Friday, January 20, 2006

Fisking a Republican Gasbag

Peggy Noonan’s latest piece in OpinionJournal is called “Not a Bad Time to Take Stock,” subtitled, “Thoughts on the decline of the liberal media monopoly and the future of the GOP.” She is good on the decline of the liberal media monopoly but bad on the future of the GOP:

…the Republican Party--the party ultimately helped by the end of the old monopoly and the reformation of news media--must be a good party, a decent one, and help our country.
I imagine Republicans across the land are slapping themselves on the forehead and exclaiming, “So that’s what I should have been doing! Helping our country!” Every politician in America, including communists, neo-nazis and members of the Earth Liberation Front, thinks he is good, decent and helping our country.

Ms. Noonan explains what she means in the next paragraph, which begins, “That it regain a sense of its historic mission.”

That it stop seeming the friend of the wired and return to being the great friend of Main Street, for Main Street still, in its own way, exists.
I assume she means Republicans stopped being the great friend of middle class Americans and started seeming to be the friend of wiretappers and lobbyists.

That it return to basic principles on spending, regulation and state authority.
I think you’d have to go back to Goldwater to find a Republican who was strong on those principles. Reagan made a feeble effort, but the budget doubled during his presidency. He was a pragmatist at home and abroad who had a weak grasp of the principles he orated so well. And he empowered the religious wing of the Republican Party, which ever since has been a growing threat to freedom.

That it question a foreign policy that often seems at once dreamy and aggressive, and question, too, an overreaching on immigration policy that seems composed in equal parts of naiveté and cynicism.
When Peggy Noonan tries to sound profound her meaning gets vague. Is she saying the neocon foreign policy is unrealistic and brutal? How is Bush’s immigration policy overreaching? How is it naïve and cynical? What on earth does she mean?

That its representatives admit that lunching with lobbyists is not the problem; failing to oppose the growth of government--so huge that no one, really no one, knows what is in its budget--is. That they reduce the size and power of government.
That is a good point.

That they help our country.
That is a sissy thing to say.

Is that a sissy thing to say?


But today is the 25th anniversary of the coming to Washington of modern conservatism, and the rise to power of a Main Street romantic who was also a skeptic and an appreciator of human nature. Not a bad time to take stock.
It’s a great time to take stock, but a bad time to bloviate. She must be writing about Ronald Reagan here. She admires him. She thinks it is important that he was a Main Street romantic, a skeptic and an appreciator of human nature. What is her point?

Republicans in Washington struggle with scandal and speak of reform, and reformation. They would better think of words like regain, refresh, rebuild.
Ah, I see her point. Republicans should replace their old meaningless generalities with new, higher toned meaningless generalities.

If they don't, if Republicans don't choose to lead well, and seriously, and with principle, they should ask themselves: Who will? Seriously: Who will?
No one will. Seriously: No one. The same as it has been for the last 70 or 80 years.

No comments: