Embarrassing Rich Lady Peggy Noonan Calls Obama Aides "Out of Touch," Shows No Sense of Irony
Everyone's favorite aristocrat-essayist, Peggy Noonan, whose Wall Street Journal columns and "Morning Joe" appearances do us the public service of reminding people that some things in life -- like government torture programs -- should remain "mysterious," while spurning the footwear of fellow women in media, has written a new column. In it, she declares the Obama administration "young and out of touch," setting forth to make her case as only a former Reagan speechwriter with a galloping sense of importance could.
She begins with Van Jones, writing, in that particularly tedious style she no doubt believes to be ironical and elegant:
Apart from a flirtation with radicalism (you have to hope it did not become a full, deep and continuing relationship), Jones, in February, thoughtfully attempted to capture the essence of the GOP in a speech in Berkeley, Calif. "Republicans are --," he explained. We don't print the word he used, but it refers to a body part involved in elimination.
The word, of course, is "assholes" (a vulgar term thrown around by the lesser, unwashed members of society, in case you, like Peggy, are too deeply genteel to have ever heard it spoken aloud). Like other conservatives currently attacking Van Jones, Noonan is feigning offense at a term that, lest we forget, then-presidential candidate George W. Bush used to describe a New York Times reporter way back in 2000 while on the campaign trail (although he used the phrase "major league asshole," baseball metaphors being the only ones he really understood). Of course, Noonan wouldn't have fretted about Bush using such bawdy language, given how hopelessly swoony she became at the sheer force of his manliness, at least when he wore those delicious flight suits -- what was the occasion again?
Van Jones, anyhow, is not the lady's concern. She says so herself.
But Mr. Jones is not my concern.
All early administrations draw to their middle and lower levels a certain number of activists from the edges -- flakes. But because they are extreme, they become controversial, and because they are controversial, they become ineffective. In its way the system works.
Are you taking notes? Because the key word here is "flakes."
That's the term she uses to describe "activists" -- unserious weirdos, much like community organizers -- who, as Jones did, start such silly fringe outfits as the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change. Van Jones, like Barack Obama one could assume, is a "flake," because their work along the "edges" of society involved similarly unserious people of color, who everyone knows are not the people in power. Which is the way the system works.
One must forgive The Noonan for her blind spot when it comes to those who live and work along the "edges." This is a woman, after all, who when asked (or not) to write a column ruminating on what she was grateful for last Thanksgiving, managed to express thanks for a silver lining to the economic crisis -- namely, her own untouched sense of privelege -- penning the following unforgettable paragraphs:
I am thankful for something we're not seeing. One of the weirdest, most perceptually jarring things about the economic crisis is that everything looks the same. We are told every day and in every news venue that we are in Great Depression II, that we are in a crisis, a cataclysm, a meltdown, the credit crunch from hell, that we will lose millions of jobs, and that the great abundance is over and may never return. Three great investment banks have fallen while a fourth totters, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 31% in six months. And yet when you free yourself from media and go outside for a walk, everything looks … the same.
Everyone is dressed the same. Everyone looks as comfortable as they did three years ago, at the height of prosperity. The mall is still there, and people are still walking into the stores and daydreaming with half-full carts in aisle 3. Everyone's still overweight. (An evolutionary biologist will someday write a paper positing that the reason for the obesity epidemic of the past decade is that we were storing up food like squirrels and bears, driven by an unconscious anthropomorphic knowledge that a time of great want was coming. Yes, I know it will be idiotic.) But the point is: Nothing looks different.
The column went on at length, but Wonkette helpfully distilled its real message into an 11-word headline: "Peggy Noonan Is Thankful That She Doesn't Have To Encounter Poor People."
Anyway, Noonan goes on to give condescending "praise" to Obama's "young aides," calling them "hardworking, humorous and bright as pennies," while wishing they were just a little less sheltered; a bit more experienced when it comes to the real world, like her. ("They've never been beaten up by life, never been defeated. They haven't learned from failure because they haven't experienced it. They don't know what the warning signs of trouble are. They haven't spent time on the losing side.") Peggy also would like for them to have "an arthritic ache or two," because it would no doubt make them wise. She also wishes "they told old war stories because they'd been in old wars," like all those old manly men in flight suits she admires so much. Most of all, she wishes "they knew what it looks like when an administration goes too far and strains the ties between itself and the bulk of the people," which is actually, like, totally amazing, because I did not know that Obama's aids had all emigrated to the United States after Bush left office.
But maybe the best part of Peggy Noonan's column is the part where she discovers the real difference between Republicans and Democrats by watching Ted Kennedy's memorial service: