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Why, oh why, does the Wall Street Journal publish Peggy Noonan’s poetic nonsense?

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.

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19 Comments

  1. I’m surprised she didn’t visit the Dairy Queen to see how the ice cream sales were coming along.

  2. Its not rubbish. The Al Smith dinner was shortly after the first debate. The one which is universally accepted that Obama got trounced. There is no question he was a bit uneasy. But McCain also seemed more at ease during this dinner than Obama. The place obviously isn’t his scene. But Pat’s right that it was hardly an indicator of electoral performance. 95% of Americans probably haven’t heard of the dinner, so it really didn’t matter. Its just one of those things that political junkies like to follow.

    As a very small shareholder of Walmart, I can also attest that the company has seen better days. From HuffingtonPost: “the fourth-quarter gain is below the 1.5 percent increase analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting. Overall, revenue at stores open at least a year rose a modest 1.2 percent, including a 2.3 percent gain at Sam’s Clubs. Analysts had expected a 1.8 percent increase.”

    The reason for the downtown? Look no further than Obama’s policies. “higher gasoline prices, late tax refunds and the payroll tax increase have it wary about the coming year.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/21/walmart-4q-profit_n_2732273.html

    If you’re looking for statistical analysis of leading economic indicators, Peggy Noonan obviously isn’t the best choice. But her perceptions are noteworthy, and they can be tied to larger structured opinions, which is why she is published by WSJ.

  3. Neftali: None of that stuff you’re citing justifies Noonan’s fantasies concerning what she saw as an impending victory for Romney.

    She’s a fantasist, not a keen political observer. Her impressions are beautifully stated, but they’re worthless as political insights.

    The same goes for her more recent experience at a Wal-Mart store.

    Oh, by the way, the Al Smith dinner was two days after the second Obama-Romney debate, in which Obama was seen by widespread consensus to have prevailed. In fact, that debate put an end to what some observers had seen as Romney’s surge.

  4. Footnote: In retrospect, the so-called Romney surge never really amounted to much. Polling analysts Nate Silver and Sam Wang said Obama’s lead in electoral votes was never seriously challenged, no matter that national polls showed a tight race.

  5. Same reason rrstar.com lets you? :-D Have a good weekend!

  6. Q: Why oh why does the Wall Street Journal publish Peggy Noonan’s poetic nonsense?
    A: For the same reason the RR Star publish’s Pat Cunningham’s Liberal views..!

  7. Oh, that’s right. The second debate. I remember it now. Its the one where Candy Crowley felt it necessary to interject her own opinions about the Benghazi incident, and all but assured she won’t be part of the debate process ever again.

  8. Chuck: To attract readers, right?

  9. By the way, readers who are unfamiliar with Chuck should know this about him:

    He recently told us, without a shred of supporting evidence, that 90 percent of the people who watched President Obama’s State of the Union Address were Democrats.

    And he once told us that he would move to Texas if that state ever secedes from the Union.

    Chuck’s a really bright guy.

  10. Neftali: What does Candy Crowley have to do with Peggy Noonan’s stupid pre-election prediction (which she based in part on her impressions of the Al Smith dinner)?

    When are you going to offer any evidence that Noonan is a keen political observer? The point of this post is that she’s not. Your responses so far are irrelevant.

  11. One more thing, Neftali: I love how the right-wingers all blamed Crowley for nitwit Romney having walked into the trap Obama had laid on that Benghazi stuff. (“Proceed, governor.”)

    Besides, most Americans didn’t see the Benghazi matter as the big scandal the Republicans tried to make it out to be. And they still don’t, especially after Hillary effectively swatted down the crap thrown at her in recent congressional hearings.

    Ah, but John McCain and Lindsey Graham, saps that they are, still think Benghazi is a big deal. Too bad nobody but the Obamaphobes are paying any attention.

  12. It seems her column has struck a nerve. Hm…it is most likely galling because there is truth in some of her jobservations.

  13. Pat – I’m sad to see that you and others think that the highly preventable death of of a US Diplomat and 3 others was not that big of a deal. Further, Hillary didn’t effectively swat down squat. If anything, her testimony only proved her incompetence.

    Once of the most telling parts of her testimony came from her exchange with Rand Paul, who explained the situation for what it was, a fundamental lack of leadership.

    http://youtu.be/jriU_cPU9Vk

    Finally, Republicans aren’t blaming Crowley for nothing, but her partisanship was clearly showing. The end result is clear, she was a disservice to the debate process, and she only hurt herself.

  14. Neftali: What’s not a big deal is the phonus balonus scandal the Republicans are trying to make out of a tragedy.

    Deaths at the hands of terrorists at U.S. diplomatic missions were much more numerous under Bush. Where was the scandal-mongering then?

    These Obamaphobes in Congress are just plain nuts, and they dishonor the Benghazi victims with their crapola.

    But, hey, feel free to keep riding that hobby-horse, Neftali. Your friend expdoc will be along any minute now to encourage you.

  15. jonna: Brilliant comment about Noonan’s “jobservations.”

  16. Here I am!

    “Deaths at the hands of terrorists at U.S. diplomatic missions were much more numerous under Bush. Where was the scandal-mongering then?”

    Did the Bush administration lie for political reasons and say that the terrorist attacks were just some random protests against a video that went bad?

  17. Give it up, doc. That dog won’t hunt. You and your wingnut friends are getting nowhere with that crap.

    I thought you would have learned a lesson when Hillary batted down your buddy Sunspots Johnson.

    (Now here’s where you protest that Hillary did no such thing. Sunspots was the hero of that exchange, right? Yeah, sure he was.)

    Frankly, I’m getting tired of arguing about Benghazi with you slanderous, Obama-hating extremists. Your side lost the election. Get over it. Your party is held in contempt by most Americans, and you’re only making the situation worse. What’s more, you’re dishonoring the Benghazi victims. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  18. Incidentally, doc, as a cheesehead, you’re probably a big fan of the late Joe McCarthy, the infamous red-baiter from Appleton.

    Well, I’m working on a piece that compares Sen. Ted Cruz with old Joe.

    You’ll love it.

    Stay tuned. It’ll be along in another day or two.

  19. Doc – The Bush administration did lie for political reasons. You remember the Iraqi debacle.

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