Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What Does Peggy Noonan Know About Sarah Palin?

I often enjoy reading Peggy Noonan's commentaries, but I don't normally post her essays because ... well, sometimes they seem carbon-dated from the Reagan years, with all due respect.

It's not that her ideas are suspect - indeed, Noonan's offfered some of the most incisive analyses on
the immediacy of immigration reform back in 2006. It's just that when I read Noonan I feel like Tip O'Neill's the Speaker of the House, and not Nancy Pelosi.

This is not ageism, by the way. Politics is more partisan nowadays, and sometimes I wonder if Noonan believes shes
still back writing speeches for the Gipper. She's got an Irish gentility that's wonderful, but that style appears more at home at the Weekend Journal page at WSJ than out among the rough and tumble of the blogosphere.

Again, don't get me wrong. I like Noonan. I am perplexed, though, with
her hot-mic comments today suggesting John McCain's toast with his selection of Sarah Palin as running mate.

The video's
here, but check the transcript as well:
Chuck Todd: Mike Murphy, lots of free advice, we'll see if Steve Schmidt and the boys were watching. We'll find out on your blackberry. Tonight voters will get their chance to hear from Sarah Palin and she will get the chance to show voters she's the right woman for the job Up next, one man who's already convinced and he'll us why Gov. Jon Huntsman.
(cut away)

Peggy Noonan: Yeah.

Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys -- this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it's not gonna work. And --

PN: It's over.

MM: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

CT: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

PN: Saw Kay this morning.

CT: Yeah, she's never looked comfortable about this --

MM: They're all bummed out.

CT: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

PN: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives --

CT: Yeah they went to a narrative.

MM: I totally agree.

PN: Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at, they blow it.

MM: You know what's really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism, and this is cynical.

CT: This is cynical, and as you called it, gimmicky.

MM: Yeah.
Interestingly, almost inexplicably, Noonan's got an essay today arguing that John McCain and Sarah Palin spell trouble for the American left.

So why her hot-mic contra analysis?
Just pundits being pundits?

Perhaps, but the election's far from "over" just because of some controversy surrounding Palin's appointment as vice-presidential running mate. We'll know more tonight, of course, but I'm confident from watching Palin last Friday, and given the intervening media attention dominating the weekend's political cycle, that the Alaska Governor's going to give a powerful statement on the historic importance of her candidacy, combined with a ringing defense of both her families traditional values and personal decision-making.

Thomas Lifson's essay, "
Sarah Palin and the Two Americas," offered one the best analyses of the Palin personality I've seen yet:

She has the rarest of qualities: authenticity. Media and Beltway types can't fathom what that is. It goes right over their heads. Not even on the radar screen. Her multiple facets -- beauty queen, moose hunter, mother, member of an Assembly of God Church, and ferocious reformer of corrupt politics may baffle sophisticates, but ordinary Americans see all the pieces fitting together, and they recognize a type of person they know and love.

Think of Marge Gunderson, the fictional chief of police of Brainerd, Minnesota in the Oscar-winning movie Fargo, taken as a comic send-up by the swells in New York and Hollywood, with her Midwestern twang (shared by Sarah Palin), funny hat, and kitsch-artist husband. The kind of woman who probably rides snowmobiles with her husband, for crying out loud. Yet in the end, Marge Gunderson solved the murder despite the sneers of her betters in the Big City (Minneapolis), and won the hearts of movie audiences. Americans like their heroines full of common sense and spunk.

Sarah Palin is the ultimate All-American Girl, beautiful but not glamorous, powerful but unpretentious, high-powered but down-to-earth, a reformer who speaks up while others cower in fear of rocking the boat. Like Ronald Reagan, she can reach right through the television camera into people's minds and hearts. We recognize one of us.

The left, so wrapped in artifice and fakery, are driven crazy by this. Her behavior appears bizarre, inexplicable. In their minds, she is a disaster and they pretend to be gleeful, asking when McCain will dump her. All while panicking, because they can see the energized GOP base and the failure of Barack Obama to garner the ten-to-fifteen point post-convention bounce to be expected after his speech before the multimillion-dollar Greek temple set and fireworks at Invesco Field only 5 days ago. Those who planned the classical Greek theatrical stage never for second contemplated the possibility of a deus ex machina named Sarah.
Neither has Peggy Noonan, unfortunately.