Sunday, May 16, 2010


Oh, The Humanity! Cartoon Peggy Noonan Meets the Press

I am fairly certain that Peggy Noonan is not a human being. She is a cartoon character, a Hanna-Barbera inspiration miscast as a political analyst, which, in cartoon-land, must be something like living in hell.

To deserve such a severe fate, Noonan the cartoon character must have committed some kind of cartoonish crime, like not breaking into tiny pieces when hit with an anvil, or not churning her legs at whipsaw speed before actually running, or, and I believe this was cartoon Noonan's crime, acting too much like a human being.

In cartoon-land, of which I know little, acting too human is probably cause for erasure, but Noonan somehow survived the wrong end of the pencil and lives on in our human environment, somehow. And the Sunday news shows love her. Usually reserved for ABC (that network owned and operated by a cartoon mouse), she suddenly popped up this week on Meet the Press. Could it be that Peggy has been banished from cartoon-land or did she somehow leap off the page and land in the lap of some enterprising publicist?

Whatever the case, the penciler did a masterful job of superimposing Peggy's cartoon image onto the MTP set. I must say, you could barely detect the normal flickering cartoon movements, though one cameraman or show producer is going to be fired for showing the blank stares of the other columnists while she was (supposedly) talking. Bob Shrum, Mike Murphy and Jonathan Alter were variously shown staring vacuously into space during some of Peggy's voice-overs, like she wasn't really there at all! I think they got Julia Louis Dreyfus to do Peggy's vocal work. Nice job, but keep the camera on the cartoon next time, guys.

Peggy the cartoon-character limped through the discussion without making any salient points, which, you've got to believe, is the point of her being on the air in the first place. The networks have long-believed that the American public can't handle the truth. That's why they have roundtable discussions with people (and cartoon characters) who don't matter. They spout gibberish, which is just peachy-perfect for Peggy.

For instance, when moderator David Gregory asked her about Obama and leadership, prodding her to compare him to Reagan - something she simply could and would never do - she said, "the President seems different from his party," about as profound a pronouncement as a cartoon character could utter.

When asked about the upcoming Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kegan, Peggy conjured up images of Robert Bork being hanged (more about that below), but must have done some Googling before the show as she made a reference that "Oliver Wendell Holmes would not be confirmed today." That's a dubious call, though Peggy gets credit for bringing up the obscure and opaque.

On anti-incumbency, another topic about which Peggy knows nothing, adding to the case that she's not really human, Gregory called on her to dissect the Arkansas democratic race, where Blanche Lincoln faces a tough primary. Peggy, always aiming for a cheap shot on the president, said, "he stiffed her," and added that Lincoln "does not have the part of the party which needs to be on fire, on fire."

Note to Peggy: Your hair is burning!

After chuckling though MTP, I needed a little more convincing, so I checked for Peggy's latest writings and, sure enough, she didn't disappoint.

What has me convinced that Peggy is actually a cartoon character gone rogue is that she writes opinion columns for the Wall Street Journal, the paper owned by that bastion of fairness and equanimity, Rupert Murdoch, who, over the years, has morphed into a caricature of himself.

I was happy to find Peggy's most recent column in the Journal, which was promoted on line with the tag: "Noonan: The Lamest Show on Earth" complete with comic strip picture.

I thought when they mentioned "lame" the Journal editors were talking about Peggy. Alas, the column was about the coming Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, to whom Peggy swiftly, and without explanation, applied the "liberal" tag. But, that's just Peggy's way of keeping close ties to her dead hero, Ronald Reagan, and continue her 23-year lament for Robert Bork.

A few of Peggy's choice lines from her current monograph (with my comments):

"Ms. Kagan needs and deserves a tough and spirited grilling..." - of course. She's a liberal, after all. (This is just Peggy's first instruction to the Senate.)

"...even dead trees have a place in the forest." - obvious reference to Reagan.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee in 1987 took everything Judge Bork had ever said or written, ripped it from context, wove it into a rope, and flung it across his shoulders like a hangman's noose." - keep the flame alive, Peggy!

"There should be and needs to be a vigorous, rigorous grilling of Ms. Kagan." - Second call. All aboard!

"his [chief justice John Roberts] testimony was among the more lucid of recent years." - shamelessly self-serving.

"It would be nice if Ms. Kagan were given the opportunity and responsibility to answer tough, clear, direct questions." - strike three, Peggy. You're out.

I used to think that Peggy Noonan was a vampire, released from the crypt following a 20-year, post-Reagan snooze, but she's too old and silly and girly to be a vamp. She's a cartoon character, I'm totally sure.

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