Ms.Noonan, Show Some Patriotic Grace!

Peggy Noonan has returned to her Palin-denigrating ways again. In a piece entitled, “Americans Vote for Maturity”, Noonan writes about the aftermath of the 2010 elections, what it means for both Democrats and Republicans, and what campaign strategies proved to be effective or ineffective in the recent elections. She also took aim at President Obama’s detachment and offers advice for both Democrats and Republicans. However, she saved her most pointed criticism and “advice”for Governor Palin.

Perhaps Noonan had a premonition about MSNBC’s impending suspension of Keith Olbermann, so she wanted to position herself as a potential guest host, as the first thing Noonan does is criticize Governor Palin for telling the truth (emphasis mine):

Conservatives talked a lot about Ronald Reagan this year, but they have to take him more to heart, because his example here is a guide. All this seemed lost last week on Sarah Palin, who called him, on Fox, “an actor.” She was defending her form of political celebrity—reality show, “Dancing With the Stars,” etc. This is how she did it: “Wasn’t Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn’t he in ‘Bedtime for Bonzo,’ Bozo, something? Ronald Reagan was an actor.”

As a biographer of President Reagan, one would think that Noonan knows that Ronald Reagan was indeed an actor. Did he later become more politically active? Did he later become Governor and President? Yes, but he was an actor. Governor Palin was not diminishing President Reagan’s accomplished political career. She was pointing to his well rounded life experiences that enabled him to connect with the American people even before he held political office.

Noonan then outlines Reagan’s career, while taking a slap at Governor Palin:

Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I’ll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president.

Allow me, if I may, to educate Ms. Noonan. Governor Palin is a wife, mother of five, and grandmother, who has a great impact on the American political landscape by currently unofficially leading a movement without a title. Sarah Palin was a journalist/fisherwoman who first got involved in the public arena as a concerned mom through the local PTA. She later was elected to the Wasilla City Council where she served for two terms. She then served as mayor of Wasilla for two terms and acted as the head of the Alaska council of mayors. Sarah Palin served as a commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission where she rooted out corruption in her own party. She later was elected to the Alaska governorship where she served through three legislative sessions. In these three years, she reduced spending by nearly 10% over her predecessor, reduced earmark requests by 80%, invested $5 billion dollars in savings, passed major ethics reform, and negotiated the largest private sector infrastructure project in North American history with the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.

Since stepping aside from office, she has challenged conservatives and has honed her speaking ability through speaking engagements ranging from businesspeople in Hong Kong to conservative leaders in Florida to pro-life advocates in the Midwest. She has supported this conservative movement that has swept the country helping to bring about a flip of the House, gains in the Senate, and complete upheavals in state government throughout the country. In essence,Governor Palin has done what President Reagan did when Noonan writes that Reagan “went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure.” Governor Palin has helped inspire a new brand of conservatism–Constitutional conservatism–a message that has often run in the face of both the GOP Establishment and the Democrats.

Noonan wraps this most recent recurrence of Palin Derrangement Syndrome with this nonsensical, unsupported argument:

The point is not “He was a great man and you are a nincompoop,” though that is true. The point is that Reagan’s career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn’t in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn’t in search of fame; he’d already lived a life, he was already well known, he’d accomplished things in the world.

Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can’t just bully them, you can’t just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.

Noonan loses her claim of “maturity” when she labels Governor Palin a “nincompoop”. Beyond that however, she seems to ignore Governor Palin’s focus, abilities, political accomplishments, and natural talents for connecting with everyday Americans. Noonan asserts that you have to be able to “bring people in and along”. This is what Reagan did when he went on the speaker’s circuit; this is where Reagan truly became Reagan–the Great Communicator. Reagan had a unique way of connecting with the American people, an ability that Governor Palin shares, and Noonan once saw that trait in Governor Palin following her 2008 Vice Presidential debate with Joe Biden:

There will never be another Ronald Reagan. Governor Palin, while she often speaks in glowing terms of President Reagan and espouses his political philosophy, does not claim to be the second coming of Reagan. However, there are those traits that extend beyond political ideology–courage and character–traits that both conservative leaders have. They are able to connect with people with their optimism and ability to articulate American exceptionalism.

In 2008, Peggy Noonan wrote a book entitled, Patriotic Grace. I would encourage Ms.Noonan to show some.

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