I can’t really read Ms. Noonan’s work, but I often glance at her columns. There’s a mystery about them that befuddles me: who the heck is her audience?!
Mr. Obama’s opening bid was a tough, brazen, angry move…That’s just a description of the move. What was behind it?…Our second thought is it was so obvious it was hard to see…
Suddenly it was obvious: The president doesn’t want to cut spending, he wants to increase it.
Ms. Noonan shared this on Dec. 6th…2012. Presumably the Wall Street Journal…the WSJ!…paid money for her sudden insight. Which was so timely! Also for hundreds of words like,
His language is bland because his stand is not. He doesn’t want to startle people with clarity. When he was clear with Joe the Plumber, it got him in trouble…
My God, how can the Journal employ both this woman and James Taranto simultaneously? Best of the Web is also polite and circumspect, but it conveys thoughtful points with great precision. So what was Noonan’s point, there? Well, the “point” of a fog of words is not to have a point. But what was her purpose? To make rhymes like “bland” and “stand”?
Contrast her with Joe Wilson. He made the point she can’t say in a thousand words, and he did it in two. That’s just one more word than necessary, which has to be a political record. Even the W.O.R.M. can’t do it in one, as he’d be compelled to repeat himself and then add “pants on fire!” as commentary.
Yes, of course, Peggy can turn a lovely phrase and and make near-perfect analogies. These literary skills put her in the 99th percentile of writers. But they are in the service of an easily-befuddled mind. How is that combination even possible? I have no freakin’ idea. But the term idiot-savant WAS coined for a reason.
When her talents were directed by a principled, first-rate thinker–that would be Ronald Reagan–she gained a rightful reputation as a great, great speechwriter. But she did as her boss directed, and he had firm beliefs along with that sterling intellect. (Doubters of Reagan’s greatness are welcome to read his mind.)
When the Gipper was gone, Ms. Noonan abandoned his ideals just as G.H.W. Bush did. Wait…”abandoned” is unfair. An obsession with human liberty was his thing, never theirs. Still, the skills Reagan had used to advance freedom throughout the world were now turned to pleasing the Beltway and Cocktail Crowds, the very Ruling Class that despised Ronnie Raygun.
The D.C. folks ate that s**t up, of course. “Ah-ha! Now we know who did Reagan’s thinking for him!” Yes, that would be Ronald Reagan. The source of Peggy Noonan’s “thinking”: the opinions of others.
Time for the obligatory disclaimer: I am not trying to insult Peggy, just to understand her. Her literary gifts hide much ignorance and foolishness, but her writing also reveals a nice, kind, good person. A better person than your host.
But the very title of her latest, “Beneath the Presidential Platitudes”, reminds you that she’s very, very, very slow-on-the-uptake. Peggy: beneath those platitudes is the same…blatant…malevolence beneath his platitudes of 2008. Remember 2008, Peggy? Why not remind us of your take on his speeches then?
And yet my personal liking for Ms. Noonan grows. She shares one horrible, horrible trait with the Ruling Class. And yet she hasn’t fully adopted their other abominable attributes. It seems as weird as being a world-class writer with a pedestrian mind. Peggy Noonan is sui generis.
What is her terrible failing? Let me contrast her with three very potent intellects: the aforementioned James Taranto, aceofspades, and of course the Blogfather. Mr. Taranto’s Best of the Web has many regular features. One of them is “Homer Nods”. It generally goes: 1) readers point out a Taranto mistake from the previous column, 2) he acknowledges the mistake in the current one and, 3) closes with, “we regret the error.”
ace writes with passion and vehemence, and admits his mistakes the same way. “I was so offbase I could have been picked off three times and ended the inning all by myself!” “Holy crap, how was I so stupid?” And so on. Considering that ace often writes huge, spur-of-the-moment and wide-ranging essays, it’s remarkable how seldom he needs to apologize.
As for Instapundit? Just this morning he admitted an error. Notice that his mistake was a partially-true assumption, but not the most accurate one. His errors are more accurate than what most journalists will ever write.
So when has Peggy admitted that she was deceived by Obama? I missed the occasion. The admission is implicit in her (ridiculously mild) criticisms, but her explicit acknowledgement of error? No, she’s just gradually changed her descriptions of The One. And shares “suddenly obvious” things as if she’s not five years behind everyone with both a brain and a conscience.
Alas. My liking for Ms. Noonan has abruptly stopped growing. I just learned of something else obvious to her: the style of the Tea Partys is “rage”. Got that? Tea Partys are full of rage; Obama “doesn’t want to startle people with clarity.” What makes it worse is that she hopped on the Tea Party bandwagon back when it was on a roll. I guess she felt the Tea Partys were becoming part of the Establishment. Problem is, those crazy Tea Partyers have no problem “startling people with clarity”. And so of course the Establishment–all of the Democrats and most of the Republicans–rejected them. Therefore Peggy Noonan must reject them, too. But don’t worry; if the Tea Partys resurge Peggy will be back onboard shortly.
I’d meant for this post to show the flaw Peggy shares with the “elite”: clueless arrogance. The contrast was that she still has a functioning conscience. Unlike the progressive drones, she (vaguely) objects to the reality of Obama versus his rhetoric. But her pride won’t let her admit that she’s less discerning that a bitter clinging Double-Wide Dweller. Inability to acknowledge mistakes means one makes them over and over, as her Tea Party dig attests. How does she know their style is rage? Why, everybody who’s anybody agrees on it!
Just as they agreed that Obama was going to be a good president.
So, all of this effort and only now is it “suddenly obvious” to me that Peggy Noonan is just another social drone. Nicer than most, and with an unmurdered conscience, but still helpless to resist those around her. Her readership, that had me so puzzled? Well, it’s not even necessary that she have one. Maybe someone at the WSJ is just doing her a social solid. But no doubt some of her peers–the elite Ruling Class–dislike the harsh buzzings of the Kleins and Sullivans and prefer her soothing murmurs instead.
I now realize I can no more understand Peggy Noon that she could comprehend me.
I regret the error.