In her Wall Street Journal column that was an otherwise insightful look at the 2010 midterm elections, Peggy Noonan summoned her inner Maureen Dowd, sharpened her claws, and went after Sarah Palin.
“Conservatives talked a lot about Ronald Reagan this year, but they have to take him more to heart, because his example here is a guide. All this seemed lost last week on Sarah Palin, who called him, on Fox, ‘an actor.’ She was defending her form of political celebrity-reality show, ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ etc. This is how she did it: ‘Wasn’t Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn’t he in ‘Bedtime for Bonzo,’ Bozo, something? Ronald Reagan was an actor.’
“Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I’ll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president.
“The point is not ‘He was a great man and you are a nincompoop,’ though that is true. The point is that Reagan’s career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn’t in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn’t in search of fame; he’d already lived a life, he was already well known, he’d accomplished things in the world.”
One hardly knows where to start. Peggy Noonan used to disdain Northeastern elite snots who looked down their noses at the great unwashed, people like Ronald Reagan. Now it seems that living too long in Manhattan has turned Noonan into what she used to loathe.
Sarah Palin’s point was obviously not that Reagan was “just an actor.” Her point was that people who hated him would use that fact to belittle him, ignoring the record of accomplishment that Noonan so eloquently relates.
Noonan is also ignoring Palin’s solid record of accomplishment. Small-town city councilwoman. Small-town mayor. Energy regulator. Governor. Vice presidential candidate. And, as the midterms proved, Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle aside, a political force of nature.
Peggy Noonan, by the way, is a little confused about Sarah Palin’s media career. It is her daughter, Bristol Palin, who is performing on “Dancing With the Stars,” and not Sarah herself. Palin and her family are about to appear in an eight-part travel documentary about Alaska, something one suspects that the Gipper would have approved of.
When Noonan calls Sarah Palin a “nincompoop,” it is without apparent irony. If she had called Palin an “amiable dunce,” as someone once called Reagan, the irony would have been there even for Noonan herself to see.
If Sarah Palin becomes president, it will be because the American people decide she should be, and not with the approval of Peggy Noonan. Noonan’s post-Reagan judgment on presidents is a little suspect in any case. She attacked George W. Bush in her columns when things got hard in Iraq. She had a school-girl flirtation with Barack Obama up until the point that it became clear to anyone, even someone living in the insular, provincial culture of Manhattan, that the President was driving the country over a cliff, to use his much-overused car metaphor.
Source: Americans Vote for Maturity, Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, November 5th, 2010