Peggy Noonan Gets the Tingle (after having panned!


Four years ago Peggy Noonan was vicious about George W. Bush’s Inaugural Address that has since been hailed as one of the great ones – ever.

“…The inaugural address itself was startling. It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike. Rhetorically, it veered from high-class boilerplate to strong and simple sentences, but it was not pedestrian. George W. Bush’s second inaugural will no doubt prove historic because it carried a punch, asserting an agenda so sweeping that an observer quipped that by the end he would not have been surprised if the president had announced we were going to colonize Mars….The president’s speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly. “The Author of Liberty.” “God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind . . . the longing of the soul.”…”

Since that day, she has been on a rampage against GWB like the woman scorned.  Rumor has it she was given the boot at the White House some time during the 2004 election cycle.  Ever since then, she has had an irrational vendetta against that Great Man.

A week after writing those words, after having been confronted about her rather irrational column in the WSJ, she wrote the following:

“…What was the biggest mistake of the speech?

They forgot context. All speeches take place within a historical context, a time and place. A good speech acknowledges context often without even mentioning it….”

In Townhall, Michael Medved critiques the Obama Speech.  I use Medved’s critique because I have more respect for him than any other conservative.  He is intellectually honest, which is more than I can say about Noonan.

“…Based upon the big moments of his campaign, many observers expected a speech of scary, sweeping, socialistic substance written in a glittering, epic, eloquent and indelible style. Instead, the new president delivered a puzzling address of mostly reassuring substance, but worded in a pedestrian, platitudinous and occasionally clumsy style….Unfortunately, the citation of these unexpectedly moderate thematic highlights makes the address seem more coherent and effective than it was; for most of the speech, “Obama the Eloquent” offered little more than a clunky, cliché-ridden ramble, leaving the world to wonder what underlying message (if any) he meant to convey.”

Now, contrast this to the Noonan Tingle.

“…It was not an especially moving or rousing speech, but the event itself, the first major address of a new president from a new generation and a previously unrepresented race, was inherently moving. The speech was low-key, sober. There was not a sentence or thought that hit you in the chest and entered your head not to leave. But it was worthy, had weight, and was adult. In fact, Mr. Obama lauded a certain kind of maturity: “In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.” This was a call for a new nobility that puts aside “petty grievances and false promises” that have marked the oral culture of our modern political life. He seemed to be saying that the old, pointless partisanship of the past does not fit the current moment….”