Peggy Noonan Shakes Off Six-Year Haze, Offers 'Sophisticated And Sober-Minded' Republicans Some Advice


She was living a nightmare. Sister Peggy Noonan of the Order of the Methaqualone Blackout had only meant to make a short trip down the island of Manhattan to marvel at the new Freedom Tower and ponder the hardy spirit of America. But her cab found itself at a complete standstill, trapped in a jam caused by thousands of the hoi polloi out protesting a black man’s choking death at the hands of an officer of the esteemed NYPD. Moved by their spirit, she threw her cabbie several of the Liberty dollar coins in her change purse and exited the vehicle, determined to walk among the people and commune with their spirits.

And oh, what a roiling, boisterous sample of humanity! So many young people of all colors, so many old communist types she had not seen since she and President Reagan had watched newscasts of nuclear power plant protests back in the early 1980s. The president would threaten to turn all the old nuns chained to security fences over to El Salvadoran death squads. How he would laugh then, half-chewed jellybeans spraying from his mouth like machine-gun bullets.

Soon, though, she became frustrated with the crowd. There did not seem to be any order, just an inchoate sense of generalized rage – at the police, capitalism, perhaps at “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” no longer being on the air, she was not sure. Some of the young people kept performing “die-ins,” throwing themselves en masse to the ground and pretending to be dead just like poor Mr. Garner. It seemed silly to her. Everyone already knew that Mr. Garner was dead, and besides, did these people not notice how filthy the sidewalks were?

Still, the energy made her think of Congress, of the incoming Republican Party majority soon to take over the Senate. If only they could show some of the same spirit and grit of this crowd in New York, misguided though it may be. She turned to ask her talking portrait of Robert Taft for advice, but of course Mr. Taft was forty blocks uptown, safely hung on a wall in her parlor. She would have to try and imagine advice for the new majority herself

(Democrats) are rocked by defeat, newly confused as to their own meaning. They’re disappointed with each other, and angry. They know Harry Reid is a poor face of the party, a small-town undertaker who never gets around to telling you the cost of the casket.

Meow! Peggy, you can still scratch, she told herself with a smile, the first one to cross her face in half an hour of fighting her way through the crowd. Ungracious? Perhaps! Grace is for people not named Peggy Noonan to aspire to.

They recognize the president as an albatross around their necks. Nancy Pelosi is an attractive, noncredible partisan who just natters wordage.

Well, everyone thought the president an albatross except for that one Democrat who ran for the Senate in Michigan, fully embraced President Obama’s policies, campaigned with the president, and will be the only new Democrat in the Senate in January. All the challengers and incumbents who distanced themselves from the president – Grimes in Kentucky, Hagan in North Carolina, Pryor in Arkansas, Landrieu in Louisiana – got stomped like Europe under the boot heel of the Wehrmacht. And Nancy Pelosi had been one of the most effective Speakers of the House in history, pushing through a great deal of legislation against fierce opposition from both Republicans and members of her own caucus. Still, this was Peggy Noonan’s analysis and she was sticking to it.

The sophisticated and sober-minded GOP class…

Eh, she has an editor at the Journal, surely he wouldn’t let that get into print.

The new Republican majority should try, within the limits imposed by not holding the executive branch, to make progress on their own. They shouldn’t be drawn into the president’s drama, they should act independently.

Of course they still need Obama to sign the bills they want to enact and regulations they wish to repeal, which will entail negotiating with him, something the Republicans have shown zero interest in doing for six years. She tried to think of anything she had heard that should give her optimism that the GOP would change its tune but came up with nothing. She dismissed the thought, assuming her party would find some grace in January. Maybe the small-town undertaker had left some for Mitch McConnell to find in the Majority Leader’s office.

He is exactly right. In the Obama era the Democratic Party has gone from being a party of people to a party of issues, such as global warming, and the pressure groups—and billionaires—that push them.

Are issues in this sense separate from the people they affect? Or are groups actually comprised of people pushing the Democrats to work on issues because the consequences of doing nothing affect them? As for the billionaires, she supposed the Republican Party had a few of those as well. Still, to paraphrase Ann Coulter, our billionaires are so much better than their billionaires!

She realized she had been scribbling these thoughts down on an empty pizza box she had picked up somewhere, using a coffee stirrer dipped in her own ear wax to write. She shook her head. She had been stuck in this crowd too long, breathing in the scent of sweat and quinoa from Whole Foods. The Journal’s office was nearby. She would drop the pizza box on her editor’s desk with a note that the column scrawled between the dirt and grease spots might need some editing before the paper went to print Thursday night. Then she would find a saloon and have herself a martini or three. She had certainly earned it.


Note: If you find yourself paywalled as the Wall Street Journal, simply type the title of Peggy’s column (Can The GOP Find Unity and Purpose) into Google, and presto! A link with no paywall.


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