Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Guy Should Be Writing at the Wall Street Journal Instead of Peggy Noonan

Pejman Yousefzadeh takes on Peggy Noonan's recent column on Rumsfeld's memoir. (or here if you can't get through WSJ's pay wall to see how precisely Yousefzadeh parodies Noonan)

Wow! This guy can write. And think. And create zingers. Some examples:
"She has been a columnist since the paleolithic era, amusing herself with the belief that she has been in the innermost councils."
. . .
"When she doesn’t do this, when she merely asserts, defends and rhapsodizes, you feel overwhelmed, again, by the terrible thought that there was no overall, overarching strategic thinking. There is only a second-rate mind busily, inconsequentially at work."
. . .
". . . but Noonan doesn’t bother to dig out any Rumsfeldian memos she thinks were stupid, since Rumsfeld’s book 'overwhelm[s] [her] with wordage, with dates and supposed data, [and bores her] into submission, and at the end she’s going to throw up her hands and shout, 'Pudding!' ' Or something. Anyway, for Noonan, thinking is hard."
. . .
"Noonan believes that most memos prove nothing. She is disturbed that so many Bush-era memoirs rely so heavily on them. Noonan won’t tell us which ones, or why a written document can’t prove anything, or why it is disturbing that a memoir might rely on archival material to back up the claims found within the memoir. But she can assert like no one’s business.

"But the terrible thing about the Noonan column, and there is no polite way to say this, is the half-baked nature of the thinking within it. The quality of analysis and understanding of history is so mediocre, so insufficient to the moment."
. . .
"From that moment—the moment [Bin Laden] escaped his apparent hideout in Tora Bora and went on to make his sneering speeches and send them out to the world—from that moment everything about the Afghanistan war became unclear to people like Noonan, who train their myopic eyes upon a single person, rather than training them upon a terrorist organization, causing life outside the world of 'pudding!' to become unfocused, murky and confused. Noonan’s focus shifted, she took her eye off the facts, and her column is now what it is."
. . .
"Needless to say 'there were numerous operational details,' all of which likely 'overwhelm[s] [Noonan] with wordage, with dates and supposed data, [and bores her] into submission, and at the end she’s going to throw up her hands and shout, 'Pudding!' ' So she won’t talk about what those operational details were, and why they might have been important. And of course, in a typical Noonanian touch, she says that Rumsfeld later learned CIA operatives on the ground had asked for help, but 'I never received such a request from either Franks or Tenet and cannot imagine denying it if I had.' Noonan can. She likely can also imagine unicorns, leprechauns with pots of gold, and the Cubs winning the World Series in at the end of the 2011 baseball season, none of which imply that unicorns, leprechauns with pots of gold, and/or a giant tickertape victory parade down Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue in October or November of this year are in the offing."
. . .
"Osama bin Laden was not 'one man on the run,' in Noonan’s eyes. Except, you know, he was. And still is–unless he is dead. He is the man who did 9/11, which does not change the fact that he was, and still is 'one man on the run,' assuming that he is not dead. He had just killed almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, in a field in Pennsylvania. He’s the reason people held hands and jumped off the buildings. He’s the reason the towers groaned to the ground. He also had lots of people helping him, people Noonan ignores. Lots of those people got captured or killed, but Noonan believes that war is a chess game, and that it doesn’t matter if you capture all of the pawns, the rooks, the knights, the bishops, and the queen so long as the king is still on the chess board (even if he is deprived of material support). Thus, the war effort was a complete catastrophe in her myopic, pudding-craving eyes.

"It is the great scandal of the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page that it employs Peggy Noonan. It is the shame of this column that Peggy Noonan lacks the brains to see it, or the guts to admit it."
Unfortunately, I have to agree with Yousefzadeh. One had questions before about Noonan's odd statements. But, since Noonan started screeching at Sarah Palin, all the while touting her book Patriotic Grace which urged civility and graciousness toward political opponents, Noonan has clarified that she is "a second-rate mind busily, inconsequentially at work."

One of the strange twists of fate was that Noonan only foresaw Obama as arousing conservative ire. So, Patriotic Grace was running with the zeitgeist in urging conservatives to be cool and kind toward political opponents, especially the young, history-making first black president.

All was going so well. Then young, first woman governor of Alaska, first female GOP presidential ticket candidate Sarah Palin came along. What was God doing? Playing dice with the universe? Palin provoked flustered anger and at times incoherent rage among the "sweetness and light" conservative pundit set. No patriotic grace to Palin was possible by such as Noonan.

Who knows how long Noonan has been losing the struggle with believing one thing and saying another or if she has just been great at flimflamming for a couple of decades living off Ronald Reagan's reputation. It's certainly not worth the effort to do an in depth study on the train wreck that Noonan has become.

As Noonan fades, it's far better to turn to reading James Taranto, Daniel Henninger and William McGurn, and hope WSJ eventually picks up someone like Yousefzadeh.

For another well written take down, read Victoria Coates on Noonan's Rumsfeld column and pundit demise.

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