Peggy Noonan has a warning for the GOP

Give Peggy Noonan credit – she’s not “going with the flow” when it comes to Sarah Palin. Noonan cares about the future of the GOP, and she dishes out some tough love for the party.

Sarah Palin’s resignation gives Republicans a new opportunity to see her plain—to review the bidding, see her strengths, acknowledge her limits, and let go of her drama. It is an opportunity they should take. They mean to rebuild a great party. They need to do it on solid ground.

Noonan gets to the essence of Sarah Palin by looking at her with open eyes, and without all the drama surrounding the current state of politics.

In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. “I’m not wired that way,” “I’m not a quitter,” “I’m standing up for our values.” I’m, I’m, I’m.

She goes on to destroy all the arguments being thrown around in her defense. This one is priceless.

“She makes the Republican Party look inclusive.” She makes the party look stupid, a party of the easily manipulated.

Here’s her closing argument.

The era we face, that is soon upon us, will require a great deal from our leaders. They had better be sturdy. They will have to be gifted. There will be many who cannot, and should not, make the cut. Now is the time to look for those who can. And so the Republican Party should get serious, as serious as the age, because that is what a grown-up, responsible party—a party that deserves to lead—would do.

It’s not a time to be frivolous, or to feel the temptation of resentment, or the temptation of thinking next year will be more or less like last year, and the assumptions of our childhoods will more or less reign in our future. It won’t be that way.

We are going to need the best.

She’s right – we need the best. As a strong supporter of Barack Obama, I think we have the best, and Sarah Palin makes Obama’s job easier in one sense. She’s a disaster for the GOP, a party that keeps sinking lower with clowns like Ensign and Sanford after the party seemed to hit rock bottom in the fall. From a purely political point of view, the current GOP, and any future GOP that features Sarah Palin, gives Obama some breathing room. He’s going to make some mistakes, and he’s tackling some very difficult and controversial issues at a time when our economy is in the ditch. If he takes a political hit from time to time, he can feel comfortable that the GOP doesn’t pose a serious threat.

On the other hand, we are facing serious problems, and one political party is offering next-to-nothing when it comes to providing solutions. The GOP has become a bad joke, when we could use some tough Republicans to help us on spending and engage in real negotiations over the budget and entitlements. The GOP has to do better than this, and Sarah Palin is holding them back.

  

The unbearable lightness of Peggy Noonan

I enjoy reading Peggy Noonan because she’s never shy about her point of view. She also writes beautifully.

That said, for every great column, she produces at least two clunkers. Today’s column, with the subtitle of “The unbearable lightness of Obama’s administration,” is particularly bizarre. Here’s the introduction.

He is willowy when people yearn for solid, reed-like where they hope for substantial, a bright older brother when they want Papa, cool where they probably prefer warmth. All of which may or may not hurt Barack Obama in time. Lincoln was rawboned, prone to the blues and freakishly tall, with a new-grown beard that refused to become an assertion and remained, for four years, a mere and constant follicular attempt. And he did OK.

Such impressions—coolness, slightness—can come to matter only if they capture or express some larger or more meaningful truth. At the moment they connect, for me, to something insubstantial and weightless in the administration’s economic pronouncements and policies. The president seems everywhere and nowhere, not fully focused on the matters at hand. He’s trying to keep up with the news cycle with less and less to say. “I am angry” about AIG’s bonuses. The administration seems buffeted, ad hoc. Policy seems makeshift, provisional. James K. Galbraith captures some of this in The Washington Monthly: “The president has an economic program. But there is, so far, no clear statement of the thinking behind the program.”

What a jumbled mess. She sounds like all those journalists who were lecturing Obama early in the campaign that he had no chance of winning if he stayed calm and refused to go negative on Hillary.

She asserts there’s “something insubstantial and weightless in the administration’s economic pronouncements and policies,” when liberals and conservatives recognize that Barack Obama has proposed the most daring and ambitious budget of our generation. Conservatives hate the budget for that very reason – Obama wants to fundamentally change how we meet the challenges of health care, energy and education. Somehow, Peggy Noonan has missed all that, getting distracted by the daily Washington soap opera that plays out on cable TV.

Barack Obama is trying to put out a bonfire cause by years of irresponsible behavior in Washington and on Wall Street. His critics are howling that he hasn’t snapped his fingers and slayed this economic monster with a silver bullet. The bottom line is this – Obama and Bernanke have put together a sensible package of programs that just might get us out of this mess. Of course, Ms. Noonan has nothing to say about the actual substance.

She isn’t comfortable with Obama’s style, probably because she’s been in Washington so long she can’t process anything other than the scripted nonsense of previous administrations. She shouldn’t confuse message discipline with sound policy. Obama is selling his policies on his terms, and he refuses to treat the American people like idiots. Critics might quip that he comes across as “professorial,” but many Americans appreciate a President who doesn’t try to turn every policy proposal into a dumbed-down soundbite.

  

Peggy Noonan wakes up

In 2004, Peggy Noonan was savoring George W. Bush’s victory over John Kerry. Reality has been setting in for Peggy and other conservatives since then. and she explains in her latest column that the country is sick of Bush. Thanks for the news flash.

She does have some helpful advice for Barack Obama, however. He can help himself by talking more about why he loves his country. Of course he has been doing this, but he always does it from an intellectual point of view. Law school geeks like me love this stuff, but he could use some more imagery. He has talked about his grandfather being in Patton’s army in WWII, and he needs to do more of that. The right is trying to paint him as a left-wing radical, and he needs some stories from his life that contradict that silly caricature.

  

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