Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan woke up from a troubled dream —BevMo was out of Captain Morgan!— and looked at the wall in her spacious living room at the Aviary 2 (the clever nickname she gave her penthouse on the Upper East Side after leaving her more modest penthouse on the Upper West Side) and gasped! “Healter Skelter” and “Pig” were spray painted on the wall.
“The vandals must have broken in again,” she told Javier the building’s concierge, who checked the logs and the security video for the building and said no one entered last night. “Then, they must have had a key,” she insisted.
“Send the painter, please, I cannot bear to look at it.” Noonan sat down to breakfast and was finishing her pitcher of Mai Tai when the painters arrived.
“Third time this week, Ms. Noonan?,” the painter said, and Noonan nodded in the affirmative.
“This building is as porous as the Supreme Court, apparently” she added with a knowing grimace, “or the US Capitol!,” she added, shocked.
Such a thing has never happened. Justice Samuel Alito’s preliminary opinion being taken from the court, without permission or right, and given to the press was an act of sabotage by a vandal. It hardly matters whether the leaker was of the left or right. It reflected the same spirit as the Jan. 6 Capitol riot—irresponsible destructiveness. As the book has been thrown at the rioters, it should be thrown at the leaker.
“Ms. Noonan, the more important issue is the opinion itself, isn’t it?,” the painter asked.
Noonan made another pitcher of refreshment, and replied:
The justices can’t sit around and say oh no, we’re just another victim of the age. If they have to break some teacups to find who did it, break them. Chief Justice John Roberts worries, rightly, about the court’s standing. This is the biggest threat to it since he joined. At the very least it might be good if the justices would issue a joint statement that they are appalled by the publication of the decision, don’t accept it, won’t countenance it.
“But what about letting women make their own choices?,” the painter replied and then added, “my wife and I cannot afford to have kids right now.”
Noonan gave him a gimlet eye and replied,
You have to respect the opposing view… Why? Because all the other decisions were about how to live, and Roe was about death. Justice Alito seems to echo this thought in his draft opinion, which would turn the questions of legality and illegality over to each state. This is not a solution to the issue, it is a way of managing it—democratically.
“But who elected the Justices,” the painter asked. “This seems undemocratic to me.”
“They are appointed by the President, whom we elected,” Noonan said firmly.
“Trump didn’t win the popular vote,” shot back the painter.
“…and confirmed by the Senate, whom we elected.” Noonan replied, serenely.
“…who were elected by rural Americans and not by the majority,” he countered.
Noonan quaffed her elevenses, and nibbled on the pineapple spear.
I am pro-life for the most essential reason: That’s a baby in there, a human child.
“Checkmate,” she added. “Turn that frown upside down, mister,”
You have been given a gift and don’t know it. You think, “Yes, we get a hot new issue for 2022!” But you always aggress more than you think. The gift is that if, as a national matter, the abortion issue is removed, you could be a normal party again. You have no idea, because you don’t respect outsiders, how many people would feel free to join your party with the poison cloud dispersed. You could be something like the party you were before Roe: liberal on spending and taxation, self-consciously the champion of working men and women, for peace and not war. As you were in 1970.
“But…” The painter started to object. Noonan interrupted him:
Or, absent the emotionally cohering issue of abortion, you can choose to further align with extremes within the culture, and remain abnormal.
The painter finished the job, and packed up to leave. ‘Connecticut White’ looked so fine in the dappled light from the broad expanse of windows, and Noonan picked up the vandal’s spray paint —still in the brown paper bag— and took a big huff.
(New Readers: The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan is a sometimes feature of lo! many, many 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 has a concierge named Javier, 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.)