The partial redemption of Peggy Noonan
This morning on news sites, the McCain campaign appeared to be in need of a copy editor when it attributed a positive review of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s debate performance last night to a "Famous Person."
The ad — viewable here — couples a photo of a smiling Palin with the quote: "She killed. It was her evening. She was the star. — Famous Person (10/2/08)"
"Is she not a famous person?" asked McCain campaign blogger Michael Goldfarb, queried about the ad. Given an assent that Noonan is, indeed, famous (or, at least, famous in political circles), he continued, "OK, so what’s the problem?"*
Aw, poor Pegs. You remember how this started, of course. She came away from the convention with a reaction to Palin that was nuanced into more than her usual incoherence
Gut: The Sarah Palin choice is really going to work, or really not going to work. It’s not going to be a little successful or a little not; it’s not going to be a wash. She is either going to be magic or one of history’s accidents. She is either going to be brilliant and groundbreaking, or will soon be the target of unattributed quotes by bitter staffers shifting blame in all the Making of the President 2008 books.
Another Bubblehead [a noonerism. A political insider who’s all hung up on substance. Ms. Noonan, a starry-eyed fan of President Reagan and the Presidents Bush, maintains to be one of these] blind spot. I’m bumping into a lot of critics who do not buy the legitimacy of small town mayorship (Palin had two terms in Wasilla, Alaska, population 9,000 or so) and executive as opposed to legislative experience. But executives, even of small towns, run something. There are 262 cities in this country with a population of 100,000 or more. But there are close to a hundred thousand small towns with ten thousand people or less. "You do the math," the conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway told me. "We are a nation of Wasillas, not Chicagos."
Unfortunately for Pegs, shortly afterwards her gut made a much less diplomatic tv appearance
She updated her WSJ column a few hours later with the equally compelling claims that she was taken out of context, that she just felt bad for Kaye Bailey Hutchinson, and that she’s never said bullshit in public before.
She killed. She had him at "Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?" She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man. She was not petrified but peppy.
The whole debate was about Sarah Palin. She is not a person of thought but of action. Interviews are about thinking, about reflecting, marshaling data and integrating it into an answer. Debates are more active, more propelled—they are thrust and parry. They are for campaigners. She is a campaigner. Her syntax did not hold, but her magnetism did. At one point she literally winked at the nation…
Sarah Palin saved John McCain again Thursday night. She is the political equivalent of cardiac paddles: Clear! Zap! We’ve got a beat! She will re-electrify the base.
Contained this somewhat testy passage
We saw this week, too, a turn in the McCain campaign’s response to criticisms of Mrs. Palin. I find obnoxious the political game in which if you expressed doubts about the vice presidential nominee, or criticized her, you were treated as if you were knocking the real America—small towns, sound values… I’m not sure the McCain campaign is aware of it—it’s possible they are—but this is subtly divisive. As for the dismissal of conservative critics of Mrs. Palin as "Georgetown cocktail party types" (that was Mr. McCain), well, my goodness. That is the authentic sound of the aggression, and phony populism, of the Bush White House. Good move. That ended well.
Pegs isn’t the only soggy resident of the beltway tank who’s a bit cranky about their treatment at the hands of Governor Palin’s defenders this week. Our own beloved MoDo of the Times was kicked off McCain’s plane and stranded in Pittsburgh, and Kathleen Parker of the National Review – well, I’ll let her tell you about it
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a Dumpster, but since she didn’t, I should "off" myself.
Those are just a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.
Who says public discourse hasn’t deteriorated?
The fierce reaction to my column has been both bracing and enlightening. After 20 years of column writing, I’m familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening.
Interesting, neh? The first time she challenged conservative orthodoxy, she got vicious and threatening mail like never before** (seems to have worked. She too wrote a positive review of Palin’s performance this morning, assuming that she considers it a compliment to call Palin an incomprehensible over-rehearsed ‘droid’).
But then, this is Karl Rove’s team McCain is working with. It’s hard for me to imagine what the ladies*** are surprised about. Luckily, Athenae nailed it (and really, trust me, read the whole thing)
You thought you were immune; when they threatened journalists and laughed at the death of "the dinosaur media" and fantasized about killing the people who disagreed with them, they didn’t mean you. Surely not you. They meant other people…
And so you can be shocked when they turn on you, and say you had no idea this was lurking out there, this festering hatred, this rage. I feel something for you, though I’m having a hard time pinning it down. A combination, maybe, of disgust at your discovery of a wrong only when it stinks up your doorstep, anger at your lack of solidarity with your fellow journalists for so long, and finally pity. Pity at your utter foolishness.
What did you think?
That they were kidding?
Welcome to the world the rest of us live in, ladies.
Bet you wish now you hadn’t trashed the place.
*they updated the ad with her name after the Washington Post contacted them
**for instance, she apparently didn’t have this problem when she indulgently posted an e-mail from a patriotic friend which – understandably, she said – suggested that Senators Kerry and Edwards, as well as a couple of activists coincidentally of color, should be shot and killed
***and oddly, the militant feminists who make up McCain’s and Palin’s support system do seem to have restricted themselves to punishing the women. Odd, that.