October 24th, 2009

Noonan and Obama: public and private selves

Peggy Noonan explains Obama’s recent falling approval ratings in the polls by saying that he owns his presidency now. Nine months into his term, people have stopped giving him the benefit of the doubt as a newbie, and are beginning to consider him responsible for what is happening on his watch.

It’s certainly not because Obama has stopped blaming Bush. That particular technique (his favorite) continues apace. But the public is less and less likely to buy it as time goes on, and I agree with Noonan that there’s been somewhat of a turning point lately.

Regarding Obama, Noonan herself is an interesting case. I’ve written about this earlier, here and most especially in the second half of this post. Although a Republican, and famous for being one of Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters (she also wrote for Bush the Elder), during the 2008 campaign Noonan wrote disapprovingly of Governor Palin, who was (in her words), an example of “a new vulgarization in American politics.”

If Palin was indeed vulgar (and I didn’t find her so), I submit that Noonan was ignoring her American history. There’s been a long strain of vulgarization in American politics, going back at least to Andrew Jackson. And who could forget Lyndon Johnson, his gall bladder, and his lifting his beagle by the ears? And that was just LBJ’s public self; the private one was a veritable model of vulgarity. But that’s not what made him a good or a bad president.

There are some sins even worse than vulgarity, as Noonan has apparently begun to notice (although she somehow failed to pay attention to subtle hints of real vulgarity in cool man Obama during the campaign, such as when he appeared to give Hillary the finger, as well as this brush-off gesture). Before the election and for some time after it, Noonan seemed under the seductive spell of Obama’s charm and silver tongue, as many wordsmiths were.

Recently she seems to be coming out of it, but slowly. I mention Noonan not only because she’s a prominent writer, but because I think she represents the feelings of a great many people who are just now beginning to wake up to a sense of the morning after. They don’t know exactly what’s wrong, but they feel it in their gut as they gaze across the pillow at this man they’ve wedded after such a short courtship: something is not right.

Two things especially struck me on reading Noonan’s recent piece. I agree entirely with this, and have noticed it myself:

Democrats, [Obama] 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.

Yes. And it’s not because Obama’s dropping his g’s is vulgar (I don’t find it so). It’s that it doesn’t ring true for him.

Except that, Peggy and other pundits, it’s time to stop giving Obama advice. Those who do so are still very far from understanding what the man is about. He is not interested in taking this sort of counsel because he has a different agenda than you think he does. And in addition, as I read him, I don’t even think he’s capable of major changes in his approach; unlike Bill Clinton, for example, he doesn’t appear to be a flexible person.

In her next paragraph, Noonan asks a parenthetical question:

But the statement that Republicans just do what they’re told was like his famous description of unhappy voters as people who “cling to guns or religion.” (What comes over him at fund-raisers?)

I think I can answer that one for you, Peggy. What comes over him? He relaxes (to the extent that he can relax in public) and becomes more his real self and less the manufactured public persona. The public persona is the one who mouths smooth and ingratiating platitudes, and is essentially a false self. Among friends and supporters at fund-raisers Obama’s bile comes out, his rage against the opposition and his belittling of it, and it’s not a pretty sight. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg of his internal partisanship and anger and resentment, I’m afraid.

Noonan continues:

The problem isn’t [Obama’s] personality, it’s his policies…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.

Noonan is correct here, as far as she goes. But she doesn’t go nearly far enough. Before her looms a chasm as large as the Grand Canyon. She’s poised on the edge and refuses to leap, and I don’t blame her. It’s dangerous to do so, and it’s cold and lonely here on the other side.

What Noonan is so far refusing to understand is that, although Obama is narcissistic and likes adulation, he’s not primarily interested in popularity—except as a tool to policy. Policy is paramount, and his goal is not to be responsive to what the American people want, nor to hear their actual concerns and then to shape policy around them. His goal is to tell them what they want, to lie if required, to silence and ridicule and chastise and threaten the opposition, and if necessary to pull every political trick he can get away with in order to ram his agenda down our recalcitrant throats.

77 Responses to “Noonan and Obama: public and private selves”

  1. Steve G Says:

    There are two people to discuss in this posting, Obama and Noonan. I want to take a shot at Noonan first.

    I remember her as more down to earth than she is now. It seems to me that her nose is elevated 2″ or 3″ towards the clouds than before. She even speaks differently. More snobbishly. Her criticism of Palin was, I think, a reflection of her new found status. I find it off putting. I also thinks it taints her advice in a negative way.

    She is the kind of Republican that the more vocal conservative base of the Republican party wants to see riding off to the west. She desires to accommodate the Democrats and get along, as a sort of smarter democrat than the democrats. She would blur the distinction between the Republican party and the Democratic party. If I wanted to vote for a Democrat I would vote for the real thing, not a phony of the kind Noonan is now asserting should be the heart of the party. She is wrong and somewhere within the last 10 years or so she somehow lost her way. Maybe it was her new status as a post-op writer for the WSJ? Maybe it occurred sooner. Whatever, I stopped reading her a long time ago as I find her mostly fatuous.

    The Democrat I find most intriguing is Camille Paglia. She is a liberal that has not lost the art of analysis but is more admired on the right than in her own party. The comments she gets from the liberals are as bad as those directed to Malkin and Coulter, but she perseveres. I know she is going through hell trying to understand why Obama has surrounded himself with such second rate talent. (You want to say to her “but Stalin knows” in regard to this constant theme of hers that they are acting at cross purposes to Obama’s and should be brought into line, as if he did not know what was going on below. But I think she is on to something that she has not focused on. It may be that there lurks beneath Obama’s surface a truly mediocre mind. Yesterday there appeared on the net a purported 10 page extract of Obama’s college thesis. It did not ring true to me for one reason. It was too close to Obama’s current views. As if he made no journey in his mind from college to the presidency. That is, he is not maturing with age but stuck in his own time warp. And, this morning it was disclosed to be a prank. But the reason why it was believed and why I was probably wrong is that Obama still spouts the socialist crap from his youth, using the same terms. He is the same redistributionist now as he was 10 years ago. But then I had second thoughts. Is it becoming more and more evident that Obama has not been acquiring wisdom through experience? Is he stuck in college?

  2. Steve G Says:

    Correction to the prior post. There are three people.

  3. br549 Says:

    I like Bruce Burkett’s comments in her column. And I agree with the PM of Indonesia, as do at least half the people in this country – that Obama needs to tell 40 million people that we can’t afford to do what he has promised them.

    I still don’t understand what’s going on with her these days.

  4. T Says:

    With her condemnation of Sarah Palin and her support of Candidate Barack Obama, Noonan simply revealed heerself as another of the elite “Limousine Liberal” class; dare we say “Limousine Conservative?”

    To elites such as these substance matters less than style. It doesn’t matter whether you distinguished yourself at a state school; better to be mediocre at the ivy league. After all, the pedigree of the ivy league alone is a sign of superior intellect.

    So, too, to be taken in by Obama’s eloquence. People make this mistake all the time with young children (especially first-borns). The child mimics adult speech patterns and is considered to be intelligent beyond his/her years. There is no sense that the speech pattern is just a learned behavior, and while a 4 year old might sound like a 12 year old, s/he still thinks like a 4 year old.

    Thus is it also with Obama, he sounds as though he possesses a superior intellect because he learned how to mimic the ivy league conventions, and Peggy Noonan (and much of the country) was taken in by this artifice; Obama was classy well-schooled and eloquent, while Sarah palin was simply a blue-collar working girl, a female “Joe the Plumber.”

    The elites judge the depth of the pond by looking exclusively at its surface, and now they’re surprised by what exists just Planck lengths below the calm waters.

    This says volumes more about their superficiality, ignorance and elitism, and Ms. Noonan evinces that they exist on both sides of the aisle.

  5. gcotharn Says:

    Re Barack’s internal bile: “tip of the iceberg” is spot on. Barack is incredibly self possessed. He would never allow a peek at any more than the tip of the iceberg.

    At these fundraisers, so far as I can tell: Barack is off-teleprompter. His instruction would be: go out there and say a few words and allow the troops to cheer and to have fun and to feel good about themselves. Whereupon, Barack goes out there and delivers the only thing he knows: trite bile. Again and again. Barack doesn’t do the following: extemporaneously relate to the crowd in a normal and human way. That ain’t him. That was Bill Clinton in a crowd, and GWB in a small group.

    I’ve read many Noonan columns. I respect her, I like her, and yet her mind has been eaten by the flattery of the cocktail party zombies. It happens to so many conservatives. Like torture: various people resist it for various lengths of time; few people resist it forever. The flattery breaks almost everyone. They succumb to a numbing desire for more of it. Think John McCain, Justice Kennedy, Colin Powell.

    Reading this post and these commenters, I think I appreciate Bill Clinton more than ever before. I think I appreciate Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito more than ever before. But, I’ve got my eye on Alito. I’m watchin you, Sam. Stay AWAY from the cocktail parties.

  6. Ronald Hayden Says:

    Your summary of Obama’s purpose is exactly what I’ve come to conclude: over and over very smart people completely misread Obama because they listen to and believe what he says in that moment to their audience, and they never understand that, for him, words and ‘debate’ are just rhetorical tricks to accomplish the predetermined position. He will say and do *anything* without shame, because to him none of his words are actually promises or commitments — they are just what he had to say in the moment to get the gatekeeper to let him through.

    Once I understood this, I could be somewhat less angry at specific statements and slurs, realizing they are just negotiating tricks and not meant as anything substantive, and I could focus on his actual goals and actions without distraction.

  7. No one you know Says:

    Sorry, unless I see the mother of all mea freakin’ culpas from this harpy, her opinion ain’t worth a warm bucket of spit. Noonan and her ilk, got it real wrong.

  8. Gringo Says:

    Regarding ∅bama trying to push through his agenda ASAP, I am reminded of what Allende’s foreign supporters said during his time in office: “Make haste, slowly.”

    Sound familiar?

    Agreed that during the fundraisers that ∅bama drops his mask to a degree. Not coincidentally, some of what he says during those times does not endear him to much of our population.

    Steve G : Yes he is stuck in college. He sounds like one of those earnest, semi-informed self righteous and arrogant college radicals from 25-30 years ago, who didn’t get bitch-slapped by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. If they didn’t get bitch-slapped by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it should come as no surprise that they wouldn’t later get bitch-slapped by the fall of the Berlin Wall. The phrase I use is that he hasn’t learned a thing in 30 years.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    No one you know:

    I don’t necessarily value Noonan’s opinion for itself. I value it as an example of the way the wind is blowing with a certain group of people who were initially in Obama’s camp and are now having second thoughts.

    Remember, one of my special interests is the process of changing one’s mind, politically speaking.

  10. Perfected democrat Says:

    “His goal is to tell them what they want, to lie if required, to silence and ridicule and chastise and threaten the opposition, and if necessary to pull every political trick he can get away with in order to ram his agenda down our recalcitrant throats.”

    Bravo Neo, best sentence written anywhere this week; I do love how your thinking and writing has evolved and metamorphosed this last year. I don’t know how you keep up the pace of new articles, but thanks for creating a truly great forum here, hopefully the Democrats are reading and recording. Elect Allen West in his coming election. Obama, show us the birth certificate, open your records, show us the transparency you blathered about, what are you hiding?

  11. expat Says:

    I agree that Obama is stuck in college intellectually, but he has had a few decades of ego feeding since then that make it even less likely he will change his mind or modus operandi. He really does think he knows it all. All the advice from the Noonan types won’t change his direction, just the way he markets himself.

  12. Tom Says:

    My take on Baraq’s “Y’all” is he’s being true to his mentor, Rev. Jeremiah, peace be upon him. I think we overlooked the good Reverend’s abilities to have kept a huge congregation in thrall, living high on their donations; we instead mis-focused on his wretched sound bites (“America’s chickenssss have come home to roost”).
    Baraq is at his Wrightian best when before his congregants, thus the lapse into Ebonics.

  13. mizpants Says:

    I second what Perfected democrat says. What would we do without Neo?

  14. Occam's Beard Says:

    I see Obama as really rather a dimwit, frankly, judging first by his remarks off the teleprompter (which are inarticulate, incoherent, and inane) and by those decisions that didn’t benefit from the prior intervention of his handlers (e.g., the Skip Gates fiasco, the SF fundraiser) where he speaks his mind (if you’ll pardon the exaggeration).

    As I’ve said many times, he strikes me as a spokesmodel, sort of the Dems’ answer to Milli Vanilli.

  15. mizpants Says:

    One of Obama’s most stomach-turning vocal tricks is to change the pronunciation of “y” endings to something like “eh” or “ih.” As in “exactleh” or “probableh.” That’s not Wrightian, exactly. It’s more faux-British.

  16. Occam's Beard Says:

    Let’s face it: he’s faux everything. Faux American, faux black, faux white, faux lawyer, faux centrist, and probably a few more I’ll think of later.

  17. Steve G Says:

    A Washington Examiner article asks who is reading the McChrystal Report, focusing on those few members of Congress who have already signed in to read the report in secret. But, I have had a very disquieting thought. In my heart of hearts I don’t think it has been or will ever be read by Obama. I really hope I am wrong.

    Neo. You have one of the best sites on the web. The postings and follow up discussion are riveting. First site I visit each day, even though your posts arrive later in the day. It seems I visit all the ladies, including Dr. Sanity, Robin of Berkley, Ann Althouse, Camille Paglia, Jennifer Rubin and more, for the best discussions.

  18. JohnC Says:

    I’ve tried but I can’t read Noonan through and through anymore for the reasons many cited above. I believe she is over rated as a profound thinker and/or intelligent commentator on current political things. Unlike Neo 🙂 she has real trouble connecting the dots, in my opinion, and seems to be oblivious to expressions of that. I don’t understand why she still has a sizable audience. Maybe it’s a large group of therapists who visit her blog just for insights in the process of changing one’s mind?

  19. vanderleun Says:

    Whenever I read the lame and halt thoughts of Noonan these days I always think: “Bring me the clue bat. No, the bigger one.”

  20. SteveH Says:

    Theres way too many Noonan’s around at this late date. I believe these are people who honestly think it uncouth and too Sarah Palinish to be the one to yell fire in an actual burning theater.

  21. Nolanimrod Says:

    Well, you really didn’t have to sugar-coat it.

  22. Oblio Says:

    Poor Peggy. Is it even possible to eat enough crow to make up for her behavior in the last twelve months? And she hasn’t really started yet. Big job ahead.

  23. br549 Says:

    I think Peggy Noonan is scared.

  24. No one you know Says:

    neo, thanks for your reply and my apologies for not addressing the thrust of your post. I do understand that Noonan and the like serve as a bellwether of sorts, that she serves as an indication that the bloom is coming off the rose that is Obama. These kind of course reverses have to be done gradually, though. Takes a lot to turn that much stupid around.

  25. Standing in the Shadows Says:


    Remember, one of my special interests is the process of changing one’s mind, politically speaking.

    The first thing that needs to happen, before a person can change their mind, is that they need to start to losing their faith in their current dogma and that usually requires some sort of betrayal. The tone of Noonan’s article is one of disappointment rather than betrayal; it’s more of an admonishment to Obama that he needs to start behaving presidental and start leading the country, instead of just campaigning. Will Noonan ever lose faith in Obama? It’s hard to say; just consider that those of us on the right never lost faith in Bush right up until the day he left office. We always felt that he, deep down inside, he was one of us but he just had to do those things we didn’t like because he had to.

    Occam’s Beard

    I see Obama as really rather a dimwit, frankly, judging first by his remarks off the teleprompter…

    I think that Obama is an extreemly intellegent person, if just by the very fact that he did manage to become president of the United States. However, I think that Obama is extreemly immature and that’s the truly frustrating thing. Since he took office in January, Obama has done more things, starting with his famous “I won” statement, than I would care to list; but the three things that really stand out are his inablity to handle criticism (and especially ridicule), his habit of either picking stupid fights with oponents (Limbaugh, Hanity, Beck, Fox News) and his thuggish behavior (think the schoolyard bully). The frustrating this is that there isn’t anyone who is in a position to stand up to him and tell him he needs to straighten up who is willing to do so. I mean the only person who stood up to Obama was Biden after Obama publicly insulted him.

  26. Skookumchuk Says:

    Most everything said above about Noonan is true – the inside the Beltway insularity, the elitist condescension and Neo’s observation that “she’s poised on the edge and refuses to leap, and I don’t blame her.”

    All true. As far as inspiring us she does nothing. But. I think her recent columns about Obama have caused several liberals that I know to reflect and maybe – help them start to come around. She isn’t a visceral threat to them in the various ways that a Beck or a Palin would be. So that is something we may have overlooked.

  27. Leslie Says:

    Great post, Neo. I totally get why what Noonan has to say interests you, and I think your take is very insightful. For me, what she really really really gets wrong is her view that what the American people want—and thus the reason for the president’s dropping poll numbers—is for Obama to fix the problems at hand. I don’t think that’s it at all. I think people want him to quit lying to them. To be president of everybody, not just his group (epitomized by his tipsy sounding, preachy tone at fundraisers). And to stop whining. Noonan gets at this but then goes off on a tangent about poor political judgment. She fails to grasp that the underlying problem with Obama is his lack of character (which I think was in full evidence that night in the Congress early on in the primary campaign when Ted Kennedy reached out to greet Hillary while Obama turned aside in avoidance). Surely if Noonan allowed herself to fully accept that, her support for him would collapse around her like a deflating hot-air balloon.

  28. Skookumchuk Says:

    Leslie: She fails to grasp that the underlying problem with Obama is his lack of character…

    I think she does get it. But as was said above, she’s scared.

  29. mizpants Says:

    Another person who’s been hesitating on the brink of change is Mary Peretz, whose tone when he writes about Obama grows more and more bitter, but who hasn’t yet quite taken the plunge. His strategy has been compartmentalization. He insists that it’s only Obama’s foreign policy he objects to — he supports Obama’s domestic initiatives. But this is a compartment that’s about to be swamped, because Obama’s waffling on foreign policy is motivated in large part by the disproportionate importance he’s placed on his big plans here at home. This has everything to do with his dithering on Afghanistan and his reluctance to support Israel, doesn’t it?

  30. mizpants Says:

    Oy. I meant MARTY Peretz, not Mary Peretz.

  31. Occam's Beard Says:

    I think that Obama is an extreemly intellegent person, if just by the very fact that he did manage to become president of the United States.

    BFD. With liberal guilt, Soros’s money, some good speechwriters, and the MSM behind her, and a teleprompter in front of her, Paris Hilton could manage to become President. There is no evidence of even above average intelligence, much less superior intelligence, in Obama. Outside of contexts in which his race immunizes him from criticism and/or opposition, and lacking the teleprompter binky, his performance is dismal.

    In one of my academic positions I had to interview prospective students. To judge their intellectual acumen, I would ask them questions that would require them to adapt, extend, and translate familiar concepts to unfamiliar contexts, to assess their ability to reason abstractly. I see no evidence whatsoever that Obama can do this. My estimation: he’s of moderate intelligence at best.

  32. Oblio Says:

    I have heard very little from Obama that is not either a platitude or an evasion of the issue. Whenever he drops his guard, we get a “spread the wealth” or “stupid cop” comment. You would have a hard time demonstrating Obama’s high intelligence from anything he has done or said or from his scholarly publications (hah!).

    Not that Obama’s actually stupid. He understands the rules of the game and he plays accordingly, occasionally demonstrating some cunning. As long as he keeps making progressive noises, his admirers will continue to demonstrate that this presidency is what Tom Wolfe called “the unscrewable pooch.” (The Right Stuff)

  33. neo-neocon Says:

    Occam’s Beard: faux facts.

  34. Occam's Beard Says:

    neo, mine, or his?

    I meant that everything about Obama can be prefaced with the qualification, “He’s kinda …” and concluded with the characterization, “…but not really.” He’s kinda American, but not really. Kinda black, but not really. Kinda white, but not really. Kinda a lawyer, but not really. And kinda a centrist…but not at all.

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    Occam: well, I meant he uses false facts. But mostly it was just a pun, because “faux” and “facts” are pronounced almost the same.

    It doesn’t go over quite as well in print.

  36. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Faux News! (that’s the type he prefers. Except when it’s spelled differently.)

  37. Roy Lofquist Says:

    I can’t figure out Obama. He’s a strange critter. As near as I can tell his only talent is his voice. James Earl Jones could recite “Mary Had A Little Lamb” (with new potatoes and mint jelly) and receive a thunderous ovation.

    I have made it a point to read Obama’s speeches – vacuous. The expression “empty suit” come readily to mind. We know absolutely noting about him. No academic records. What’s this with the birth certificate? No, I am not a “birther” – I just find it strange.

    My best guess is he is “new Soviet man”. He has been indoctrinated from birth in a very leftist world view. He doesn’t seem to have any original thoughts. Every thing he has said publicly I have heard many times before. He is somebody’s puppet – question is who’s pulling the strings? Oh, my God! I’ve become a conspiracy nut!

    I am the eternal optimist – close to seven decades and still proudly supporting the Irish Whiskey industry. This may be a turning point for us. There are great upheavals every three or four generations. The notable ones in our history were the abolitionists, the temperance movement and the civil rights crusade of the sixties. Given the economic situation and the growing visceral disgust of government that I am seeing amongst formerly politically disinterested people we may yet pull our bacon out of the fire.

    “Who’d a thunk that Ronnie would come back as the hottest chick on the planet?”.

  38. Steve G Says:

    Would Reagan, the president she worked for and deeply admired, fit Noonan’s new qualification test of the non-vulgar candidate for president? I doubt it. She would swallow whole the “amiable dunce” judgment (was it Llloyd Cutler’s) of the left and pile on.

  39. Artfldgr Says:

    im out, dont know anything about noonan…

  40. Parabellum Says:

    Ms. Noonan is an elitist. Once you know this fact what she says and does makes sense.

  41. betsybounds Says:

    Well I think it’s always good to remember that God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world! 🙂

    Standing in the Shadows,

    You are free of course to speak for yourself, but as a conservative, I will say that whatever (minimal) faith I ever had in Bush was gone very early–during the time when he failed to pursue actual total victory in Iraq and in the region, and failed to respond to critics in anything resembling a forceful fashion. It became clear quickly that he never would. His statement that when people are hurting, government must act was enlightening, and didn’t inspire any hope in me at least. His allowing the Constitution to be assaulted by signing campaign reform legislation, while saying he knew it to be unconstitutional, was one of the biggest buck-passing shows I’ve ever seen or heard of.

    I don’t know what’s come over Noonan, but I recall her gag-inducing column after Obama’s first speech to a joint session of Congress, very early on after he took office, when she waxed poetic (as she so loves to do) about how you could just see the mantle of the Presidency descending upon him while he spoke, and about his assuming the office like one dons a crown. These are not quotes, but her tone was near-worshipful. Whatever cover she’s since grown over her own skin, it strikes me that she’s not in the process of trying to slough it off or shed it in any way, and it’s certainly not that she’s grown any bigger under that cover. She teases around the edge of repudiating the guy, but every week ends by saying that he should notice how badly he’s being served and take charge in his own finer, purer way. It’s very much the old, “If only Stalin knew,” or before that, “If only the Czar knew. . . .” To the extent it goes beyond that, it strikes me that it’s merely decoration that leaves the basic devotion intact.

    I don’t know what to make, entirely, of Noonan and people similarly easily deceived (or so it seems)–Douglas Kmiec, Chris Buckley, and some others. David Brooks is a bit of a special case because he’s never actually struck me as a conservative at all, and that goes all the way back to his long-but-trivial Weekly Standard piece on what he called “bourgeois bohemians” (Bo-Bos).

    I agree with neo that Obama is in the process of saying and doing whatever he needs to do to get his program rammed through. He doesn’t mind lying, or engaging in fraud, or using any other trick or bludgeon. I’ve often thought that a big difference between Bill Clinton and Obama is that, while they both lie as easily as they breathe, Clinton thinks he’s not lying–everything he says seems true to him at the time he says it. Obama, on the other hand, knows he’s lying and just doesn’t give a damn. Truth is not something he values in any disinterested way, and words are merely tools. To the extent that he has a passing acquaintance with Truth, it is embodied in the vision of the political left, and that’s a Truth he thinks it his job to force people to serve.

  42. bishop Says:

    We figured things long before the Pegster, about Obama. Because we actually read about his record, who had mentored him, his lack of
    accomplishments. They (Noonan, Parker, Brooks,
    Buckley) sounds like a midtown law firm, bought
    the rhetoric, not the record, and were dismissive
    of those who could figure it out. She has tried every
    rationalization, ‘recession chic’ the incoherent din of the tea partiers, to deny the reality,

  43. Skookumchuk Says:

    At first I thought that only liberal Democrats were afflicted with the Cult of Personality disease, but now I think it is the entire Ivy League elitist tribe. Like Noonan and Chis Buckley.

  44. Sgt. Mom Says:

    When the “Won” melts down entirely (please, oh merciful deity, let it happen in public and on camera!) and is finally revealed to all but the most thick-witted, as an empty suit with no real management expertise, a lot of suspect friends, and a resume thinner than Calista Flockhart’s thighs – there will be many of the highly-paid commentariat and news organizations who will go down, ignominiously, with him. They hitched themselves to the juggernaut that was Obama, refusing to see what was plain to many from the very first. They fell for the illusion, and failed to do their damned job. A lot of blame will attach to them for refusing to examine the Won, with the same attention to detail as they did with Sarah Palin.
    Just my two cents – your mileage may very.

  45. Waking up is hard to do « Bent Notes Says:

    […] Neoneocon observes that Peggy Noonan is steppng away from her Obama’s-cool-Palin-isn’t s….  She notes, however, that Noonan won’t draw the next logical conclusion to which her rethinking process leads: TCM holds the American people in utter disdain.  As Neo puts it, he sees his popularity as a tool with which he can bring about his agenda, which is herding us into a state corral. […]

  46. rickl Says:

    betsybounds Says:
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:36 am

    …as a conservative, I will say that whatever (minimal) faith I ever had in Bush was gone very early–during the time when he failed to pursue actual total victory in Iraq and in the region, and failed to respond to critics in anything resembling a forceful fashion. It became clear quickly that he never would. His statement that when people are hurting, government must act was enlightening, and didn’t inspire any hope in me at least. His allowing the Constitution to be assaulted by signing campaign reform legislation, while saying he knew it to be unconstitutional, was one of the biggest buck-passing shows I’ve ever seen or heard of.

    When I first heard him utter the phrase “compassionate conservative” during the 2000 campaign, warning bells went off in my head. It sounded like a rationalization/justification for big government.

    Still, I don’t regret voting for him in 2000 and 2004, considering the alternatives.

    You’re right about campaign finance reform. All three branches of our government failed us that time.

    Clinton thinks he’s not lying–everything he says seems true to him at the time he says it. Obama, on the other hand, knows he’s lying and just doesn’t give a damn. Truth is not something he values in any disinterested way, and words are merely tools.

    “The ends justify the means.”
    –Karl Marx

  47. Don Says:

    Hitchens and Paglia are two Obama supporters who I’m inclined to like. I often disagree with them, but I respect their opinions. They are independent thinkers, and contrary to Obama’s claims, independent thought is rare among his supporters.

    I agree with neo’s take on Noonan, she is somewhat interesting because she is likely representative of a large group of potential swing voters. We must remember that it is moderates who swing the vote.

  48. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    Standing in the Shadows Says:
    October 24th, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I think that Obama is an extremely intelligent person, if just by the very fact that he did manage to become president of the United States. However, I think that Obama is extreemly immature and that’s the truly frustrating thing.

    He’ s me, when I was 20 years old.

    At that age, I was in the Air Force, with some of the sharpest people you would EVER meet on this planet, but some of the stuff we pulled demonstrated a startling immaturity and lack of judgment despite whatever we may have scored on tests.

    But, that was when I was 20.

    Obama’s in his late 40’s now, but consistently acts as if he is still 20.

  49. notherbob2 Says:

    Another impressive post and comments. Useful. Different from some other blogs, which are more entertaining, but lack real insight.
    Trying to explain President Obama’s appeal is like trying to explain why people like butter. I believe that those behind Obama did market research to determine what kind of politician people liked at this point in our history. The Republicans did the same process to find Ms. Palin. Also, what kind of politician the liberal press would fall in love with (OOOPS! for the Republicans, much like the rest of their campaign).
    The taste-test was the Democratic Convention. The response cards came back with tingles running up the appropriate legs. Bingo!
    Of course, what people and the press wanted was the real thing. Unfortunately, Obama could be made to taste-test very close to the real thing. There are enough voters who cannot tell the difference, supplemented by those who will eat ***t and proclaim it ambrosia if the right opinion leaders claim to have tested it and found it ambrosial. An example of this phenomenon would be getting Newt Gingrich to endorse Dede in NY 23. But I digress.
    Taste-tests are great for the campaign, but once the election is over and the dirty business of paying off supporters (TARP) is done, one must govern. Aye, there’s the rub. Once people who bought into the messiah start judging actual results, the penumbra begins to dissipate. Yes, it still tastes like butter, but when one bakes with it….

  50. G6loq Says:

    Noonan and the likes of her are like effete and eventually compliant Dr. Zhivago.
    Zhivago meets with his communist convert half brother who’s disdainfully dedicated to the eradication of them effetes.

    He’s being warned to flee but rambles on with his nuanced and effete views.

    Only one word to deal with that we’re facing: eradication.
    It’s happened before. See:

    Oathkeepers …

  51. Occam's Beard Says:

    Sgt. Mom, hear hear!

    The electorate can be divided into two groups: those who will consider supporting a candidate if they don’t see a reason not to, and those who won’t consider supporting a candidate unless they see a reason to do so.

    The former are disproportionately represented among Obama supporters, I suspect.

  52. br549 Says:

    I read somewhere (and it escapes me where now) that Bush is a Christian Socialist. I never considered anything I’ve read in the New Testament from a political standpoint, but one could certainly pull a political perspective out of there if desired. You know, free will and all.

    Considering the media, I do not believe for one second they were / are fooled, much less mistaken, about Obama. The collective abilities of the MSM far exceeds anything that can be produced by any single commeneter that shows up on this or any other blog. They are complicit. They perpetrate the BS. They are traitors to my America.

    No regulars here are surprised by who Obama is. There are differences of opinion as to whether it is Obama himself, or whether he is the dummy (as opposed to puppet – the teleprompter tightens up all the slack) of others. I agree with Limbaugh, and at least one other commenter above, in the sense he was selected. As frayed as the race card is, that damned thing is still effective as hell.

  53. Darrencardinal Says:

    You know, I try to read Noonan’s columns but I find I just can’t sustain interest to get through them.

    Why read her (or Maureen Dowd, or any of the NY Times columinsts) when you can read Neoneocon? Or Michelle Malkin? Or a host of other interesting and smart bloggers?

    This is one reason why newspapers are circling the drain: people like me who like opinion journalism can find better writers on the web.

  54. TmjUtah Says:

    Ms. Noonan would be welcome on the Voorhees yacht.

    She’s got her world, and won’t let anything outside change it.

  55. Wm Lawrence Says:

    Note to Ms. Noonan:

    He doesn’t respect you NOW. Why would he respect you in the morning?

  56. Baklava Says:

    In the arena of ideas… Ms. Noonan falls short of being able to compete.

    I do like some of her opinions sometimes but that doesn’t mean she has more common sense than Mrs. Palin. 😉

  57. Skookumchuk Says:


    “________ would be welcome on the Voorhees yacht.”

    You’ve coined a classic.

  58. TmjUtah Says:

    Skook –

    Wish it were so, but T. Coddington VanVoorhees sprang from Iowahawk’s world.

  59. Boots Says:

    The PowerLine blog had an interesting post the other day, “The Comeuppance of the Rich?” The author describes the changes he sees in store for Chevy Chase, Maryland, a very wealthy neighborhood that went overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008.

    “…these people make a lot of money, true, but they have big, big expenses–expenses of a type utterly unknown to vast, vast majority of Americans….there is the $700,000 mortgage on the house….There are private schools for the kids. It’s true that Montgomery County, Maryland, has the best public schools in the nation, or nearly so, but that isn’t the way one’s offspring will get into Harvard or Princeton or make contacts that will last him or her a lifetime…

    …And now the Savior Obama is threatening to raise their taxes. How else is he going to finance his various projects?… what were these people thinking back in the middle of last summer? That the outcome of a presidential election as ideologically polarized as the last one would make no difference whatsoever to their lifestyle? That voting for Obama was more of a style choice than a political decision? That they thought this would establish beyond all doubt that they weren’t racists? Who knows? Maybe even they couldn’t answer these questions now…

    …Somebody is going to have his taxes increased, and there just aren’t enough super-rich people around to finance Obamacare, the so-called stimulus, the nationalization of General Motors, and other bottomless pits for government revenue. Our friends in Chevy Chase (and several dozen suburbs like it across our land) are going to be hit in the pocketbook, and hit hard.”

    The fact is, the upper middle class is starting to see, dimly, that THEY are the ones Obama has been waiting for. The super-rich (Buffet and Soros) don’t pay taxes, taxes are for little people. Buffet himself said his secretary pays more than he does. The Peggy Noonan elites will be twisting themselves into pretzels soon, trying to figure out how to be against Obama without joining the side of the blue collar rubes (Sarah Palin & Joe the Plumber).


  60. Gray Says:

    OK…. I’ve goofed around here; giving the odd mordant comment; I’ve been banned here; engaged with commenters liberal and conservative; posted good comments and stupid comments….

    But my question is: Why doesn’t “Neo” have a column at the WSJ?

    In the past year, I speak as an observer, her writing has taken off. Her political and social commentary is some of the best in print or pixel.

  61. Skookumchuk Says:

    TMj: Yes, I knew from whence the Van Voorhees Galley came, blown hither and hss men were hidin’b’hind the bulkheads while we were shewteeng onshore in the canebraks and hollers.Then Now one of the little banshee reiver lasses wif the cutlasses in’ir teef, they shipped aboard the Galley and ate the wurstt offem for a bottle of rum did Hannah Giles do that and with matches in her hair as did her greart, graet great granpa Mr. Bartholomew Roberts. So Hannah Gilles took over the Van Voorhees Gallet and after was thought as the best pira thbut after where the best company, on our little barque after the baddle’s wez alowl over.

  62. Hanoi Paris Hilton Says:

    Waita sec, Neo…

    You’re are smart girl and you can’t possibly believe that “faux” is pronounced something like fax or fox, making it sorta rhyme with facts?? Rather than pronounced f’oh.


  63. neo-neocon Says:

    HPH: Yes, I do know it’s pronounced like “f’oh.” But for a moment there I got overwhelmed by the visuals.

    Some people think Obama is a faux foe, though (there, did I redeem myself?)

  64. Jamie Says:

    I’m with rickl about Bush: he was never an attractive candidate (or President) as a conservative, but given the alternative, I magically became a one-issue voter for two terms. I never fooled myself into believing Bush to be a fiscal conservative (though I appreciated the more businesslike tone he occasionally lent to affairs of governance).

    No matter how many times it’s explained to me, I can’t wrap my head around how obvious Obama’s wish-fulfillment potential was to me during election season, yet how readily a huge chunk of the electorate fell for it. Noonan should’ve known better. It’s good that she’s perhaps questioning her premises about him, but how on EARTH was she fooled in the first place? I do not consider myself to be any kind of astute political observer, but I got it.

  65. E Says:

    Fee, Fie, Faux, Fum

    (Taxes, lies, lies, and we’re f***ed, ma’am)

  66. Baklava Says:

    Darn ‘f’ words…

    At a certain point people do something (like Bush senior’s moment at the grocery store visit where he was amazed with the scanner) where people realize their opinions are less relevant.

    Noonan did that with her Palin column last year.

    Can she redeem herself? Hmm.. What would it take… I’d have to think about that for awhile.

  67. neo-neocon Says:

    Baklava: with Noonan’s comments on Palin, she simultaneously revealed herself as (1) a shallow thinker (2) a mean-spirited snob; and (3) ignorant of American history

  68. James Says:

    Hi Neo,

    I haven’t commented here in a while, but its still fun to read your thoughts.

    First – To Baklava above, the Bush Senior incident at the Grocery store never happened. Bush was at a convention of grocery store equipment manufacturers. They were showing him new models of scanner which could read the bar code even when it was torn or wrinkled. To some extent Bush was being polite in talking up their new technology. Its polite to be impressed at conventions.

    Second – Obama’s race really is important to people – though it shouldn’t be. A law affects us the same whether a black, green or white president signed it. Obama used that to his advantage. He was able to say – vote for me, I’m a non-threatening black guy. He then brought his hard left ideology along for a ride. The Democratic party didn’t have to do that. If race was that important, they could have found a smart, down the middle black guy with the outlook of Bill Clinton. Then we wouldn’t have much to worry about.

    Instead we got Obama and his ideology. Noonan doesn’t want to admit that she fell for the act. If she fell for it, then she realliy has no reason to be a national columnist.



  69. Baklava Says:

    Neo, I think 2 & 3 are forgivable.


    Nobody is perfect on item 2 and even historians have pieces of history they don’t know.

    What I have an issue with mostly is item 1) (shallow thinker).

    So my question is – can she redeem herself? Maybe she can redeem herself with some people. Maybe she can even gain a ‘new’ following (like Meghan McCainites) but with me… I’d have to see several deep thinking columns for her to be more relevant.

    I haven’t see one yet…

  70. Baklava Says:

    I hear ya on your 3 items James. Thanks.

  71. Baklava Says:

    I’ve been watching this guy. I’ve heard him interviewed. I like what he says mostly.

    Wake up liberal Republicans please !


  72. Don Rodrigo Says:

    I really didn’t need any more evidence coming into 2009 that most of the world’s (and especially the western part of it) elite are buffoons. Still, I don’t mind the confirmation I get when Nobel Peace prizes are handed out for “potential,” like gift bags on Oscar night or when I figured out that Noonan, Brooks and (Chris) Buckley carried water for and voted for Obama because he looks sharp in a suit, and does a great imitation of an articulate man.

    I am starting to mind the fact that evidence of the baboonish stupidity of all these ‘smart’ people keeps piling up (OK, apologies to baboons, who at least know how to find water and mogongo nuts).

  73. Don Rodrigo Says:

    A Washington Examiner article asks who is reading the McChrystal Report, focusing on those few members of Congress who have already signed in to read the report in secret. But, I have had a very disquieting thought. In my heart of hearts I don’t think it has been or will ever be read by Obama. I really hope I am wrong.

    Steve G: Who among the powers-that-be reads ANYTHING of policy substance in DC anymore? They certainly don’t read any of those monstrous bills, so why should they be expected to read military policy reports?

  74. Baklava Says:

    The WaPo says:


    McDonnell holds double-digit advantages when it comes to dealing with the economy (plus 17 percentage points), transportation (16 points), taxes (25 points) and has overtaken Deeds as the one more trusted to handle issues of special concern to women (7 points).

    Wow! Even issues of special concern to Women? I submit that issues of concern to women are concerns of fathers, husbands, brothers and sons but I digress….

  75. Baklava Says:

    OMG Neo,

    Douglas Wilder (the former african american GOVERNOR of Virginia a decade ago) does not back Deeds the Democrat in the race for VA governor.

    In fact!!! Obama called Douglas Wilder and Douglas Wilder said:


    Read the story to find out !!

  76. rickl Says:

    Don Rodrigo: Heh™.

  77. Steve G Says:

    Ann Coulter astutely commented that both Democrat and Republican candidates for president run as centrists and sometimes the Republican is telling the truth. But, the Democrat always lies. On the day Obama won the Democratic nomination for president he moved suddenly and directly to the center, as if he had always staked a place there. To me, the change was brazen, in that it discounted almost entirely the public’s willingness and/or ability to examine his experience and values, if even with regard to what he was saying the day before. Sadly, due primarily to the failure of the MSM to vet him, he was right! But, surely Noonan knew what she was seeing and was not taken in by the sudden switch in the tone of his campaign. After all, it is a given that liberals lie and laugh at us more serious conservatives for our inability and unwillingness to follow in this, one of their more dishonorable attributes. That she still favored him in the election says to me that she lost her moral compass. If she comes around to the view that he is not all that was advertised, it won’t be because she has had an epiphany. It will only be to look less foolish. She shot her wad and is now history, at least from the conservatives perspective.

    It’s because liberals always lie about their true views and present themselves as conservatives, and then move to the left as soon as they can safely remove this cloak of deception, that I did not like Clinton (or either of them, for that matter). There is no there there; no moral compass; no real human being. These people are haters who cloak themselves in public good to gain power. Remember, Clinton staffed his WH with immature kids who were going to change the world. His first major legislative push was for gays in the military. He literally lost most of his good will on that fight, taken on against members of his own party.

    Obama just seems an exaggeration of all that is wrong with liberals and he and his advisors either have no skills (other than to run a campaign) or they don’t care the result of their playing hardball. If the Republicans are said not to have a leader now, so what. They don’t need one. All they have to do is say no to everything and stand back and watch the action.

    If my memory serves, the Republicans retook both houses of Congress in 1994, steadied the Clinton presidency, and forced him back to the center, to the dismay of his liberal base. But, because he was forced to govern somewhat as a centrist while still being able to appeal to his liberal base (remember, he skillfully used the bully pulpit of the presidency to win the fight with Gingrich) he won reelection in 1996 for another 4 years. If the Republicans win either or both houses of Congress in 2010, we face the same dilemma. By taming the Obama beast, we make him look more reasoned as a statesman in 2012, and more attractive a candidate. GOD forbid!

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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