America'sgreatest living political columnist, Peggy Noonan, has a heartbreaking new essay in the Wall Street Journal. Poor Peggers loved the previous, cute pope so much -- she even wrote a book about him! -- and now she's stuck with this creepy old German with hollow eyes and the kind of personality that was really only effective in the military, during World War II, in Germany.

Let's explore Noonan's delicately repulsed assessment of Pope "Benedict" Ratzinger and his not-very-magical trip to America:

  • "John Paul made you burst into tears. Benedict makes you think. It is more pleasurable to weep, but at the moment, perhaps it is more important to think."
  • "There is a sweetness about him -- all in the Vatican who knew him in the old days speak of it -- and a certain vagueness, as if he is preoccupied. He lacks an immediately accessible flair."
  • "The highlight in the Vatican's eyes is his address to the United Nations. No one knows what he will say."
  • "Another small fear, born of hearing him last week at the mass. Benedict spoke in many languages including English, which he speaks fluidly and with a strong German accent. This is an accent that 60 years of World War II movies have taught Americans to hear as vaguely sinister, or comic. The nicer commentators may say he sounds like Col. Klink in Hogan's Heroes."
  • "Catholics who hope for a successful visit have some anxiety that a distracted Vatican apparatus, working, sort of, with a confused American team waiting on decisions, will fail to allow Benedict to be what he is to best effect, to break through and reveal some of his nature."
  • "Afterward I thought: Nothing is ended, something beautiful has begun, we just won't understand it for a while."

Something beautiful has begun [Wall Street Journal]


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