Anatomy of a Column
Peggy Noonan took a big swig from her water bottle, which tasted oddly like a Mai Tai —another miracle!— and gently lowered the needle onto the spinning platter. Adjusting her leg warmers, Noonan started her aerobics on the spring-loaded floor of the dance studio in her Upper Eastside penthouse, that she cunningly named after her former Upper Westside penthouse, The Aviary 2.
Bonnie Tyler crooned: “Where have all the good men gone/ And where are all the Gods?/Where’s the street-wise Hercules/ To fight the rising odds?”
Noonan smiled shyly at the life-sized cutout of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the greatest president of the last half of the last century, possibly the greatest president of all time, as she flash-danced.
Uvalde wasn’t an “apparent law-enforcement failure.” It is the biggest law-enforcement scandal since George Floyd, and therefore one of the biggest in U.S. history.
Tyler continued to belt it out, “I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero/ ‘Til the end of the night/ He’s gotta be strong/ And he’s gotta be fast/ And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight”
Working up a sweat, and warming up to her theme, Noonan continued to pound the floor, her ample calves feeling the burn, as Jane Fonda used to say.
We can’t let it settle in that the police can’t be relied on to be physically braver than other people. An implicit agreement in going into the profession is that you’re physically brave. I don’t understand those saying with nonjudgmental empathy, “I’m not sure I would have gone in.” It was their job to go in. If you can’t cut it, then don’t join and get the badge, the gun and the pension.
Noonan glanced at Ronnie who seemed to have a twinkle in his eye. Noonan knew she was blushing and hoped that it only looked like being flushed from the work out.
Taylor continued, “I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero/ ‘Til the morning light/ He’s gotta be sure/ And it’s gotta be soon/ And he’s gotta be larger than life/ (Larger than life)”
Noonan did a round-off that ended in splits, and even she was impressed with herself. Ronnie clapped. Peggy looked at Ronnie and felt she needed to tone it down, bring some perspective to her thoughts.
I’m not saying, “Oh, America was once so wonderful and now it’s not.” I’m saying we are losing old habits of discipline and pride in expertise—of peerlessness. There was a kind of American gleam. If the world called on us—in business, the arts, the military, diplomacy, science—they knew they were going to get help. The grown-ups had arrived, with their deep competence.
Ronnie looked at Peggy splayed out on the floor, shook his head and said, “During my administration, Peggy, we had Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771: 43 dead. San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre: 22 dead. Edmond post office shooting: 15 dead. Wah Mee massacre: 13 dead. Palm Sunday massacre: 10 dead. Daingerfield church shooting: 5 dead…”
Noonan halted mid Fosse* kick, frozen to the spot, and stared at Dutch, her mouth agape, gasping for air.
Noonan looked at the cardboard cut out and whispered,
My God, I’ve never seen a country so in need of a hero.
Peggy moved Dutch back into his usual position near the wet bar in her bedroom and called it a night.
(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 pair of leg warmers, 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.)
- H/T Scissorhead BDR in the comments for the correction.