Friday, January 21

PEGGY NOONAN'S COMMENTS ON THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS DISAPPOINT

She's one of my favorite writers and observers of the political scene. I have a great deal of respect for her and an even greater admiration. And I think I'm correct in saying this: this is the first time I have taken issue with her observations.

In this column in "WSJ," she writes of President Bush's Inaugural Address yesterday:

It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike.

She writes that the body of the speech struck her as:

... the president's evolving thoughts on freedom in the world. Those thoughts seemed marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty.

While I was still trying to digest how she could fault the president, or anyone for that matter, for being immodest when it comes to MORALITY, she continued by defining "moralists" as being smitten with a:

... romantic longing to carry democracy and justice to foreign fields

That's right, Peggy, it was pure, unadulterated romanticism, unchecked by cold, objective reality, that sent thousands of American fighting men to the shores of Europe in two world wars to defeat Nazism and into the perilous seas of the Pacific to defeat Hirohito's fanaticism.

Then she waxes philosophical, no make that theological:

The world is not heaven.

Yet, the president, rendering unto God the things that are God's, rather than unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, irked Peggy even more:

The president's speech seemed rather heavenish
.

I guess from that adverb-restrained, altogether silly observation Ms. Noonan would no doubt take issue with this from Lincoln's First Inaugural Address:

The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Too angelic, right, Peggy? And, goodness, here's where she really gets her back up:

It was a God-drenched speech. God was invoked relentlessly.


Then surely Peggy Noonan would have taken issue with our country's first president, George Washington, who on the occassion of his First Inaugural Address was also overtaken by religious zeal:

Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally 'conspicuous' in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.


There you have it: three (3) references to God in just one paragraph! Oh, the slings and arrows...

But not avoiding hyperbole anymore than she eschewed putting the president over her knees, Noonan continued, relentlessly:

Ending tyranny in the world? ... this declaration, which is not wrong by any means, seemed to me to land somewhere between dreamy and disturbing.


Wonder if Ms. Noonan has similar issues with some of Bin Laden's manifestos? Or imagine how she must have suffered hearing these words of JFK's on a cold, wintry day in January, 1961:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge -- and more.


She concludes her unseemly (and so unlike her) hysteria by saying that the president's Second Inaugural Address was over the top and that the most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible.

She must have choked on her popcorn when she watched Braveheart.

Well, I simply didn't know until I had read (and re-read out of disbelief) her column today that the Peggy I have long admired must have been a political admirer of William Jefferson Clinton, for if any president ever confined himself to what was possible, rather than great causes, it was this man. The practitioner of the art of the possible -- the art of because I could -- was without a doubt the "Man From Hope." He inspired a Special Prosecutor, not a nation.

Seems that had Peggy Noonan been sworn in yesterday, she might have opened with:

We have nothing to fear but God Himself.