Peggy Noonan Has Questions About Michelle Obama
Dame Peggington Noonington awakened in the New York Publick Librarie in a daze. She did not know what series of unfortunate events had led to this moment, but she vaguely remembered that last time this happened a passerby on 5th Avenue had transported her there, having found her on a stoop with eyes glazed over, muttering "Buk! Buk!" If we're being honest, she was choking on gin, but the well-meaning Good Samaritan took her for a woman craving classic literature, and Peggy was OK with allowing that illusion to stand.
As she stumbled toward the exit to summon her chauffeur -- Manuel, who was also her houseboy, who probably was responsible entirely for her current predicament, and would be subject to a talking-to about his derring-do as soon as Peggy's head stopped pounding -- she happened upon a display of new arrivals. "Buk! Buk!" she said. Swallowing hard, she grabbed a copy of Michelle Obama's book and went out onto the New York street without actually checking the book out.
Peggy arrived home safely, if a bit worse for the wear. She had been thinking about America's royal families a lot lately, especially the genteel women who serve as First Lady. She was particularly charmed by Melania Trump's show of wicked mischief last week, firing the deputy national security adviser without regret! Peggy remembered how fun it is to fire people and stuck a Post-it on her forehead to remind her to fire Manuel later, for leaving her destitute among the commoners at the librarie.
She has brought chic, American glamour and beautiful manners to the world's capitals.
Melania hasn't been perfect, Peggy admitted. But at least when Melania goes rogue, she goes rogue with intention, a quality Peggy has always appreciated in a woman, especially one as handsome as Melania.
(There was the "I Really Don't Care Do U?" jacket, but at least that was spirited.)
How jolly! What a jolly, jolly, mischievous girl!
Peggy was a jolly, mischievous girl.
Awash with nostalgia, Peggy removed the false bookcase that conceals her liquor closet and entered to decide what she wanted for dinner. (She had had it installed several years back after she caught the help in her sitting room playing cards and drinking wine coolers they had purchased at the bodega with their wages. You never can be too careful!)
Settling on a handle of, what a pleasant surprise, gin again, Peggy retrieved her quill pen and continued writing her weekly diary entry to the Wall Street Journal.
So it was a surprise to see her issue a hissy-fit of a statement about the deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel. "It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House." Yowza.
Granted, Ms. Ricardel's public reputation suggests she's quite a blunderbuss.
Peggy did not know what had gotten into her, as she was seldom taken to coarse or ribald language. She finished her dinner and began dessert, which was still gin.
Having called Mira Ricardel a total bitch, Peggy concluded the Melania section of her diary by coming this close to saying the first lady was probably possessed by Hillary Clinton when she went on her little firing escapade.
Now about that Michelle Obama book! Peggy read it, and it delighted her! But she couldn't silence the one nagging question in her gut. (Wait, was that a question nagging in her gut? Or was it hunger? Peggy looked outside and wondered if she had eaten solid food that week, and mused upon what plebeians do when they are hungry. Do they just ... buy the food themselves?)
The question: Does Michelle know she's one of the Good Blacks, and is she grateful for it?
Here is what is for me the mystery of Michelle Obama: Like Melania she is glamorous and elegant, a beautiful woman and a disciplined one. [...]
I always wondered, knowing something of her life: Did she understand how fortunate she was? She won the Trifecta. Does she know it?
"No, Peggy, she's just FUCKIN' clueless," Manuel suddenly said. Peggy had not heard him arrive. She tied a string around her finger until it cut off her circulation to remind herself to change the locks now that Manuel is fired.
"You should tell Michelle Obama how fortunate she is, Peggy. In your column. I'm sure she'll appreciate it. Back later, I'm going to Trader Joe's since you'd probably starve to death if I didn't."
Manuel is disrespectful lately and doesn't ever take Peggy seriously when she fires him.
She came from a good family, solid and stable, which successfully transmitted love. Her parents' economic circumstances were modest but stable—it wasn't all foreclosures and moving and divorce and no money. And she was born with a solid, attaining mind, able to excel in academic work.
That is the Trifecta. People with that background these days are, no matter their color or economic level, almost American aristocracy. Solid family, solid framework, solid mind, built to rise—a lot of working-class Americans, white or black ...
"OK stop, Peggy," said Manuel, who could not even right now. How does Manuel come and go so stealthily? And how had he returned from the market so quickly? Had she passed out again? What day is it?
Peggy opened a tab so she could later Google how the minorities are always sneaking up on her like this. She loves learning about new cultures!
Manuel continued: "Michelle Obama worked her ass off, twice as hard as anybody else, she made smart choices, and she persevered despite how as a girl from the south side of Chicago, she didn't automatically have all the opportunities people on the other side of town had. And yes, I mean opportunities white kids had."
Peggy quietly beamed. She was near certain she had taught Manuel the word "persevered."
She continued to type about common people, whom she pities. Peggy thought she might like to meet a common person sometime. She didn't set a reminder on her iPhone to go out and introduce herself to one or anything, but she thought it.
Most of them have to deal with brokenness, chaos, love that never coheres.
Peggy has a sad.
I had this question because when she was first lady, she often seemed to me to carry with her an air not of gratitude but of grievance.
Peggy's phone vibrated, startling her so much she almost knocked her gin off the desk. Manuel was texting her moving pictures again, which was distracting her from the point she was trying to make. She slam-texted Manuel an angry emoji and continued:
The book makes clear she did know how fortunate she was, though she has struggled to incorporate it into her attitudes.
Oh, for heaven's sake! Peggy Noonan hurled her phone toward the window, shattering the glass.
"Manuel," Peggy cried, "I have had one of my accidents!"
Peggy wrote about some of Michelle Obama's life experiences that did pertain to her race, patting herself on the back the entire time for being so #woke, as they say on Twitter Dot Com.
Then she asked her next question, which is whether or not Michelle Obama is even human.
But I wondered if she knows how universal, how apart from race, some of her more painful memories are.
Michelle Obama's guidance counselor said she might not get into Princeton! Peggy had a mean guidance counselor too! Peggy was pretty sure this meant she and Michelle Obama are #sistahs now.
And yet here we are.
Yes, indeed, we are.
Never let idiots stop you.
She went to Princeton.
Yes, yes she did.
Through the broken window, Peggy heard Manuel cursing in Spanish.
Curling up on her favorite spot on the floor in front of the refrigerator, she blacked out thinking it wouldn't kill Manuel if he acted a little bit more like Michelle Obama, now would it?
(OPEN THREAD. Shhhhh, Peggy is sleeping!)
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