Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wall Street Journal Columnist Peggy Noonan Has Gone From Clever and Insightful to Mean and Mad

 On Her Own – Or Is She Just Following Orders?

It is no secret that the editors of the Wall Street Journal hate and despite President Obama on a deeply personal level.  The animosity permeates almost all of their opinions and opinion writers.  But until recently Peggy Noonan, the Saturday voice of the paper did not share this intense disdain.

But now things have changed, and in recent columns Ms. Noonan has become almost unhinged (and certainly in obvious error) about the President.  Her most recent column is a sad example of the fall of a once very good observer.  The attacks are personal and unsupported.

Finally, it became obvious this week that the Republican Party top to bottom has to start taking Barack Obama seriously. All the famous criticisms of him are true: He has no talent for or interest in sustained, good-faith negotiations, he has no real sense of alarm about the great issue of the day, America's debt. He's a chill presence in a warm-blooded profession.

So what are her complaints?  Well he doesn’t take the debt seriously.  And he is intent on doing the job he was elected to do and not be a nice goofy person, like Ms. Noonan’s hero Ronald Reagan.  And he is trying to take from the rich to support programs for the poor (isn’t that what government does?)

He doesn't care if you like him—he'd just as soon you did, but it's not necessary for him. He is certain he is right in what he's doing, which is changing the economic balance between rich and poor. The rich are going to be made less rich, and those who are needy or request help are going to get more in government services, which the rich will pay for. He'd just as soon the middle class not get lost in the shuffle, but if they wind up marginally less middle class he won't be up nights. The point is redistribution.

Of course the truth, which rarely matters in Conservative circles says differently. Under President Obama the stock market has performed wonderfully, and the wealthy have made massive gains the last four years while median family income has declined.  And no, his programs will not make the rich less rich, it will slightly reduce the growth in their wealth, which is a huge difference from what Ms. Noonan is saying.

And Ms. Noonan does not like Mr. Obama’s style,

He is not going to negotiate, compromise, cajole. Absent those efforts his only path to primacy in Congress is to kill the Republican Party, to pulverize it, as John Dickerson noted this week in Slate, to "attempt to annihilate the Republican Party," as Speaker John Boehner said in a remarkably candid speech to the Ripon Society.

Although if she really does not like these things she ought to start with her own home, the WSJ.

But if finally comes down to this.  Mr. Obama won but he really didn’t win.

In 1932, FDR won the presidency with 58% of the vote to Herbert Hoover's 40%. In 1936 it was even better: Roosevelt won 61% of the vote to Alf Landon's 36.5%.

In 2008, Mr. Obama beat John McCain solidly, 53% to 46%. But last year, against a woebegone GOP candidate, he won just 51% of the vote, to Mitt Romney's 47%. (Yes: ironic.)

Mr. Obama received 66 million votes in 2012—but four years earlier he received 69.5 million.

His support went down, not up.

So facts, logic, insight and all the other things that make for great writing on political and economic issues are now gone from the last surviving rational writer at the WSJ.  About the best one can hope for is that Ms. Noonan’s employers have forced this on her as a condition to stay at the paper, and that one day decency and integrity will return to her. 

Sadly, don’t look for it soon. 

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