Anatomy of a Column
ust before the alarm clock would start to ring at the stroke of eleven, Peggy Noonan’s hand dropped the ether canister and swatted the alarm’s off button, as if on its own. As she rolled over, Noonan discovered where she left “Mr. Pinky,” her little D-cell friend, still twitching admirably. “If I were an oyster,” she thought, “I’d have a pearl by now.”
Noonan wanted to feel something, anything. The numbness, the numbness. Ever since the torture memos were released, nothing but numbness, numbness. The ether, usually so effective, so friendly, did not bring its usual clarity. Reagan’s “City on a shining Hill,” Bush the elder’s “Thousand points of light,” all of Noonan’s greatest hits had followed a good ether binge. But today nothing, she noted as she checked her typewriter, just empty paper.
Clutching her pearls with her little bird-like claws, she shook her head as she looked about her little Manhattan aviary, as she liked to call her apartment. So chic, so spartan (the new chic – she even said so), and yet the gloom on the horizon was still there: the torture memos. “Oh, Mr. Pinky, make it go away,” she whispered to herself.
When she stood up and adjusted the Lanz of Salsbury flannel nightgown, which was somehow on backwards, she spotted the tear-stained copy of the torture memos, passages, indeed entire pages highlighted in baby doll pink by her assistant, glowing malignantly in the corner where she had thrown it the night before while making a pitcher of Mai Tai’s.
Life had been so easy the past 8 years. You believed what wanted to believe, no reality to get in the way. George Bush had kept us safe, his inarticulateness (as Noonan had once postulated) was the sign of a great thinker, fighting them over there so that they won’t be fighting us over here, the brilliance of John Bolton at the UN, all of it was true because she willed it to be true. And now, numbness, numbness. All brought about by that man, that likable man, who forces reality-based ugliness on us all.
Picking up the ether canister and the soft, organic cotton batting, Noonan poured a good dose and inhaled deeply.
“Past, President and Future” by Peggy Noonan