Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan swanned into the Bush Library Opening Gala, an elegant woman languidly riding a crest of self-confidence and self-entitlement, a woman in her prime. Sphinx-like she looked about the ballroom to see all the familiar faces, all the right faces, the cognoscenti of the conservative world.
A passing cater waiter delivered a Mai Tai. “Courtesy of Barbara Bush,” he declared, as a thirsty Noonan gratefully accepted the frosty libation. “Mrs. Bush told us to welcome you with Texas hospitality.”
“And where is Babs?,” Noonan inquired. “I would like to congratulate her on this momentous occasion.” Just then Laura Bush glided past as if on roller skates, and staring into space. “I hate the way she does that,” Noonan murmured.
The waiter pointed into another room, and Noonan was off.
Swimming into view was Condi Rice, Dubya’s National Security Advisor-Secretary of State.
“George W. Bush is back, for the unveiling of his presidential library. His numbers are dramatically up. You know why? Because he’s the farthest thing from Barack Obama,” Noonan declared, accepting a refreshing beverage from a waiter. “Obama fatigue has opened the way to Bush affection.”
“Peggy, Dubya will always be one of the most beloved of all presidents,” Dr. Rice replied, frostily. “Some of us never stopped loving him.”
Noonan gave Rice a sideways glance, and her hand instinctively reached up to her ever-present pearl necklace, a gift from Ronald Wilson Reagan, the greatest president of the last half of the last century, maybe the greatest president ever. “Of course, Condi dear. Of course.”
Noonan moved on, determined to find Barbara Bush, to thank her for the invitation to the gala. Another waiter pointed Noonan vaguely to where Barbara was holding court, and Noonan swam into the crowd like little Elian being nudged along by angelic dolphins.
“Saracen Pig,” Noonan exclaimed to Dick Cheney who quickly replied, “Spartan Dog!” and then the two old friends both broke into peals of laughter.
“How the hell are you, Peg?” Cheney asked as he munched on some Dancing Shrimp.
“Dry as a bone,” she laughed as another Mai Tai magically appeared. “I missed the speech, how was it?”
“Blah, blah, blah,” Cheney replied. “Tears.” He tore into another wiggling shrimp
“So, at the end Mr. Bush wept, and not only because the Bush men are weepers but because he means every word of what he says, and because he loves his country, and was moved?” she asked.
“Well, he didn’t announce that he was invading Syria. Now that would have been a speech, Peg.” Cheney replied. “Say, you don’t suppose that they could make these things with something larger, do you?” Cheney pointed to the shrimp.
“You mean something the size of a kitten?” The two old friend laughed and laughed again. Cheney pointed Noonan to where Barbara was. “She’s promising to have some entertainment,” he said raising his eyebrows.
“Oh, Christ, she’s not going to bring out the pickle jar again, is she?!” Noonan exclaimed. There was a crashing noise behind her as some French doors shattered and the former first daughters, the Bush Twins, covered in mud wrestled into the room, hoots and hollers and taking bets in dollars. “Hi Peggy,” Jenna called out. “Are you gonna work the pole with us later?” Noonan moved on.
The party was a mad swirl of noise and Bushes everywhere! Jeb was there and Noonan could swear she saw Columba lifting a silver service into her oversized bag; Noonan dared not to think of what mischief his children might be up to, but then saw the daughter, Nicole, sitting with Laura Bush on some steps, their gowns hiked up, both of them looking glazed and dazed, vague Mona Lisa smiles and unfocused eyes. “Family bonding,” she concluded.
At last, Noonan went around the corner and spotted The Matriarch and headed to her as Babs was concluding a virtuoso performance of the Star Spangled Banner on her armpit. “Oh, Barbara, you must be so proud,” Noonan gushed.
“Hella Proud,” Babs yelled back, “It took 67 years but we finally got Chimpy into a library!”
UPDATE: our own photojournalist Axel Grease was there, and took these exclusive photographs that you won’t find anywhere else!