PEEK

How "Unreasonable" Is Peggy Noonan?

Noonan’s looking for a candidate with a “prudent understanding of the world.” I’m looking for a columnist with the same attribute.
The WSJ’s Peggy Noonan argues today that her top characteristic when evaluating presidential candidates is “reasonableness.” The former Reagan speechwriter insists:
We are grown-ups, we know our country needs greatness, but we do not expect it and will settle at the moment for good. We just want a reasonable person. We would like a candidate who does not appear to be obviously insane. We’d like knowledge, judgment, a prudent understanding of the world and of the ways and histories of the men and women in it.
At face value, there’s nothing especially troubling about this standard. Noonan is setting the bar fairly low — “not insane” isn’t exactly a compelling campaign pitch — but she’s sketched out a relatively practical model.

That is, until Noonan starts applying her standards to specific candidates. Here’s her take on the former senator from North Carolina:
John Edwards is not reasonable. All the Democrats would raise taxes as president, but Mr. Edwards’s populism is the worst of both worlds, both intemperate and insincere. Also we can’t have a president who spent two minutes on YouTube staring in a mirror and poofing his hair. Really, we just can’t.
Noonan had just finished arguing that American voters “are grown-ups,” and then she turns around and takes on John Edwards’ hair, suggesting brushing one’s hair before a TV interview is somehow a disqualifying factor for a presidential candidate. He’s just not “reasonable” enough. Wow.

What’s more, Glenn Greenwald notes that “poofing” isn’t actually a word, “but rather, a British epithet for a male homosexual — ‘Slang: Disparaging and Offensive’ — a synonym for ‘faggot.’”
Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of Salon.com's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.