note there’d been a significant election, he referred to his relations with Congress. “Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns. Imagine if we did something different,” he said. “A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.” It is instead one “where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.” Well, OK, but before this sweet hectoring he had sternly threatened to veto Republican-backed legislation. (CBS News’s Mark Knoller counts nine veto threats since the new Congress was sworn in Jan. 6.) Somehow Mr. Obama’s olive branch always looks like a blunt instrument. He has spent the past six years blaming Republicans when he wasn’t ignoring or dissing them, and despite some nice touches in the speech, his essential disrespect for his political adversaries shone through.
Yes, because presidents never spoke disrespectfully of the opposition before Obama. Certainly Noonan's old employer never did anything like that! Certainly Ronald Reagan would never go around insolently issuing multiple veto threats after his party lost control of Congress!
Oh, wait -- here's a story from July 1987, a few months after Democrats had taken control of the Senate as well as the House:
In Indianapolis this week, Mr. Reagan said, "If any tax hike ever comes across my desk, my handling of the veto pen will make the way Eliot Ness went after Al Capone look like child's play."
The week before, he cracked that "if a tax hike makes it to my desk, I'll veto it in less time than it takes Vanna White to turn the letters V-E-T-O."
And in Florida last month, Mr. Reagan borrowed a line from a familar television commercial when he said, "How do you spell relief? V-E-T-O."
Here's a quote from a Reagan speech delivered shortly after that story appeared:
Looking at the way Washington spends money, you would think that you were watching "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" on TV. [Laughter] The special interests want to raise the American people's taxes to pay for their high times and holidays. Well, as long as I am President, those holidays are over. And any tax increase that reaches my desk will be headed on a different kind of vacation: a one-way cruise to nowhere on the SS Veto.
Here's another 1987 Reagan speech:
No way are the American people going to be made to foot the bill for the tax-and-spend crew on Capitol Hill. Now, I have to tell you, some in Congress are standing against this tax tide. When I visited the Republican Senators last week, they gave me a giant veto pencil especially designed to take care of tax hikes. I'm keeping that pencil at the ready in my desk, and believe me, any tax hike bill that makes it into the Oval Office won't make it out alive. So, the tax-and-spend crew might as well just face the facts: There isn't going to be any tax hike in this administration. What there is going to be is a Capitol Hill cleanup....
And yes, there really was a giant veto pencil -- I couldn't find a photo of it online, but here's one from Paul Slansky's book on the Reagan years, The Clothes Have No Emperor (which is the source for some of these quotes):
A while Noonan doesn't mention Obama's reference o his two electoral victories in the State of the Union address, that certainly got up a lot of Republicans' noses. Well, here's Reagan doing some similar trash talk in a 1987 speech:
And then there are those in the other party who are clamoring for an increase in tax rates. You'll remember, of course, that it was just a little better than 2 years ago that one Presidential candidate promised not to raise taxes, while the other candidate promised that he would. And while I don't want to be immodest about this, it's true that the fellow who promised no tax increase carried 49 out of 50 States. Now, with less than 2 years to the next Presidential election, to see the other party once again demanding a tax hike -- well, if you'll permit me, there they go again. [Laughter]
Reagan was the best president ever, wasn't he? So frequent presidential taunts and veto threats must be a good thing -- right?
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog