Monday, April 11, 2011

When Peggy Noonan Kissed A Frog

Peggy Noonan was an powerful and moving speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and the senior Bush. She is a truly masterful wordsmith.

Somewhere along the way, though, she lost direction. She became what she opposed, a female David Brooks.

In 2008, Peggy Noonan became enamored of presidential candidate Barack Obama. She wrote

He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make.
Being an artist herself, Peggy swoons over artistry. Obama can give a pretty good speech, and she appreciates it. Over-appreciates it.

Two years later, late indeed, she seems to be recovering from her swoon, and now recognizes that Obama's approach to Libya, and perhaps in a broader context, too, seems rather mad. 

She goes on
He has no happy experience as a rallier of public opinion and a leader of great endeavors; the central initiative of his presidency, the one that gave shape to his leadership, health care, is still unpopular and the cause of continued agitation. When he devoted his entire first year to it, he seemed off point and out of touch. This was followed by the BP oil spill, which made him look snakebit. Now he seems incompetent and out of his depth in foreign and military affairs. He is more observed than followed, or perhaps I should say you follow him with your eyes and not your heart. So it's funny he'd feel free to launch and lead a war, which is what this confused and uncertain military action may become.
Sadly, Peggy's solution is to suggest yet another Obama speech. She has lost appreciation for the need of a foundation of principle upon which to build the words with which to convince others.

She has kissed what she saw as an articulate prince only to learn her liplock was with a frog that talks.

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