High Noonan

10 comments June 1st, 2007at 11:14am Posted by Eli

Peggy Noonan has the latest installment of the Immigration Will Tear The GOP Apart saga:

What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration. They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker–“At this point the break became final.” That’s not what’s happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

Oh noes! Whatever will America do without the mature, competent leadership of the Republican Party?

The White House doesn’t need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don’t even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

Impossible. The Bush White House isn’t even a stopped clock that’s right twice a day; it’s a broken clock that actively avoids the correct time.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don’t like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don’t like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

Um, which conservatives is Noonan talking about here? The vast and vocal majority seems pretty enthusiastic about all of that – overspending, big government, and endless war are the only way to defeat THE SCARY TERRORISTS OMG!!!1!

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic–they “don’t want to do what’s right for America.”

This may be the greatest sentence ever written. How’s it feel, kids? Kinda sucks, don’t it.

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the “Too bad” governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement.

Yes, we could tell from all the leaders of the conservative movement bitterly criticizing Dubya. Leaders like… umm… uhh… I’ll get back to you.

I suspect the White House and its allies have turned to name calling because they’re defensive, and they’re defensive because they know they have produced a big and indecipherable mess of a bill… The White House and its supporters seem to be marshalling not facts but only sentiments, and self-aggrandizing ones at that. They make a call to emotions–this is, always and on every issue, the administration’s default position–but not, I think, to seriously influence the debate.

The Bushies namecalling and appealing to emotion to defend a disastrous mess? Ridiculous! Go stand in the corner, next to Al Gore.

If they’d really wanted to help, as opposed to braying about their own wonderfulness, they would have created not one big bill but a series of smaller bills, each of which would do one big clear thing, the first being to close the border. Once that was done–actually and believably done–the country could relax in the knowledge that the situation was finally not day by day getting worse. They could feel some confidence. And in that confidence real progress could begin.

There you go. In order to enact a fair and compassionate immigration policy, we must first start with the good parts of the immigration bill, like building a giant 800-foot wall, and then we can see about the icky parts, like giving immigrants a chance at citizenship… maybe, if we get around to it.

The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

Clearly, you have to get up pretty early in the evening to put one over on the conservatives.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom–a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don’t need hacks.

Wow, and it only took you four years to figure that out! (Conveniently just after the election, I might add.) That makes you one of the smart ones!

[Bush] was disciplined and often daring, but in time he sundered the party that rallied to him, and broke his coalition into pieces. He threw away his inheritance. I do not understand such squandering.

Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it’s time. It’s more than time.

Courage? Serious thinking? Letting go? Y’all are FUCKED. I know you all think that courage and serious thinking are your core competencies, but reality and history says otherwise. What will really happen is that you’ll just crank up the war and terrorism and taxes and scary gay marriage and whatever other boogeymen you can conjure up to convince the base that it will be The End Of America if those weak godless homofascist Democrats win.

One year now, Noonan will have no memory of ever writing this column, and will be breathlessly salivating over the manliness of Rudy/John/Fred/Newt’s codpiece. Short attention spans are the Republicans’ most powerful weapon.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Immigration,Media,Politics,Republicans


  • 1. bill  |  June 1st, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    “Short attention spans are the Republicans’ most powerful weapon.”

    You might throw in a dose of juvenile playground style bullying. It seems to be a regular tactic in the memory squelching process.

  • 2. Eli  |  June 1st, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    The Republicans have a very small but effective toolkit, comprised entirely of hammers.

  • 3. Spear and Magic  |  June 1st, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    The rats are leaving the sinking ship. This is the same Peggy Noonan who took time off from writing her breathy commentaries to volunteer for the 2004 re-election campaign.

    But I’m with Eli (and Krugman) on this: I’ll buy the de-Bushification of the Republican party when their voters laugh at those BS scare tactics and abjure those candidates who use them. As it stands, all of their “serious” candidates are pushing the same 2004 line.

  • 4. Eli  |  June 1st, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    It’s always nice to be lumped together with Krugman.

    When the chips are down, the neanderthal wing of the GOP will remind themselves that, no matter how despicable the traitors within their own party may be, the alternative is infinitely worse.

    This is probably the only sentiment of theirs that I can empathize with.

  • 5. whig  |  June 1st, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Delenda est Republican party. It must be rebuilt by those who would have it, and I would recommend renaming.

  • 6. daveinboca  |  June 1st, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    I have a semi-long rant riffing on sweet Peggy’s demure piece entitled “PN sees Bush Deranged” which exaggerates her ire:

    “Peggy is being too kind. GWB has the lack of depth and perspective a C-student at Yale who never cracked a book might be expected to have. Although his reasons for invading Iraq were not ironclad, we gave him the benefit of the doubt. But he devolved the peace after the war into the hands of a total arrogant incompetant named Rumsfeld, who grabbed the development of democracy from seasoned “professionals like Jay Garner and his team, and gave it to a loyalist hack named Bremer. And GWB was somnambulent as Ken Lay was at Enron, allowing “experts” like Cheney and Rumsfeld to overrule Shinseki and do a peace on the cheap. Of course, it was new wine into old wineskins and the seams broke.”

    “Peggy does a somber sum-up that reflects my own misgivings—especially about Poppy Bush and his singular insouciance about taxes and the economy that led to Perot. Then his son squandered trillions with a Republican Senate resembling Ali Baba and his forty thieves. GWB is now realizing that the Dems write the history books and is trying to salvage his reputation by serving as Teddy Kennedy’s tea-boy, the same Kennedy who in ‘65 promised that that Immigration Law would “not allow a million immigrants a year nor change the ethnic composition of the country.” both of which it eventually did. [ditto ‘86]”

    “Now REAL conservatives will have to latch onto a real Republican of the Reagan/Goldwater stripe—not transplanted Rockefeller Easterners affecting drawls and down-home cowboy charm. Like Fred Thompson or Romney. Peggy continues with a sad summary of the Bush Betrayal Family Tradition, both father and son wobbly and spineless…”

    But to keep the SCOTUS from turning us into a Eurabian dystopia, I’ll hold my nose and vote for Giuliani, as long as he has Fred or Mitt on the ticket.

  • 7. Spear and Magic  |  June 2nd, 2007 at 2:50 am

    daveinboca wrote:

    > … GWB is now realizing that the Dems write the history books
    > … serving as Teddy Kennedy’s tea-boy
    > … a real Republican of the Reagan/Goldwater stripe
    > … But to keep the SCOTUS from turning us into a Eurabian dystopia,

    What can I say: When you have lost the hyperbolic mouth-breathers like daveinboca, you’re done.

    Here’s hoping your New Hope Fred Thompson does a little better balancing budgets than Reagan did, Dave.

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