Anatomy of a Column
he doors of the Naples, Florida Walmart glided open, and Peggy Noonan glided in, majestic, like the Queen Mary entering the port, an elegant woman languidly riding a crest of self-confidence. She swanned into the store to gather replacement supplies for her annual Oscar party (Ronald Reagan Salutes the Academy was the theme as usual), and the supplies were already running low and it was still hours until the Red Carpet.
The place was different from what it was two and five years ago, Noonan noted. Then, things seemed dynamic—what buys, what an array of products, what bustle in the aisles. This time it seemed tired, frayed, with fewer families and scarcer employees. “It looks like a diorama of the Great Recession,” she mumbled. Nevertheless, Noonan soldiered on with sturdy legs and ample calves to the libations aisle in the empty store.
Noonan grimaced a little, when she recalled the last time she was in Florida when she predicted a big win for Mitt Romney by counting lawn signs in this neighborhood. She reached for the familiar Bacardi bottles on the top shelf, so reassuring in a tempest-tossed world of sequesters and compromise.
“It is always cliffs, ceilings and looming catastrophes with Barack Obama. It is always government by freakout,” Noonan muttered to herself. “Meat won’t be inspected. Seven thousand TSA workers will be laid off, customs workers too, and air traffic controllers,” Noonan continued to fill her cart.
“Lines at airports will be impossible,” Noonan continued, working into her theme. “The Navy will slow down the building of an aircraft carrier. Troop readiness will be disrupted, weapons programs slowed or stalled, civilian contractors stiffed, uniformed first responders cut back.”
“Can I help you, Ma’am?,” the cheerful Walmart employee asked.
“Our nuclear deterrent will be indefinitely suspended,” Noonan laughed. “Ha, made that one up, but give them time.” The clerk backed away down the aisle shaking her head.
Noonan careened around shelves and displays trying to find her way to the produce section. Fresh pineapples are an essential ingredient to a well-prepared Mai Tai, and sometimes, like today, the vessel itself for serving the blessed sacrament.
“In a way it’s all brilliant showbiz: Scare people into supporting your position,” Noonan whispered. She blanched and paused at a table loaded with copies of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War. and glowered at it.
“Oh, there you are,” the Store Manager said greeting Noonan. We thought you were in Liquor.”
“Mr. Obama thrives in chaos” she replied dryly. “He flourishes in unsettled circumstances and grooves on his own calm,” she continued getting somewhat louder. “He spins an air of calamity, points fingers and garners support,” and now she was shrieking at the manager, who calmly escorted her to the door, like the doomed Carnival Cruise being dragged to dock, and patting Noonan on the arm the whole while, while the clerk was wheeled her cart back to the booze aisle.
Government by Freakout–Obama’s scare tactics aren’t much of a long-term strategy–By Peggy Noonan