Former President Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan is generally not held in high regard among speechwriters. Her former colleagues in the Reagan White House see her as a glory hog, and speechwriters who don't know her … well, they think she's a glory hog, too.
But this morning, the glory hog finds crow in her trough, after writing this post two days ago on her Monday Morning blog at The Wall Street Journal.
It wasn't just that she predicted Mitt Romney would win the election—and really, what was the social utility of predicting the outcome of an election one day before?—it was the Noonanesque way in which she did it. Who but Noonan writes sentences like this?
think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in 'like a thief with good
tools,' in Walker Percy’s old words. While everyone is looking at the
polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s
quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while."'
"Among the wisest words spoken
this cycle were by John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate, who said, in a
conversation the night before the last presidential debate, that he
thought maybe the American people were quietly cooking something up,
something we don’t know about. I think they are and I think it’s this: a Romney win."
"In some new way he’s caught his stride. He looks happy and grateful.
His closing speech has been positive, future-looking, sweetly
"All the vibrations are right."
"Something old is roaring back. One of the Romney campaign’s surrogates,
who appeared at a rally with him the other night, spoke of the
intensity and joy of the crowd 'I worked the rope line, people
wouldn’t let go of my hand.' It startled him."
"Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re
not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper
instead of what’s in front of us?"
"And there is Obama, out there seeming tired and wan, showing up through
sheer self discipline. A few weeks ago I saw the president and the
governor at the Al Smith dinner, and both were beautiful specimens in
their white ties and tails, and both worked the dais. But sitting there
listening to the jokes and speeches, the archbishop of New York sitting
between them, Obama looked like a young challenger—flinty, not so
comfortable. He was distracted, and his smiles seemed forced. He looked
like a man who’d just seen some bad internal polling. Romney?
Expansive, hilarious, self-spoofing, with a few jokes of finely
calibrated meanness that were just perfect for the crowd. He looked
like a president. He looked like someone who’d just seen good
"Of all people, Obama would know if he is in trouble. … He would know if he’s losing now,
and it would explain his joylessness on the stump. He is out there
doing what he has to to fight the fight. … His crowds haven’t been big. His people have
struggled to fill various venues. This must hurt the president after
the trememdous, stupendous crowds of ’08. … His campaign doesn’t seem
president-sized. It is small and sad and lost, driven by formidable
will and zero joy."
"I suspect both Romney and Obama have a sense of what’s coming, and it’s
part of why Romney looks so peaceful and Obama so roiled."
Aside from enjoying its warming qualities, what to make of such hot air? Is this someone who doesn't value her credibility? Or who doesn't believe readers have memories? Maybe, like a lot of people I've noticed during this election cycle, she believes that what is said today will be forgotten by tomorrow. It's one thing for a politician to work on an etch-a-sketch—but could a writer possibly think the same way?
I hesitate to speculate.
As all writers should.