Noonan Unhinged


An incoherent tangle of prejudices and feelings wrapped up in hyperbole is the best Peggy Noonan can now muster. How else to describe this morning's column? It heralds nothing less than the end of the Obama presidency just a year and a half in:

The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the president and his administration ...

Seriously? Her evidence for this? She claims the Democrats don't love him. The latest poll of polls shows over 80 percent support. She claims that he is "weakened, polarizing and lacking broad public support." Really? With unemployment at near record highs after a deep recession, Obama's approval ratings are stuck just below 50 percent - and have been remarkably stable for months. At this point in his presidency, Obama is about five points more popular than Reagan, who was poised to drop to 37 percent approval by January of 1983. Clinton was lower than Obama in June 1994. In today's polarized climate and awful economy, Obama is remarkably resilient. He has a favorable rating over 52 percent, and his unfavorable rating is at a six month low of 39 percent. This is Obama's political end?

The premise of Noonan's moronic column is that the federal government, especially the president, should be capable of ending an oil-pipe rupture owned and operated by private companies, using technology that only deep-sea oil companies deploy or understand. And if such a technical issue is not resolved by government immediately, it reveals paralyzing presidential weakness and the failure of an entire branch of political philosophy. Again: seriously? It's Obama's fault that under Bush and Cheney, government regulation of oil exploration was so poor and corrupt, corner cutting appears to have been routine? And this, Peggy, is what governments do, even when run by crazy-ass liberals. Governments do not dig for oil; they merely regulate those who dig for oil. That the government failed to do so under the previous administration does not seem to me to be proof that this administration has failed. (For a blast of common sense on this, see Clive.)

For Noonan, the American public is concerned only with spending, illegal immigration and the federal government's inability to stop an oil leak. For Noonan, the steepest downturn since the 1930s never happened. For Noonan, the flaws of the healthcare system - like, er, millions have none - do not exist. For Noonan, the massive debt - almost all of which Obama either inherited or built in the emergency attempt to stabilize a global economy heading into an abyss - is evidence that government does not work and that Obama is incompetent. For Noonan, actual difficult practical tasks most adults understand are complex to grapple with - how to prevent a Second Great Depression, how to police thousands of miles of border, how to stop an oil leak deep in the ocean floor - are easy. Just do it. Or be labeled incompetent and doomed.

This is utterly unrelated to the reality I have witnessed these past two years, or the slow catastrophe of misgovernment that really did unfold in the last ten. Maybe that says as much about my cocoon as Noonan's. But I doubt it. What I have also learned these past few years is that the right seeks merely a narrative to lead themselves out of the hole they dug for all of us. Reality be damned. The job of the rest of us is to insist that reality matters and that these fools be exposed.

(Photo: the president yesterday by Alex Wong/Getty.)