Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Praise of Peggy Noonan

Some of the best writing about politics today can be found (brace yourself) on the editorial page of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal in the weekly column of a former speech writer for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

It’s not just that Peggy Noonan is shrewd, sane and sharp of tongue, but she is also one of the most sensitive of commentators along the political spectrum. In July, she wrote about the current Bush:

“Presidents in great enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head in his hands. Why doesn't Mr. Bush? Every major domestic initiative of his second term has been ill thought through and ended in failure. His Iraq leadership has failed. His standing is lower than any previous president since polling began. He's in a good mood...

“Americans have always been somewhat romantic about the meaning of our country...But they like the president to be the cool-eyed realist, the tough customer who understands harsh realities. With Mr. Bush it is the people who are forced to be cool-eyed and realistic. He's the one who goes off on the toots. This is extremely irritating, and also unnatural. Actually it's weird...

“Americans can't fire the president right now, so they're waiting it out.”

In her column last Friday, she wrote: “Barack Obama has a great thinking look. I mean the look he gets on his face when he's thinking, not the look he presents in debate, where they all control their faces knowing they may be in the reaction shot and fearing they'll look shrewd and clever, as opposed to open and strong...

“You get the impression Mr. Obama trusts himself to think, as if something good might happen if he does. What a concept. Anyway, I've started to lean forward a little when he talks.”

Does he have a chance? Noonan goes on to describe “The Trance” that has perpetuated the Bush and Clinton dynasties: “Is this good for our democracy, this air of inevitability? ...It would be understandable if they were families of a most extraordinary natural distinction and self-sacrifice. But these are not the Adamses of Massachusetts we're talking about. You've noticed, right?”

Peggy Noonan has noticed that and a lot more.

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