I first came to appreciate and admire her as the wordsmith who helped articulate the message of the Reagan Revolution when she served as the Republican President’s speech writer. Her ability to capture the spirit and intentions of Ronald Reagan’s vision, in a way that allowed him to better capture our attention and inspire our actions, made me realize the important role it plays in politics and attracted my own attention to the art and craft of speech writing.
With her attractive appearance, stylish and dignified attire, grammatical perfection, dry, but creative wit, and superior intellect, Peggy Noonan is a quintessential bon vivant of culture and class. If you didn’t like her, you might think her pretentious and stuck up. I don’t know her personally so I don’t know if she is, but if that is the case, it could be because truth be told, she has the right to be stuck up. She is a special lady. At least that is how I felt about her until last year when, out of the blue, she stuck her nose in the air and endorsed Barack Obama for President.
Not a fan of John McCain, I could easily understand her showing a lack of support for the Republican Presidential nominee. He was no Ronald Reagan. But her endorsement of Barack Obama took me back. It was a surprising move that she made based upon his personal background and because, in her own words, “his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief.” To say the least, I disagreed and still do. I was so taken back by her remarks that my opinion of her began to change. I began to see her as an elitist because I could not help but feel that she wastrying to just jump into the New York Times, culturally elite, bandwagon. I felt she wanted to be one of “them”, a part of the “in” crowd.
I will always question her reasons for what she did, but I still do appreciate her past contribution and efforts to a conservative that she was once on the frontline of. I feel everyone makes some mistakes. But after reading Mrs. Noonan’s remarks in the Wall Street Journal I have begun to wonder if she is beginning to think twice about her once glowing opinion of President Obama.
Take the time to consider her latest insightful gem. In typical fashion Noonan will impress and convince you of a point that, up till now, you may not have realized.
** I particulary like the concurring opinion has with me about it being clear that President Obama and his Administration is not confident about their decisions. It is a point that I recently made in a post related to statements made by former Vice President Dick Cheney this past Wednesday. She also points to a lack of support that the Preswident has based, on some of the same points that I make in a previous about the the President’s third quarter approval ratings.
- OPINION: DECLARATIONS
- OCTOBER 23, 2009, 5:54 P.M. ET
It’s His Rubble Now
And the American people want him to fix it.
By PEGGY NOONAN
Mr. Bush surely knew from the moment he put the bullhorn down that he would be judged on everything that followed. And he has been. Early on, the American people rallied to his support, but Americans are practical people. They will support a leader when there is trouble, but there’s an unspoken demand, or rather bargain: We’re behind you, now fix this, it’s yours.
President Obama, in office a month longer than Bush was when 9/11 hit, now owns his presidency. Does he know it? He too stands on rubble, figuratively speaking—a collapsed economy, high and growing unemployment, two wars. Everyone knows what he’s standing on. You can almost see the smoke rising around him. He’s got a bullhorn in his hand every day.
It’s his now. He gets the credit and the blame. How do we know this? The American people are telling him. You can see it in the polls. That’s what his falling poll numbers are about. “It’s been almost a year, you own this. Fix it.”
The president doesn’t seem to like this moment. Who would? He and his men and women have returned to referring to what they “inherited.” And what they inherited was, truly, terrible: again, a severe economic crisis and two wars. But their recent return to this theme is unbecoming. Worse, it is politically unpersuasive. It sounds defensive, like a dodge.
The president said last week, at a San Francisco fund-raiser, that he’s busy with a “mop,” “cleaning up somebody else’s mess,” and he doesn’t enjoy “somebody sitting back and saying, ‘You’re not holding the mop the right way.'” Later, in New Orleans, he groused that reporters are always asking “Why haven’t you solved world hunger yet?” His surrogates and aides, in appearances and talk shows, have taken to remembering, sometimes at great length, the dire straits we were in when the presidency began.
This is not a sign of confidence. Nor were the president’s comments to a New York fund-raiser this week. Democrats, he said to the Democratic audience, are “an opinionated bunch.” They always have a lot of thoughts and views. Republicans, on the other hand—”the other side”—aren’t really big on independent thinking. “They just kinda sometimes do what they’re told. Democrats, y’all thinkin’ for yourselves.” It is never a good sign when the president gets folksy, dropping his g’s, because he is by nature not a folksy g-dropper but a coolly calibrating intellectual who is always trying to guess, as most politicians do, what normal people think. When Mr. Obama gets folksy he isn’t narrowing his distance from his audience but underlining it. He shouldn’t do this.
But the point on the We Inherited a Terrible Situation and It’s Not Our Fault argument is, again, that it is worse than unbecoming. It is unpersuasive.
How do we know this? Through the polls. In all of the major surveys, the president’s popularity has gone down the past few months. A Gallup Daily Tracking Poll out this week reported Mr. Obama’s job approval dropped nine points during the third quarter of this year, that is between July 1 and Sept. 30, when it fell from 62% to 53%. It was the biggest such drop Gallup has ever measured for an elected president during the same period of his term. A Fox News poll out Thursday showed support for the president’s policies falling below 50% for the first time. Ominously for him, independents are peeling off. In 2006 and 2008 independents looked like Democrats. They were angry and frustrated by the wars, they sought to rebuke the Bush White House. Now those independents look like Republicans. They worry about joblessness, debts and deficits.
The White House sees the falling support. Thus the reminder: We faced an insuperable challenge, we’re mopping up somebody else’s mess.
The Democratic Party too sees the falling support, and is misunderstanding it. The great question they debated last week was whether the president is tough enough: Does he come across as too weak? It is true, as the cliché has it, that it’s helpful for a president to be both revered and feared. But this president is not weak, that’s not his problem. He willed himself into the presidency with an adroit reading of the lay of the land, brought together and dominated all the constituent pieces of victory, showed and shows impressive self-discipline, seems in general to stick to a course once he’s chosen it, though arguably especially when he’s wrong. His decision to let Congress write a health-care bill may yield at least the appearance of victory. And if Mr. Obama isn’t twisting arms like LBJ, and then giving just an extra little jerk to snap the rotator cuff just for fun, the case can be made that day by day he’s moving the Democrats of Congress in the historic direction he desires. All his adult life he’s played the long game, which takes patience and skill.
The problem isn’t his personality, it’s his policies. His problem isn’t what George W. Bush left but what he himself has done. It is a problem of political judgment, of putting forward bills that were deeply flawed or off-point. Bailouts, the stimulus package, cap-and-trade; turning to health care at the exact moment in history when his countrymen were turning their concerns to the economy, joblessness, debt and deficits—all of these reflect a misreading of the political terrain. They are matters of political judgment, not personality. (Republicans would best heed this as they gear up for 2010: Don’t hit him, hit his policies. That’s where the break with the people is occurring.)
The result of all this is flagging public support, a drop in the polls, and independents peeling off.
In this atmosphere, with these dynamics, Mr. Obama’s excuse-begging and defensiveness won’t work.
Everyone knows he was handed horror. They want him to fix it.
At some point, you own your presidency. At some point it’s your rubble. At some point the American people tell you it’s yours. The polls now, with the presidential approval numbers going down and the disapproval numbers going up: That’s the American people telling him.