Peggy Noonan used to write speeches for Reagan and Poppy Bush. Now she writes a weekend piece for Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal (WSJ). She's also on the Sunday morning talk shows from time to time.
Noonan likes to convey the impression that she understands style and grace, especially as windows into the larger virtues of character and integrity. If she wants to keep her gig with Rupert, however, she has to do what has always worked for him … dumb it down and take it hard right. Hey, a lady's gotta do what a lady's gotta do.
Recently, Noonan wrote a piece for the WSJ entitled, "Bush League President" which was designed to be an all-purpose takedown of Obama. Let's take her major points and present the other side. PN is Peggy Noonan; TC is Tom Callaghan.
PN: "Republicans are aggravated by Obama. They should cheer up. So is everyone else."
TC: Everyone. What are you talking about? Everyone in your building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, maybe. The clown car right are aggravated. They don't even think he's legally entitled to occupy the office and, if you work for Rupert, it's best not to disabuse them of that thought. Notwithstanding the daily villification of the President by the person who signs your paychecks, Obama is well-liked and draws crowds 10 times larger than Romney's.
PN On the campaign: "It will be all slice and dice, break the country up into little pieces … he'll valorize this group and demonize the next."
TC: Hey, you're from New York. Did you ever hear of ethnic politics … say and do things appealing to Irish, Italians, Blacks, and Jews? New York is the city where if you run for city council, you've got to have a Middle East policy … and it had better be a good one. Is it okay for Obama to say and do good things for teachers, firefighters, cops, and union members? Is it okay to send Joe Biden to Scranton, Pennsylvania to talk to heavily Catholic audiences? They love him up there. Of course it's okay.
And demonizing, some people should be demonized. If you make over a million dollars per year and pay no federal income taxes (as many people do), you should be called out.
Ronald Reagan could demonize with the best of them. Remember him opening his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi? Do you suppose that was comforting to the families of the three Civil Rights workers who were killed there 16 years earlier. Remember how he used the term "welfare queen" to describe a theoretical woman from the heavily black south side of Chicago, who, according to Reagan, had so abused the welfare system that she "had tax-free cash income of over $150,000". Reagan never identified who that person was … someone told him she existed, and that it wouldn't hurt to place her in Chicago. Is that slice and dice? Shining city on a hill? Morning in America?
PN: "This President is always out there talking. But — and forgive me, because what I'm about to say is rude — has anyone noticed how boring he is? Plonking platitude after plonking platitude. I listen to him closely and find myself daydreaming."
TC: Ah, Peggy, now you have me daydreaming. I see us at La Grenouille down on 52nd. I'm your guest. It's been a glorious lunch with too much wine. I know Rupert's paying, but I can't help but think you've taken an interest in me. The way you said, "forgive me", it was so personal. It was like when Sarah Palin winked at me during the debate … twice … that was heavy. And then you said you were going to be "rude". Well, not to put too fine a point on it, let me tell you, there's something to be said for a lady who knows "rude". And I'm not talking itty-bitty "rude", I'm talking spike the ball in the end zone "rude". Mercy. And then you used that dreadful "plonking" word. Twice. And my mind is racing, because I know that you're able to attain the coveted state of Pure Rude, the cold fusion of "rude".
But then, I start to get angry. Hey, I like Barack Obama, and just because you've got "rude" figured out doesn't mean everybody is boring. I mean, you married an economist that worked at the Chamber of Commerce, for Pete's sake. I mean that place is the most boring place in the history of places. I walked by the building once and lost 10 IQ points. I'm really shouting now, and everybody is turning and looking at me like they do when I'm at the Opera and my stomach gurgles. And then I start yelling that you daydream when Obama speaks because you're getting long in the tooth and it's hard to concentrate, and you walk in a room and say "What did I come in here for?" Not only that, but you used that dreadful "plonking" word twice. And now people are calling for their checks and putting on their coats, and Security is coming straight for me and they're big and mean and they look like they use that dreadful "plonking" word all the time and the last thing I remember I'm shouting, "Please don't take me to the Chamber of Commerce. I can't afford the points." But the most wonderful thing is that I say it in French. And not only do I say it in French, I sing it to the tune of "La Marseillaise."
Ah, Peggy. I can't tell you how happy I am to be done with that dream. My best to Rupert. When you're in DC, let's do lunch. I know a place for some great planked shad.
**Please note that Wednesdays Wars will be on break, and will return with new posts on Wednesday, June 6th.**