Flickering signs of sanity
Peggy Noonan’s doctors must be quite pleased. For the last two weeks now she has been reasonably coherent, even indulging in a bit of logical thought processes. Her meds are working; a round of soft golf applause, please.
Ever since the Great Eunice Stone setback, she has been on her best behavior and soon may join the other recovering pundits (Broder, Cohen, Friedman) in the crafts room.
Todayâ€™s column about Bob Torricelli makes some very good points. His speech was good to a point…then like a house guest, it stayed too long. Ms Noonan was quite correct about this. Unfortunately there were a few, let’s call them “Peggy-isms” that I can’t let pass. Such as:
Forty years ago, in “The Making of the President, 1960,” the big book that transformed modern political reporting, Theodore White called New Jersey the most corrupt big state in the union and said the reason was that it was the least covered by the media of the day.
So far so good. But then Pegs had a relapse:
I first read White’s observation when I was in high school. I thought to myself: By the time I’m grown up it will have changed [emphasis mine].
Peggy remembers this thought? She actually had thoughts like this when she was in high school? It is a grand Noonan tradition for her to make a point by relating an incident in years past that leads to: I remember thinking to myself…, followed by some pithy prediction that will just happen to bear out her point in the column in which it appears. Such as: When George Bush first announced he would run for President, I thought to myself: this election will come down to a Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in favor of this big, stupid man.. (Okay, I made that one up). Peggy always provides her own foreshadowing. I think this is the result of too many lonely nights spent reading romance novels with chapters ending in: Little did she know how swiftly her dreams would come true.
The other quibble I have isn’t really a Noonan-ism so much as a memory she jogged with a comment she made. She wrote:
I created, I funded, I saved, I did. I, I, I. And they don’t even know my name.
This is–well, where to start? It is poor political etiquette, and it is more than that.
Imagine a JFK or a Ronald Reagan talking like that. “I brought the Berlin Wall down–I did it,” “I put Castro in his place.” “I cut taxes and you didn’t even say thanks.” And now you won’t have Torricelli to kick around anymore.
Ronald Reagan and JFK would not speak that way, and not only because each had grace. They also had more understanding of the facts. Mr. Reagan knew it was the patriots and bravehearts of the world who brought the wall down.
But what is sad is that what Mr. Torricelli had to say is more and more how modern politicians talk. And because he seemed to believe what he said.
He did it, he is great, we owe him.
The kind of politicians who do this are the kind who never say they’re in politics. They always say they’re in public service.
Let’s take a trip in Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine.
Salt Lake City. Winter Olympics. Opening ceremony. In a purely fortuitous moment (orchestrated by Karen Hughes), NBC was given a completely unplanned, my-god-get-a-camera-on-this, we’re-seeing-history, and-its-not-staged, really-its-not, honest, moment when little skating sprite Sasha Cohen handed her cel phone to a totally unscripted GW Bush, so he could say “hi” to her mother showing what a real regular guy he was.
His priceless closing words to her, broadcast to millions around the world:
“I’ve gotta go now. I have a war to fight”
I remember thinking to myself: this is how modern politicians talk. And this guy is idiot.
Little did I knowâ€¦..