Category Archive 'Peggy Noonan'
22 Aug 2020
In a just world, Peggy Noonan would have repented publicly for turning her coat and endorsing Barack Obama in 2008 and then retired to a nunnery to spend her remaining years making grape jelly. But, no, alas! she is still holding forth regularly as a “conservative” commentator at the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Just last week, Peggy horrified some of us afresh with a gushing puff-piece praising Joe Biden’s running-mate to the stars.
She is an excellent performer of politics. Like Bill Clinton she enjoys and has a talent for the necessary artifice. She takes obvious pleasure in campaigningâ€”making speeches, waving, laughing, pressing the flesh. In committee hearings she cocks her brow in the closeup to show skepticism. Her glamour, and her consciousness of it, were vivid enough to be spoofed by Maya Rudolph on â€œSaturday Night Live.â€
Reading her 2019 autobiography, â€œThe Truths We Hold: An American Journey,â€ it occurs to you that what sheâ€™s really bringing Joe Biden is the things she doesnâ€™t say and the stories she doesnâ€™t tell on the trail.
She was born and raised in a climate of liberal activism in Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., in the 1960s and â€™70s. Her father, Donald Harris, born in Jamaica in 1938, was a student there and went on to be an economics professor at Stanford. Her mother, Shyamala, was born in southern India, graduated from the University of Delhi at 19, and earned a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. Shyamala, who died in 2009, was expected to return home for an arranged marriage; instead she met Donald. They married, had two children and divorced.
When Kamala Harris was a toddler, her parents brought her to civil-rights marches. â€œI have young memories of a sea of legs moving about,â€ she writes. Her mother liked to tell a story. Once Kamala was fussing in her stroller, and Mrs. Harris leaned down and asked, â€œWhat do you want?â€ â€œ â€˜Fweedom!â€™ I yelled back.â€
The general atmosphere was â€™60s Berkeleyâ€”diverse, full of passion, consumed by identity politics and debates about liberation.
They took periodic trips to India. â€œMy mother, grandparents, aunts, and uncle instilled us with pride in our South Asian roots. . . . We were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture.â€ (India looks to be an increasingly important ally as Americaâ€™s relationship with China deteriorates. If Biden-Harris wins and her background is helpful, good.)
She went to ballet class, sang in the choir in the 23rd Avenue Church of God, went to a black cultural center called Rainbow Sign on Thursdays. She saw Rep. Shirley Chisholm speak and was electrified.
By the time Ms. Harris graduated high school she wanted to become a lawyer like her heroes Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley. Also like her Uncle Sherman and a family friend named Henry. â€œAny time someone had a problem . . . the first thing youâ€™d hear was, â€˜Call Henry, call Sherman. Theyâ€™ll know what to do.â€™ . . . I wanted to be the one people called.â€ …
[W]e get a sense of gusto. She admires toughness. She is a natural pol. She was bred to achieve in an aspirational immigrant environment. She loves to compete.
She is warm, humorous. Like most of the men around her in politics, she enjoys being important. She isnâ€™t embarrassed by attention.
Peggy omits mentioning the unpleasant reality of exactly how a graduate of a third-rate law school, who flunked the bar exam, rose so rapidly to the upper levels of California democrat party machine politics.
This week, Peggy delivered a tepid critique of the democrat convention: boring, artificial, and way too full of grievance-mongering. But, she also endorsed, and enthusiastically echoes, all the scurrilous crap they flung at Donald Trump.
All summer Iâ€™ve been running into two kinds of people. One kind says, â€œThat man is a living shame on our country and must be removed.â€ The other kind says very little. They donâ€™t defend him. They say, â€œI canâ€™t believe I may vote for him, but . . .â€ And always they explain it this way: â€œWhat the other guys are gonna do on taxes,â€ â€œWhat the other guys will do to my industry,â€ â€œWhat the Democrats will do to the economy.â€
Iâ€™m getting the impression that for a lot of people, the ballot this fall wonâ€™t read â€œTrump vs. Bidenâ€ but â€œTrump vs. What the Other Guys Will Do.â€ …
Barack Obamaâ€™s speech will stick in history; it wonâ€™t just slide away. No former president has ever publicly leveled anything like this criticism at a sitting successor: â€œI did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously, that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did. For close to four years now, he has shown no interest in putting in the work.â€
This is a former president calling the current one shallow and lazy. He also suggested heâ€™s greedy and intellectually incapable. Unprecedented? Yes. Unjustified? No, alas. And Iâ€™m not seeing Trump supporters rise up in indignant defense. They know itâ€™s true, too.
Reading this, my blood boiled and I marveled at the extent to which long residence in the elite community of fashion bubble has distorted and impaired her perception of reality.
OK, it is true that Donald Trump talks differently from the typical representative of the national upper middle class elite. He boasts and brags. He constantly indulges in exaggeration and he interrupts his own sentences, inserting annoying little modifiers like “the most beautiful.” Trump also dresses and grooms himself peculiarly. His suits are always identical and blue and look like they came from Robert Hall. He wears (almost always) monochrome neckties, usually red, and always tied too long. And he dyes his hair and wears it peculiarly long and combed over elaborately in a very strange fashion obviously contrived to cover at any cost his baldness.
Trump offends the delicate sensibilities of people like Peggy Noonan, too, by his conspicuous lack of inhibition and propriety. Trump gets online and tweets what he thinks and feels, insulting and attacking his opponents in government and the media with no consideration to his own dignity or that of his position. Trump obviously is not lazy. His problem is hyperactivity.
I think “shallow” is also not the mot juste. Trump is not so much shallow as undomesticated and unrefined. Donald Trump offends the dickens out of our national elite, because he is clearly “not one of us.” Trump is an outsider, a parvenu from the Outer Boroughs, who dresses, walks, talks, and behaves like –oh, dear! oh, dear!– one of the common people.
Donald Trump is not glib and smooth-talking. He cannot produce the same kind of ever-so-nice sounding gaseous rhetoric as Obama. He does not understand how he’s supposed to behave. He breaks all the rules and knocks over the tea set every time.
Why all this rankles, why this stings so sharply, lies precisely in the fact that the people’s elevation of Donald Trump constitutes a distinct rejection, an undeniable slap in the face to the entire America establishment elite. The people rejected the democrat elite’s left-wing insanity, and they also rejected the Republican elite for having failed for so long to defeat Leftism absolutely and decisively. And, there is an especially sharp, added level of pain for establishmentarians looking on: Trump is winning, Trump is faithfully, unprecedentedly fulfilling campaign promises. The horrible, uncouth and unworthy Trump shrugs off easily the worst the democrat opposition can do, and marches on, trampling taboos underfoot, from victory to victory.
I didn’t support Trump in 2016. I had all the same stylistic reservations as Peggy and George Will and all the other Never Trumpers. However, I gradually observed that Trump really is patriotic and sincere. I liked many of his appointments and I really like the majority of his policies. Sure, I recognize that Trump is eccentric and flawed, but I also recognize how much he has accomplished and how willing he is to fight. You can’t come to me and tell me that Donald Trump is too dumb and too shallow to be president, we have to have Joe Biden instead! If Donald Trump owned a dog, it would be smarter than Joe Biden. And that dog would be more principled.
Peggy Noonan ought to be ashamed.
15 May 2020
Peggy Noonan, this week, is remembering her working class roots again.
I’m afraid, however, when push comes to shove, Peggy is always going to side with the Community of Fashion over ordinary America.
There is a class divide between those who are hard-line on lockdowns and those who are pushing back. We see the professionals on one sideâ€”those James Burnham called the managerial elite, and Michael Lind, in â€œThe New Class War,â€ calls â€œthe overclassâ€â€”and regular people on the other. The overclass are highly educated and exert outsize influence as managers and leaders of important institutionsâ€”hospitals, companies, statehouses. The normal people arenâ€™t connected through professional or social lines to power structures, and they have regular jobsâ€”service worker, small-business owner.
Since the pandemic began, the overclass has been in chargeâ€”scientists, doctors, political figures, consultantsâ€”calling the shots for the average people. But personally they have less skin in the game. The National Institutes of Health scientist wonâ€™t lose his livelihood over whatâ€™s happened. Neither will the midday anchor.
Iâ€™ve called this divide the protected versus the unprotected. There is an aspect of it that is not much discussed but bears on current arguments. How you have experienced life has a lot to do with how you experience the pandemic and its strictures. I think itâ€™s fair to say citizens of red states have been pushing back harder than those of blue states.
Itâ€™s not that those in red states donâ€™t think thereâ€™s a pandemic. Theyâ€™ve heard all about it! They realize it will continue, they know they may get sick themselves. But they also figure this way: Hundreds of thousands could die and the American economy taken down, which would mean millions of other casualties, economic ones. Or, hundreds of thousands could die and the American economy is damaged but still stands, in which case there will be fewer economic casualtiesâ€”fewer bankruptcies and foreclosures, fewer unemployed and ruined.
Theyâ€™ll take the latter. Itâ€™s a loss either way but one loss is worse than the other. They know the politicians and scientists canâ€™t really weigh all this on a scale with any precision because life is a messy thing that doesnâ€™t want to be quantified.
Hereâ€™s a generalization based on a lifetime of experience and observation. The working-class people who are pushing back have had harder lives than those now determining their fate. They havenâ€™t had familial or economic ease. No one sent them to Yale. They often come from considerable family dysfunction. This has left them tougher or harder, you choose the word.
Theyâ€™re more fatalistic about life because life has taught them to be fatalistic. And they look at these scientists and reporters making their warnings about how tough itâ€™s going to be if we lift shutdowns and they donâ€™t think, â€œOh what informed, caring observers.â€ They think, â€œYou have no idea what tough is. You donâ€™t know what painful is.â€ And if you donâ€™t know, why should you have so much say?
The overclass says, â€œWait three months before weâ€™re safe.â€ They reply, â€œThereâ€™s no such thing as safe.â€
Something else is true about those pushing back. They live life closer to the ground …
27 Apr 2019
Peggy Noonan, in the WSJ, blamed Trump for the failed Coup (!).
Don Surber responded:
She wrote, “Iâ€™m thinking of the old ambassadors, mostly men in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Theyâ€™re woven into the town, solid citizens, friends of journalists, occasionally sources, and they know things. Theyâ€™re mostly retired, and at lunch at clubs in town often begin sentences with ‘And so I told Zbig . . .’ Thereâ€™s a bit of lost glory with them, but they care about America, are personally invested in it, love it with an old-school love, and respect systems, knowing that creativity â€” in art, science and diplomacy â€” can only be born within a certain immediate order.”
Zbig is Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski, who advised LBJ and was Carter’s national security adviser. On his watch, we doubled down on Vietnam (LBJ) and lost Iran and the Panama Canal under Carter.
But he made the cocktail circuit.
President Donald John Trump does not curry DC’s favor. He does not need them. He is a garish playboy billionaire who saved Manhattan only to be resented by Manhattan’s elitists who look down on his Outer Borough ways.
He is saving the country and the people who will in the long term benefit most â€” the elitists â€” are spitting angry.
She wrote, “Pretty quickly and to the entire edifice of Washington, it became clear Donald Trump was not a Jacksonian shock to the system, which is what his supporters think he was. He was a daily system overload, a one-man frying of the grid.”
If one man, even a president, can overload a grid, then you need a better grid.
But the fact is, they did this to themselves and refuse to accept responsibility. Anyone can cut you off in traffic; you decide whether to turn that into Road Rage.
We know what she (and they) decided.
Noonan wrote, “Their fears about him werenâ€™t assuaged by trusty old hands inside the White House because those hands werenâ€™t there. They didnâ€™t join the administration, because they didnâ€™t want their rÃ©sumÃ©s tainted or they thought wise counsel would never be heeded. Or because theyâ€™d signed a letter opposing him in 2016 and would never be forgiven.
“So a lot of good people didnâ€™t come in or werenâ€™t allowed in. And those who did work for the president came to seem strange â€” fierce, emotional, half mad themselves. There were good people there â€” the generals were solid â€” but one by one they left.”
The message from DC is clear: work for The Donald and you end your career.
So much for her illusion of this crowd being public servants. If you love your country, you serve when called.
Hers is a roundabout way to blame President Trump for the attempted coup by the Deep State and the Fourth Estate, which awarded her a Pulitzer for her contributions to this effort.
She wrote, “It was all this â€” the presidentâ€™s disdain, his well-fed resentments â€” that not only left Washington thinking Mr. Trump was crazy. It made Washington itself a fertile field for crazy. It was in this atmosphere that the Steele dossier, with its whacked out third-rate spy fiction, became believable, that sober-minded officials reportedly wondered if they should wear wires when they met with the president.
“He destabilized the entire town.”
No. The town’s Road Rage against him comes from their refusal to accept the will of the people and the policies that serve America and not Washington.
She is rooting for Democrats to offer a safe choice who will calm the waters, this shaming the legacy of Ronald Reagan for whom she once worked. Oh well, she always said Dan Rather was her favorite boss.
Hers is a cry from Versailles for Sloppy Joe Biden to save them from this Orange Man who wants to Make America Great Again.
Biden’s slogan is “America’s Coming Back Like We Used To Be.”
By America, he means the people who chatted with Zbig at cocktail parties.
But that is not going to happen. It’s over.
Peggy, Catholic, Irish, and of working-class origin, is still bedazzled by the charm, prestige, and life-style of the American Elite Establishment. She fails to recognize that they are too commonly just like Scott Fitzgerald’s Buchanans:
“â€œThey were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.â€
06 Aug 2016
Peggy Noonan contends that Trump persuaded Americans this week that he’s crazy.
I think this week marked a certain coming to terms with where the election is going. Politics is about trends and tendencies. The trends for Donald Trump are not good, and he tends not to change.
All the damage done to him this week was self-inflicted. The arrows heâ€™s taken are arrows he shot. We have in seven days witnessed his undignified and ungrateful reaction to a Gold Star family; the odd moment with the crying baby; the one-on-one interviews, which are starting to look like something he does in the grip of a compulsion, in which Mr. Trump expresses himself thoughtlessly, carelessly, on such issues as Russia, Ukraine and sexual harassment; the relitigating of his vulgar Megyn Kelly comments from a year ago; and, as his fortunes fell, his statement that he â€œwould not be surprisedâ€ if the November election were â€œrigged.â€ Subject to an unprecedented assault by a sitting president who called him intellectually and characterologically unfit for the presidency, Mr Trump fired backâ€”at Paul Ryan and John McCain.
The mad scatterbrained-ness of it was captured in a Washington Post interview with Philip Rucker in which five times by my countâ€”again, the compulsionâ€”Mr. Trump departed the meat of the interview to turn his head and stare at the television. On seeing himself on the screen: â€œLot of energy. We got a lot of energy.â€ Minutes later: â€œLook at this. Itâ€™s all Trump all day long. Thatâ€™s why their ratings are through the roof.â€ Heâ€™s all about screens, like a toddler hooked on iPad.
Mr. Trump spent all his time doing these things instead of doing his job: making the case for his policies, expanding on his stands, and taking the battle to Hillary Clinton.
By the middle of the week the Republican National Committee was reported to be frustrated, party leaders alarmed, donors enraged. There was talk of an â€œintervention.â€
Here is a truth of life. When you act as if youâ€™re insane, people are liable to think youâ€™re insane. Thatâ€™s what happened this week. People started to become convinced he was nuts, a total flake.
Read the whole thing.
13 May 2016
Peggy Noonan is an embarrassment as a pundit. The poor girl must be pretty well half-baked every time she sits down to bat out a column of political pontifications. She has no keel whatsoever. Whatever disaster for the Republic or mass insanity is underway, Peggy falls madly in love with.
In 2008, Peggy was flinging her panties onto the stage at Obama rallies, and gravely advising Republicans and conservatives that “the times they were a-changing” and we had better get with the program and move with the times. The GOP was, Peggy said, a neglected, out-of-fashion and unloved old house. Barack Obama, on the other hand, was the most exciting thing Peggy had ever seen.
Itâ€™s a tale of two houses. One is dilapidated, old. Everyone in the neighborhood is used to it, and they turn away when they pass. A series of people lived in it and failed to take care of it. Itâ€™s run down, needs paint. The roof sags, squirrels run through the eaves. A haunted house! No, more boring. Just a house someone . . . let go.
But over here, a new house on a new plot. Itâ€™s rising from the mud before your eyes. It has interesting lines, a promising faÃ§ade, and when people walk by they stop and look. So much bustle! Builders running in and out, the contractors fighting with each otherâ€”â€You wouldnâ€™t even have this job if it werenâ€™t for the minority set-aside!â€ And everyone hates the architect, who put a port-o-potty on the lawn.
But: You canâ€™t take your eyes off it. â€œSomething being born, and not something dying.â€ Maybe it will improve the neighborhood. Maybe the owners will be nice.
A year later, Peggy was a loyal member of the Republican opposition again, warning Barack Obama that in his ruthless drive to ram through the nationalization of one-sixth of the US economy he was “terrifying America.”
But, even with Peggy dumping regularly on Obama throughout the 2012 campaign, Jeff Goldstein found it difficult to forgive Peggy Noonan for supporting Obama in 2008.
[O]ne of the women who helped guilt the American people into electing a transformative Marxist with a dubious background and no governing experience, a man who, after his drug-addled youth, hung out with domestic terrorists, academic (and activist) anti-Semites, and got his religious counsel from a man steeped in hatred of Whites and Jews, as head of the free world â€” while simultaneously sneering down her nose at figures like Sarah Palin, who has proven over the course of time to be every bit as prescient as Ms Noonan was bamboozed, hoodwinked, and gloriously conned â€” is now writing to tell us the President is not who he promised heâ€™d be. As if we havenâ€™t been alive the last five years, or as if we were the ones whose snobbery and reflected egoism caused us to buy this charlatanâ€™s obvious and vapid bullshit in the first place.
And, here in 2016, we find Peggy at it again, jumping on the chariot of transformative change and sneering at the old fogey skeptics trying to resist the mandate of History.
If you know Trump people in real life as opposed to through social media, if they are your friends and family members, you understand that â€œrageâ€ doesnâ€™t do them justice. They dislike the Republican Party, which they believe has consistently betrayed them, but Trump people in person are just about the only cheerful people in politics this year. They actually have hopeâ€”the system needs a hard electric shock, heâ€™s just the man to do it, and if it doesnâ€™t work theyâ€™ll fire him. Theyâ€™re having a good time. Here I throw in a moment I had in Manhattan Thursday afternoon. I was standing on a corner on York Avenue in the 60s when a cab screeched across two lanes to stop in front of me. â€œI am voting for Trump!â€ the driver yelled through an open window. â€œYou want to know why? He is neither right or left!â€ He then laughed and sped on. Not all Trump supporters are quiet about it.
Peggy even has some advice for Trump opponents:
Those who oppose Mr. Trump should do it seriously and with respect for his supporters. If he is not conservative, make your case and explain what conservatism is. No one at this point needs your snotty potshots or your supposedly withering one-liners. I confess I have lost patience with many of those declaring they cannot in good conscience support him, not because reasons of conscience are not crucialâ€”they are, and if they apply they should be declared. But some making these declarations managed in good conscience, indeed with the highest degree of self-regard, to back the immigration proposals of George W. Bush that contributed so much to the crisis that produced Mr. Trump. They invented Sarah Palin. They managed to support the global attitudes and structures that left the working class jobless. They dreamed up the Iraq war.
Sometimes I think their consciences are really not so delicate.
As for the political consultants who insult Mr. Trump so vigorously, they are the ones who did most to invent him. What do they ever do in good conscience?
I’m supposed to “respect” empty-headed, ill-informed amadans who don’t follow politics, who can’t understand policy, who think pragmatism is better than having principles, and who are, once again, hurrying to make a Pop Culture Celebrity the chief magistrate of the Republic, who want to sit Bozo the Clown in the same chair once occupied by Reagan and by Washington?
I don’t look on the voting decision in 2016 as so much a matter of conscience as of common sense. No one sensible ought to be willing to support a person of bad character, a person of low intelligence, a person manifestly unprincipled, or a person lacking in a sophisticated understanding of government policy. No one of normal intelligence ought to be willing to support an obvious charlatan, a shameless liar, a vulgarian, or a bully. If you think that the remedy for the excesses of bad politics and popular delusions is to find a noiser, coarser, and less-inhibited clown and put the country in his hands, there is something seriously wrong with you.
Peggy Noonan is drunk and should go home, and so should the rest of the people supporting Donald Trump.
12 Sep 2015
Peggy Noonan argues that the European Refugee crisis features a major disconnect between the influential elites making the decisions and the ordinary citizens who have to live with the consequences.
Rules on immigration and refugees are made by safe people. These are the people who help run countries, who have nice homes in nice neighborhoods and are protected by their status. Those who live with the effects of immigration and asylum law are those who are less safe, who see a less beautiful face in it because they are daily confronted with a less beautiful realityâ€”normal human roughness, human tensions. Decision-makers fear things like harsh words from the writers of editorials; normal human beings fear things like street crime. Decision-makers have the luxury of seeing life in the abstract. Normal people feel the implications of their decisions in the particular.
The decision-makers feel disdain for the anxieties of normal people, and ascribe them to small-minded bigotries, often religious and racial, and ignorant antagonisms. But normal people prize order because they canâ€™t buy their way out of disorder.
People in gated communities of the mind, who glide by in Ubers, have bought their way out and are safe. Not to mention those in government-maintained mansions who glide by in SUVs followed by security details. Rulers can afford to see national-security threats as an abstractionâ€”yes, yes, we must better integrate our new populations. But the unprotected, the vulnerable, have a right and a reason to worry.
Here is the challenge for people in politics: The better you do, the higher you go, the more detached you become from real life. You use words like â€œperceptionâ€ a lot. But perception is not as important as reality.
The great thing in politics, the needed thing, is for those who are raised high in terms of responsibility and authority to be yet still, in their heads and hearts, of the people, experiencing life as a common person on an average street. The challenge is to carry the average street inside you. Only then, when the street is wrong, can you persuade it to see what is right.
The biggest thing leaders donâ€™t do now is listen. They no longer hear the voices of common people. Or they imitate what they think it is and it sounds backward and embarrassing. In this age we will see political leaders, and institutions, rock, shatter and fall due to that deafness.
19 Dec 2013
In 2008, when Barack Obama was advancing on the presidency by means of successfully turning himself into the year’s most popular fashion statement, the fact was occasionally remarked that Barack Obama had made his persona into a mirror which was reflecting back precisely the images his audience wanted to see, the real Obama remained an invisible enigma.
Barack Obama managed to be elected presidency, occupied the White House for four years of economic misery while magically evading responsibility for the non-recovery, and was even, astonishingly, re-elected, while remaining essentially defined by the wishful fantasies of an admiring public.
Ironically, it seems that it was Barack Obama’s signature achievement, Obamacare, the long-elusive goal of left-wing dreams which would transform America, once and for all, into a European-style Welfare State, which proved to be his nemesis, his Hurricane Katrina, the touchstone of demonstrable performance which dispelled all the illusions and defined the real Obama. And his definition, as Peggy Noonan noted yesterday, is: incompetent.
I would add that in recent weeks I have begun to worry about the basic competency of the administration, its ability to perform the most fundamental duties of executive management. One reason I worry is that I frequently speak with people who interact with the White House, and when I say, â€œThat place just doesnâ€™t seem to work,â€ they donâ€™t defend it, they offer off-the-record examples of how poorly the government is run. …
It all looks so lax, so loosey-goosey. In the place of the energy and focus that would go into the running of things, the administering and managing of them, we have the preoccupation with spin, with how things look as opposed to how they are. The odd thing still is that the White House never misses a speech, a list of talking points, an opportunity to shape the argument on TV. They do the talking part, but the doing? They had 3Â½ years to make sure ObamaCare will work, three years to get it right top to bottom, to rejigger parts of the law that they finally judged wouldnâ€™t work, to make the buying of a policy easy on the website. And they not only couldnâ€™t do that, which itself constitutes an astounding and historic management failure, they make it clear they were taken aback by their failure. They didnâ€™t know it was coming! Or some knew and for some reason couldnâ€™t do anything.
And itâ€™s all going to continue. One reason this scandal isnâ€™t Katrina is that Katrina had a beginning and an end. The storm came, the storm left, the cleanup commenced and failed and then continued and succeeded. At some point it was over. ObamaCare will never be over. Itâ€™s going to poison the rest of the administration. Itâ€™s the story that wonâ€™t go away because it will continue to produce disorder. Wait, for instance, until small businesses realize it will be cheaper to throw their people off their coverage and take the fines than it will be to reinsure them under the new regime.
Iâ€™m worried, finally, that lines of traditionally assumed competence are being dropped. The past few weeks I canâ€™t shake from my head this picture: The man with the footballâ€”the military aide who carries the U.S. nuclear codes, and who travels with the presidentâ€”is carrying the wrong code. Heâ€™s carrying last monthâ€™s code, or the one from December 2012. And thereâ€™s a crisisâ€”a series of dots on a radar screen traveling toward the continental U.S.â€”and the president is alerted. Heâ€™s in the holding room at a fundraiser out west. The man with the football is called in and he fumbles around in his briefcase and gets the code but wait, the date on the code is wrong. He scrambles, remembers thereâ€™s a file on his phone, but the phone ran out on the plane and he thought he could recharge in the holding room but thereâ€™s no electrical outlet. All eyes turn to him. â€œWaitâ€”wait. Noâ€”uhâ€”I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s the code we use to launch against incoming from North Korea, I think that one takes out Paris!â€
I have to say, Iâ€™ve never worried about this with any previous administration, ever.
Read the whole thing.
Recognizing back in 2008 that Barack Obama was nothing but an Illinois state senator with no record of meaningful accomplishment whatsoever beyond (perhaps) writing his own autobiography at age 30, and $2.99, would get you a cup of coffee.
06 Dec 2013
Jeff Goldstein also read Peggy Noonan’s latest, her devastating critique of Obama’s leadership, and he’s a lot less forgiving of her behavior in 2008 than I am.
We learn that Peggy Noonan is at her heartfelt best, noting as she does â€” clearly, and not for the first time (though probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 or 5 times by now) â€” that this Obama fellow, despite his manufactured polish, his practiced speech, and his inflated credentials, may just prove ill-equipped to really lead effectively and handle the challenges facing the nation.
â€“ Many of which wouldnâ€™t be facing the nation in the first place had not ostentatiously cosmopolitan and â€œpragmaticâ€ GOP pundits like the ubiquitous Peggy Noonan so disturbingly creamed over candidate Obama and his academic bona fides â€” which amounted to studies of critical race theory, race and law, the promotion of Marxism using the language of liberty as its camouflage, and mau-mauing the flak catchers, all of which requires nothing more than a willingness to parrot back leftist talking points to leftist professors looking to turn you into activist leftist foot soldiers and then, if you happen to have the right pedigree, perhaps even greater things.
Or, to put it another way, one of the women who helped guilt the American people into electing a transformative Marxist with a dubious background and no governing experience, a man who, after his drug-addled youth hung out with domestic terrorists, academic (and activist) anti-Semites, and got his religious counsel from a man steeped in hatred of Whites and Jews, as head of the free world â€” while simultaneously turning down her nose at figures like Sarah Palin, who has proven over the course of time to be every bit as prescient as Ms Noonan was bamboozed, hoodwinked, and gloriously conned â€” is now writing to tell us the President is not who he promised heâ€™d be.
Read the whole thing. It’s a good one.
05 Dec 2013
Oh, how things have changed. I can remember 2008 when Peggy Noonan was smitten by the man of Destiny.
Well, the bloom is off the rose now, and Peggy has Obama’s number this time.
Itâ€™s a leaderâ€™s job to be skeptical of grand schemes. Sorry, thatâ€™s a conservative leaderâ€™s job. It is a liberal leaderâ€™s job to be skeptical that grand schemes will work as intended. You have to guide and goad and be careful.
And this president wasnâ€™t. I think part of the reason he wasnâ€™t careful is because he sort of lives in words. Thatâ€™s been his whole professional lifeâ€”books, speeches. Say something and it magically exists as something said, and if itâ€™s been said and publicized it must be real. He never had to push a lever, see the machine not respond, puzzle it out and fix it. Itâ€™s all been pretty abstract for him, not concrete. He never had to stock a store, run a sale and see lots of people come but the expenses turn out to be larger than youâ€™d expected and the profits smaller, and you have to figure out what went wrong and do better next time.
People say Mr. Obama never had to run anything, but it may be more important that he never worked for the guy who had to run something, and things got fouled up along the way and he had to turn it around. He never had to meet a payroll, never knew that stress. He probably never had to buy insurance! And you know, his policies were probably gold-platedâ€”at the law firm, through his wifeâ€™s considerable hospital job, in the Illinois Legislature, in the U.S. Senate. Those guys know how to take care of themselves! Maybe he felt guilty. Maybe thatâ€™s to his credit, knowing he was lucky. Too bad he didnâ€™t know what he didnâ€™t know, like how every part has to work for a complicated machine to work.
Here I will say something harsh, and itâ€™s connected to the thing about words but also images.
From what I have seen the administration is full of young people whoâ€™ve seen the movie but not read the book. They act bright, they know the reference, theyâ€™re credentialed. But theyâ€™ve only seen the movie about, say, the Cuban missile crisis, and then they get into a foreign-policy question and theyâ€™re seeing movies in their heads. They havenâ€™t read the histories, the texts, which carry more information, more texture, data and subtlety, and different points of view. Theyâ€™ve only seen the movieâ€”the Cubans had the missiles and Jack said â€œNot another warâ€ and Bobby said â€œPearl Harbor in reverseâ€ and dreadful old Curtis LeMay chomped his cigar and said â€œWe can fry a million of â€˜em by this afternoon, Mr. President.â€ Grrr, grrr, good guys beat bad guys.
Itâ€™s as if history isnâ€™t real to them. They run around tweeting, all of them, even those in substantial positions. â€œDarfur government inadequate. Genocide unacceptable.â€ They share their feelings â€“ that happens to be one of the things they seem to think is real, what they feel. â€œUnjust treatment of womenâ€”scourge that hurts my heart.â€ This is the dialogue to the movies in their heads.
Thereâ€™s a sense that theyâ€™re all freelancing, not really part of anything coherent.
For four years I have been told, by those whoâ€™ve worked in the administration and those whoâ€™ve visited it as volunteers or contractors, that the Obama White House isnâ€™t organized. Itâ€™s just full of chatter. Meetings donâ€™t begin on time, thereâ€™s no agenda, the list of those invited seems to expand and contract at somebodyâ€™s whim. There is a tendency to speak of how a problem will look and how its appearance should be handled, as opposed to what the problem is and should be done about it. People speak airily, without point. They scroll down, see a call that has to be returned, pop out and then in again.
It does not sound like a professional operation. And this is both typical of White Houses and yet on some level extreme. People have always had meetings to arrange meetings, but the lack of focus, the lack of point, the sense that they are operating within accepted levels of incoherenceâ€”this all sounds, actually, peculiar.
And when you apply this to the ObamaCare debacle, suddenly it seems to make sense. The White House is so unformed and chaotic that they probably didnâ€™t ignore the problem, they probably held a million meetings on it. People probably said things like, â€œWeâ€™re experiencing some technological challenges but weâ€™re sure weâ€™ll be up by October,â€ and other people said, â€œYes, itâ€™s important we launch strong,â€ and others said, â€œThe Republicans will have a field day if weâ€™re not.â€ And then everyone went to their next meeting. And no one did anything. And the president went off and made speeches.
Because the doing isnâ€™t that important, the talking is.
Read the whole, devastating thing.
12 Oct 2012
Amusingly, partisan commentators from both sides are claiming victory. So the way to tell who really won is to check what the kind of commentator who can be counted to be found jumping on the winning bandwagon is saying. Let’s look at Peggy Noonan‘s analysis:
There were fireworks all the way, and plenty of drama. Each candidate could claim a win in one area or another, but by the end it looked to me like this: For the second time in two weeks, the Democrat came out and defeated himself. In both cases the Republican was strong and the Democrat somewhat disturbing.
Another way to say it is the old man tried to patronize the kid and the kid stood his ground. The old man pushed, and the kid pushed back.
Last week Mr. Obama was weirdly passive. Last night Mr. Biden was weirdly aggressive, if that is the right word for someone who grimaces, laughs derisively, interrupts, hectors, rolls his eyes, browbeats and attempts to bully. He meant to dominate, to seem strong and no-nonsense. Sometimes he didâ€”he had his moments. But he was also disrespectful and full of bluster. “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy!” he snapped at one point. It was an echo of Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle, in 1988. But Mr. Quayle, who had compared himself to Kennedy, had invited the insult. Mr. Ryan had not. It came from nowhere. Did Mr. Biden look good? No, he looked mean and second-rate. He meant to undercut Mr. Ryan, but he undercut himself. His grimaces and laughter were reminiscent of Al Gore’s sighs in 2000â€”theatrical, off-putting and in the end self-indicting.
Mr. Ryan was generally earnest, fluid, somewhat wonky, confident. He occasionally teetered on the edge of glibness and sometimes fell off. …
I have just realized the problem with the debate: it was the weird distance between style and content, and the degree to which Mr. Biden’s style poisoned his content.
In terms of contentâ€”the seriousness and strength of one’s positions and the ability to argue for themâ€”the debate was probably a draw, with both candidates having strong moments. But in terms of style, Mr. Biden was so childishly manipulative that it will be surprising if independents and undecideds liked what they saw.
National Democrats keep confusing strength with aggression and command with sarcasm. Even the latter didn’t work for Mr. Biden. The things he said had the rhythm and smirk of sarcasm without the cutting substance.
And so the Romney-Ryan ticket emerged ahead. Its momentum was neither stopped nor slowed and likely was pushed forward.
Another way to tell who’s winning is to watch the random omens. For instance, today Lindsay Lohan endorsed Romney.
30 Mar 2012
Peggy Noonan reflects on how the current president decidedly worsened his relationship with his opponents, while never really developing much of a relationship with the general electorate.
Something’s happening to President Obama’s relationship with those who are inclined not to like his policies. They are now inclined not to like him. His supporters would say, “Nothing new there,” but actually I think there is. I’m referring to the broad, stable, nonradical, non-birther right. Among them the level of dislike for the president has ratcheted up sharply the past few months.
It’s not due to the election, and it’s not because the Republican candidates are so compelling and making such brilliant cases against him. That, actually, isn’t happening.
What is happening is that the president is coming across more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who’s not operating in good faith. This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness. And it’s his fault, too. As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it’s a big fault. …
In terms of the broad electorate, I’m not sure he really has a relationship. A president only gets a year or two to forge real bonds with the American people. In that time a crucial thing he must establish is that what is on his mind is what is on their mind. This is especially true during a crisis.
From the day Mr. Obama was sworn in, what was on the mind of the American people was financial calamityâ€”unemployment, declining home values, foreclosures. These issues came within a context of some overarching questions: Can America survive its spending, its taxing, its regulating, is America over, can we turn it around?
That’s what the American people were thinking about.
But the new president wasn’t thinking about that. All the books written about the creation of economic policy within his administration make clear the president and his aides didn’t know it was so bad, didn’t understand the depth of the crisis, didn’t have a sense of how long it would last. They didn’t have their mind on what the American people had their mind on.
The president had his mind on health care. And, to be fair-minded, health care was part of the economic story. But only a part! And not the most urgent part. Not the most frightening, distressing, immediate part. Not the ‘Is America over?’ part.
And so the relationship the president wanted never really knitted together. Health care was like the birth-control mandate: It came from his hermetically sealed inner circle, which operates with what seems an almost entirely abstract sense of America. They know Chicago, the machine, the ethnic realities. They know Democratic Party politics. They know the books they’ve read, largely written by people like themâ€”bright, credentialed, intellectually cloistered. But there always seems a lack of lived experience among them, which is why they were so surprised by the town hall uprisings of August 2009 and the 2010 midterm elections.
I think Peggy hit this one dead on. People are shocked at the president and his administration’s utter indifference toward, and contempt for, perspectives and values different from his own. We’ve never had a president, however liberal, who would simply shrug off the constitutional protection of religious freedom so casually. Beyond that, Obama not only failed to act so as to restore economic confidence to improve the economy, he made it perfectly clear that, for him, social justice (and democrat party patronage) was far more important than prosperity and growth.
It isn’t clear that Mitt Romney (or whoever) really deserves to win, but Barack Obama certainly deserves to lose.
31 Jul 2011
Peggy Noonan has her faults. She runs with the herd, she is totally incapable of standing up to a solid elite consensus, and she has a tendency to specialize in bathos and sentimentality. You can tell that’s she’s Irish, alright. But one has to hand it to Peggy Noonan: when she decides to put in the boot, she does it right. Nobody can annihilate a deserving politician, leaving only scorched earth behind, like Peggy Noonan.
Mr. Obama seemed brilliant at politics when he first emerged in 2004. He understood the nation’s longing for unity. We’re not divided into red states and blue, he said, we’re Big Purple, we can solve our problems together. Four years later he read the lay of the land perfectlyâ€”really, perfectly. The nation and the Democratic Party were tired of the Clinton machine. He came from nowhere and dismantled it. It was breathtaking. He went into the 2008 general election with a miraculously unified party and took down another machine, bundling up all the accrued resentment of eight years with one message: “You know the two losing wars and the economic collapse we’ve been dealing with? I won’t do that. I’m not Bush.”
The fact is, he’s good at dismantling. He’s good at critiquing. He’s good at not being the last guy, the one you didn’t like. But he’s not good at building, creating, calling into being. He was good at summoning hope, but he’s not good at directing it and turning it into something concrete that answers a broad public desire.
And so his failures in the debt ceiling fight. He wasn’t serious, he was only shrewdâ€”and shrewdness wasn’t enough. He demagogued the issueâ€”no Social Security checksâ€”until he was called out, and then went on the hustings spouting inanities. He left conservatives scratching their heads: They could have made a better, more moving case for the liberal ideal as translated into the modern moment, than he did. He never offered a plan. In a crisis he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it.
So he is losing a battle in which he had superior forcesâ€”the presidency, the U.S. Senate. In the process he revealed that his foes have given him too much mystique. He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser.
I bet the White House didn’t enjoy reading this one.
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