Peggy Noonan Meet Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan is one of the conservative columnists I read often,  frequently disagreeing with her and sometimes even agreeing. Regardless, I do respect her talents as a writer. I did find the conclusion of today’s colunn a bit odd coming from Noonan:

The Founders, who were awed by the presidency and who made it a point, the early ones, to speak in their inaugural addresses of how unworthy they felt, would be astonished and confounded by the over-awe with which we view presidents now. We treat them as if they are the Grand Imperial Czar of the Peacock Throne, and we their ‘umble servants. It’s no good, and vaguely un-American. Right now patriotism requires more than the usual candor. It requires speaking truthfully and constructively to a president who is a man, and just a man. We hire them, we fire them, they come back for photo-ops. They’re not magic.

It’s not that I disagree with Noonan, but this conflicts with  much of her other writing. It’s been a while since I looked at her book (which I do have in my library at home), What I Saw At The Revolution, but I do believe there was a fair bit of hero worship of Ronald Reagan in it. Not having the book handy, if I had more time I’d look through her columns for examples of hero worship, along  with examples  about George W. Bush before she began to lose confidence in him, but I see that Blue Texan has saved me the trouble.

I don’t mind seeing Peggy Noonan try to tone down hero worship of Barack Obama, but it doesn’t work to back hero worship selectively for presidents with an R after their name.  I guess we will be seeing a lot of flip-flops of this nature this month. Peggy Noonan reverses her view on hero worship of presidents. Fox will flip from a Pravda-type defender of the White House and return to the stance of constant attack they held eight years ago. MSNBC (at least during certain hours) will do the reverse.

Peggy Noonan Makes A Case For Barack Obama

Peggy Noonan, yes Ronald Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan, makes a case for Barack Obama:

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.

A great moment: When the press was hitting hard on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, he did not respond with a politically shrewd “I have no comment,” or “We shouldn’t judge.” Instead he said, “My mother had me when she was 18,” which shamed the press and others into silence. He showed grace when he didn’t have to.

There is something else. On Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, Mr. Obama won the Alabama primary with 56% to Hillary Clinton’s 42%. That evening, a friend watched the victory speech on TV in his suburban den. His 10-year-old daughter walked in, saw on the screen “Obama Wins” and “Alabama.” She said, “Daddy, we saw a documentary on Martin Luther King Day in school.” She said, “That’s where they used the hoses.” Suddenly my friend saw it new. Birmingham, 1963, and the water hoses used against the civil rights demonstrators. And now look, the black man thanking Alabama for his victory.

This means nothing? This means a great deal.

Noonan also wrote favorably of divided government and does present some scary scenarios from a conservative perspective which exaggerate how far left both Obama and the Democratic Congress are likely to be. For example she claims there is a danger of a return of the “fairness doctrine” even though Obama opposes it and there is little enthusiasm for it among most Democrats. Regardless of her qualms, Noonan appears to be reconciled to the outcome of the election:

But let’s be frank. Something new is happening in America. It is the imminent arrival of a new liberal moment. History happens, it makes its turns, you hold on for dear life. Life moves.

A fitting end for a harem-scarem, rock-’em-sock-’em shakeup of a year—one of tumbling inevitabilities, torn coalitions, striking new personalities.

Why Clinton Lost

In most nomination battles the front runner wins or there is a single event which is commonly blamed for the loss. Ed Muskie cried in New Hampshire, before the same act gave Hillary Clinton a temporary reprieve. George Romney admitted he was brainwashed about Vietnam, while Hillary Clinton stubbornly refused to admit she was wrong on Iraq. Gary Hart was caught in activities which now sound ridiculously tame after Bill Clinton. This year was unusual in having the front runner both lose and remain in the race for so long with no single moment which caused defeat. In a race which was so close there were many factors which caused the loss, allowing different writers to present different ideas, with many of them being at least partially right. The New York Times presents an assortment of such writing.

Not surprisingly Mark Penn shows a total lack of understanding as to why Clinton lost. He argues that the problem wasn’t the message–it was the money. Hillary Clinton had all the advantages going into this race, including fund raising. If she had the right message the money would have kept coming in. In reality she did raise quite a bit of money, but Barack Obama had the better message and brought in more.

Penn’s problem in advising the Clinton campaign can be seen when he writes, “As the primaries came to an end, she had built a coalition of working-class voters, women, older voters and Latinos, and it held together — and even strengthened — as Barack Obama gained enough superdelegates to put him over the top.” One problem is that she did concentrate on building a coalition based on old fashioned identity politics in an age when voters wanted a change from this mind set.

Clinton not only attracted members of certain groups but she resorted to tactics which repelled members of others. She resorted to racist tactics, losing the black vote. In going after the working-class voters her campaign labeled the rest of us as elitists, ensuring that she would never receive our votes. Such tactics backfired. Not only did she lose the support of many Democrats outside of the groups she attracted, but her tactics also resulted in a backlash causing some members of her core groups, along with party leaders, to also oppose her. As Carl Bernstein wrote, “Faced with unanticipated adversity, Hillary and Bill Clinton took the low road too often, and voters noticed. So did the party leadership and superdelegates, who abandoned her and the idea of a Clinton Restoration.”

Penn also argues that “Experience was a major part of the campaign message” but this did not work when the message was untrue. The media examined her claims and her record and noted that her national security credentials were highly exaggerated, along with all her other claims of being the more experienced candidate. Following George Bush, Obama’s experience in Constitutional law has become far more meaningful than Hillary Clinton’s experience as a first lady. Obama’s experience as a community organizer both paid off in election strategy and in developing his political philosophy. Obama’s message of empowering individuals was far stronger than Clinton’s top-down philosophy of expanding the nanny state.

The other essays vary in their accuracy. Some of the woman writers over emphasize the role of sexism. While some of the media coverage was undeniably sexist, Hillary Clinton was in a position to overcome this if not for her faults. She started out far ahead in the race, which would not have been a possibility if sexism was really all that important this year. Hillary Clinton lost because she was Hillary Clinton, not because she was a woman.

Bob Kerrey understands that this was a battle between two individuals in writing, “I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton with an unusual perspective: I was defeated by her husband in the Democratic presidential race of 1992.” He understands that the mismatch in their political skills was more important than their gender or race:

She shouldn’t be too hard on herself. If Barack Obama had been born 10 years earlier and had been a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1992, neither I nor Bill Clinton would have defeated him.

Focusing on her mistakes is an exercise in making someone who is already miserable even more so. As is true with every other walk of life, mistakes in politics shrink to insignificance if you win and are magnified beyond their actual importance if you lose.

The hard truth is that from the moment Mr. Obama announced his candidacy in Springfield, Ill., on Feb. 10, 2007, Mrs. Clinton was facing a candidate with greater skills than any candidate her husband had ever faced in his life.

Rather than looking at this as an isolated race, I prefer to look at this as part of a trend starting in earlier primaries. Often we have had a front runner and establishment candidate facing an insurgent candidate such as Barack Obama. Typically the insurgent is beaten early in the primaries and the establishment candidate goes on to win.

This year was different. As Bob Kerrey notes, the insurgent candidate was far more talented than those running in the past. We have often had the more educated and affluent Democratic voters backing the insurgent, but we lacked the votes to win. This year the addition of the black voters gave the insurgents the majority. This was certainly helped by the tactical errors made by Clinton, including failing to compete in the caucus states and deciding to take the low road which repulsed even many in the party establishment.

Clinton also had the wrong message. This included her support for going to war in Iraq, as Kathleen Hall Jamieson wrote, but extended to other issues. With the conventional wisdom erroneously claiming that the two held the same beliefs most voters were unaware of all the differences, but the core of their beliefs did come through as her similarities to George Bush became increasingly apparent.

Ultimately the campaign lost because of their candidate. Peggy Noonan did a far better job of explaining Clinton’s loss in The Wall Street Journal than any of the writers for The New York Times.

Mrs. Clinton would have been a disaster as president. Mr. Obama may prove a disaster, and John McCain may, but she would be. Mr. Obama may lie, and Mr. McCain may lie, but she would lie. And she would have brought the whole rattling caravan of Clintonism with her—the scandal-making that is compulsive, the drama that is unending, the sheer, daily madness that is her, and him.

We have been spared this. Those who did it deserve to be thanked. May I rise in a toast to the Democratic Party.

They had a great and roaring fight, a state-by-state struggle unprecedented in the history of presidential primaries. They created the truly national primary. They brought 36 million people to the polls, including the young, minorities and first-time voters. They brought a kind of dogged brio to the year.

All of this is impressive, but more than that, they threw off Clintonism. They threw off the idea that corruption is part of the game, an acceptable fact. They threw off the idea that dynasticism was an unstoppable dynamic in modern politics, that Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton could, would, go on forever. They said: “No, that is not the way we do it.”

They threw off the idea of inevitability. Mrs. Clinton didn’t lose because she had no money or organization, she didn’t lose because she had no fame or name, she didn’t lose because her policies were unusual or dramatically unpopular within her party. She lost because enough Democrats looked at her and thought: I don’t like that, I don’t like the way she does it, I’m not going there. Most candidates lose over things, not over their essential nature. But that is what happened here. For all her accomplishments and success, it was her sketchy character that in the end did her in.

And Now Even Peggy Noonan Sounds Less Like A Right Winger than Hillary

At least on Jeremiah Wright:

I am out of step. There is something that is upsetting others whom I care about and whose thoughts are often not unlike my own. And it’s not hitting me the same way.

I am referring to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I disagree with and disapprove of the things he says. The U.S. government did not spread AIDS among the black community, 9/11 was not the chickens coming home to roost, etc. He seems like a bright man, warm, humorous and compelling, but also needful and demanding of the spotlight, a showman prone to crackpottery, and I have to wonder how much respect he has for his congregation. He shows a lot of fury and does a lot of yelling for a leader of the followers of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…

I also think that if Hillary Clinton wins because of the Wright scandal, it will leave a sad taste in the mouths of many. Mr. Obama reveals many things in his books, speeches and interviews but polarity and a tropism toward the extreme are not among them. What happened with Mr. Wright should not determine the race. Mr. Obama’s stands, his ability to convince us he can make good change, his ability to be “one of us,” that great challenge for a national politician in a varied nation, should determine the race.

Obama Receiving Praise and An Endorsement From Republicans

Some partisans will oppose members of the other party regardless of what they say or believe. Others are willing to consider specific statements and perhaps even support members of the other party. Obama’s speech on race provides a good litmus test. Conservatives who attack the speech are likely to attack anything said by a Democrat purely because it comes form the other party, while more open minded Republicans have found this speech worthy of praise.

One example of praise for Obama’s speech comes from Christopher Caldwell,  a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, in an op-ed in the Financial Times. Normally I would post an excerpt but there are really no excerpts which would do justice to the full article.

Peggy Noonan had an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal labeling this A Thinking Man’s Speech:

The speech assumed the audience was intelligent. This was a compliment, and I suspect was received as a gift. It also assumed many in the audience were educated. I was grateful for this, as the educated are not much addressed in American politics.

Here I point out an aspect of the speech that may have a beneficial impact on current rhetoric. It is assumed now that a candidate must say a silly, boring line — “And families in Michigan matter!” or “What I stand for is affordable quality health care!” — and the audience will clap. The line and the applause make, together, the eight-second soundbite that will be used tonight on the news, and seen by the people. This has been standard politico-journalistic procedure for 20 years.

Mr. Obama subverted this in his speech. He didn’t have applause lines. He didn’t give you eight seconds of a line followed by clapping. He spoke in full and longish paragraphs that didn’t summon applause. This left TV producers having to use longer-than-usual soundbites in order to capture his meaning. And so the cuts of the speech you heard on the news were more substantial and interesting than usual, which made the coverage of the speech better. People who didn’t hear it but only saw parts on the news got a real sense of what he’d said.

If Hillary or John McCain said something interesting, they’d get more than an eight-second cut too. But it works only if you don’t write an applause-line speech. It works only if you write a thinking speech.

They should try it.

Obama also received not only praise but an out right endorsement form one Republican, Douglas W. Kmiec. Kmiec’s biography makes this an endorsement of some significance:

Douglas W. Kmiec is Caruso Family Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University. He served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel (U.S. Assistant Attorney General) for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Former Dean of the law school at The Catholic University of America, Professor Kmiec was a member of the law faculty for nearly two decades at the University of Notre Dame.

Kmiec wrote:

Today I endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States.  I believe him to be a person of integrity, intelligence and genuine good will. I take him at his word that he wants to move the nation beyond its religious and racial divides and to return United States to that company of nations committed to human rights.  I do not know if his earlier life experience is sufficient for the challenges of the presidency that lie ahead.  I doubt we know this about any of the men or women we might select.  It likely depends upon the serendipity of the events that cannot be foreseen.  I do have confidence that the Senator will cast his net widely in search of men and women of diverse, open-minded views and of superior intellectual qualities to assist him in the wide range of responsibilities that he must superintend…

In various ways, Senator Barack Obama and I may disagree on aspects of these important fundamentals, but I am convinced based upon his public pronouncements and his personal writing that on each of these questions he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view, and as best as it is humanly possible, he will respect and accommodate them.

Peggy Noonan Considers Obama The Bulletproof Candidate

I’ve noted before, including in this post last night, how Obama would be a much stronger candidate against John McCain than Hillary Clinton. Democrats remain evenly split on their choice, but Republicans appear united in realizing which Democrat would pose the greatest threat to them. On the way to the office this morning I heard Matthew Dowd interviewed on NPR as he discussed how Republicans realize that Obama would be a more difficult candidate to run against. Now looking at The Wall Street Journal I see that Peggy Noonan is writing the same:

He is the brilliant young black man as American dream. No consultant, no matter how opportunistic and hungry, will think it easy–or professionally desirable–to take him down in a low manner. If anything, they’ve learned from the Clintons in South Carolina what that gets you. (I add that yes, there are always freelance mental cases, who exist on both sides and are empowered by modern technology. They’ll make their YouTubes. But the mad are ever with us, and this year their work will likely stay subterranean.)

With Mr. Obama the campaign will be about issues. “He’ll raise your taxes.” He will, and I suspect Americans may vote for him anyway. But the race won’t go low.

Mrs. Clinton would be easier for Republicans. With her cavalcade of scandals, they’d be delighted to go at her. They’d get medals for it. Consultants would get rich on it.

The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it’s fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof.

The biggest problem for the Republicans will be that no matter what they say that is not issue oriented–“He’s too young, he’s never run anything, he’s not fully baked”–the mainstream media will tag them as dealing in racial overtones, or undertones. You can bet on this. Go to the bank on it.

The Democrats continue not to recognize what they have in this guy. Believe me, Republican professionals know. They can tell.

Win or lose, it would be an improvement if the election remains based upon issues as opposed to a repeat of Rove style attack politics. We already saw Clinton resort to trying to Swift Boat Obama, but her dishonest tactics failed. During the process Clinton showed both why she is the poorer choice to be president. Obama remains a better choice both on character and because he has shown that he can respond effectively to diffuse Rove style attacks. Obama might not really be bulletproof as Noonan says, but a candidate like Obama can finally force Republicans to get out of the gutter or pay the consequences.

Bipartisan Group Meeting To Consider Unity Government

For years the Republicans have ruled from the extreme right based and forcing the moderates out of their party until they wound up in the present situation where they first lost Congress and now look likely to lose the White House. Rather than learning from this experience, many Democrats are supporting John Edwards, who proposes to do exactly the same with his newly-adopted extreme populist polices. Numerous posts on liberal blogs, as well as writings from Paul Krugman, have promoted such hyper-partisanship, even to the point of dismissing Obama as undesirable. If the Democrats should be so foolish as to go this route, or to nominate Hillary Clinton who is also opposed by a considerable portion of the electorate, it will serve them right if they are denied the White House due to a new force in politics.

The Washington Post reports that Michael Bloomberg will be meeting with a group of Democrats and Republicans on January 7 to discuss developing a government of national unity. This would possibly include supporting a third party candidate for president. While they do not specifically bill this as backing Bloomberg, considering the money he would bring to such a campaign this would be the most likely outcome. Multiple supporters of the effort are mentioned:

Conveners of the meeting include such prominent Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.), and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman…

The list of acceptances suggests that the group could muster the financial and political firepower to make the threat of such a candidacy real. Others who have indicated that they plan to attend the one-day session include William S. Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and defense secretary in the Clinton administration; Alan Dixon, a former Democratic senator from Illinois; Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida; Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa; Susan Eisenhower, a political consultant and granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower; David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; and Edward Perkins, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Historically third parties have performed poorly, but the situation is now quite different. Both parties are in danger of being controlled by their extremes leaving many people who feel that neither party represents them. The internet provides a mechanism for organization and fund raising which can challenge the advantages of the established parties. Bloomberg’s wealth would further decrease the advantages of the major parties, and the campaign could get off the ground more quickly than the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican nominees. In 2004, after clinching the Democratic nomination, John Kerry had to spend most of his time raising money before his campaign got off the ground. Without the advantages of incumbency, and with decreased contributions to Republicans this year, they would also be in a similar situation. Should either party have a protracted primary campaign they could be at an even further disadvantage. Ross Perot led the major party candidates in the polls at one point, and Bloomberg would be a much more “reasonable” candidate to borrow from Peggy Noonan’s recent analysis.

The chances of success of such an effort will depend upon who the major parties nominate. There have been rumors since their recent meeting that Bloomberg will not run if Obama is the Democratic nominee, and such a challenge would be futile considering Obama’s support among independents, many moderate Republicans, and even some libertarians who are disillusioned with Paul’s social conservatism and ties to right wing extremists.

Bloomberg’s best chance for victory would be if John Edwards received the Democratic nomination. In such a three way race, Bloomberg would prevent Edwards from winning the electoral votes of the east and west coasts. The Republicans would take the south and mountain states, and the midwest would be a battleground where Edwards would also have a difficult job winning many states. In such a situation many Democrats might ultimately decide to go with Bloomberg as opposed to risking support for Edwards who would place them in danger of coming in third. With Edwards made irrelevant, Bloomberg could then take the blue states and be more competitive than the Democrats have been in several red states. His chances would be best if Mike Huckabee won the Republican nomination as many Wall Street and country club Republicans would prefer Bloomberg over him.

There are many other possible scenarios. Knocking out the Republicans would be even easier if Ron Paul won the nomination, but this is hardly within the realm of reality. If Clinton won the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg would have a more difficult job of winning than if Edwards won the nomination, but with Clinton’s negatives a victory still might be possible. Even if Bloomberg could not win, such a candidacy would dramatically change the election and all previous predictions of the outcome would be irrelevant.

Update: Liberal Hostility To Bipartisanship

Peggy Noonan’s Fairly Reasonable Assessment of the Candidates

Peggy Noonan reviews the candidates from both parties based upon whether she finds the candidates “reasonable” as opposed to whether they share her ideology. As a result of looking beyond ideology, I must say that Noonan does a far more reasonable job of assessing the candidates than I would expect from a conservative columnist at The Wall Street Journal. She is also far more reasonable than some of the liberal bloggers who are distorting what she wrote.

Looking at the Democratic race, Noonan starts with Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, writing “They have been United States senators for a combined 62 years. They’ve read a raw threat file or two. They have experience, sophistication, the long view. They know how it works. No one will have to explain it to them.” She also briefly mentions Bill Richardson as being a reasonable choice. She finds Barack Obama to be reasonable, even if having some reservations which aren’t totally unreasonable:

He has earned the attention of the country with a classy campaign, with a disciplined and dignified staff, and with passionate supporters such as JFK hand Ted Sorensen, who has told me he sees in Obama’s mind and temperament the kind of gifts Kennedy displayed during the Cuban missile crisis. Mr. Obama is thoughtful, and it would be a pleasure to have a president who is highly literate and a writer of books.

Is he experienced enough? No. He’s not old enough either. Men in their 40s love drama too much. Young politicians on fire over this issue or that tend to see politics as a stage on which they can act out their greatness. And we don’t need more theatrics, more comedies or tragedies. But Mr. Obama doesn’t seem on fire. He seems like a calm liberal with a certain moderating ambivalence. The great plus of his candidacy: More than anyone else he turns the page. If he rises he is something new in history, good or bad, and a new era begins.

Noonan finds problems with Hillary Clinton which do make sense, although I can’t agree with her ranking of Clinton compared to Nixon:

Hillary Clinton? No, not reasonable. I concede her sturdy mind, deep sophistication, and seriousness of intent. I see her as a triangulator like her husband, not a radical but a maneuverer in the direction of a vague, half-forgotten but always remembered, leftism. It is also true that she has a command-and-control mentality, an urgent, insistent and grating sense of destiny, and she appears to believe that any act that benefits Clintons is a virtuous act, because Clintons are good and deserve to be benefited.

But this is not, actually, my central problem with her candidacy. My central problem is that the next American president will very likely face another big bad thing, a terrible day, or days, and in that time it will be crucial–crucial–that our nation be led by a man or woman who can be, at least for the moment and at least in general, trusted. Mrs. Clinton is the most dramatically polarizing, the most instinctively distrusted, political figure of my lifetime. Yes, I include Nixon. Would she be able to speak the nation through the trauma? I do not think so. And if I am right, that simple fact would do as much damage to America as the terrible thing itself.

I also agree with her assessment of John Edwards, writing, “All the Democrats would raise taxes as president, but Mr. Edwards’s populism is the worst of both worlds, both intemperate and insincere.” It would have been better if she went into further detail about how Edwards is not qualified to be president, and she is being kind in limiting her description of an opportunistic phony such as Edwards as merely being “insincere.” Joining Noonan in looking at character over ideology, with the exception of George Bush we have rarely seen a candidate so unfit to be president have such a real shot at the job. Bob Shrum elaborated more than Noonan in calling Edwards a “lightweight,” a “hyper-ambitious phony” and “a Clinton who hadn’t read the books.”

Unfortuantely Noonan couldn’t resist one trivial shot in writing, “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.” This line, which does weaken the column, has been taken out of context by some bloggers suggesting that this one throw away line is characteristic of her entire column. James Joyner also notes that Glenn Greenwald is inaccurate in his criticism. The YouTube video is hardly the major reason why Edwards should not be president, and is not Noonan’s major objection. While out of place in a column of this nature, the video shouldn’t be totally ignored either. The video actually does capture the shallowness of John Edwards, which is the real issue as opposed to Edwards not being a “real man.” Sure it is possible that any candidate might look foolish if videotaped while combing their hair, but it is no coincidence that such a video has come to represent John Edwards specifically.

On the Republican side, Noonan considers John McCain, Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter, and Fred Thompson to be reasonable. My view of Romney as reasonable has declined the more I see him campaign. While both Edwards and Romney have changed their views out of political expediency, and both appear “insincere” to me, Noonan is far more forgiving of Romney. She also considers Rudy Giuliani to be reasonable. While I disagree I’ll give her a pass on that one as she also writes, “He is reasonable but not desirable. If he wins somewhere, I’ll explain.” As long as she realizes that Giuliani is not desirable it is possible we agree on him.

Noonan doesn’t elaborate as to why she doesn’t consider Huckabee to be unreasonable in this column, but did express her views of him in a column I discussed a couple of weeks ago. Huckabee is also notable for being one of only two candidates left in the race who are foolish enough to admit they don’t believe in evolution. The other, Ron Paul, is not mentioned but few would expect Paul to be considered in any review of candidates based upon being reasonable, with some of the reasons noted in a post yesterday following his discussion of a possible third party candidacy. Not surprisingly, she also left out Alan Keyes, and on the Democratic side she left out Kucinich and Gravel.

The Festivus Airing of Grievances

Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participant at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In past years I have done an blog version in which I aired my grievances about George Bush. As Bush is now a lame duck, it is time to move on to those who are seeking to replace him.

John McCain: My disagreements with you regarding your support for George Bush and the war, as well as your views on social issues, apply to most of the Republican candidates. In your case I will add one other grievance–your claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

Mitt Romney: After governing in a blue state you had the opportunity to help bring this country together by stopping the pandering of the Republican Party to the religious right. Instead you flip-flopped on issue after issue, the result being that you are trusted or respected by neither the left or the right. I hope you have learned your lesson as the Republicans are rejecting you for your religious views while liberals couldn’t care less what religion you are as long as you are willing to respect our heritage of separation of church and state.

Rudy Giuliani: You could have also brought liberal social values to the Republican Party, but like Mitt you preferred to pander to the religious right. Your demagoguery on 9/11 and national security can only work for so long, and your lack of respect for civil liberties is even making some conservatives nervous.

Mike Huckabee: You don’t know much about foreign policy, and your tax ideas are somewhat weird also. You share the same problems with all the Republicans on foreign policy and social issues, but the manner in which you bring religion into politics even makes some conservatives like Peggy Noonan feel uncomfortable.

Fred Thompson: I’ll deal with you when you wake up from your nap.

Ron Paul: Unlike the other Republican candidates you are right on Iraq and civil liberties, but anyone who takes opposing the federal government as the default position on all issues is bound to be right quite often. Your defense of the Constitution would make more sense if you were defending the Constitution as the framers actually intended it as opposed to ignoring those aspects which you personally disagree with, such as separation of church and state. Denial of this basic principle, as well as your views on states rights could lead to less as opposed to more freedom in much of the country. Your denial of basic science seen in your uninformed comments on evolution, along with your belief in ridiculous conspiracy theories raises serious concerns about whether you are out of touch with reality. Your ethics are also questioned when you fail to understand why a contribution from a white supremacist should be returned. Your past writings about blacks being prone to violence and lacking sensible opinions only exacerbates these concerns, which are not relieved by your claims that your newsletter was actually authored by others.

Bill Richardson: I had much higher hopes for you earlier in the race but, barring a late miracle, it doesn’t look like your campaign is going anywhere. I had hoped you would bring a real debate to the race over economic policy but we had to settle for a simplistic push for a balanced budget amendment.

Hillary Clinton: During the CNN/You Tube debate you tried to distance yourself from the word “liberal.” Too often you often seem to want to distance yourself from liberal positions as well to make yourself more acceptable to conservative voters. The only form of liberalism you consistently practice is big government liberalism of the worst type as problems are only addressed by increased government management of people’s lives. This was most clearly seen in HillaryCare I, but remnants remain in HillaryCare II making me question if you learned anything from the first fiasco. Your foreign policy views are not reassuring either as what counts was knowing whether it made sense to go to war before it occurred, not to jump on the anti-war bandwagon years later.

John Edwards: I doubt that there has been a candidate in recent history who has shown such a chance of winning a major party nomination who is so poorly qualified. Bob Shrum got it right in calling you a “lightweight,” a “hyper-ambitious phoney” and “a Clinton who hadn’t read the books.” Your only real skill is an amazing ability, seen in your legal, business, and now political careers, to convince some that you have altruistic motives when your real goal is to increase your own wealth and power. There’s little difference between the junk science you used to win legal cases and the junk economics you now are using to try to win the Iowa caucus. Your commitment to liberal principles is even more suspect than Hillary Clinton’s between your relatively weak commitment to reversing the expanded power of the presidency to your health care plan which would make everything, including preventative care, mandatory.

Barack Obama: I am still waiting for more of the promised specifics of your plans. You do show an excellent ability to at least show consideration of all views, but I’m not yet certain if this is a matter of framing or ideology which will impact the final policy. My suspicion is that in a couple of years I will be writing a number of blog posts disagreeing with some of your actions as president, but things will be far better than if any of your major opponents were to win.

Peggy Noonan Finds Modern Republicans To Be Too Extreme For Ronald Reagan

In some ways I am really happy to see the rise of Huckabee in the Republican race as this is causing many conservatives to question the direction the party has moved. In the past Republicans such as Ronald Reagan have used the religious right to get votes but have typically only thrown them a few bones. Now that the religious right has become dominant in the party, many Republicans are questioning whether this is the direction they really want the party to move in. Peggy Noonan writes that the increased importance of religion in the Republican race is not progress. She writes:

Christian conservatives have been rising, most recently, for 30 years in national politics, since they helped elect Jimmy Carter. They care about the religious faith of their leaders, and their interest is legitimate. Faith is a shaping force. Lincoln got grilled on it. But there is a sense in Iowa now that faith has been heightened as a determining factor in how to vote, that such things as executive ability, professional history, temperament, character, political philosophy and professed stands are secondary, tertiary.

But they are not, and cannot be. They are central. Things seem to be getting out of kilter, with the emphasis shifting too far.

I’ve noted several times in the past that, while many conservatives see Barry Goldwater as the founder of their movement, Goldwater rejected the influence of the religious right. Noonan notes that the party has now gone too far even for the conservative hero Ronald Reagan:

I wonder if our old friend Ronald Reagan could rise in this party, this environment. Not a regular churchgoer, said he experienced God riding his horse at the ranch, divorced, relaxed about the faiths of his friends and aides, or about its absence. He was a believing Christian, but he spent his adulthood in relativist Hollywood, and had a father who belonged to what some saw, and even see, as the Catholic cult. I’m just not sure he’d be pure enough to make it in this party. I’m not sure he’d be considered good enough.

That’s what we now have. A Republican Party which as become so extreme that not only has it moved beyond Barry Goldwater, who called himself a liberal in his later years, but which has become even too extreme for Ronald Reagan to be welcome.