Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan lifted her head up off the desk at the Aviary 2, the clever name she gave to her new Penthouse in the sky (so expansive, so chic), paperclips and sticky notes adhered to her face, to see who was calling her at this ungodly hour of the morning. She hadn’t had her elevenses yet, and last night’s pineapple wedge was fetid and smashed into the carpeting around her thick ankles.
The phone displayed a picture of George Will in his navy whites playing with his fleet of remote-controlled boats re-enacting the battle of Trafalgar in his backyard pool.
Picking up the phone, she put on her best professional voice, “Admiral, good to hear from you,” but it came out “Ad marble gooby daf beer doo!”
“Jesus Peggy, I thought I’d get you before you uncorked you lunch.”
“I’m as sober as a judge, George.”
“Bork! Bork! Bork!” they both barked at each other laughing. “What can I do for you, George?”
“Peggy, have you seen Obama’s speech yet? They released it already. He profanes the good name of Ronald Reagan. As the keepers of the Reagan Legacy, we need to act!”
Noonan always giggled at the way Will inserted himself in the sacred trust. Peggy wrote the speeches, Will only played Jimmy Carter in the practice debates. Hardly the same. Her perfectly manicured hands fluttered up to the pearl necklace, a gift from the great man himself, perhaps the greatest president of the last half of the last century, maybe the greatest president ever.
“What do you have in mind, George?”
“We need to co-ordinate our attack in our columns this week!” he blurted. “If we both go after Obama’s speechifying from the position that he is no Reagan–and only we two can do this–we can take him down a notch or two before he hypnotizes the lemmings with his devilish oratorical powers!”
“Bloody hell!” Rupert Murdoch’s voice crackled into the phone, “Peg, that’s a fair dinky bonzer! Will, you dunny rat, fair suck of the sav, eh!”
“What the…” Will shouted into the phone.
“Pay not attention, George, Rupie retains the right to listen in on his employees now and again.” And then added, “Think of it as helping him as he has withdrawals from the recent unpleasantness in the UK.”
“Just looking for good oil, mate.”
Will hung up.
Dodgy bloke, eh Peg? His idea cracked me fat. Anyway, it’s a ripper. Jump on it, and don’t hit the turps.
“Dodgy bloke, eh Peg? His idea cracked me fat. Anyway, it’s a ripper. Jump on it, and don’t hit the turps.” and he crackled off.
Noonan was seated at her stool (“Miss Peggy Noonan” was engraved on the brass plaque–her prize for so many wins at Karaoke night) at The Chelsea Pier’s long bar, hitting the turps as it were. A Mai Tai, so refreshing, so sweet was nearby, as was her notebook with scribbles of thoughts, bits of phrases. “Research,” she said to herself, “that’s the key ingredient of my columns and the secret of my cunning success.” She thoughtfully slurped on the pineapple wedge in her glass.
She kept one flinty eye peeled on the TV bolted to the wall above the bar currently playing selected scenes from Will and Grace. A large Callista Gingrich impersonator sat down next to her and yelled at the bartender, “Who does a gal have to blow around here to get a drink?”
Who does a gal have to blow around here to get a drink?
Noonan grimaced at the coarse language, but wrote it down anyway.
“I’m really looking forward to hearing our President speak, aren’t you? Obama always says the right things to reassure us, doesn’t he?”
“We have to “eat our peas.” Noonan replied dryly. She waived a Benjamin over her glass and told the barkeep to give the faux Callista a refresh of whatever it was that she was drinking.
“Well, he excites me anyway,” Callista continued. “His last speech thrilled me, what about you?” she asked sipping on her (free) drink. “Thanks for drink, hon.”
“He was boring in the way that people who are essentially ideological are always boring. They bleed any realness out of their arguments. They are immersed in abstractions that get reduced to platitudes, and so they never seem to be telling it straight. And he was a joy-free zone. No matter how much the president tries to smile, and he has a lovely smile, one is always aware of his grim task: income equality, redistribution, taxes. Come, let us suffer together…”
The faux Callista turned a false eyelash to Noonan. “Say, you’re somebody famous, aren’t you? I’m sure I’ve seen you on TV, right?”
Noonan smiled shyly, extended her hand–momentarily putting down her Mai Tai–and introduced herself, listing all the pundit shows–This Week, Morning Joe, etc.– her news paper column, magazines, her books, and of course mentioned that she was Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, “Morning in America,” and “Touching the Face of God.” Exhausted, she sat down in the warm glow of her celebrity.
“No, no, that’s not it. I know! You’re Mrs. Brady from the Brady Bunch right? You’re the one who got crabs from boinking some ex-mayor, right?”
The Power of Bad Ideas
What we’ve got here is far worse than a failure to communicate, by Peggy Noonan
But wait! There’s More!
Our good friend and Scissorhead Nonnie9999 from Hysterical Raisins presents us with this candid photo of the master grinding out a column. Thanks, Nonnie!