Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan was sitting on the edge of the tub of the master bath of the Aviary (the name she had given her penthouse, so small, so chic) shaving her legs. Some horrible man — a handsome man, too — had stared at her legs as she rode the elevator car up to the broadcast studio that morning, and she distinctly heard him giggle.
The bath water was so warm, so sudsy, and her little bird-like hands grasped the blade, so sharp, so shiney, it just seemed to know what it was doing as if on its own as it glided up and down and all around her ample calves. Leg shaving is complicated and personal, she mused, much like health care. We don’t know when we need it until someone giggles at you in the elevator. Noonan reached for the icy Mai-Tai that was in the nickel-plated drink holder, so cleverly affixed to the rim of the tub.
“No, don’t go above the knees,” she whispered to the blade as if Greenfield was still there. “Please, don’t.”
“The problem with healthcare is that there is no way to sum it up, to give it an elevator pitch,” Noonan thought. “Big ideas need big themes to simplify and clarify what they are. There is no ‘Morning in the Hospital’ or ‘Thousand Points of Needles’ for healthcare.” Healthcare is too big, sprawling, dangerous, animal-like passions are invoked with healthcare. “There is no elevator pitch to explain their proposal to the masses in the middle states, the real America with real Americans, and they wouldn’t understand anything that requires a thousand pages of rules.” Noonan sipped her drink and examined the hairs sprouting on the knuckles of her toes.
“Gooblydygook,” she mumbled to herself as she reached for the tweezers.
Ronald Wilson Reagan, the most handsome man and the best President of last half of the last century, maybe ever, would have handled it differently, thought Noonan. “For instance, “she said to her left foot, “he would have kept it simple, Ronnie would not have one thousand pages of rules that the clever, clever Democrats could have twisted into opposition points.”
“Ouch! You little fucker!” The hair gave way to the might of the tweezers and a hefty yank.
“Ronnie would not have let his Republicans go for a month of Sundays to town hall meetings to be eaten alive by angry mobs because Ronnie would have simplified it to “here’s what’s in it for you.” Ronnie would have had Dr. Welby make a commercial, it would be soothing, so soothing, so avuncular, a man in a white coat, a comforting man with a calm voice, so calm, so professional, to speak directly to you to let you know that this is for your, for your own good, this is a gift for you, that you will never have to worry again.”
“Ronnie,” she said yanking another hair out, “would have crucified a Democratic idiot for saying ‘Death Panels’ like that useful idiot, so young, so dumb, from Alaska had said,” Noonan slurped down the rest of the Mai-Tai. “And Ronnie,” she said reaching down to drain the bath tub, “would have pulled the plug on anything that he had so lost control over.”