Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan was in the semi-finals—the very semi-finals!—at her new favorite watering hole The Chelsea Pier.
“B-9,” she said with steely reserve.
“Hit!,” shrieked the Nancy Reagan impersonator (“complete with five-o’clock shadow, just like the real one,” Noonan snickered to herself), and quickly added “Drink!”
Lifetime Bacardi Achievement winner that she is, Noonan picked up the shot glass, her tongue flicked across her lips, and with a single, professional and fluid movement the fiery liquid emptied through her perfectly glossed lips. “Ahh,” she said, smacking her lips. The crowd cheered Noonan, who blushed slightly.
Noonan looked shyly at her opponent waiting for the fresh bombardment to begin. They were tied (as indicated by the shot glasses, like so many dead soldiers before them).
“Antonin Scalia was brave, with that exhausting kind of courage that has to do with swimming each day against the tide,” Noonan declared.
“I-4,” replied Reagan.
“Miss,” Noonan rejoined. “In a 50/50 country, one that suffers deep ideological divisions and is constantly at its own throat, Justice Scalia stood, for that half of the country that is more or less conservative, for wisdom, permanence, enduring structures and understandings.” and then added, “B-8!”
Noonan reached for the awaiting shot glass.
“When the court is roughly balanced, 5-4,” Noonan said, examining the level of the rum in the glass, “the public is allowed to assume some rough approximation of justice will occur—that something that looks like justice will be handed down.”
The glass approached her parched lips.
“There will be chafing and disappointments. ObamaCare will be upheld. Yay! Boo!Gay marriage will be instituted across the land. Yay! Boo!,” with a single flick of her wrist the refreshment slid down her throat. Her dainty hand fluttered up to her pearls, a gift from the greatest president of the last century, maybe the greatest president ever: Ronald Wilson Reagan. A warm feeling engulfed her just thinking his name.
Smacking her lips, Noonan continued, “The closeness of the vote suggests both sides got heard. The closeness contributes to an air of credibility. That credibility helps people accept the court’s rulings.”
“So Peggy,” the false Nancy Reagan said to her, “do you think that Brown v Board of education required more balance? It was 9-0, and so it was not credible? Is that what you are saying?” And then quickly added “B-4!”
Noonan blinked. “You sank my battleship.”
(The Court, Like the Country, Needs Balance By Peggy Noonan)
(New Readers: The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan is a sometimes feature where we parody the much-quoted Reagan hagiographer Peggy Noonan to try to understand the genesis of her Declarations column in the WSJ. We do not know if Noonan really plays Battleship for Shots, but to paraphrase the Great Writer herself, “Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.” – Bacardi Lifetime Achievement Winner, Peggy Noonan, Wall St. Journal, April 2000.)