Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan woke up on election day clutching a tear-stained voting stub from 1980 and an hollow pineapple shell. Looking around, she recognized that she was still in The Aviary (the clever nickname she gave her Penthouse), thank God!
Stumbling out of bed with her Lanz of Salisbury nightgown on backwards (“one wonders how and why this keeps happening?”) she made her way into the spacious kitchen where the faithful Conseula had put out the morning repast, complete with a fresh lime. Quaffing deeply, Noonan mused over what she saw as the coming debacle.
“You can get quite a conversation going in any room in Manhattan now by comparing Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter, with everyone defending Carter,” Noonan mumbled to herself. Noonan saluted the ever-present Ronal Wilson Reagan portrait over the wet bar. He was after all, the greatest president of the last half of the last century, maybe the greatest president ever.
“If the president’s party loses big on Tuesday, as appears likely,” Noonan added another splash of rum into her glass, “much of the loss will be due to 3 C’s—competence, coherence and credibility. It’s a terrible thing when a president loses his credibility.” She glanced up at Ronnie, blushed, and looked away.
Noonan recalled how Bill Clinton handled his midterm drubbing. In a news conference the next day he accepted responsibility and suggested the political meaning of the election was that the public was more conservative than he was. “That took some guts and humility,” she said to Ronnie, as she mixed some more refreshment. “Cleverness, too,” she continued. “By convincing those on his left that they had to face reality, he opened the door for his historic compromises with the Contract Congress.”
Noonan grimaced as she thought about Dubya’s press conference following his famous shellacking in which the Republicans lost 30 House seats, six Senate seats, and control of both chambers.
Noonan couldn’t recall the name of the reporter who asked President Bush—callow youth!—the question: “With all due respect, Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes and, as recently as yesterday, dangerous. How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line to the presidency?”
Ronnie looked down on Noonan from high above the Bacardi, “CNN reporter, Suzanne Malvaeux, Peggy. Pretty much ended her career.”
Noonan turned on the garbage disposal to drown out the noise and started washing the hurricane glasses.
(How to Lose, and Win, Graciously, by Peggy Noonan)
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