Political Animal


April 26, 2013 10:11 AM The Way We Were

By Ed Kilgore

I’ve been bravely ignoring Peggy Noonan’s weekly columns and occasional blogs in the Wall Street Journal for a while now, on grounds that it’s impossible to add much to her continuing descent into self-parody. But I have to break the habit briefly today, if only to honor the many, many journalists from every point of view who are unemployed or toiling in obscurity while Ms. Noonan occupies one of the more valuable and visible spaces in the public arena with insights like this one:

This week something changed. George W. Bush is back, for the unveiling of his presidential library. His numbers are dramatically up. You know why? Because he’s the farthest thing from Barack Obama.
Obama fatigue has opened the way to Bush affection.

Yes, Noonan attended the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, where someone must have thrown her a life jacket to keep her from drowning in bathos:

George W. Bush was emotional: “In the end, leaders are defined by the convictions they hold… . My deepest conviction … is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom. I believe that freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart.” He then announced that on Saturday he would personally invade Syria. Ha, kidding. It was standard Bush rhetoric and, in its way, a defiant pushing back against critics of his invasions and attempts to nation-build. Who isn’t for more freedom? But that bright, shining impulse, that very American impulse, must be followed by steely-eyed calculation. At the end Mr. Bush wept, and not only because the Bush men are weepers but because he means every word of what he says, and because he loves his country, and was moved. John Boehner weeps too when he speaks about what America means to him. You know why they do that? Because their hearts are engaged. And really, that’s not the worst thing.

No it’s not. The worst thing is the conclusion of Noonan’s column:

Back to the point. What was nice was that all of them—the Bush family, the Carters and Clintons—seemed like the old days. “The way we were.” They were full of endurance, stamina, effort. Also flaws, frailty, mess. But they weren’t … creepy.
Anyway, onward to Obama fatigue, and the Democratic Party wrestling with what comes next. It’s not only the Republicans in a deep pit.

Gaze in awe.

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.


  • T2 on April 26, 2013 10:16 AM:

    before the WSJ editors got to it, "Also flaws, frailty, mess. But they werenít Ö creepy.", probably read "Also flaws, frailty, mess. But they werenít Ö Black."

  • Cookie on April 26, 2013 10:16 AM:

    "They way we were" when presidents were white.

  • ceilidth on April 26, 2013 10:18 AM:

    I've never been able to decide: deluded or dumber than dirt?

  • c u n d gulag on April 26, 2013 10:23 AM:

    And MY 'deepest conviction," President George W. Bush, is that you, your boss Dick, and the rest of the Cheney-Bush Crime family, be CONVICTED, and put in cells which are then welded shut, until you all die.

  • c u n d gulag on April 26, 2013 10:29 AM:

    Oh, and 'Peg-o'-my-fart,' you know what's really "creepy?"

    The fact that you're given a column, and asked to appear on TV shows, when everyone knows that you're suffering from a case of "Alcoholic Dementia" so bad, that it makes your beloved's, the love of your life, Ronald Reagan's Alzheimer's look a Jeopardy champ who was stumped by "The Daily Double" question.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 26, 2013 10:35 AM:

    "My deepest conviction Ö is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom."

    Wow. If that's W's "deepest conviction" I'd hate to hear what his not-so-deep convictions are (toilet paper should roll overhand???). A second grader could have come up with that. And, Noonan, of course, is just bowled over with glassy-eyed admiration of this.

  • Lifelong Dem on April 26, 2013 10:35 AM:

    Critics of Bush's attempts to nation build would have included Candidate George W. Bush in his 2000 campaign. He was dead set against that there nation buildin' stuff, dad gum it.

    And I'm getting soooooo fatigued by hearing about Bush's numbers being up "dramatically." His numbers were so low they could NOT have gone down, but being up dramatically means they're still under 50% favorable. Jeebus!

  • kindness on April 26, 2013 10:36 AM:

    Where as the French Revolution went after the aristocracy I propose we have a new one here and go after the media, with an emphasis on the MSM.

    Guillotine anyone?

  • Blue Girl on April 26, 2013 10:46 AM:

    Yeah, they're all about "freedom" unless it's for women and involves reproductive choice. Then, not so much. Hypocrites.

  • Peter C on April 26, 2013 10:50 AM:

    "Itís not only the Republicans in a deep pit."

    No, they pulled the entire f'ing economy down with them and they've kept it in a death grip. Peggy and the media has watched it all, having been in the pit all along.

  • penalcolony on April 26, 2013 10:55 AM:

    "Gaze in awe" . . . upon the geisha who thinks herself a philosopher queen . . .

  • mrgavel on April 26, 2013 11:05 AM:

    When the Great Depression and WWII ended there was a consensus in the United States that the Federal government had a constructive role to play in the national economy. Although this consensus was frayed by Nixon, it was Reagan who began to really go after that idea. As a result of the efforts of Reagan, George W. Bush, and the radical GOP majority in the House and the equally radical minority in the Senate, that consensus is totally gone. This means that battles that the left felt were over, such as the need for Social Security, Medicare, etc., are back in play. What conservatives hate about Obama and the Affordable Care Act is that it is a repudiation of the conservative philosophy that government can't do anything constructive. In ways that Clinton and Carter didn't do, Obama has challenged that concept. The fact that is an African-American just adds to the bitterness of writers like Noonan.

  • Jim, FL on April 26, 2013 11:13 AM:

    I missed a memo, or a meme. When was it decided that Obama is "creepy"?

    "Itís not only the Republicans in a deep pit."
    Is this the post-Bush version of "Let us savor"?

  • martin on April 26, 2013 11:32 AM:

    Gaze in awe.

    God, no. That's what you're paid for;>

  • Anonymous on April 26, 2013 12:14 PM:

    "Critics of Bush's attempts to nation build would have included Candidate George W. Bush in his 2000 campaign. He was dead set against that there nation buildin' stuff, dad gum it."

    In fairness, Lifelong Dem, Candidate George W. Bush didn't say anything about nation wreckin'.

  • LL on April 26, 2013 12:20 PM:

    Can I get paid big bucks to write false, shallow, brainless dreck for a national audience? Who reads this shit and takes it seriously? Anyone?

    Noonan is a useful idiot for the 1%. She's been one for a long, LONG time. No surprise she continues in this role.

    I think what I like most is how a column like this one exposes just how shallow and idiotic she really is. Which might actually be useful to the rest of us.

    Bush affection. Who is the WORLD is she kidding?

  • Josef K on April 26, 2013 12:40 PM:

    Gaze in awe.

    YOU gaze in awe. I feel like I need to wash both my eyes in acid.

  • Epicurus on April 26, 2013 2:21 PM:

    "Drowning in bathos"?? More like a bottle of wine...yes, I love Peggy, too, because it's so much fun laughing at her. She's in very good, deluded company; see Gerson, Michael, Lowery, Rich, et al.

  • thebewilderness on April 26, 2013 3:09 PM:

    Makin' lemonade is hard work when all you have to work with are lemons.

  • E.Hatt-Swank on April 26, 2013 3:35 PM:

    "Gaze in awe", indeed. Please don't stop reading Noonan permanently: your takedowns are hilarious.

    Maybe Noonan and the White House Correspondents' Dinner actually serve a useful purpose after all ... the fact that they continue to occupy significant positions in D.C. function as a forceful reminder of how truly godawful the establishment press there really is. That's worth something, isn't it?