Political Animal


November 05, 2012 4:54 PM The Seer

By Ed Kilgore

Like many of you no doubt, I’ve been trying to avoid the vast late-autumn harvest of Pure Spin pouring out of TV and computer screens today. Polls, yes. Actual analysis, yes. Insights into how it’s happened and what it might actually mean, sure. But please, no more phoned-in “Hark! The Sound of Momentum!” maunderings, no more data-free “Mood of the Heartland” ruminations penned in DC and Manhattan.

Ah, but then Peggy Noonan convinced the Editors of the Wall Street Journal that her final pre-election column discussing Obama’s Failed Presidency just wasn’t enough, leaving readers longing for more of her insight honed in Ronnie’s service, craving more of her gems of literary craftsmanship. So today we have Peggy’s blog—absolute catnip to me—and it’s all you’d expect.

First, there’s the obligatory insider scoop:

We begin with the three words everyone writing about the election must say: Nobody knows anything. Everyone’s guessing. I spent Sunday morning in Washington with journalists and political hands, one of whom said she feels it’s Obama, the rest of whom said they don’t know.

But quickly, on to her deeply intuitive hunch:

I think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in “like a thief with good tools,” in Walker Percy’s old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while.

As I mulled the question of what the late Walker Percy would have thought of Noonan’s writing, I nearly missed her transition of the “rising storm” metaphor from a Mitt positive to an Obama negative:

Obama and the storm, it was like a wave that lifted him and then moved on, leaving him where he’d been. Parts of Jersey and New York are a cold Katrina.

Yes, and FEMA was nowhere to be found and the president flew over and then went to a birthday party for John McCain. Oh, sorry! That was the warm Katrina! Moving right along, Peggy gets deep into Wisdom, a close friend of hers:

Among the wisest words spoken this cycle were by John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate, who said, in a conversation the night before the last presidential debate, that he thought maybe the American people were quietly cooking something up, something we don’t know about.
I think they are and I think it’s this: a Romney win.

Why? “All the vibrations are right.” “Something old is roaring back.” People at rope lines linger at the touch of surrogates who have in turn touched the hem of Mitt’s garment! Crowds are big! At this point, I’m thinking “I bet she mentions yard signs.” And there it is:

And there’s the thing about the yard signs. In Florida a few weeks ago I saw Romney signs, not Obama ones. From Ohio I hear the same. From tony Northwest Washington, D.C., I hear the same.

Now there’s a constituency Noonan knows well! And turns out, all along we should have been listening to Peggy instead of reading all those stupid polls and thinking all those stupid rational thoughts:

Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us.

Peggy Noonan, the new Columbus, discovering America all over again for us.

You can read the rest yourselves, if you can stand Noonan’s final triumphant argument that in the pomp and glitter of the Al Smith Banquet, Mitt Romney “looked like a president.” To gimlet-eyed Peggy, the whole solemn ritual of American democracy probably looks just like a paycheck.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • penalcolony on November 05, 2012 5:02 PM:

    Peggy no thinky when too many drinky.

  • c u n d gulag on November 05, 2012 5:07 PM:

    Nooner's plaster cast of St. Ronnie Reagan's d*ck doesn't need rising - it has risen - and will stay that way.

    Of course, to get Reagan that way, they had to use the same d*ck-pump system that Paulie Castellano used with his maid.
    I just hope Nancy got a copy for herself.

    Peg O' Ronnie's heart, take a Val*um with that sherry, and STFU!!!

  • FlipYrWhig on November 05, 2012 5:12 PM:

    It's too bad that the late Christopher Hitchens was already dubbed a "drink-soaked popinjay," because that description totally fits Peggy Noonan.

    Captcha phrase: "Conservatism edopiv." Indeed.

  • lou on November 05, 2012 5:28 PM:

    Yard signs ... Oh what a sign! Here in red downstate Illinois, yard signs for the national offices are as scarce as I have ever seen them. In the little town of 2500 near my home, there are maybe 5 Romney signs along the main road in and out of town. OK, no Obama signs, but 5 signs tell me that there ain't even a small fever for Romney. I saw about the same in traveling in Missouri in October. Very, very damn few Romney signs. It don't get much redder than the Ozarks.

  • Robs on November 05, 2012 5:28 PM:

    And this rum-soaked old prune will continue to be employed after an Obama win.

  • jim filyaw on November 05, 2012 5:29 PM:

    you're ahead of yourself. the interesting column is not this one--its the one due out after the election when this old souse explains how she went so far wrong.

  • New York Crank on November 05, 2012 5:35 PM:

    "I think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in 'like a thief with good tools,' in Walker Percy’s old words. "

    Peggy's got a good point there. There's the old Photo ID tool. There's the "someone who's a felon has the same last name as yours," tool. There's the selective voting hours by Republican or Democratic district tool. The truth is, Republicans have the best burglar tools in the business.

    Very crankily yours,
    The New York Crank

  • David Sanger on November 05, 2012 5:36 PM:

    Why Peggy, of course.

    How stupid of us to pay attention the opinions of tens of thousands of carefully vetted registered and likely voters across the country when we could instead listen to the random hunches of one very small woman going to cocktail parties and driving around her neighborhood looking at yard signs.

  • bdop4 on November 05, 2012 5:38 PM:

    Sorry, Ed, but when I read Noonan's name, my finger automatically engages the scroll wheel of my mouse until I can no longer see the article.

    I refuse to even read takedowns of that insufferable woman. She is a walking, talking Waste of Time.

  • g on November 05, 2012 5:43 PM:

    Bartender, buy that lady down at the end of the bar another round, she looks like she needs one.

  • T2 on November 05, 2012 5:48 PM:

    I think Peggy really means "Looks like a white president".

  • Barbara on November 05, 2012 6:09 PM:

    So is she predicting that Romney will win D.C.'s three electoral votes? Because the intensity of the vibrations necessary for that point of view would make me concerned for her safety.

    This is the same person who thought Elian Gonzalez was saved by dolphins.

  • R on November 05, 2012 6:18 PM:

    Ed, you do a lot here, and we appreciate it, but reading the rantings of Peggy Noonan is well above and beyond necessary. She went around the bend years ago.

  • CharlieM on November 05, 2012 6:20 PM:

    Noonan = crazy cat lady

  • Decatur Dem on November 05, 2012 6:24 PM:

    In the 31st century of Futurama, I predict Noonan's embalmed head will continue to pontificate nonsensically.

  • david on November 05, 2012 6:40 PM:

    My God, Peggy is simply priceless, isn't she? I mean, simply priceless. Even "The Daily Show" writers team couldn't ask for any thing better...

  • Joe Friday on November 05, 2012 6:54 PM:

    Looney Noonan was doing this on 'Face the Nation' yesterday. She was saying (without a shred of evidence) that she could just "feel" that Romney was going to win, that he was "rising", that the American people were agreeing with his message, and he was drawing large crowds (nevermind Obama's crowds are bigger).

    Bob Schieffer just stared at her in utter disbelief.

  • Celui on November 05, 2012 7:05 PM:

    Ed, I deeply appreciate your inclusion of good ol' Peggy's latest drivel, for it does add to the overall humor quotient of my life. Captured by aliens, kept in a UFO for fermentation, Peggy's petty prognostications once again demonstrate the overwhelming negative effects of trying to say something when one doesn't have a clue about what to say or how to say it. You deserve a pat on the back and a brief time of rest for having waded through this muddled puddle.

  • Frank Wilhoit on November 05, 2012 7:08 PM:

    "All the vibrations are right" ?

    Time for fresh batteries, Peg.

  • Thisby on November 05, 2012 7:46 PM:

    “Something old is roaring back.”

    If anything old is roaring back, it's Peggy Noonan.

  • Robert on November 05, 2012 8:01 PM:

    Dear Peggy Noonan;
    My Obama yard sign would still be out if not for the crazy legions of your sister Republicans and their minion vandal teenagers. For-The-Love-Of-God, is there no low you people are unwilling to stoop to? Have you no decency?

    Oh, and by-the-way, our yard sign never intended to cast a vote for President Obama, we will.

  • DFH on November 05, 2012 8:12 PM:

    Loved the way you described Nooners at the end, Ed.

    "...looks just like a paycheck."

    Profoundly, deeply cynical insight. Or insight into cyncism. Love it

  • hells littlest angel on November 05, 2012 8:20 PM:

    "... gimlet-eyed Peggy..."

    That's just lovely.

  • jhand on November 05, 2012 9:34 PM:

    Is it "gimlet-eyed," or is it "gimlet-soaked?"

  • pjcamp on November 05, 2012 10:09 PM:

    Reading Peggy Noonan is like reading Zombie Ann Landers.

    No thanks.

  • AndrewBW on November 05, 2012 10:19 PM:

    I feel stupider already.

  • exlibra on November 05, 2012 10:43 PM:

    Oh. Mah. Lawd! Her prose is like that of an untalented stepchild of Barbara Cartland, isn't it? What's the kind of book -- that used to be bound in plain yellow covers, as a warning to all decent people -- called now? A "bodice ripper"?

  • rk21 on November 05, 2012 11:37 PM:

    I don't put up Obama yard signs because I am not white and think republicans are either insane, or racist or both and the party is borderline fascist. Obama has been subjected to the most vile racial hatred I've ever seen. I'm surrounded by republicans. Why invite trouble? My job is to quietly go pull the lever for Obama tuesday. Screw yard signs.

  • Sparko on November 05, 2012 11:46 PM:

    What if Romney won because the GOP kept many people from actually voting? What then? There is a great specter hanging over this election. The Republicans don't even know it or see it yet, but they would do well to lose and re-evaluate their collective souls. If the Republicans win, it will be because they kept democracy from working and then the floodgates open for the American Winter. So, Pegs, up yours. She is the problem. They may very well awaken the sleeping majority and fill them with a sense of terrible loathing. I am dismayed tat Rove has taken them this far into insanity.

  • PTate in MN on November 06, 2012 12:12 AM:

    A nice smack-down of Peggy, thanks. What extraordinarly self-infatuated drivel she writes.

  • jhm on November 06, 2012 8:09 AM:

    Ed, you sure earn your keep by accepting repeated direct exposure to Ms. Noonan. I have to say that reading your reaction to her almost makes it worth knowing that she inhabits such a position in the opinion firmament.

    After consulting you doctor to discuss possible ill effects, perhaps you could give Mr. Friedman the same treatment.

  • bluestatedon on November 06, 2012 9:17 AM:

    I'm not an optimistic person by nature, but when Peggy Noonan is gibbering about how many Romney yard signs she's seeing in her undoubtedly heavily Republican neighborhood, I can't help but feel pretty good.

  • mrgavel on November 06, 2012 11:23 AM:

    Noonan's comments about yard signs reminds me of a comment made to me by the late Don Pease, Congressman from Ohio's 13th District. He once told me that there is the inside campaign and the outside campaign. The outside campaign are things like yard signs, billboards, newspaper ads. The inside campaign are things like phone banks, direct mail, door to door, and gotv. You do the outside campaign things for your supporters' morale and you do the inside things to win the election. Pease, by the way, served as a member of the Ohio House, the Ohio Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives, losing only one election in his career.

  • Tired Liberal on November 06, 2012 12:27 PM:

    I think Noonan just admitted that Romney needs to steal the election if he is to win.