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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Why Peggy Noonan is Irrelevant at Best, and at Worst, a Distraction

 

"Obama" at Debate I on October 3, 2012/Reuters
 

We’ve seen the real Peggy Noonan during all the years of observing her pull her punches


By Nicholas Stix

Talent is a terrible thing to waste. Peggy Noonan is a graceful stylist, but it does her little good, because she goes along, to get along. The nastiest epithet I can think to call her is a Republican writer.

Literary style without integrity is worthless. Nicholas Lemann is a socialist with a lovely writing style. That combination gave us his beautifully written travesty on the SAT, The Big Test.

Republicans have been saying for three years now that “Obama” is “incompetent.” He’s not incompetent. He won an election illegally, with the plan of destroying America. In that regard, he’s done a competent job. That’s not the stuff of incompetence, but of evil.

Contra Noonan, “Obama” didn’t refuse to negotiate with the GOP leadership out of incompetence, but because he had no intention of reaching any compromise.

America got to see the real “Obama” in March, 2008, when it saw video highlights of his black supremacist preacher, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and WND quoted from the credo of James Cone, the founder of BLT (that’s not bacon, lettuce, and tomato, but Black Liberation Theology, of which “Obama” is a devotee):

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill gods who do not belong to the black community.

… Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.
Whites have seen “the real Obama” many times since.

I wrote about the real Obama back in the summer of 2004 (here and here), though I didn’t yet know then that Black Liberation Theology was a genocidal movement, because when James Cone had his two main tracts reissued 20 years after their original publication, he censored them, removing the explicitly genocidal statements, like the one quoted above.

But “Obama” had still left no doubt that he was racist to the bone, a fake Christian, and a compulsive liar such as to put Bill Clinton to shame.

So, why didn’t the general public know about “Obama”? Because people like Peggy Noonan, with readerships in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, didn’t do their job, and expose him. Republican writers.

* * *
DECLARATIONS
Noonan: When Americans Saw the Real Obama
• By Peggy Noonan
• Updated October 26, 2012, 6:59 p.m. ET
Why the Denver debate changed everything.
Wall Street Journal
• Comments (2249)

We all say Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. But it's all still Denver, Denver, and the mystery that maybe isn't a mystery at all.

If Cincinnati and Lake County go for Mitt Romney on Nov. 6 it will be because of what happened in Denver on Oct. 3. If Barack Obama barely scrapes through, if there's a bloody and prolonged recount, it too will be because of Denver.

Nothing echoes out like that debate. It was the moment that allowed Mr. Romney to break through, that allowed dismay with the incumbent to coalesce, that allowed voters to consider the alternative. What the debate did to the president is what the Yankees' 0-4 series against the Tigers did at least momentarily, to the team's relationship with their city. "Dear Yankees, We don't date losers. Signed, New Yorkers" read the Post's headline.

America doesn't date losers either.

Why was the first debate so toxic for the president? Because the one thing he couldn't do if he was going to win the election is let all the pent-up resentment toward him erupt.

Americans had gotten used to him as The President. Whatever his policy choices, whatever general direction he seemed to put in place he was The President, a man who had gotten there through natural gifts and what all politicians need, good fortune.

What he couldn't do was present himself, when everyone was looking, as smaller than you thought. Petulant, put upon, above it all, full of himself. He couldn't afford to make himself look less impressive than the challenger in terms of command, grasp of facts, size.

But that's what he did.

And in some utterly new way the president was revealed, exposed. All the people whose job it is to surround and explain him, to act as his buffers and protectors—they weren't there. It was him on the stage, alone with a competitor. He didn't have a teleprompter, and so his failure seemed to underscore the cliché that the prompter is a kind of umbilical cord for him, something that provides nourishment, the thing he needs to sound good. He is not by any means a stupid man but he has become a boring one; he drones, he is predictable, it's never new. The teleprompter adds substance, or at least safety.

***
A great and assumed question, the one that's still floating out there, is what exactly happened when Mr. Obama did himself in? What led to it?

Was it the catastrophic execution of an arguably sound strategy? Perhaps the idea was to show the president was so unimpressed by his challenger that he could coolly keep him at bay by not engaging.

Maybe Mr. Obama's handlers advised: "The American people aren't impressed by this flip-flopping, outsourcing plutocrat, and you will deepen your bond with the American people, Mr. President, by expressing in your bearing, through your manner and language, how unimpressed you are, too." So he sat back and let Mr. Romney come forward. But Mr. Romney was poised, knowledgeable, presidential. It was a mistake to let that come forward!

Peggy Noonan's Blog
Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.

Was it the catastrophic execution of a truly bad strategy? Maybe they assumed the election was already pretty much in the bag, don't sweat it, just be your glitteringly brilliant self and let Duncan the Wonder Horse go out there and turn people off. But nothing was in the bag. The sheer number of people who watched—a historic 70 million—suggests a lot of voters were still making up their minds.

Maybe the president himself didn't think he could possibly be beaten because he's so beloved. Presidents are always given good news, to keep their spirits up. The poll numbers he'd been seeing, the get-out-the-vote reports, the extraordinary Internet effort to connect with every lonely person in America, which is a lot of persons—maybe everything he was hearing left him thinking his position was impregnable.

But maybe these questions are all off. Maybe what happened isn't a mystery at all.

That, anyway, is the view expressed this week by a member of the U.S. Senate who served there with Mr Obama and has met with him in the White House. People back home, he said, sometimes wonder what happened with the president in the debate. The senator said, I paraphrase: I sort of have to tell them that it wasn't a miscalculation or a weird moment. I tell them: I know him, and that was him. That guy on the stage, that's the real Obama.

***
Which gets us to Bob Woodward's "The Price of Politics," published last month. The portrait it contains of Mr. Obama—of a president who is at once over his head, out of his depth and wholly unaware of the fact—hasn't received the attention it deserves.

Throughout the book, which is a journalistic history of the president's key economic negotiations with Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama is portrayed as having the appearance and presentation of an academic or intellectual while being strangely clueless in his reading of political situations and dynamics. He is bad at negotiating—in fact doesn't know how. His confidence is consistently greater than his acumen, his arrogance greater than his grasp.

He misread his Republican opponents from day one. If he had been large-spirited and conciliatory he would have effectively undercut them, and kept them from uniting. (If he'd been large-spirited with Mr. Romney, he would have undercut him, too.) Instead he was toughly partisan, he shut them out, and positions hardened. In time Republicans came to think he doesn't really listen, doesn't really hear. So did some Democrats.

Business leaders and mighty CEOs felt patronized: After inviting them to meet with him, the president read from a teleprompter and included the press. They felt like "window dressing." One spoke of Obama's surface polish and essential remoteness. In negotiation he did not cajole, seduce, muscle or win sympathy. He instructed.

He claimed deep understanding of his adversaries and their motives but was often incorrect. He told staffers that John Boehner, one of 11 children of a small-town bar owner, was a "country club Republican." He was often patronizing, which in the old and accomplished is irritating but in the young and inexperienced is infuriating. "Boehner said he hated going down to the White House to listen to what amounted to presidential lectures," Mr. Woodward writes.

Mr. Obama's was a White House that had—and showed—no respect for trying to negotiate with other Republicans. Through it all he was confident—"Eric, don't call my bluff"—because he believed, as did his staff, that his talents would save the day.

They saved nothing. Washington became immobilized.

Mr. Woodward's portrait of the president is not precisely new—it has been drawn in other ways in other accounts, and has been a staple of D.C. gossip for three years now—but it is vivid and believable. And there's probably a direct line between that portrait and the Obama seen in the first debate. Maybe that's what made it so indelible, and such an arc-changer.

People saw for the first time an Obama they may have heard about on radio or in a newspaper but had never seen.

They didn't see some odd version of the president. They saw the president.

And they didn't like what they saw, and that would linger.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Women start behaving like Peggy Noonan when they are allowed to place their allegiance to their own sex over that of their allegiance to their own group. As a result of male weakness and tolerance of the situation, she is allowed to adopt a permanent position of triangulation - she treats Obama as legitimate because then she can entertain him as a viable alternative to her in-group (very expansively considered) male leadership option embodied in Romney. She can use the specter of Obama to negotiate "a better deal" from in-group men like Romney - a better deal to women basically comes down to being treated better than their grandmothers while jeopardizing the future of the white race by having as few children as possible. Regarding your hope that she would exhibit integrity when writing - she is - she is being faithful to her sex! She probably secretly believes that her having this job as pundit is an historical aberration and opportunities like that will disappear when men come to their senses and put women back in their place.