The election is over, a new era begins—and it looks just like the old one. A crisis is declared. Confusion, frustration, and a more embittered process follow. This is . . . the Obama Way. Nothing has changed, even after a yearlong campaign that must, at times, have looked to him like a near-death experience. He still doesn’t want to forestall jittery, gloom-laden headlines and make an early deal with the other guy. He wants to beat the other guy. …

You watch and wonder: Why does it always have to be cliffs with this president? Why is it always a high-stakes battle? Why doesn’t he shrewdly re-enact Ronald Reagan, meeting, arguing and negotiating in good faith with Speaker Tip O’Neill, who respected very little of what the president stood for and yet, at the end of the day and with the country in mind, could shake hands and get it done? Why is there never a sense with Mr. Obama that he understands the other guys’ real position? …

The president would only benefit from showing he has the command and capability to meet, argue, press and come to agreement. It would be heartening to the country to see this, and would impress the world. And the Republicans would like to get it done. …

So they’re weakened, they want this particular crisis to end, and they badly need to win entitlement reforms that would, in the end, buttress the president’s historical standing—and the president isn’t working with them every day and making a deal?