From Peggy Noonan's Blog in January 2013, written after the election but is still a very solid analysis some 9 months later:
"One of the odd things about the Obama White House is that they are traumatized by the 'normal.'
A lot of the president's staffers were new to
national politics when they came in, and they seem to have concluded
that the partisan bitterness they faced was unique to him, and uniquely
sinister. It's just politics, or the ugly way we do politics now.
...it seems clear Mr. Obama doesn't really want to
work well with the other side. He doesn't want big bipartisan victories
that let everyone crow a little and move forward and make progress. He
wants his opponents in disarray, fighting without and within. He wants
them incapable. He wants them confused.
I doubt now he
has any intention of working with [Congress] on big reforms, of battling out a
compromise at a conference table, of having long walks and long talks
and making offers that are serious, that won't be changed overnight to
something else. The president intends to consistently beat his opponents
and leave them looking bad, or, failing that, to lose to them sometimes
and then make them look bad.
Here's my conjecture: In part it's
because he seems to like the tension. He likes cliffs, which is why it's
always a cliff with him and never a deal. He likes the high-stakes,
tottering air of crisis. Maybe it makes him feel his mastery and reminds
him how cool he is, unrattled while he rattles others. He can take it.
Can they? [Yeah, It's because Obama has a narcissistic personality disorder]
He is a uniquely polarizing figure. A moderate U.S. senator said the
other day: "One thing not said enough is he is the most divisive
president in modern history. He doesn't just divide the Congress, he
divides the country."
Maybe he thinks bipartisan progress raises the Republicans almost to
his level, and he doesn't want to do that. They're partisan hacks,
they're not big like him. Let them flail. [More Narcissism again]
This, however, is true: The great presidents are always in the end
uniters, not dividers. They keep it together and keep it going. And
people remember them fondly for that."