Peggy Noonan has never much cared for Sarah Palin. In 2008, she deemed Palin's presence on the Republican ticket "political bullshit," and later noted the former Alaska governor seemed "out of her depth in a shallow pool" during the campaign. Now Palin has riled her again, with her observation on Fox News that Ronald Reagan was "an actor" before becoming president. Needless to say, this isn't sitting well with Noonan, who so eloquently praised Reagan's feet in What I Saw At The Revolution ("It was a beautiful foot, sleek. Such casual elegance and clean lines. But not a big foot, not formidable, maybe even a little...frail. I imagined cradling it in my arms, protecting it from unsmooth roads..."). In her Wall Street Journal column today, Noonan makes it clear she feels no such affection for Palin, or her tootsies.
Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I'll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles, 3 ); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president.
The point is not "He was a great man and you are a nincompoop," though that is true. The point is that Reagan's career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn't in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn't in search of fame; he'd already lived a life, he was already well known, he'd accomplished things in the world.