Friday, October 03, 2008

Cheap Yin and Yang

I have a grudging respect for Peggy Noonan. I disagree with her politics 9.95 out of 10 times, but there's something fascinating in the way she delivers good news/bad news about her beliefs and her going-down-with-the-ship attitude about the Republicans as a whole. As one who feels herself to be keeper of the Reagan flame, she draws a weird line between boosting her party with a pat on the head or aiming disapproving glares in their direction.


Politics aside, the woman writes very well and makes compelling arguments (which I don't usually buy into, but I appreciate the thought). This doesn't mean that she writes in a consistent, logical, or less than patronizing fashion that's absent of contradictions. If she's trying to maintain a Yin/Yang balance been loving/hating the company she keeps, I guess it works. But it's got all the depth of a Yin/Yang symbol seen on a t-shirt of a novice Karate student in a strip mall Dojo.

When she was still supporting George W.'s ticket (she's since decided that he wasn't such a hot idea as President) she wrote stuff like this, which manages to be patronizing, partisan, exactly what George W. wanted people to think of him and exactly what's wrong about his Presidency and followers:

Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man. He's normal. He thinks in a sort of common-sense way. He speaks the language of business and sports and politics. You know him. He's not exotic. But if there's a fire on the block, he'll run out and help. He'll help direct the rig to the right house and count the kids coming out and say, "Where's Sally?" He's responsible. He's not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world. And then when the fire comes they say, "I warned Joe about that furnace." And, "Does Joe have children?" And "I saw a fire once. It spreads like syrup. No, it spreads like explosive syrup. No, it's formidable and yet fleeting." When the fire comes they talk. Bush ain't that guy. Republicans love the guy who ain't that guy. Americans love the guy who ain't that guy.

Her summation of the Biden/Palin debate flips itself so many times to present the good news (Sarah Palin rocks sort of, maybe in Peg's estimation) and the bad (Sarah's attached to an old, patronizing, divisive lunkhead who's repeating the kind of garbage that George W. got tripped over). "A question is at what point shiny, happy populism becomes cheerful manipulation," asks Ms. Noonan, and she was Reagan's and Bush Sr.'s speechwriter. Think about this for a moment or two. Then, if brave, read Palin the Populist and figure out what she's trying to dance her way out of. Or into.

photo lifted from today's Star, Tom Hanson/Canadian Press

As for the debate that actually influences Canadians, I watched Layton and May have themselves a hootin' good time last night, watched Dion make a plea for fun, Duceppe riff on his usual 'At least I admit I'm not going to be Prime Minister, not like at last 3 of the rest of you' thing, and watched Harper say as little as possible with that Dave Foley-esque grin. Maybe nobody handed him any notes. Which might be a good thing, given the recent reputation of his people.

Nobody walked away particularly proud, but there were enough points made and disputed that the voting public can focus on what they didn't hear and shape their votes accordingly. Hearing the moderator joke about losing audience to Biden/Palin showed a surprising level of candour, or maybe he was just bored. As for me, I'd like a good look at the transcripts. Anybody know where I can find them?

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