Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Personal Aside: More Bitterness About Being Neglected from Peggy Noonan.
Not long ago I wrote about Peggy Noonan, the all-American Irish Catholic ex-Democrat wordsmith for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush who took a leave of absence as Op Ed columnist for The Wall Street Journal to campaign for George W. in 2004. I got the idea then that she was trying for a slot on This Week on ABC-TV to replace Cokie Roberts. In the estimation of the Establishment punditocracy if one is to hold down a conservative chair he should have a healthy, wide streak of liberalism to be palatable. George Will nailed down his permanent seat by coming out against the Iraq War and dismissing GOP over-concern with social issuescontradicting two earlier views he expressed. Bill Kristol used to be on ABC but got canned because he was too pro-Bush (and is now on Fox). Noonan seems to be making a pact with herself that shell praise other Democratic presidential candidates except Hillary Clinton (about whom she wrote a catty book last year: cant go so far as to contradict a book that was on the New York Times best-seller list).
Earlier this monthOctober 6--Peggy played up Barack Obama ([he] has a great thinking look Mr. Obama often seems to be thinking when he speaks, too, and this comes as a relief, in comparison, say, to Hillary Clinton and President Bush both of whom often seem to be trying to remember the answer theyd agreed upon with staff. Whats the phrase we use about education? Hit Search Function. Hit Open. Right-click. Equity in education is essential, Tim
Turning to Joe Biden she gushed: Joe Biden used to seem mildly giddy, vaikn but in a small way, not a big and interesting way .But it has been 35 years since he a became a figure in Washington and in the past few years in particular he has been ahead of his peers on Iraqahead with warnings, ahead with tripartite thinking, ahead with a seriousness and sobriety about the fix were in. He is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and hes been reading daily threat reports for a long time. He is impressive. Why dont the Democrats notice?
Then once more with feeling to that old liberal warhorse Chris Dodd: the head of the Senate Banking committee and nothing if not sophisticated. In the post 9/11 world sophisticated is not so bad. Hes been in the Senate 27 years. In earlier years his thinking on government, his assumptions about what can and should be expected from it, veered from the utopian to the world-weary and were sometimes both at once. .l But if you listen to him and watch him in debate, you might legitimately conclude this is a candidate who understands how it all works and what time it is. Hes one of the grown-ups. Anybody notice?
Last Saturday on October 13 came another column that crucified the last White House director of communications who is now on the speech circuit, Dan Bartlett. What did Bartlett do? Helped steer a president to a sundered base, a flattened party and some of the lowest approval ratings since polling began. Pardon me? Bartlett did all these things? Didnt George W. Bushs decision on Iraqwhich others than Bartlett executedprove to be the culprit? The culprit which proved to be unpopular even though it is unproven that the decision was a bad idea since we have not had a serious terrorist attack on these shores since?
Now we seem to be getting to the nub of Peggys problem. The Bush people dont seem to spend much time on loyalty to the party per se, only to their guy. Hmmm. Where did Bush turn disloyal to his party. Or was Peggys resume in the White House for yet another job and she wasnt picked up? Who, after all, is looking out for the Republican nominees, for the group of them? Is that Bushs job? Earlier she praises Dwight Eisenhower. The self-same Ike who said when Nixon was running for president, if you give me a week Ill think of an important idea he submitted.
Moving closer to the key itch that Peggy wants somebody to scratch: Why, for example, are they forced into debates that seem almost designed to diminish them? Huh? What does that mean? Is that Bushs fault? Ah now we focus more closely: Having as moderator a preening cable jockey does nothing to enhance their stature. It is a recipe for sadness. Who is the cable jockey shes thinking of? Chris Matthews, on whose show she used to be featured as commentator.
Why dont the Republican campaigns try to get moderators of calm stature? Ted Koppel, for one is an old-school broadcaster; he makes you look classy because hes classy; he lends it to you as he asks you questions. What does Chris Matthews lend?
And look whom she recommends: Why not Keith Olbermann? Or Al Franken? Of course this is said in ironyKeith Olbermann is so hotly anti-Bush that were the president to say the sky is blue, Olbermann would insist it is green. And Al Franken is the unfunny satirist, formerly on Saturday Night Live who is running for the U. S. Senate in Minnesota against Norm Coleman. Methinks somebody forgot to ask Peggy Noonan to moderate.
Then there is the odd complaint: The GOP challengers, no matter how they feel about Mr. Bush, cant knock him because that would infuriate the presidents 20% in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere. Ive watched all the debates and I dont see remotely that any of the presidential candidates have larded praise on Bushas youd think some of them would with the surge coming on and the economy roaring along. There is something to be said for an electorate that doesnt relish a president wanna-be stabbing an incumbent of his own party no matter how unpopular the president is. Remember when Adlai Stevenson lost control of himself and asked voters to send him to Washington to clean up the mess there? That was Harry Trumans mess. Stevenson lost the miniscule percentage of Democrats who still stood by Truman. Remember when Al Gore refused to invite Bill Clinton to campaign for him? Did it help him? I think not.
But, shes right to this extent: The GOP should have found someone better than that clown Matthews who interjected his own views as a response to an answer from one of the candidates. And to be brutally honest, I think the Republicans could have done far worse than asking Peggy Noonan to host. Ted Koppel? Oh, all right. Probably one of the best interrogators would have been Michael Barone than whom few have a better grasp of historicity.
But the clue to Peggys discomfiture is not that Bush has been ignobly inconsiderate of the Republican presidential candidates who want to succeed him it is not that the GOP erred in forgetting about Ted Koppel (I dont think it did). Its that somebody forgot to hire Peggy for somethingbe it White House Communications Director (thats what I think it is: Ed Gillespie was chosen to substitute for Bartlett) and that other weekend panel seats are opening upfor an attractive female who is independent in attitude.