Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Peggy on loyalty - Part 2: Perplexing Peggy

A disclaimer I only hinted at in Part 1 yesterday; I have been an adoring fan of Peggy Noonan since the 1980s when I read her book about her time with Reagan and then started reading her regular stuff. Yes, I know – she can be a bit Maternal and soft-edged with a little bit of a feel of the girl who would love to be part of the in-set, but just doesn’t think she can pull it off – but she socializes with them and tries to understand them – but just can’t quite get it – and keeps apologizing for her geeky and uncool friends.

You can see that in her quasi-“sorry I have such goofy, dorky, friends” apologia when she goes on The Daily Show in her role as the friendly conservative that just might snipe at her own team – but that is OK, we all have our personality issues – and I like Peggy anyway.

This election cycle though has been a train wreck for her. She has reached the point it seems that she doesn’t know what she wants or thinks – she just knows that she doesn’t want anything offered and she thinks that everything out there is just pre-grind sausage material – on her side.

Some may think this just started back with her “it’s over” comment about the selection of Gov. Palin for VP and her stumbling responses that rambled all over the place. Her bi-polar vulgarization attitude towards Palin since has just made it worse – almost as if she doesn’t want another Alpha Female out there, though let’s be honest Peggy, you are a Beta Female anyway – and that’s OK.

As I have tried to get a handle on what looks like a political mid-life crisis with someone I actually like, I was reminded of this article (see yesterday for Part 1) that she wrote on loyalty in MAR of 07. Where yesterday I praised her article, here I want to discuss where you can see the beginnings of Peggy’s inner self-doubt.

One thing you must understand is that Peggy, like Christopher Buckley, David Brooks, Ken Adelman and others – is a strange duck – the token Conservative in a social and geographical sea of the Left that runs from DC through Boston. It is tough to keep your perspective after years of constant grinding isolation. She is also a Northeastern “Them” culturally as I am a Southeast “Them.” I have the much easier job – especially as a career Navy Officer, my peer group is a Red has her’s is Blue.

Perspective is not something what we can call “Vanity Fair Conservatives” have about much of what makes up the right-of-center in the country – and to be honest, they are as uncomfortable with and as embarrassed of that part of the right as their leftist friends. They are small-tent Republicans in that they don’t care much for the unwashed masses in the back of the room and outside the box seats. The old Rockefeller “Country Club” Republicans that are best represented by that beautiful loser of a foil, former Minority Leader Bob Michel. They never cared much for the big tent – but unlike European Parliamentary systems where you can have all sorts of boutique Parties to find your niche and the glom together when you think some power would be fun – in our Two-Party system you have to take your friends as they come and dance with who brought you. That is the foundation understanding you need to go in with.
It was a sparkling and unusual event, a dinner that was as interesting as a Democrat’s (the talk was culturally broad, if sober—“life is real and earnest”) and as handsomely done as a Republican’s (the flowers were white, crisp, so expertly arranged they seemed a natural outgrowth of the mirrored table; life should not only be grumbled about but celebrated.)
In this little bit we learn that Peggy sees her (Republican) side as dull, narrow, boring, and superficial. OK. Not like some of the guys I saw in Las Vegas – but that a part of the Big Tent you can’t see from the head table that well.

Then we get a bit deeper into the selective self-loathing.
In New York, in the Second Gilded Age—the age of the thousand-dollar pizza—wealthy Democrats, when they entertain, seem careful not to have things too physically perfect. It might suggest they’re unserious, that their thoughts are not always focused on the oppressed. Wealthy Republicans, on the other hand, will go all out to make it lovely. “The oppressed? I make jobs for them!” As for being thought unserious, one senses it does not trouble them. They made money in the world; they correctly apprehended the lay of the land and moved. That serious enough for you?
Now she sees the Republicans as unserious, vain, and a bit cold-hearted. Well, she has a point for those I know in NYC and Connecticut, I guess – but that isn’t the Republican party everywhere.

The Democrats in her circle she sees as that lovable Limo Liberal that makes you breakfast in the morning in his worn out jeans and a t-shirt at his house in The Hamptons while talking about tax policy differences …..and he is so serious; and dreamy…unlike my boring Republican who just wants to avoid taxes and always wears Lands End khakis and a golf shirt….and doesn’t even have a house to get away to – always wants to go to those tacky all-in-one resorts…

I think to be fair, both Republicans and Democrats both have ideas and personalities – or a mix of both – that they support like their home football team (…or for Peggy’s friends, their old field hockey team at Brown…). Everything is a compromise – and never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. That helps keep my sanity, and stops me from writing stuff like this;
For me its good to see Republicans who are loyal to ideas, and not to people. Who are faithful to the cause, and not to people with whom you merely have a history. Who have fidelity to principles, not to political figures, no matter ho interesting or compelling they are.
Read that again and then tell me if that does not describe Gov. Palin. Peggy, Sara Palin fits your description – and from a Southerner’s ear her accent is no more irritating than yours.

Huh. I just realized I have done what I didn’t want to do – this reads like I am attacking Peggy more than scolding her – which I don’t want to do, but geeeeeee – she doesn’t give me much of a choice.

She is in a funk. Will she snap out of it? I don’t know. I think perhaps she has grown weary of constantly fighting for her principals in a sea of Blue that is NYC, DC and the rest. Perhaps she should buy a little house in Micanopy, FL and get away there for awhile. About as opposite from NYC as you can get, but still a little cosmopolitan in a fashion, and a short drive from Gainesville if you need a Liberal fix.

Peggy, help me out – what do you want? If you want to write about a mounting Socialist wave of a nightmare – I guess you are doing the right thing. Politics is like warfare in some ways – there are us and them. Someone will win, some will lose. You rarely get the forces, terrain, allies, or time that you want or need. You often will think one Course of Action is better than another – but when the Commander makes his choice you do your best to execute his plan to the best of your ability and do your best to avoid any Blue-on-Blue in the process. You don’t stomp away, or set to the side and pick at your belly button as the battle rages – and you unquestionably don’t switch sides right when the front lines have made it through the artillery and are about to loose the first volley of musketry – or when the square if formed and the first line of Guards Cavalry is coming over the ridge; no – that is a bit more than a loyalty issue. Much more.

If you have signed on, some things in life are more important than you are. Have your midlife crisis in private – not public – and remember, no one looks kindly on the actions of the Elector of Bavaria at Blenheim.

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