The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan

Anatomy of a Column

Noonan-in-her-cups

eggy Noonan, Bacardi Lifetime Achievement Winner, closed the curtains in the Aviary 2 (the clever name she gave her new spacious penthouse hight above Manhattan) as the winter storm blasted The City. “It’s colder than Nancy Reagan’s kisses,” she thought to herself as she mixed another warming libation.

Ronald Wilson Reagan, the greatest president of the last half of the last century, maybe the greatest president ever, had made her the Nembutal once, long ago on a cold night in D.C. Consisting of warm rum, hot chocolate, and a shot of peppermint schnapps as a chaser, it had that kind of sticky sweet feeling she always associated with her old boss. At any rate, when the barometer started dropping she laid in a supply of ingredients and prepared for her long winter’s nap.

Noonan picked up The Atlantic and scanned the stories, and settled on What ISIS Really Wants, by Graeme Wood. Two Nembies later (light on the hot chocolate, Noonan was rationing after all), she put down the magazine, missing the cocktail table and declared to the cheery fire,

A U.S. invasion and occupation, Mr. Wood argues, would be a propaganda victory for them, because they’ve long said the U.S. has always intended to embark on a modern-day crusade against Islam. And if a U.S. ground invasion launched and failed, it would be a disaster.

She turned to face the cardboard cutout of Ronnie, and continued her theme to her two-dimensional love.

The best of bad options, Mr. Wood believes, is to “slowly bleed” ISIS through air strikes and proxy warfare. The Kurds and the Shiites cannot vanquish them, but they can “keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand.” That would make it look less like “the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammed.” As time passed ISIS could “stagnate” and begin to sink. Word of its cruelties would spread; it could become another failed state.

“Well, Mommy, er, Peg,” voice of Reagan replied from the life-size cutout replied, “that sounds a lot like President Obama’s strategy.”

(An Administration Adrift on Denial, by Peggy Noonan)

The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan

Anatomy of a Column

Noonan-in-her-cups

eggy Noonan’s glass was half empty or half full (“I’m an optimist about these things…”) as she recalled the scene at the Republican retreat in Hershey Pennsylvania, and as the official hagiographer of the Reagan Era, she had received her admirers as any dowager empress would. And the drinks flowed, so she was content to be the bell of the bar.

Her notes were sketchy—”mental note to self: Chocolatinis, not so much”—and she couldn’t remember which presidential-aspirant governor it was who she had such an in-depth conversation with, but perhaps it doesn’t matter? She thoughtfully chewed on the nub of her #2 Lead Pencil (Dixon Ticonderoga) after stirring her Mai Tai with it, and tried to summon up the conversation.

“I told him I’d been thinking about something and wanted his response. You can argue that a governor is a better presidential nominee than a senator because governors, unlike lawmakers, have to do something and can be judged by their performance, which is measurable. You can look at their terms and say they raised or cut taxes, which helped or hurt the economy.”

“Good lord, I hope it wasn’t Brownback,” she murmured to herself. She took a thoughtful sip of her rejuvenating beverage and worked on recalling the convo.

“They succeeded or failed in creating a favorable business climate. There are numbers and statistics that can to some degree test their claims. They know domestic issues and can be judged on domestic issues.”

“Good lord, I hope it wasn’t Scott Walker,” she gasped. This required more concentration, deeper thought and a fresh pineapple wedge.

But they know nothing about the world. They haven’t been filling their brain-space with foreign policy and foreign affairs the past 20 years; they’ve been filling their minds with the facts of Indiana or Louisiana or New Jersey.

Noonan looked up at the life-size cut-out of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the greatest president of the last half of the last century, maybe the greatest president ever. Her little bird-like hand fluttered up to the ever-present pearl necklace, a gift from the great man himself.

“Well, Peggy,” Ronnie seemed to say to her, “You know I was a governor before I was a president?”

“Present company excepted, Chief,” Noonan replied. “No offense,” she added for good measure. Her thoughts continued to focus on who she had spoken to. “Indiana would be Pence,” she giggled and added, “President Pence.” She had to wipe a tear from her eye after she said President Jindal, even Ronnie laughed at that one. “President Christi,” she murmured. Yes, it probably was him that she had talked to.

Anyway, to the governor I said, in a world in which foreign affairs continue to be more important than ever, in a dangerous world with which we have ever more dealings, shouldn’t we be thinking about senators for the presidency, and not governors?

The phone buzzed its happy little tune (the smash hit of the Reagan Era, “Afternoon Delight”) and checking it she saw it was from her boss, Rupert Murdoch. “Oh, Lord, he’s going to gibber-jabber about deadlines and aborigines, and shrimp on the barbe. I’m not answering,” and then the phone answered itself. “I hate that he knows how to do that,” she thought darkly.

“Peg, how was the boozer with the snoozers? Got some great quotes, what?” Rupe boomed at her, setting off a three-alarm hangover. “Need some thoughts on Romney, fool is going to run again,” and he rang off

Ronnie glared at her. “Well, Peggy, this isn’t very good. The pundits will keep bringing up that I ran for three times before winning.” Peggy cleared her throat and addressed the cardboard:

“I just spent two days at the Republican joint congressional retreat in Hershey, Pa., and can tell you there was exactly no Mitt-momentum. The talk, when it turned to 2016, was of others.”

Ronnie’s face returned to his usual pleasant, dare we say sunny smile. “Tell me more, Mommy, er, Peggy.”

This is a moment in history that demands superior political gifts from one who would govern. Mitt Romney does not have them. He never did. He’s good at life and good at business and good at faith. He is politically clunky, always was and always will be. His clunkiness is seen in the way he leaked his interest in running: to mega-millionaires and billionaires in New York. “Tell your friends.”

Ronnie beamed at her, and she returned his smile, shyly, and added:

There was something known as Reaganism. It was a real movement within the party and then the nation. Reaganism had meaning. You knew what you were voting for. It was a philosophy that people understood. Philosophies are powerful. They carry you, and if they are right and pertinent to the moment they make you inevitable.

There is no such thing as Romneyism and there never will be. Mr. Romney has never encompassed a philosophical world. He has never become the symbol of an attitude toward government, or an approach to freedom or fairness. “Romneyism” is just “Mitt should be president.” That is not enough.

“Peggy, I ought to give you another pearl necklace for that,” he deeply, seductively murmured to her as she picked up the lightweight cut out and retreated to the nether regions of her penthouse, quietly closing the bedroom door behind her.

(Don’t Do It, Mr. Romney
He’d have been a better president than Obama. That’s not nearly enough.
By Peggy Noonan)

The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan

Anatomy of a Column

Noonan-in-her-cups

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)

UPDATE: Welcome Hullabaloo readers. Nice to meet you!

And Now We Know Who Has The Best Bar In Their Greenroom

From the daily email thingie from Tiger Beat on the Potomac:

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–WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan joins CBS News as a contributor – Bob Schieffer made the announcement on Sunday’s Face the Nation.

Peggy Noonan Goes to Wyoming and Rides a Horse

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Good lord, she’s parodying herself now.

Tenderfoot doesn’t really like to be in a place where there aren’t a lot of . . . witnesses. She’s from the city and knows the canyons of downtown, the watering holes of the theater district. She knows her Brooklyn, her Long Island, her Jersey, is a walker in the city and a lost rube in the country. She is here because she loves her friends and will go far to see them. She does have a relationship with the American West and does in fact love it, but it is the West as mediated by John Ford, Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry. She doesn’t really know the real one.

She refers to herself in the third person as Tenderfoot throughout. You’ll need a drink to read the entire article.

(Hat tip: Scissorhead and MPS unindicted co-conspirator AxelGrease for the illustration)

Whenever I watch Peggington Noonington…

Death of the Media

…on the Sunday Talkies, I always get the impression that she just woke up from a three-day Mai Tai binge and just starts rambling to the pink elephant:

Now, when it is so obvious that she is contradicting herself within minutes that freakin’ Chuck Todd notices it, how can it be that she will have a dinner invite with all the other pontificating poltroons before the week is out?

It just boggles the mind.

(Also/too: what the hell is up with her hair?)

Shorter Noonan:

peggy noonan typing

“The Republicans let Ronnie down, but the Dirty F***ing Hippies are still wrong on everything.”

Dame Peggington Noonington of the Brooklynshire Nooningtons, royal scribe of Lord Rupert, doth say that the Iraq clusterf*** haven given offense to thine Republican sensibilities, and that the pooch be-ith screwed royally.

It’s another mea culpa saying she got it wrong, but she had misgivings about it –sensed it dontcha know–yadda-yadda-yadda, but she never says who got it right, and she never will.

Drink-up, Bitchez, it’s a long retrospective and navel gaze, and she’s at least a pitcher of Mai Tai ahead of all of us.

Can the Republican Party Recover From Iraq? — The war almost killed the GOP. Whether it can come back is an open question —
by Peggy Noonan

The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan

Anatomy of a Column

noonanne Carte, s’il-vous plaît,” Peggy Noonan said as the suave man in the dinner jacket sat down at the Baccarat table opposite her at Shel Addison’s Casino. Noonan tried to keep her cool as the man bore a remarkable resemblance to her beloved Ronald Wilson Reagan, the greatest president of the last half of the last century, perhaps the greatest president ever.

“Sept à la banco,” the croupier said. Noonan smiled her Sphinx-like smile.

“Carte,” Noonan declared. The Croupier dealt her another carte. She turned over her hand, face up. An 8 of Diamonds and a Jack of Clubs, and raked in her winnings.

“Suivi,” Noonan said. “The house will cover you?” Noonan asked the Croupier.

“Oui Madame.” The croupier passed le shoe des cartes to the mysterious and stranger. “Monsieur, chargez-bien!”

The handsome stranger, who dealt une carte to himself–now le Banco–tucked it under the shoe, and une autre carte to Noonan, and then another carte to the shoe.

“Carte,” Noonan declared again. He flipped over his hand: King of Spades and the 9 of Hearts.

“I need another thousand,” Noonan said as she wrote a check to the Casino.

“I admire your courage Miss, uhh” the stranger said to Noonan.

“Noonan. Peggy Noonan,” she replied. “I admire your luck, Mister…uh?

“Romney. Willard Romney. I prefer my juice boxes shaken, not stirred.”

Noonan woke up with a start from her strange dream, slightly sweaty glowing buckets and bewildered she noticed that yet again she managed to have her Lanz of Salisbury nightgown on backwards. “How did that happen?,” she wondered.

She looked around her penthouse (the Aviary 2, so spacious, so luxurious) and noticed that the old black and white Philco television was showing a test pattern. “Faithful, and reliable technology,” Noonan noted with smug satisfaction.

“Dreaming about Mitt as James Bond could be worse,” Noonan muttered to herself, “at least it was dignified gambling and not horse racing. “Mr. Romney is looking good, as are his crowds,” she said to a potted plant nearby. “When the camera shows people in the stands behind him as he speaks, they no longer look as if they walked in off the street or put a bet on a horse and are straining to see if it breaks from the pack. Now they look like people watching their horse take the lead, with no one coming up the outside.”

Noonan stumbled into the kitchen and saw that her loyal maid Conseula had laid out the essentials for mixing her breakfast, and just moments later she poured herself onto the terrace overlooking Central Park enjoying the sunlight and a refreshing Mai Tai, so sweet. A few pigeons fluttered about cooing and strutting. She thought again about her dream where Mitt screwed up perhaps the most famous line in all of cinema.

“Mr. Romney has a tendency to litter his speeches with applause lines,” Noonan the once-professional speech writer muttered to herself. “They come one after another. It’s old-fashioned, and it’s based on the idea that that’s all TV wants, five seconds of a line and two seconds of applause.” Noonan took a thoughtful sip and continued on musing.

“You know what Republicans on the ground think when they look at Mitt Romney?,” she asked a pigeon that fluttered next to her. “Please don’t blow it,” she giggled as the bird flew away. “They think President Obama can’t win but Mr. Romney can still lose. So they’re feeling burly but anxious, hopeful yet spooked.”

“Applause-line speeches are not right for a time of crisis, because they do not allow for the development of a thought, a point of view, an insight,” she swigged back her now-empty glass, smacked her lips and chewed thoughtfully on the pineapple wedge.

“Campaign professionals like applause lines in part because they think that’s all a campaign speech is, a vehicle for a picture of people clapping,” she muttered to the birds and then realized she had just said five minutes ago that she liked the image of his audience standing behind him smiling. “They don’t care about meaning, they care about impression. But in the end, the impression is bad: distracted candidate barking lines, robotic audience clapping.” The birds looked confusedly at Noonan. “Er, well,” she muttered looking away.

“But people like to listen if you’re saying something interesting,” Noonan declared feeling herself wake up to her topic. The pigeons seemed to be smiling back at her, approving of how she saved herself from self-parody.

“As for the president,” Noonan hated calling this man sitting in Ronnie’s chair the president, but she carried on anyway, “his big campaign speech last week in Cleveland not only was roundly panned but was deeply revealing, ” Noonan grimaced recalling it. Cleveland, of all places! The birds all cooed sympathetically with her outrage.

“I listened once and read it twice: It wasn’t a case for re election, it was a wordage dump,” and not, she thought, like one of her own columns.

Once More, With Meaning
Romney can win, but he needs more than applause lines — by Peggy Noonan

Media Matters read the column, too.