Peggy Noonan joined the crowd turning on George W. Bush in what I thought was (in Noonan’s case) a grossly unfair manner in 2008. It wasn’t just unfair, it was cowardly. I wrote critically about one of Noonan’s weekly Wall Street Journal columns in which she identified with the public disapproval of Bush that April in “Season of the witch.”
Having turned on George W. Bush, Noonan moved on to support the election of Barack Obama later that year. Noonan all but endorsed Obama in her 2008 column “Obama and the runaway train.” The anti-Bush and pro-Obama columns fit neatly together. She wrote of Obama just before the election:
He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; 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. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice.
In a sense, Obama delivered, but in another sense Noonan got everything wrong. Obama certainly changed the direction and tone of American foreign policy, yet the change failed to yield the results Noonan anticipated. He betrayed allies and sold out to enemies for good measure, but for nothing in return.
Noonan then turned on Obama. In “The unwisdom of Barack Obama,” Noonan condemned Obama on one of the grounds she had supported him in 2008. It had dawned on her: “His essential problem is that he has very poor judgment.”
In her defense, Noonan might have pleaded that she acknowledged the paltry evidence in support of her 2008 claim that Obama has “good judgment.” If “judgment” were the issue, perhaps the excuse would mitigate the verdict that Noonan herself is guilty of incredibly poor judgment.
Well, I quit reading her. I don’t understand why the Wall Street Journal continues to turn over valuable editorial page real estate to her. Now a reader writes to point out that Noonan has returned to the mode of her 2008 Obama love in “The Rise of Kamala Harris.” Subhead: “The daughter of East Bay professors grew up to become an excellent performer of politics.
The column has elicited thousands of critical comments. They almost make the column worth reading. Here are four.
Thin gruel from Peggy Noonan. If Kamala Harris is so smart, why did the daughter of a Stanford professor, whose parents both got graduate degrees at UC Berkeley, end up at Howard? Hastings is a second-tier law school, well below Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, and even USC. Failing the bar exam shows a lack of smarts. No mention of Willie Brown? Sugar coating her controversial tenure in California? WSJ readers interested in “the rest of the story” should check out my profile of Harris [“The next Obama”] in the Winter 2016 issue of City Journal.
The rise of Harris is a true LOL. With the Democrats identity politics she started the presidential campaign 100 yard dash at the 50 yard mark. She wasn’t 5 yards in the race when she pulled up grasping for air pulling out after polling at a horrible 2%. Hilarious how the media including the WSJ’s job now is to try to convince America that someone in the Senate to the left of Bernie Sanders is a moderate. Democrats pick Harris who called her running mate racist during the national debate and called her own party racist and sexist when she dropped out early after horrible polling numbers. She accepts the nomination from someone who when asked about Biden’s multiple accusers of physical assault was quoted as saying on April,3,2019 ” I believe them and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it.”
This reads like a press release written by someone who has never worked for Harris, since rumor has it she doesn’t have too many fans among her underlings, but by a sycophant. To say that Harris “didn’t do well” in the primary is being overly kind. When she exited, she was polling at 2% nationally and 7% in her home state. “An excellent performer of politics”? Are you kidding me? Is that what she was doing when she viciously attacked Justice Kavanaugh during his Senate Confirmation hearings? Peggy Noonan has lost all credibility with this ridiculous piece. She should really be writing for the New York Times.
Incomplete! Who is missing?
You have to give O’Neill bonus points for concision.