Category Archive 'Peggy Noonan'
12 Dec 2010
Peggy Noonan marvels at Barack Obama’s approach to cheerleading for compromise.
We have not in our lifetimes seen a president in this position. He spent his first year losing the center, which elected him, and his second losing his base, which is supposed to provide his troops. There isn’t much left to lose! Which may explain Tuesday’s press conference.
President Obama was supposed to be announcing an important compromise, as he put it, on tax policy. Normally a president, having agreed with the opposition on something big, would go through certain expected motions. He would laud the specific virtues of the plan, show graciousness toward the negotiators on the other sideâ€”graciousness implies that you wonâ€”and refer respectfully to potential critics as people who’ll surely come around once they are fully exposed to the deep merits of the plan.
Instead Mr. Obama said, essentially, that he hates the deal he just agreed to, hates the people he made the deal with, and hates even more the people who’ll criticize it. His statement was startling in the breadth of its animosity. Republicans are “hostage takers” who worship a “holy grail” of “tax cuts for the wealthy.” “That seems to be their central economic doctrine.”
As for the left, they ignore his accomplishments and are always looking for “weakness and compromise.” They are “sanctimonious,” “purist,” and just want to “feel good about” themselves. In a difficult world, they cling to their “ideal positions” and constant charges of “betrayals.”
Those not of the left might view all this as straight talk, and much needed. But if you were of the left it would only deepen your anger and sharpen your response. Which it did. “Gettysburg,” “sellout,” “disaster.”
The president must have thought that distancing himself from left and right would make him more attractive to the center. But you get credit for going to the center only if you say the centrist position you’ve just embraced is right. If you suggest, as the president did, that the seemingly moderate plan you agreed to is awful and you’ll try to rescind it in two years, you won’t leave the center thinking, “He’s our guy!” You’ll leave them thinking, “Note to self: Remove Obama in two years.”
This week, Obama seems to have hit the same point-of-no-return in which he is visibly angry with the American people for not supporting his policies that Jimmy Carter did at the time of his “malaise” speech.
07 Nov 2010
Back at the end of October in 2008, Peggy Noonan hurriedly jumped on the express train to the Finland Station, endorsing Barack Obama in quite warm terms, and dismissing regrets or apologies by pointing to the mandate of heaven.
[L]et’s be frank. Something new is happening in America. It is the imminent arrival of a new liberal moment. History happens, it makes its turns, you hold on for dear life. Life moves.
Peggy is still holding on to history’s roller-coaster car for dear life but, happily, the turns of the track have brought Peggy (along with David Brooks and the rest of the establishment commentariat) back to the right side. This week, Peggy Noonan, rather than praising Barack Obama, was delivering the ultimate editorial coup de grace.
On Wednesday, President Obama gave a news conference to share his thoughts. Viewers would have found it disappointing if there had been any viewers. The president is speaking, in effect, to an empty room. From my notes five minutes in: “This wet blanket, this occupier of the least interesting corner of the faculty lounge, this joy-free zone, this inert gas.” By the end I was certain he will never produce a successful stimulus because he is a human depression.
Actually I thought the worst thing you can say about a president: He won’t even make a good former president.
His detachment is so great, it is even from himself. As he spoke, he seemed to be narrating from a remove. It was like hearing the audiobook of Volume I of his presidential memoirs. “Obama was frustrated. He honestly didn’t understand what the country was doing. It was as if they had compulsive hand-washing disorder. In ’08 they washed off Bush. Now they’re washing off Obama. There he is, swirling down the drain! It’s all too dramatic, too polar. The morning after the election it occurred to him: maybe he should take strong action. Maybe he should fire America! They did well in 2008, but since then they’ve been slipping. They weren’t giving him the followership he needed. But that wouldn’t work, they’d only complain. He had to keep his cool. His aides kept telling him, ‘Show humility.’ But they never told him what humility looked like. What was he supposed to do, burst into tears and say hit me? Not knowing how to feel humility or therefore show humility he decided to announce humility: He found the election ‘humbling,’ he said.”
Read the whole thing.
10 Oct 2010
The liberal elite, when faced with resistance to its agenda, invariably contemptuously labels its opponents as people afraid of change. Peggy Noonan, in one of her better columns, (alas! for subscribers only) in the Wall Street Journal, explains that the popular revolt which is going to bury the democrat party in the next cycle of elections is fueled by perfectly legitimate fear of, and opposition to, change: change in the nature of the country’s character and culture.
There is a real fear that government, with all its layers, its growth, its size, its imperviousness, is changing, or has changed, who we are. And that if we lose who we are, as Americans, we lose everything.
This is part of what’s driving the sense of political urgency this year, especially within precincts of the tea party.
The most vivid illustration of the fear comes, actually, from another country, Greece, and is brilliantly limned by Michael Lewis in October’s Vanity Fair. In “Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds,” he outlines Greece’s economic catastrophe. It is a bankrupt nation, its debt, or rather the amount of debt that has so far been unearthed and revealed, coming to “more than a quarter-million dollars for every working Greek.” Over decades the Greeks turned their government “into a piÃ±ata stuffed with fantastic sums” and gave “as many citizens as possible a whack at it.” The average government job pays almost three times as much as the average private-sector job. The retirement age for “arduous” jobs, including hairdressers, radio announcers and musicians, is 55 for men and 50 for women. After that, a generous pension. The tax system has disintegrated. It is a welfare state with a cash economy.
Much of this is well known, though it is beautifully stated. But all of it, Mr. Lewis asserts, has badly damaged the Greek character. “It is simply assumed . . . that anyone who is working for the government is meant to be bribed. . . . Government officials are assumed to steal.” Tax fraud is rampant. Everyone cheats. “It’s become a cultural trait,” a tax collector tells him.
Mr. Lewis: “The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. . . . Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible.”
Thus can great nations, great cultures, disintegrate, break into little pieces that no longer cohere into a whole. …
Government not only can change the national character, it can bizarrely channel national energy. And this is another theme in my mailbox, the rebellion against what government increasingly forces us to become: a nation of accountants.
No matter what level of life in which you operate, you are likely overwhelmed by forms, by a blizzard of regulations, rules, new laws. This is not new, it’s just always getting worse. Priests are forced to be accountants now, and army officers, and dentists. The single most onerous part of ObamaCare is the tax change whereby spending $600 on goods or services will require a 1099 form. Economists will tell you of the financial cost of this, but I would argue that Paperwork Nation is utterly at odds with the American character.
Because Americans weren’t born to be accountants. It’s not in our DNA! We’re supposed to be building the Empire State Building. We were meantâ€”to be romantic about it, and why notâ€”to be a pioneer people, to push on, invent electricity, shoot the bear, bootleg the beer, write the novel, create, reform and modernize great industries. We weren’t meant to be neat and tidy record keepers. We weren’t meant to wear green eyeshades. We looked better in a coonskin cap!
There is I think a powerful rebellion against all this. It isn’t a new rebellionâ€”it was part of Goldwaterism, and Reaganismâ€”but it’s rising again.
For those who wonder why so many people have come to hate, or let me change it to profoundly dislike, “the elites,” especially the political elite, here is one reason: It is because they have armies of accountants to do this work for them. Those in power institute the regulations and rules, and then hire people to protect them from the burdens and demands of their legislation. There is no congressman passing tax law who doesn’t have staffers in his office taking care of his own financial life and who will not, when he moves down the street into the lobbying firm, have an army of accountants to protect him there.
Washington is now to some degree the focus of the same sort of profound resentment that Hollywood liberals inspired when they really mattered, or seemed really powerful. For decades they made films that were not helpful to our culture or society, that were full of violence and sick imagery. But they often brought their own children up more or less protected from the effects of the culture they created. Private schools, nannies, therapists, tutors. They bought their way out of the cultural mayhem to which they’d contributed. Their children were fine. Yours were on their own.
This is part of why people dislike “the elites” and why “the elites,” especially in Washington, must in turn be responsive, come awake, start to notice. People don’t like it when they fear you are subtly, day by day, year by year, changing the personality and character of their nation. They think, “You are ruining our country and insulating yourselves from the ruin. We hate you.”
28 May 2010
“I missed him even before he was gone.” Steve Bodio remembers long-time Audubon magazine editor Les Line, who evidently had a Weatherby cartridge board and a poster of a Smith & Wesson Model 29 in his Manhattan office.
Progressive Amnesia: James E. Calfee responds to the attacks on Rand Paul for “not understanding” that state coercion of private businesses was necessary to end segregation by pointing out that the system of racial segregation in public accomodations known as “Jim Crow” was not created by the individual decisions of private business owners. It was put into effect by government through a series of laws passed by Progressive era legislators which were then upheld by the Supreme Court.
NYT: White House Used Bill Clinton to Ask Sestak to Drop Out of Race.
18 USC Section 600: Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
I wonder if the president knows what a disaster this is not only for him but for his political assumptions. His philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in Americaâ€”confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. But in a way, and inevitably, this is always boiled down to a promise: “Trust us here in Washington, we will prove worthy of your trust.” Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet need, in fact seemed faraway and incapable: “We pay so much for the government and it can’t cap an undersea oil well!”
16 May 2010
Peggy Noonan reflects on the ironies of American meritocracy laboring mightily… and delivering an establishment full of socialists. And exactly how committed to socialism is the successful gamesman who has finally clambered all the way to the top by hard work, talent, and no small quantity of discretion and craft?
Personally, I tend to suspect that Socialism functions in much the same way for these people that Religion used to for earlier establishmentarians. One regularly attends services and is officially a member of the church, but it has not got a lot to do with one’s actual business life.
What is interesting about the nomination is that all the criticisms serious people have lobbed about so far are true. Yes, she is an ace Ivy League networker. Yes, career seems to have been all, which speaks of certain limits, at least of experience. She has been embraced by the media elite and all others who know they will be berated within 30 seconds by an irate passenger if they talk on a cellphone in the quiet car of the Washington-bound Acela. (If our media elite do not always seem upstanding, it is in part because every few weeks they can be seen bent over and whispering furtively into a train seat.) Ms. Kagan and her counterparts all started out 30 years ago trying to undo the establishment, and now they are the establishment. If you need any proof of this it is that in their essays and monographs they no longer mention “the establishment.”
Ms. Kagan’s nomination has also highlighted America’s ambivalence about what we have always said we wanted, a meritocracy. Work hard, be smart, rise. The result is an aristocracy of wired brainiacs, of highly focused, well-credentialed careerists. There’s something limited, even creepy, in all this ferocious drive, this well-applied brilliance. There’s a sense that everything is abstract to those who succeed in this world, that what they know of life is not grounded in hard experience but absorbed through screensâ€”computer screens, movie screens, TV screens. Our focus on mere brains is creepy, too. Brains aren’t everything, heart and soul are something too. We do away with all the deadwood, but even dead trees have a place in the forest.
The ones on top now and in the future will be those who start off with the advantage not of great wealth but of the great class marker of the age: two parents who are together and who drive their children toward academic excellence. It isn’t “Mom and Dad had millions” anymore as much as “Mom and Dad made me do my homework, gave me emotional guidance, made sure I got to trombone lessons, and drove me to soccer.”
We know little of the inner workings of Ms. Kagan’s mind, her views and opinions, beliefs and stands. The blank-slate problem is the post-Robert Bork problem. The Senate Judiciary Committee in 1987 took everything Judge Bork had ever said or written, ripped it from context, wove it into a rope, and flung it across his shoulders like a hangman’s noose. Ambitious young lawyers watched and rethought their old assumption that it would help them in their rise to be interesting and quotable. In fact, they’d have to be bland and indecipherable. Court nominees are mysteries now.
Which raises a question: After 30 years of grimly enforced discretion, are you a mystery to yourself? If you spend a lifetime being a leftist or rightist thinker but censoring yourself and acting out, day by day, a bland and judicious pondering of all sides, will you, when you get your heart’s desire and reach the high court, rip off your suit like Superman in the phone booth and fully reveal who you are? Or, having played the part of the bland, vague centrist for so long, will you find that you have actually become a bland, vague centrist? One always wonders this with nominees now.
19 Mar 2010
Peggy Noonan catches out Obama’s evasive manuevers and efforts to pull rank during an unusual interview this week on Fox News and in her own distinctive Celtic Bard manner produces an early draft of the epitaph for the current presidency.
[The interview Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report With Bret Baier was] the most revealing and important broadcast interview of Barack Obama ever. It revealed his primary weakness in speaking of health care, which is a tendency to dodge, obfuscate and mislead. He grows testy when challenged. It revealed what the president doesn’t want revealed, which is that he doesn’t want to reveal much about his plan. This furtiveness is not helpful in a time of high public anxiety. At any rate, the interview was what such interviews rarely are, a public service. That it occurred at a high-stakes time, with so much on the line, only made it more electric. …
[T]he Baier interview was something, and right from the beginning. Mr. Baier’s first question was whether the president supports the so-called Slaughter rule, alternatively known as “deem and pass,” which would avoid a straight up-or-down House vote on the Senate bill. (Tunku Varadarajan in the Daily Beast cleverly notes that it sounds like “demon pass,” which it does. Maybe that’s the juncture we’re at.) Mr. Obama, in his response, made the usual case for ObamaCare. Mr. Baier pressed him. The president said, “The vote that’s taken in the House will be a vote for health-care reform.” We shouldn’t, he added, concern ourselves with “the procedural issues.” …
And so it ends, with a health-care vote expected this weekend. I wonder at what point the administration will realize it wasn’t worth itâ€”worth the discord, worth the diminution in popularity and prestige, worth the deepening of the great divide. What has been lost is so vivid, what has been gained so amorphous, blurry and likely illusory. Memo to future presidents: Never stake your entire survival on the painful passing of a bad bill. Never take the country down the road to Demon Pass.
Read the whole thing.
I must confess that I look forward to the weekend editions of the Wall Street Journal, in which these days Peggy Noonan can be expected to be found, hair disordered, rising threateningly from the mist, to intone, week after week, a new malediction or fatal prophecy aimed directly at Barack Obama.
It was not so very long ago that Peggy Noonan was supporting him. Peggy was one of the commentators on the right most firmly ensconsed in the establishment and, just like David Brooks, she was unable to resist the seductive appeal of Barack Obama’s pretense of dignity and moderation and his gift of gab.
When Obama proceeded to drop the veil of moderation, and revealed himself in practice to be a looting radical leftist determined to ram socialism down America’s throat, Peggy Noonan took the kind of personal offense that the Queen of Elfland might have taken when she discovered that the mortal who had gained her favor really intended to bulldoze her sacred grove and erect a strip mall.
Obama was extremely good at winning over the proudest and most cerebral of the center-right commentariat, and he has proven to be even better at disillusioning them and provoking their wrath.
07 Mar 2010
I can remember, oh, so well, just how much Peggy Noonan liked Barack Obama back in 2008. Well, things certainly have changed. This week, Peggy Noonan says that the presidency of Barack Obama is What a Disaster Looks Like, and she is applying to her former idol a very uncomplimentary light bulb joke.
Why, in 2009, create a new crisis over an important but secondary issue when we already have the Great Recession and two wars? Prudence and soundness of judgment are more greatly needed at the moment.
New presidents should never, ever, court any problem that isn’t already banging at the door. They should never summon trouble. Mr. Obama did, boldly, perhaps even madly. And this is perhaps the oddest thing about No Drama Obama: In his first year as president he created unneeded political drama, and wound up seen by many Americans not as the hero but the villain.
In Washington among sympathetic political hands (actually, most of them sound formerly sympathetic) you hear the word “intervention,” as in: “So-and-so tried an intervention with the president and it didn’t work.” So-and-so tried to tell him he’s in trouble with the public and must moderate, recalibrate, back off from health care. The end of the story is always that so-and-so got nowhere.
David Gergen a few weeks ago told the Financial Times the administration puts him in mind of the old joke: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one. But the lightbulb must want to change. I don’t think President Obama wants to make any changes.”
30 Oct 2009
Peggy Noonan is feeling a bit depressed today contemplating 1990 unreadable pages costing $2.24 million dollars a word.
While Americans feel increasingly disheartened, their leaders evince a mindless . . . one almost calls it optimism, but it is not that.
It is a curious thing that those who feel most mistily affectionate toward America, and most protective toward it, are the most aware of its vulnerabilities, the most aware that it can be harmed. They don’t see it as all-powerful, impregnable, unharmable. The loving have a sense of its limits.
When I see those in government, both locally and in Washington, spend and tax and come up each day with new ways to spend and taxâ€”health care, cap and trade, etc.â€”I think: Why aren’t they worried about the impact of what they’re doing? Why do they think America is so strong it can take endless abuse?
I think I know part of the answer. It is that they’ve never seen things go dark. They came of age during the great abundance, circa 1980-2008 (or 1950-2008, take your pick), and they don’t have the habit of worry. They talk about their “concerns”â€”they’re big on that word. But they’re not really concerned. They think America is the goose that lays the golden egg. Why not? She laid it in their laps. She laid it in grandpa’s lap.
They don’t feel anxious, because they never had anything to be anxious about. They grew up in an America surrounded by phrasesâ€””strongest nation in the world,” “indispensable nation,” “unipolar power,” “highest standard of living”â€”and are not bright enough, or serious enough, to imagine that they can damage that, hurt it, even fatally.
We are governed at all levels by America’s luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they’re not optimistsâ€”they’re unimaginative. They don’t have faith, they’ve just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don’t mind it when people become disheartened. They don’t even notice.
17 Oct 2009
Peggy Noonan contends that the Progressive Frontier of government expansion closed some time ago. Americans already have all the government, all the services, taxes, and regulations they can stand. Barack Obama and the democrats in Congress are yearning to go back to a Depression era past in which paternalistic leaders in Washington taxed and spent, and delivered de haute en bas charitable goodies to grateful voters. Americans today know that they will have to pay for any gifts sent to them from Washington themselves.
I’m not sure the White House can tell the difference between campaign mode and governing mode, but it is the difference between “us versus them” and “us.” People sense the president does too much of the former, and this is reflected not only in words but decisions, such as the pursuit of a health-care agenda that was inevitably divisive. It has lost the public’s enthusiastic backing, if it ever had it, but is gaining on Capitol Hill. People don’t want whatever it is they’re about to get, and they’re about to get it. In that atmosphere everything grates, but most especially us-versus-them-ism.
The biggest thing supporters of a health care overhaul do not understand about those who oppose their efforts, and who oppose the Baucus bill, which has triumphantly passed the Senate Finance Committee even though no one knows exactly what is or will end up in it, is the issue of context.
The Democratic Party and the White House repeatedly suggest that if you are not for the bill or an overhaul, you don’t care about your fellow human beings and you love and support the insurance companies. Actually, no one loves the insurance companies, including the insurance companies. … But the Obama administration’s strategy of making (the insurance industry) “the villain” in “the narrative” will probably not have that much punch because . . . well, again, who likes the insurance companies? Who ever did?
People who oppose a health-care overhaul are not in love with insurance companies. They’re not even in love with the status quo. Everyone knows the jerry-built system of the past half-century has weak points. They just don’t think the current plan will shore them up. They think the plan would create new weak points and widen old ones. They think this because they have brains.
But even that doesn’t get to the real subtext of the opposition. Yes, the timing is wrongâ€”we have other, more urgent crises to face, and an exploding deficit. And yes, a big change in a huge economic sector during economic crisis is looking for trouble.
But a big part of opposition to the health-care plan is a sense of historical context. People actually have a sense of the history they’re living in and the history their country has recently lived through. They understand the moment we’re in.
In the days of the New Deal, in the 1930s, government growth was virgin territory. It was like pushing west through a continent that seemed new and empty. There was plenty of room to move. The federal government was still small and relatively lean, the income tax was still new. America pushed on, creating what it created: federal programs, departments and initiatives, Social Security. In the mid-1960s, with the Great Society, more or less the same thing. Government hadn’t claimed new territory in a generation, and it pushed onâ€”creating Medicare, Medicaid, new domestic programs of all kinds, the expansion of welfare and the safety net.
Now the national terrain is thick with federal programs, and with state, county, city and town entities and programs, from coast to coast. It’s not virgin territory anymore, it’s crowded. We are a nation fully settled by government. We are well into the age of the welfare state, the age of government. We know its weight, heft and demands, know its costs both in terms of money and autonomy, even as we know it has made many of our lives more secure, and helped many to feel encouragement.
But we know the price now. This is the historical context. The White House often seems disappointed that the big center, the voters in the middle of the spectrum, aren’t all that excited about following them on their bold new journey. But it’s a world America has been to. It isn’t new to us. And we don’t have too many illusions about it.
10 Aug 2009
Obama on the run
Peggy Noonan went scurrying back toward what she perceived as the center in the last election, and she is finding, only months later, that Barack Obama and the democrat Congressional leadership are anything but centrist.
Peggy Noonan is not buying the left’s talking points about “astroturf” and hired senior operatives sent by the Insurance Industry and Rush Limbaugh. She thinks the American people are really becoming scared, scared of deficits, scared of irresponsible policies hastily enacted, and scared of the impact upon themselves of vast expansions of remote federal power.
To her, Obama and the democrats appear to be in serious trouble.
We have entered uncharted territory in the fight over national health care. Thereâ€™s a new tone in the debate, and itâ€™s ugly. At the moment the Democrats are looking like something they havenâ€™t looked like in years, and that is: desperate.
They must know at this point they should not have pushed a national health-care plan. A Democratic operative the other day called it â€œHillaryâ€™s revenge.â€ When Mrs. Clinton started losing to Barack Obama in the primaries 18 months ago, she began to give new and sharper emphasis to her health-care plan. Mr. Obama responded by talking about his health-care vision. He won. Now he would push what he had been forced to highlight: Health care would be a priority initiative. The net result is falling support for his leadership on the issue, falling personal polls, and the angry town-hall meetings that have electrified YouTube.
In his first five months in office, Mr. Obama had racked up big winsâ€”the stimulus, childrenâ€™s health insurance, House approval of cap-and-trade. But he stayed too long at the hot table. All the Democrats in Washington did. They overinterpreted the meaning of the 2008 election, and didnâ€™t fully take into account how the great recession changed the national mood and atmosphere.
And so the shock on the faces of Congressmen whoâ€™ve faced the grillings back home. And really, their shock is the first thing you see in the videos. They had no idea how people were feeling. Their 2008 win left them thinking an election that had been shaped by anti-Bush, anti-Republican, and pro-change feeling was really a mandate without context; they thought that in the middle of a historic recession featuring horrific deficits, they could assume support for the invention of a huge new entitlement carrying huge new costs.
The passions of the protesters, on the other hand, are not a surprise. They hired a man to represent them in Washington. They give him a big office, a huge staff and the power to tell people what to do. They give him a car and a driver, sometimes a security detail, and a special pin showing heâ€™s a congressman. And all they ask in return is that he see to their interests and not terrify them too much. Really, thatâ€™s all people ask. Expectations are very low. What the protesters are saying is, â€œYou are terrifying us.â€
Read the whole thing.
23 Oct 2008
Back in the days of Dwight Eisenhower, we had Me-Too Republicans who were simply too timid to challenge a conventional liberal orthodoxy for fear of being labeled radical. Tony Blankley finds today a new form of Me-Too Republican motivated by snobbery and misplaced loyalty to the community of fashion.
22 Jun 2008
Women’s Wear Daily profiles the Republican Party’s female Celtic bard, noting that she has recently developed a certain cross-over appeal.
Ordinarily, Noonan loves giving interviews. She particularly loves boys with political roundtables, and boys with political roundtables love her back. George Stephanopoulos, Chris Matthews and the late Tim Russert have all invited Noonan on air repeatedly, partly because she is a good counterpoint to people on the left and partly because she is reliably theatrical and can be counted on to flatter her host. Nearly any time a question is directed at her, she will turn her head slightly, look off into the distance and do what might be described as a long-studied blink, followed by the signature Noonan double-nod of agreement. It’s a dramatic gesture that says that her host is so unbelievably smart he’s caused Noonan to consider, for the first time ever, something that is, in fact, her job to consider all day long. Then comes her response, which more often than not begins with a sigh and is then followed by a Dale Carnegie-esque incantation of the host’s name. Such as, “Here’s the thing, Chris” or “I’ll tell you the truth, George.” As if Noonan and he are best, best friends and she is going to tell him (and the whole audience) a big secret. “It’s full-body communicating,” says Stephanopoulos. …
in 2005, Noonan broke with President George W. Bush’s administration over the Iraq war, among other things, and it gave her an air of cross-partisan credibility going into the current presidential season. Then, as Clinton stumbled in the Democratic primaries, Noonan found herself being embraced by an unlikely coalition of Obama supporters and disaffected Republicans to whom she was no longer a boilerplate conservative, but an iconoclast who’d turned on President Bush and been vindicated by anti-Clinton sentiment that was growing among Democrats. What’s more, being a woman gave Noonan a freedom to write critically about Clinton with little risk of being labeled sexist by the senator’s supporters.
“With Peggy Noonan, not only did I share many of her views about the election, I felt she was coming at it in a fair-minded way,” says New York Magazine columnist and Obama supporter Kurt Andersen. “It wasn’t like Bill Kristol, who you know what he’s going to say before he says it.”
“This moment was made for her,” Stephanopoulos says by phone. “She has a special feel for Hillary, though I’m sure it’s not one Clinton supporters always appreciate. And she’s had tremendous insight into what has been a troubled period for the Republican party. It gave her an opportunity to show some independence.””This moment was made for her.ÂÂ”â€” George StephanopoulosOr, as William Greider of the left-wing staple The Nation puts it: “She’s come face-to-face with what happened to the Republican party and acknowledged it rather than pretending it’s not so or blaming the Democrats. I think she’s terrific.”
Perhaps it isn’t surprising that a sizeable chunk of the left eventually fell in love with (or at least got a crush on) Noonan
And, perhaps predictably, some of Noonan’s critics already are predicting the end of her comeback. Last week, the political blog Wonkette ran a post about her first post-primary election column, saying: “Our girlfriend Peggy Noonan has been more enjoyable than usual this year, as a tragically drawn-out Democratic primary battle provided her with endless opportunities to touch herself while Barack Obama spoke pretty things….Now, that tortured eloquence has vanished.”
Not so fast.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
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