Friday, October 03, 2008

Peggy Noonan Whines about Being Wrong

One of the interesting elements of this campaign has been the poor judgment of some of the “thinking” people among conservatives. They have a difficult time admitting they were wrong. They find reasons to show they were right all along even though their predictions failed.

Take Peggy Noonan. She declares that Sarah Palin is a person of action not of thought. That’s why Palin succeeded. Palin is as inadequate as Noonan originally thought, but somehow Palin manages to overcome that by being a person “of action.”

The whole debate was about Sarah Palin. She is not a person of thought but of action. Interviews are about thinking, about reflecting, marshaling data and integrating it into an answer. Debates are more active, more propelled—they are thrust and parry. They are for campaigners. She is a campaigner. Her syntax did not hold, but her magnetism did. At one point she literally winked at the nation.

Huh? Palin’s magnetism and ability to wink won the day? Maybe Noonan forgets that Ronald Reagan was also thought to be an idiot as a thinker and only good because of his magnetism and ability to wink and smile at the American people.

Noonan’s distinction between brilliant action and brilliant thought is bankrupt. I suppose there is a chance that someone can continually come up with actions not thought out that turn out brilliant. But, it’s along the line of thinking monkeys in a room with typewriters can come up with a Shakespearean play.

Consider some of the great men of action in American history: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, George Patton, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan. Were they really not people of thought? Success involves showing your thinking through action.

Noonan failed. She did not see the brilliance in Sarah Palin. Noonan’s predictions were woefully wrong. And what is her response? Whining that any one would criticize her:

We saw this week, too, a turn in the McCain campaign's response to criticisms of Mrs. Palin. I find obnoxious the political game in which if you expressed doubts about the vice presidential nominee, or criticized her, you were treated as if you were knocking the real America—small towns, sound values. "It's time that normal Joe Six-Pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency," Mrs. Palin told talk-show host Hugh Hewitt. This left me trying to imagine Abe Lincoln saying he represents "backwoods types," or FDR announcing that the fading New York aristocracy deserves another moment in the sun. I'm not sure the McCain campaign is aware of it—it's possible they are—but this is subtly divisive.

I don’t know about Noonan’s not being in touch with real people, but she is not in touch with reality. And her history is pretty poor too. Maybe she doesn’t remember that the Honest Abe, rail splitter, born in a log cabin image was a major part of Lincoln’s campaign.

My response to criticisms of Gov. Palin is that if they turn out wrong, the people who made them did some poor thinking in making them and poor acting in putting them out for public consumption. Those who don’t have the integrity to admit when their insights and predictions have proved wrong, have both thinking and acting problems. I feel sorry for Peggy Noonan.

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