By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Peggy Noonan meant what she said

You’ve got to read Peggy Noonan’s take on Sarah Palin and the debate in today’s Wall Street Journal. Last month, Noonan tried to deny the obvious when an open microphone caught her referring to the Palin pick as “political bullshit.” Well, check this out:

I find obnoxious the political game in which if you expressed doubts about the vice presidential nominee, or criticized her, you were treated as if you were knocking the real America — small towns, sound values. “It’s time that normal Joe Six-Pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency,” Mrs. Palin told talk-show host Hugh Hewitt. This left me trying to imagine Abe Lincoln saying he represents “backwoods types,” or FDR announcing that the fading New York aristocracy deserves another moment in the sun. I’m not sure the McCain campaign is aware of it — it’s possible they are — but this is subtly divisive.

There’s gold in every paragraph.

Noonan is scheduled to appear on “On Point” on WBUR Radio (90.9 FM) at 11 a.m.

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Live-blogging the Palin-Biden debate


A good night for Obama


  1. mike_b1

    Since when does Joe Six-Pack know what’s best for the country? Joe Six-Pack doesn’t even know to visit the dentist at least once a decade. (A lot of Bible thumpers are also teetotalers, btw, and wouldn’t take kindly to the insinuation they drink beer, be it from a can or any other container.)Not to mention almost the entire country lives in urban areas and thinks those in the country are hick morons.Talk about alienating the voters.

  2. mike_b1

    The Chicago Tribune, which has never endorsed a Democrat for President, scores it a knockout for Biden, dismissing the vapid Palin as painfully inexperienced.

  3. Sean Roche

    Gold in every paragraph? Not even good-quality dross. Noonan is a hack and it shows.Joe Biden seems to have walked in thinking that she was an idiot and that he only had to patiently wait for this fact to reveal itself. This was a miscalculation. He showed great forbearance. Too much forbearance. She said of his intentions on Iraq, “Your plan is a white flag of surrender.” This deserved an indignant response, or at least a small bop on the head, from Mr. Biden, who has been for five years righter on Iraq than the Republican administration. He was instead mild.This deserves an indignant response? How about an indignant review by someone who had the luxury of time to digest the comment? Where is Noonan’s outrage that she would drag the discourse down to such a level. (Guarantee you, her deity — Ronald Reagan — would never have stooped so low.)And, Noonan has already been proven wrong. Independents didn’t find Palin’s performance “effective.” Only pundits tuned into talking points find ignoring questions a good tactic. The people who want to learn about candidates, who care about the issues reflected in the question, are turned off when a candidate ignores their surrogate — here Gwen Ifill. This is an important insight that the punditocracy is only beginning to understand.Dan, you are, as usual, much too kind to a member of the media elite. (Or your sarcasm is much too subtle.)

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Sean: Noonan is a bona fide, red-blooded conservative, and I’m fascinated by the extent to which she’s willing to go after someone on her side. I fear that the first Noonan column you’ll like is the one in which she declares she’s become a liberal, and that she’s been wrong for the past 30 years.

  5. Sean Roche

    What we learned when the mic was on is that Noonan only plays a bona fide, red-blooded conservative on the teevee and on the editorial page of the WSJ.The first Noonan column I’ll like is the one that doesn’t distort the facts to make a political point. (I do think her Reagan adoration is genuine.)I fear that you’re harder on your loyal commenters than on the media you cover. (I’ll get over it.)

  6. mike_b1

    I’m willing to believe Noonan has no principles, or at least, not where there’s a paycheck involved. But I should point out that it was Noonan’s work that (along with a heavy dose of Hortonism) won the first election for George Bush despite the obvious glaring deficiencies of the candidate, and which paved the road for the current debacle. She’s had a hand, then, in every winning GOP election since Reagan. It’s hard to question her GOP credentials.

  7. Tony

    I guess I'm in a strange minority on this. The fact that Sarah Palin seems like a completely "normal" red-blooded American who will be a heartbeat away from the presidency if McCain wins is refreshing to me. I watched last night's debate and found her nervousness and lack of specifics about things she knows nothing about to be a fresh perspective to the know-it-alls like Joe Biden who are constantly doing one thing, saying another, and then lecturing the rest of us about what is best [McCain is guilty of this too, note the pork-filled bailout bill he just voted for …]. Everyday commonsense is everyday commonsense, for lack of a better term and I think we need a bit more of this. We need, at least on the economic level, more localism, more Bailey Building & Loan banks, etc., and less of what both parties have been giving us. Neither political party will deliver what we need now more than ever. Look at what they are doing with the bailout? It's crazy. Admittedly, despite Palin's seemingly ordinariness, I won't vote for the ticket because I don't agree with them on much. I'm unlikely to vote for Obama-Biden at this point either. Biden is part of the problem. In addition, Obama has surrounded himself with some of the Clintonistas who helped to start this economic mess. But it would truly be really nice if regular folks – Joe Six Pack, lunch bucket Dems, whatever you want to call them [us?] – got some access to power so we can bring some everyday commonsense back into the equation of how our government runs, how our economy functions, etc. We have all seen what the educated and investor classes – the supposed "smart" people – have done to the nation, with the help of both political parties and their insatiable lust for power and greed at our expense and our children's expense. Again, look around you. Would anyone trust a word an Ivy League-educated economist, business major, etc., says at this point when you consider that hell they have put us "regular" folks through? Nope, sorry.

  8. The Arranger

    Tony: “Common sense” is what unintelligent people claim to have to make themselves feel better. I think having an “average American” as president would work about as well as having an “average American” pitch tonight’s playoff game.Lay off the Capra-corn! If you want to see a vintage film about how right-wingers try to woo their public with folksy ways, try “A Face in the Crowd.” It’s not a long journey from “Lonseome Rhoades to “Nowhere Bridge.”Bob in Peabody

  9. io saturnalia!

    I don’t care about answering the questions the way you or the moderator want, I’m just going to speak directly to the American people.Judas Priest rules!Does that seem like an effective rhetorical tack?(Judas Priest does rule, though.)

  10. Tony

    Sorry Bob, we’ll agree to disagree. After watching what “intelligent” people have done to the country, the economy, the world, etc., during the last 15 to 27 years, I’ll take some everyday commonsense.

  11. mike_b1

    Tony, you miss the point. Ordinary people took out loans they couldn’t afford. Intelligent people ripped them off. Intelligent people made lots of money. Ordinary people are about to lose their houses (which they never should have had in the first place).It was Clinton’s people and policies that got the country jump-started after years of Republican nonsense. It took Bush less than one year to undo all that. It will likely take Obama an entire term or more to fix all the failed GOP policies. No ordinary person could understand that. But intelligent people do.

  12. Tony

    Mike, you’re missing the points big time. 1) The subprime mortgage mess is only a small symptom to the current economic disaster. The larger problem of free trade and how we have literally sent trillions of dollars of our wealth overseas … brought to us by all those smart economists who somehow don’t know how to subtract. It dwarfs the loan problem. 2) Those smart people at the fed caused the subprime debacle. Most folks were doing just fine paying off their ARM mortgages in a shaky economy until the fed started raising rates in late 2004 to 2005. The rate went from 1 percent to 5.25 percent in a little more than a year in a effort to “curb” nonexistent inflation. In reaction, the banks jacked up the rate of the ARMs and put a ton of folks into foreclosure. Those people could afford 5 or 6 percent; they couldn’t afford 9 or 12 percent. Many of these people were conned, sure. But many people would have been just fine had the fed not intervened and allowed the economy to grow instead of tinkering. Their tinkering collapsed the economy. 3) Clinton, and the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, brought on the free trade pacts which have put millions of people out of work and sent trillions of dollars in wealth overseas based on a fraudulent economic concept. Our country’s economy was put in direct competition with people who make pennies on the dollar … by all those smart people. As a subset, the services sector never grew to compensate the lost manufacturing. For every manufacturing job, another seven jobs are created around that job. In the services sector, it is two for every one. So, you can see, by simple addition and subtraction, how those things happened. 4) If you believe your theory, I will assume you are voting for Republicans, since John McCain and John Sununu attempted to reign in Freddie and Fannie from the Democrats who let them run wild in an attempt to expand affordable housing. In addition, it was Robert Rubin who was the one who regulated most of these banks. Note: He’s at Citibank now and Obama is in his pocket. You can also thank Ralph Nader who has been complaining about all of this stuff for years and years. It is a facetious question, obviously, given your previous posts. 5) Lastly, most everything that I have discussed, beyond some people being conned and wanting a piece of the American dream, was brought on by the educated and investor classes. They have clearly shown themselves to be clueless and lacking commonsense. Again, it is a good time to start taking a different approach.

  13. mike_b1

    Wrong, all wrong. I don’t have enough time to debunk it all, but while the Fed controls the nation’s monetary policy, its main motive is to control inflation (which they do a pretty good job at). The Fed sets the overnight rate by which banks borrow money, not the 1-year rate by which ARMs are based. So you’re confusing some things there.2) The free trade pacts had zero impact on job loss; indeed, job growth grew during that time Clinton was in office. And “trillions of dollars overseas,” Tony? Look up our GDP sometime, please. 3) You can’t seem to make up your mind whether it was the Fed or Clinton or Congress that was responsible for putting “millions of people out of work” (sometime, you should look up just how many people actually leave the workforce each year for means other than death or planned retirement. It’s not a big number. When you figure out just what the cause was, give me a call. 4) Can’t tell whether you are for more regulation or less. Which makes you sound a lot like Palin.”Math is hard, Kevin.”

  14. bob gardner

    Noonan’s column had a familiar sound to me. Not answering questions? Ignoring everything but the camera? It sounds to me a lot like the Reagan years.

  15. Tony

    Mike: I’m for more regulation … a lot more. Naderite regulation. Always have been. The point I was making is that it is a combination of things which has brought us to this point … all brought on by the investor and educated classes. I just pointed to two main ones: Globalization and the loan mess. Both didn’t need to happen and were perpetuated by bad public policy foisted upon ordinary folks by the investor/educated classes.Let’s look at some of the facts. First, the fed raising the rate from 1 percent to 5.25 percent between mid-2004 and 2005 caused the mortgage crisis, pure and simple. We were all reading about it in the Wall Street Journal as far back as the first quarter of 2006 when the housing started slowing down and the gas prices started rising. Clinton, and Republicrats in both parties passing bad trade deals created the difficult economic climate. You could say that this was extended by Bush, the Republican Congress, and the Democrats since 2006 have failed to do anything to stop the slide. Some figures. Since 2001, the annual trade deficit has increased more than $300 billion annually and 3.8 million manufacturing jobs have been lost, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s not the total deficit, that’s just the last seven years! How much is $300 billion? Well, just 12 million modestly-priced $250,000 homes. And that’s just the deficit – the negative difference between imports and exports. Never mind the actual imports, things that could be made here or at the very least, taxed with a tariff to raise revenue instead of nailing us with income taxes all the time.Record trade deficits have made the overall U.S. economy is about $1.5 trillion smaller than it should be right now. Another important figure, again, getting back to economists needing to learn how to subtract as well as add: For every single manufacturing job, there are seven other jobs connected to it. Every time Toyota opens a plant in the U.S. and hires 5,000 people, another 35,000 people are hired around those jobs: The insurance people, HR, food and restaurants, etc. So, when those 5,000 jobs are lost, the other jobs connected to those jobs are also lost. Using their own figures, the potential net job loss since 2001? 27 million. Since 1993 when NAFTA was passed? Who knows. It is estimated by one of the elite think tanks, I forget which one, that 30 percent of the country is either unemployed, underemployed, or fallen off the rolls. The 6 percent figure is a fallacy and everyone knows it. This would back up the other figures.Then there is the war, brought on by both parties, spending hundreds of billions … Do I really need to go on?

  16. mike_b1

    “Math is hard, Kevin.” The US economy was about $9.255 trillion in 1999 and it was $13.84 trillion in 2007. So you’re saying it should have been more than $15 billion last year? Based on what evidence?And the trade deficit is largely smoke and mirrors: deduct the weakness of the dollar and most of it goes away.As for manufacturing jobs, why should we care? The services sector grew faster and larger, more than compensating for a bunch of menial, labor intensive jobs. And the history of economics shows you need to rid yourself of the old jobs to make way for new ones. The next generation of manufacturing will be in nanotech and other highly complex industries. If 27 million jobs were lost — a dubious figure as it represents nearly 10% of the US population! — even more were created. Further, unemployment under Clinton started at 7.3% and through 1999 was 4.2% — the lowest point in 30 years.You can complain all you want about NAFTA et al, but the truth is the US under Clinton grew faster and employment dropped to levels economists didn’t even think were possible. It’s been Bush and his “spend it all on Iraq” looting of our nation that has so thoroughly damaged the economy. And since WW2, the economy has grown more under Democratic administrations than it has under Republicans. This idea that the GOP is superior in managing the economy is pure myth.And by the way, the Fed raises rates in order to control the flow of money, in the theory it will eventually slow inflation. You are again confusing the Fed’s role and how it ties to the mortgage markets.”Math is hard, Kevin.”

  17. Tony

    Clinton: I created 20 million new jobs.Ordinary constituent: Yeah, I have three of them. You factor in no population growth between 1993 and 2008 which water down the GDP growth you cite. When a country adds tens of millions of people, legal and illegal immigration, births, etc., the net effect of the GDP gets watered down. That’s why you can’t look at the GDP. It has no negative effect. A factor disassembling is a net positive to the GDP. The parts moving from the United States to China is an export. In other words, one can spout of GDP figures but that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter since negative things in society are often counted as a positive towards the GDP. Should the GDP be higher? Absolutely. And all the so-called experts say the same thing. Why do I trust them saying this when I don’t trust them other ways? Because the everyday, Main Street evidence, shows the same thing. The service sector did grow and then got hammered in the wake of the dot-con collapse. But even with that growth, the service sector only creates [or loses during a layoff] two jobs for every one job; manufacturing creates or loses seven jobs for every one. Obviously, you can see how this math works, using the Toyota example above. Add a different example: Citibank lays off 50,000. Well, another 100,000 people are connected to those 50,000 jobs. So the net loss effect will be 150,000, not 50,000, whenever this happens. This is just one bank. You can see how this would transpire into economic disaster for most folks. Trade deficits were here whether the dollar was weak or strong. In fact, the dollar has only truly been weak the last few years, mostly due to the country’s heavy borrowing to pay for the wars. But the data shows what the data shows. Go to the Census Bureau’s Web site and look for yourself. Add up all those deficits and you will see one of the root causes our nation’s economy: A massive transfer of wealth from inside our country to other countries. How do you think all those people in China could afford to buy all those cars when they could barely afford to ride bicycles just a couple of decades ago? The real unemployment rate, as I cited before, reflects that undercurrent. You can’t sample 60,000 people randomly and get what the jobless claims are for a nation of 300 million people. In fact, I know people in my own family who are out of work, working odd jobs, or who have collected part-time jobs who are not counted by anyone. They are all technically unemployed because they aren’t working a traditional full-time job and counted as such. There are millions and millions of examples like this. Lastly, EVERYONE … EV-RY-ONE acknowledges the millions of jobs lost due to NAFTA, GATT/WTO and how it has affected the economy. EVERYONE. Facts are hard Mike, especially when you are blinded by silly partisan politics which keep you from looking at the bigger picture and embracing reality.

  18. mike_b1

    “Math is hard, Kevin.” Since you seem intent on using up every word in the English language — and a few that aren’t — I’ll be brief: The population grew during the Clinton years. Duh. Yet unemployment cratered, something you choose to ignore. But again — since “math is hard, Kevin,” I’ll explain this once: The Census Bureau, which is the source of pretty much all the data you and I cite, adjusts the numbers annually to account for such changes. Yes, the facts are hard too, if you choose not to understand them.

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