I know there are more important things upon which I could be spending my time than pointing and laughing at Peggy Fucking Noonan.
After all, this is a woman whose job duties apparently consist entirely of getting properly whacked on Percocet and Dubonnet, sitting down at a computer and jabbing at random keys until the word count hits 1200, and then wandering off to fellate the mouldy corpse of Ronald Reagan which she has stashed behind her office door. I’ve seen apes in zoos flinging their shit at the wall who could churn out a more coherent column (although most of them now seem to have gotten jobs at The Washington Post).
However, it’s early Saturday morning down here in the upside down world of Oz, I’m stuffed to the gills with deep fried cheesecake with yuzu jam and honey-infused Jack Daniels, and I really can’t be bothered to rouse myself for anything other than shooting at big, dumb fish in a tiny barrel.
Peggy it is then.
Peggy thinks that the Joe Soptic Super PAC ad is an appalling personal attack that makes Obama “look perfidious and weak” and so he should disavow any such combative behaviour, but she also seems to think that Mitt should stop being so nice, take his gloves off and start fighting back. This seems a little inconsistent, but it’s hard to type and make a coherent argument at the same time, especially when you have your pearls clutched in one hand and a mason jar of gin in the other.
This somehow leads into the two following paragraphs, a mishmash of patronising and pointless pablum, studded with odd metaphors and cultural references, which I would describe as the height of Peggy’s inanity if I didn’t already know what nuggets of gold-plated crap are coming up further down the page.
The ad’s cynicism contributes to a phenomenon that increases each year, and that is that we are becoming a nation that believes nothing. Not in nothing, but nothing we’re told by anyone in supposed authority.
Everyone knows what the word spin means; people use it in normal conversation. Everyone knows what going negative is; they talk about it on Real Housewives. Political technicians always think they’re magicians whose genius few apprehend, but Americans now always know where the magician hid the rabbit. And we shouldn’t be so proud of our skepticism, which has become our cynicism. Someday we’ll be told something true that we need to know and we won’t believe that, either.
Of course, it’s always possible that Peggy will be the one telling us and we won’t believe it because we won’t have a fucking clue what she’s talking about. Anyway, after that Peggy dumps on Mitt a bit more for being a wussy man, before she starts talking about the last thing she remembers with any clarity, the Reagan years, when men were men and Peggy was always a little bit damp.
Some of the unperturbed sunniness you see modern political figures attempting to enact may be traceable to Ronald Reagan, the happy warrior who set a template for how winners act. But the Reagan of the 1950s and 60s was often indignant, even angry. When he allowed himself to get mad, or knew he should be mad and so decided to feign anger, it was a sight to behold. “I’m paying for this microphone,” he famously snapped to the moderator of the 1980 primary campaign debate in Nashua, N.H. He didn’t win that crucial state by being sunny.
A lot of politicians misunderstand this part of their art. A few months ago I talked with a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. I asked to hear the outlines of the candidate’s planned appeal to voters. The candidate leaned forward and said with some intensity, “I’m going to tell them I can get along with people. I can work with the other side.”
This was a great example of confusing the cart with the horse. Why would anyone vote for you, especially during a crisis, only because you play well with the other children?
Now, you might assume that Peggy’s point is that behaving like a smug prick looks presidential if you are a Republican but, in fact, she’s somehow building herself up to a lament about the lack of discussion of issues by modern politicians.
What are your issues, where do you stand, what will you do when you get to Washington? If you believe in something and mean to move it forward the people will give you a fair hearing, and if you make clear that you hope to make progress with the help of a knack for human relations, that’s good too.
But this cult of equability, this enforced, smiley, bland dispassion – Guys, we’re in a crisis, you’ve got to know how to fight, too.
And you’ve got to fight on the issues.
Both candidates wasted some time this week calling each other names in a sort of cheesy, noneffective, goofy way. “Obamaloney.” “Romney Hood.” Actually goofy isn’t the right word because goofy is fun, and there’s no wit or slash in what they were doing.
Calling Mr. Romney’s economic plans Romney Hood was dim because everyone likes Robin Hood, so Romney Hood sounds kind of like a compliment. Now and then the foes of a candidate accidentally do him a good turn.
Can you guess what’s coming next? No, not Zombie Reagan, but the very next best thing!
The Soviets thought they were disparaging Margaret Thatcher when they called her the Iron Lady. She was cold, wouldn’t bend, couldn’t compromise. The British heard the epithet and thought: Exactly! And exactly what we need!
An admiring nickname meant as an insult was born. Mr. Romney should go with it, lay out how he’ll save taxpayers from the predators of the liberal left and call that Romney Hood.
God does not love me enough that Mitt Romney would start calling himself Romney Hood.
But he and his supporters should drop the argument that if we don’t change our ways we’ll wind up like Europe. That’s a mistake because Americans like Europe, and in some complicated ways wouldn’t mind being a little more like it. In the past 40 years jumbo jets, reduced fares and rising affluence allowed a lot of Americans, especially the sort who vote, to go there. The great capitals of Europe are glamorous, elegant and old, the outlands are exquisite. What remains of the old Catholic European ethic that business isn’t everything, life is everything and it’s a sin not to enjoy it, still has a lure. Americans sometimes think of it as they eat their grim salads and drink from their plastic water bottles.
What the Jesus pole-dancing fuck? That’s just beyond parody. I don’t know whether to start with the grim salads, or the exquisite European outlands, or the majestic awfulness of “a lot of Americans, especially the sort who vote“, so I’m just going to suggest that you go back and read that paragraph again, carefully savoring every word. That is prize winning, Grade A, pure Bolivian crap.
From there, it’s all downhill I’m afraid. Nothing could reach the heights we have just scaled, and I don’t really have the will to pick through Peggy’s remaining effluvia when I can hear a liquid breakfast calling me. I’ll just note that Peggy seems possessed of twin ideas.
First, that our President never talks about important issues, when he has spent the last three and a half years (and more) talking about nothing else.
Second, that Mitt might actually have the ability or the will to talk about issues, when it is increasingly clear that he knows nothing about anything beyond the sheltered worlds of his family, his companies and his church (where his word was law and no one ever questioned him), that he can’t talk about any of his alleged achievements because they’ve all been poisoned at the root and that, even if he wanted to talk about issues, every single one leads unfailingly into a discussion of his taxes or his business practices or his flip-flopping.
When Americans go to Europe they see everything but the taxes. The taxes are terrible. But that’s Europe’s business and they’ll have to figure it out. Yes what happens there has implications for us but still, they’re there and we’re here.
What Americans are worried about, take as a warning sign, and are heavily invested in is California—that mythic place where Sutter struck gold, where the movies were invented, where the geniuses of the Internet age planted their flag, built their campuses, changed our world.
We care about California. We read every day of the bankruptcies, the reduced city services, the businesses fleeing. California is going down. How amazing is it that this is happening in the middle of a presidential campaign and our candidates aren’t even talking about it?
Mitt Romney should speak about the states that work and the states that don’t, why they work and why they don’t, and how we have to take the ways that work and apply them nationally.
Barack Obama can’t talk about these things. You can’t question the blue-state model when your whole campaign promises more blue-state thinking.
But Mr. Romney can talk about it.
Both campaigns are afraid of being serious, of really grappling with the things Americans rightly fear. But there’s no safety in not being serious. It only leaves voters wondering if you’re even capable of seriousness. Letting them wonder that is a mistake.
Peggy – Mitt is screwed. He knows it. We know it. Even Ann Coulter and the Red Staters know it. The person who doesn’t seem to know it is you.