Peggy Noonan (above) has a way with words. No doubt about it. She can turn a memorable phrase with the best of them.
Noonan is the accomplished wordsmith who wrote such classic lines as “a kinder, gentler nation,” “a thousand points of light” and “read my lips — no new taxes” for then-President George H.W. Bush.
Yet, for all of her skills with the language, Noonan ultimately fails as a political columnist simply because she too often indulges in sheer fantasy. She’s not a keen observer of the political scene. Consequently, her beautiful words and phrases often fall far short of insightful punditry.
A classic example of this penchant arose in her COLUMN of the day before last November’s presidential election, wherein she predicted that Mitt Romney would win. Her evidence? “All the vibrations are right.” She said that despite polls indicating a victory for President Obama, “the American people were quietly cooking something up, something we don’t know about.” And she said that Obama seemed “not so comfortable” at the Al Smith dinner, while Romney “looked like a president.”
That isn’t political analysis. That’s rubbish, as the election results amply demonstrated.
Noonan is out with ANOTHER RIDICULOUS COLUMN today, this time offering her impressions from a recent visit to a Wal-Mart store as evidence that Obama is leading the nation astray:
It was Sunday afternoon on a holiday weekend but even accounting for that the mood and look of the place was different from what it was two and five years ago. Then, things seemed dynamic—what buys, what an array of products, what bustle in the aisles. This time it seemed tired, frayed, with fewer families and scarcer employees. It looked like a diorama of the Great Recession.
I somehow doubt that Peggy Noonan spends a lot of time in Wal-Mart stores. But that doesn’t prevent her from drawing grand political conclusions from a single visit to a single store on a Sunday afternoon in February.
Noonan’s columns would serve two useful purposes in America’s classrooms. English teachers could cite them as examples of good phraseology, while political science professors could use them as cautionary examples of bad analysis.