Peggy Noonan Writes Column, Eats Horse Tranquilizers (Not In That Order)

The bleating of sirens drifted up to her pied-a-terre high above the Manhattan streets, leaking through the duct tape she had used to seal all her windows. Oh sure, one heard sirens in New York all the time, but this was now the Age of Ebola and the wails took on a certain…ominousness, as if she was living in the flashback scenes in I Am Legend. She slipped aside her facemask long enough to gulp down the rest of her highball, then resettled the respirator as she crossed to the wet bar to fix herself another. If only that terrible blackamoor in the White House had listened to her last week when she had demanded he stop the flights!

Yes, Sister Peggy Noonan of Our Lady of the Barbiturate Fugue was most upset. President Obama had allowed Ebola into this great city, her city, and now she was bereft. She had even had to order Manuel, her houseboy, to stay home for the next three weeks, until she could be assured he had not picked up the hemorrhagic fever in his family’s filthy tenement or on – shudder – public transportation, which was a breeding ground for the diseases the city’s mobs passed around to each other like bottles of malt liquor.

So here she was mixing her own drinks like some sort of suburban housewife in a Cheever story and wondering what it would take to bring a little gosh darn humility to the current president. She thought of the elections taking place in less than two weeks, assuming Ebola did not destroy the entire civil order and turn the country into a wasteland out of The Walkng Dead. Perhaps after the thumping the Democrats were bound to take, the arrogant Negro might finally be brought low.

Of course the Democrats are terrible on their own. For instance!

Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado is so pathetically dependent on one issue, the supposed war on women, that the local press has made him famous as “Mark Uterus.” It is the most meaningful epithet of 2014. It tells Democrats they need new forms of manipulation, this one is old and mined out. The advertisement that most captures the 2014 cycle is from Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes: “I’m not Barack Obama.” She looked for all the world like Christine O’Donnell, who uttered the most famous words of her 2010 cycle: “I’m not a witch.”

Surely Mark Udall agitating for women’s rights is just as tiresome as, say, Republicans dismissing female concerns about conservative policies with comments about “legitimate rape.” And surely Alison Lundergan Grimes is just as unqualified and flat-out dumb as Christine O’Donnell, who was more circus sideshow than Senate candidate. Obviously those polls that have Grimes in a statistical dead heat with Mitch McConnell only indicate that people in Kentucky don’t have the brains of people in Delaware. If only there was a way to tie Barack Obama to witchcraft without looking like a Victorian-era colonialist. Or a circa-2009 Republican.

No, dammit! She would not think like that. But how could no one see the president’s arrogance? The Republicans had been hitting on it since the 2008 campaign. Surely one of these days the charge would stick!

On Nov. 5, Mr. Obama will have to say something that shows he gets it. That shows without saying that he’s humbled, that he isn’t living in a bubble.

Here’s the problem. The qualities required of such a statement—humility, self-awareness, sensitivity to the public mood—are sort of the opposite of what the president brings to the table.

Kind of like after the 2010 midterms, when he called the election results a “shellacking.” And then went out and continued trying to work with the GOP – on a Grand Bargain, on keeping the government funded, on tweaking Obamacare, on judicial and executive branch appointments. When he offered all sorts of concessions (to the chagrin of many Democrats), only to have the Republicans slap his hand away time and time and time again because he would not give in completely to their demands, even though his own party still actually held a five-seat majority in the Senate, and he was cruising toward a second term in a race that was never really very close.

The nerve! The arrogance!

She felt perhaps she was not making a strong case to herself. Perhaps it was the Ebola. She lifted her mask again and pressed a hand to her forehead. No, not feverish. She swooned onto her daybed, careful not to slosh any of her highball on the chenille. Wherever could such a clear-headed analysis come from? Whatever could be causing this outbreak of reality, she wondered as she stared at the completely full bottle of horse tranquilizers next to the cocktail shaker.

Ah ha! She reached for the medicine bottle. In her head, she spoke to her readers. Yes, darlings, sometimes Mama needs a little help to finish her column without allowing truthfulness and accuracy to intrude.

The bottle opened with a deft twist of her wrist. The tinkling of the pills on her cocktail tray rang out like the finest waltz by the greatest composer. Soon Mr. Murdoch’s paper would again stake its claim to being the finest political salon in the land.


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


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