Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan was juggling her mai tai and her hatchet at the Chelsea Pier’s axe-throwing bar, the target in the distance a wee bit blurred. Noonan made a mental note to see her optometrist, which she thought was an amusing play on words.
With a skill heretofore unknown, Noonan chugged her Mai Tai, hurled the remains of it at the target and in a split second, Lizzy Borden-like, launched the axe into the air, where it neatly cleaved the pineapple in two —midair!— and then stuck the bullseye of the target. It was the third time this morning she pulled this amazing feat.
The denizens of the bar burst into applause and cheers. Noonan’s hand fluttered up to the ever-present pearl necklace, a gift from the greatest president of the last half of the last century, Ronald Wilson Reagan, whom she noted, had never been impeached. A cloud crossed her face and then cleared.
“On my way to Waterloo I realized: We’re about to have the third impeachment of a president in American history, and the day it happens it’s not going to be Topic A in America. It will barely be mentioned at the dinner table. It is a coastal elite story, not a mainland story.”
The six-foot tall Nancy Reagan impersonator (“complete with 5-o’clock shadow, just like the real one,” Noonan giggled to herself), looked-on, dumbfounded. Noonan glided to the bar, her ample calves stretching to climb into the barstool. Why they didn’t make them shorter she would never understand. She crossed her ankles demurely.
A fresh Mai Tai arrived, and remembering her manners, Noonan gave a polite nod to the sender who strangely resembled Peter Buttigieg. Noonan mumbled to him,
“Mr. Buttigieg used to say his name was pronounced “Buddha judge.” When he went national he changed it to what his crowds now chant: “boot edge edge.”
Noonan took a sip of refreshment, and continued,
“I suspect he did this because America wears boots and likes edginess, but no one wants to be judged by the Buddha.”
The bartender, JC, said he thought Mayor Pete was kinda hot and would not mind being judged by him, especially if the punishment was lingering. Noonan gave Juan Carlos (she refused to call him JC, reserving that honor for her Lord and Savior) a disdainful look, and replied,
“He is personable in an old-fashioned sense; he reminds me of Michael Kinsley’s description of Al Gore when he was 38: “an old person’s idea of a young person.”
Noonan felt a warm rush run up her cheeks, and quickly checked herself, silently apologizing to Saint Ronnie.
“Tell me more, Miss Noonan!”
“When he was an intern on Capitol Hill, every young Republican staffer had a copy of Hayek on his desk. “On our side, the academic left, particularly in the humanities, had gotten into really abstruse things around postmodernism and poststructuralism. There was, ironically, contrary to our self-image, I think less of a clear relationship between ideas and politicians on the left. We had our policy intellectuals, but there was less of a connection between our politicians and our political theorists.”
“He came to respect “the organizing efforts of conservatives.” I asked if this was around the time Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Of a sudden the Republican Party is the party of ideas.” He smiled and shrugged: “Just a hair before my time.”
“The snot-nosed brat,” Noonan thought to herself, as she finished her refreshment.
JC handed Noonan a fresh axe and watched in awe as the now-empty pineapple was once again cleaved and the target hit.
(New Readers: The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan is a sometimes feature (of the past 10-plus years!) 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 crushes on Mayor Pete, 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.)