One of the best things about our life in Ann Arbor is the international perspective — being placed in near-daily interaction with foreign nationals, foreign-born naturalized citizens, world travelers and others, many of whom bring not only a fresh perspective but a charming ignorance of American institutions with them.
Like, say, Rush Limbaugh. Alan had a lively interchange with one of the fFs, trying to explain the Limbaugh pill-popping scandal to him.
“Why don’t they just fire him from his radio program?” the fF asked.
“He is the radio program,” he said. And so they went, around and around — it took a while to explain the talk-radio cult-of-personality model to someone who had no reference point for it.
Anyway, it’s with this in mind that I recommend this, er, unflattering review of Peggy Noonan’s latest book, from the Asia Times Online. It’s a collection of Loopy Peggy’s columns in the year following 9/11, one I recall as being particularly nutty, but in her defense I guess you could say she had lots of company. I read them only hit-and-miss, which must explain why I didn’t recognize the passage that opens the review:
“This war happens to be the reason he is president: because something big and bad and dark was coming, and he was the man to lead us through it … My sense is that he walked into office knowing huge history was coming but not knowing when, what, where. Now he knows. I can quite imagine him thinking, This is the reason I’m here.”
No, the above is not an excerpt from some Halloween story told to a five-year old by her mystical Californian mother: It is, in fact, a passage from an essay written by a veteran journalist affiliated to a prominent publishing establishment of the United States. I regret to report that, between the covers of “A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag,” I had to slog through 269 pages of such poppycock from Peggy Noonan, a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and a speechwriter for former president Ronald Reagan.
Ah, vintage Peggy — goofy fantasy (“I can quite imagine…” “My sense is that…”) dressed up as portentous truth-telling. Read more to see how she plays on a wider stage.