Peggy Noonan (born Margaret Ellen Noonan on September 7, 1950 in Brooklyn, New York) is an author of seven books on politics, religion and culture and a weekly columnist for the Wall Street Journal. She is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Rutherford, New Jersey, and was a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
“So begins the Wiki entry for Noonan in one of the Web’s most supposedly impartial information platforms. In fact, who would suspect, from that innocuous sentence, that Noonan is almost exactly the opposite of that description? Because if there is one thing for sure about Noonan it is this: Noonan is not a true populist, nor, for that matter, a friend of the working class. But, then again, populist posturing has been the staple of rightwing and fascistoid sellouts since Mussolini and Hitler opened the franchise in the 1920s.” [from the introduction to this piece as it appears on Cyrano’s Journal Online (http://www.bestcyrano.org/)]
Essay by Jason Miller 5/2/07
“Let them call me rebel, and welcome; I feel no concern from it. For I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul.”
Peggy Noonan obviously doesn’t fear suffering “the misery of devils.” She has whored her soul to the bourgeoisie in a bargain of Faustian proportions. One need only chip away slightly at her façade of compassion and moral rectitude to reveal a very contemptible human being.
With ease, delight, and ample reward, Ms. Noonan joins a bevy of cynical pundits in sustaining the false consciousness of the masses, which in turn paves the way for the egregious crimes of the United States’ avaricious and malevolent plutocracy. If this sounds hyperbolic to you, you don’t know much about the true history of the
United States, particularly its foreign policy.
Disseminating her mendacious apologias for American Capitalism and its myriad manifestations of criminality from her comfortable perch as a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy pollutes the minds of millions of readers each week. Bear in mind that the Wall Street Journal’s editorial section is the standard-bearer for our ruthless de facto aristocracy, having endorsed economic imperialism through the implementation of neoliberal policies, torture of prisoners in the “War on Terror”, raping the poor with “supply-side economics”, and an end to the “witch hunt” against “Scooter” Libby.
Her ties to her bourgeois masters run deep. She was married to the chief economist for the US Chamber of Commerce, Richard Rahn. She served Ronald Reagan (champion of the wealthy elite, enemy of the poor and working class, and slaughterer of tens of thousands of Latin Americans) with a gushing pride which permeates her writing to this day. Peggy Noonan literally put the words in the mouth of this heinous criminal as she authored a number of his speeches. Despite her recent criticism of Bush, prior to 2005 Noonan used the power of her pen to buttress his regime and took an unpaid leave of absence from the WSJ to campaign for Bush’s “re-election” in 2004.
In the September 2004 issue of Crisis Magazine, Bently Elliot, “Noonan’s former boss at the White House and now vice-president of communications at the New York Stock Exchange,” said this of Noonan:
“She graduated cum laude with a degree in English literature and newly acquired conservative convictions—convictions that took shape when, as Elliot puts it, her patriotism was ‘offended by the ugly, anti-American nature of the self-described ‘peace’ movement in the 1970s.’” (Elliot’s words in italics)
Evidently Ms. Noonan believes that the imperialistic invasion of a tiny nation and the resultant deaths of 58,000 US Americans and 3 million Vietnamese were both beautiful and American. Shame on those hideous, treasonous peaceniks who opposed our carnage inVietnam!
In a blatantly revealing display of her pathological worldview, Peggy trumpeted her pride at having raised her son to consort with mass murderers. (In yet another excerpt from the Crisis Magazine profile of Ms. Noonan):
Her son, Will, loves politics and has grown into the sort of young man Noonan can bring to a dinner party at Vice-President Dick Cheney’s home “and have a good conversation with the vice president of the United States about the war,” Noonan says. “How lucky is that kid to be exposed to that sort of thing—and how lucky am I as a parent to take my son to such a thing.”
Like the malignant socioeconomic system she so tenaciously defends, Ms. Noonan’s clever spin is riddled with irreconcilable contradictions and souless priorities, which require layer upon layer of sophistry, speciousness, and prevarications to maintain an illusion of rationality and decency.
Let’s examine some of the “best propaganda bourgeoisie money can buy” as we peruse some choice analyses Peggy has composed for the Wall Street Journal in the name of God, country, and free markets:
From her September 22, 2000 “Dumb-Good vs. Evil-Smart” we have this astute observation:
“Mr. Bush, as we all know, has a tendency to mispronounce words, like a bright and nervous boy trying to show the admissions director that he’s well-read. His syntax is highly individualistic. He’s bouncy and affectionate and funny in a joshy way as opposed to a witty way.
But he is, almost transparently, a good man. He cares about children; he wants government to be honest; he wants to protect his country from bad guys; he wants to stand up for those who protect us. He is a good governor, he has a natural sympathy for those–the hardware store owner and the woman who starts her own housecleaning company–who are taxed and regulated to death in America. He thinks this abusive. He wants to liberate them. If he becomes president–when, I believe, he becomes president–he will drive conservatives to distraction with his tendency to think with his heart, and not his brain.”
In her 10/23/2000 WSJ opinion piece, subtitled “George Bush is Reaganesque. Now America Knows it”, she wrote of George Bush:
“George W. Bush not only won the debate Wednesday night, but in a way that damaged a central assumption of the Gore campaign. That assumption is that Mr. Bush doesn’t know very much. But Mr. Bush demonstrated that he knows a lot, and that his common-sense views and observations can be spoken in a common-sense language accessible to all. He sat back in his chair, spoke of America‘s role in the world, and made it clear that that role should be grounded in moral modesty and strategic realism. He suggested that the various forces at work in the world should be met not with American hubris but with moderation, and with attention to the kind of example we can, as a great power, set. He seemed thoughtful, knowledgeable, and he buried the memory of the less-seasoned Gov. Bush who one day in Boston flailed when pressed by an interviewer who insisted he name the ruler of Pakistan.”
The following week Peggy scribbled a column entitled, “The Loyal Opposition” and further glorified the future Nuremberg-class war criminal:
“….He is a good man. He’d be a better man if his life had been harder. But you can’t have everything…..I was thinking the other night: Mr. Bush seems the least radical politician in America. He lives in the middle of the land of the possible. He is by nature moderate, by habit and thinking a moderate man…..”
Evidently prognostication and character assessments are not Ms. Noonan’s strengths. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to conclude that George Bush was the best man to serve as the “democratically elected” front man for the criminal enterprise we call a government, and that Ms. Noonan is a highly paid shill for our deeply entrenched oligarchy.
In February 2007, the WSJ published her, “Happy Birthday, Mr. Reagan”, subtitled “He was a man of determination and good cheer—one of
“Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” was CBS’s White House correspondent during the Reagan administration, and I asked her what she remembered most. She said, “We reporters would stake out ‘the driveway’ to see who was going in to see the president. In the first few years there was a stream of people who came to argue against his budget-cutting proposals. They would march up that driveway in a huff, smoke coming out of their nostrils as they rehearsed their angry arguments about why he was destroying the lives of poor people, or schoolkids.
‘I remember specifically a group of mayors from big cities, livid about cuts to their welfare programs, school-lunch programs, etc. They were there to give the president a scolding; they were going to tell him. And in they’d march. Two hours later, out they came. We were all ready with the cameras and the mikes to get their version of the telling off. But they were all little lambs, subdued. . . . He had charmed them. . . . The mayors told us Reagan agreed with them. That they had persuaded him. . . .
Thirty minutes later Larry Speakes was in the press room telling us the numbers would not in fact change. The mayors had ‘misunderstood’ the president. Still, I’ll bet anything if you talked to those mayors today, they would tell you Reagan was a great guy.’”
Peggy is right. America needs more “greats” who can subdue people like “little lambs” when they dare to demand we use public money to provide assistance to the poor or to hungry children. One with the guile to defuse the anger of those fighting for social justice with lies and false promises most certainly qualifies as a “great guy”.
When Gerald Ford died, Ms. Peggy opined in her 12/29/06 WSJ piece, “Ford Without Tears,”
“The first is that when he pardoned Richard Nixon, he threw himself on a grenade to protect the country from shame, from going too far. It was an act of deep political courage, and it was shocking. Almost everyone in the country hated it, including me. But Ford was right. Richard Nixon had been ruined, forced to resign, run out of town on a rail. There was nothing to be gained–nothing–by his being broken on the dock. What was then the new left would never forgive Ford. They should thank him on their knees that he deprived history of proof that what they called their idealism was not untinged by sadism.”
Thank you, Peggy, for having the courage to be the voice of reason. Ford’s pardon of Nixon was a noble act indeed. Imagine if he hadn’t cut a deal with Alexander Haig to become president in exchange for the pardon. We might actually have seen a US President tried, convicted and imprisoned, for crimes both foreign and domestic. (Let’s not forget Nixon’s secret, illegal bombings in
Cambodia that annihilated 600,000 human beings). Compliments of Gerald Ford, the US ruling elite can continue running rough shod over the Constitution and committing mass murder with impunity.
Peggy offered us this gem on the notoriously reactionary Rick Santorum in November, 2006. She called it, “We Need His Kind”:
“Mr. Santorum has been at odds with the modernist impulse, or liberalism, or whatever it now and fairly should be called. Most of his own impulses–protect the unprotected, help the helpless, respect the common man–have not been conservative in the way conservative is roughly understood, or portrayed, in the national imagination. If this were the JFK era, his politics would not be called “right wing” but “progressive.” He is, at heart, a Catholic social reformer. Bobby Kennedy would have loved him.”
She actually characterized Rick Santorum as a progressive. Displaying such utter disregard for truth in a widely read column took some real chutzpah! My hat is off to her on that one.
Just a few days ago, our gal Peggy lamented that “We’re Scaring our Children to Death”:
“This week saw a small and telling controversy involving a mural on the walls of Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles. The mural is big–400 feet long, 18 feet high at its peak–and eye-catching, as would be anything that ‘presents a colorful depiction of the rape, slaughter and enslavement of North America‘s indigenous people by genocidal Europeans.’ Those are the words of the Los Angeles Times’s Bob Sipchen, who noted ‘the churning stream of skulls in the wake of Columbus‘s Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.’
What is telling is not that some are asking if the mural portrays the Conquistadors as bloodthirsty monsters, or if it is sufficiently respectful to the indigenous Indians of Mexico. What is telling is that those questions completely miss the point and ignore the obvious. Here is the obvious:
The mural is on the wall of a public school. It is on a public street. Children walk by.
We are scaring our children to death. Have you noticed this? And we’re doing it more and more.”
How could that school have been so reckless? What could possibly have compelled those hopelessly irresponsible school administrators to reveal the truth about the genocide waged by Western Europeans against the indigenous people of Turtle
Island? How dare they expose our children to such heresy! Leave Hollywood and video game manufacturers to saturate our youth with heaping portions of gratuitous fantasy violence to distract them from the horrific decimation we US Americans have been inflicting on the rest of the world for many years.
In June 2002, Ms. Noonan wrote “Capitalism Betrayed” for the Journal:
“I have been reading Michael Novak, the philosopher and social thinker and, to my mind, great man. Twenty years ago this summer he published what may be his masterpiece, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.” It was a stunning book marked by great clarity of expression and originality of thought. He spoke movingly of the meaning and morality of capitalism. He asked why capitalism is good, and answered that there is one great reason: Of all the systems devised by man it is the one most likely to lift the poor out of poverty.
Mr. Novak answered by quoting the philosopher Jacques Maritain, who once observed that affluence in fact inspires us to look beyond the material for meaning in our lives. “It’s exactly because people have bread that they realize you can’t live by bread alone. ‘In a paradoxical way, said Mr. Novak, the more materially comfortable a society becomes, the more spiritual it is likely to become, “its hungers more markedly transcendent.’”
If capitalism is the system “most likely to lift the poor out of poverty”, it is strikingly counterintuitive that millions plunged into inhuman working conditions, wage slavery, child labor, and economic misery when the United States practiced a much “purer” form of capitalism around the turn of the Twentieth Century. Interestingly, now that US capitalism has been “tainted” through evolution into a “mixed economy”, working conditions and wages have improved significantly. Yet our unimaginably wealthy nation still has over a million homeless, a high infant mortality rate, nearly 50 million people without viable means to attain health care, and about 13% of our population living in poverty. Apparently these wretched souls must wait for the materially comfortable members of our society to evolve spiritually and begin ministering to the poor.
On Thursday, August 25, 2005, Peggy cautioned us to “Think Dark”:
“The Pentagon says this huge and historic base-closing plan will save $50 billion over the next two decades. They may be right. But it’s a bad plan anyway, a bad idea, and exactly the wrong thing to do in terms of future and highly possible needs.
The Pentagon has some obvious logic on its side–we have a lot of bases, and they cost a lot of money–and numbers on paper. They have put forward their numbers on savings, redundancies, location and obsolescence.
But they’re wrong. What they ought to do, and what the commission reviewing the Pentagon’s plan ought to do, is sit down and think dark.
In the rough future our country faces, bad things will happen. We all know this. It’s hard to imagine some of those things on a beautiful day with the sun shining and the markets full, but let’s imagine anyway.
Among the things we may face over the next decade, as we all know, is another terrorist attack on American soil. But let’s imagine the next one has many targets, is brilliantly planned and coordinated. Imagine that there are already 100 serious terror cells in the
U.S., two per state. The members of each cell have been coming over, many but not all crossing our borders, for five years. They’re working jobs, living lives, quietly planning.
Imagine they’re planning that on the same day in the not-so-distant future, they will set off nuclear suitcase bombs in six American cities, including Washington, which will take the heaviest hit. Hundreds of thousands may die; millions will be endangered. Lines will go down, and to make it worse the terrorists will at the same time execute the cyberattack of all cyberattacks, causing massive communications failure and confusion. There will be no electricity; switching and generating stations will also have been targeted. There will be no word from Washington; the extent of the national damage will be as unknown as the extent of local damage is clear. Daily living will become very difficult, and for months–food shortages, fuel shortages.
Let’s make it worse. On top of all that, on the day of the suitcase nukings, a half dozen designated cells will rise up and assassinate national, state and local leaders. There will be chaos, disorder, widespread want; law-enforcement personnel, or what remains of them, will be overwhelmed and outmatched…
…And all this of course is just one scenario. The madman who runs North Korea could launch a missile attack on the United States tomorrow, etc. There are limitless possibilities for terrible trouble.”
In this example, Peggy’s Janusian stance and shameless fear-mongering on behalf of the military-industrial complex are beyond the pale. Typically, Ms. Noonan extols the virtues of small government through fiscal conservatism, cuts to federal programs to uplift the poor, and progressive tax decreases. Yet when her cronies in the defense industry face the potential of diminished profits, Ms. Noonan rolls out her propagandistic Howitzer and blasts her readers in the face with a heavy dose of dread.
Painful as it is, let’s have one final look at an excerpt from Noonan’s loathsome agitprop. From March 30, 2001, we have “The Haves vs. the Will-Haves”:
“Class warfare, says Mr. Barone, is at odds with Americans’ hopeful nature. ‘We don’t identify ourselves as permanently downtrodden; it is not the American experience that you’re kept down and can’t move up.’ In America you can not only move up, but do so quickly. The divorced single mother of this year gets a job or remarries and suddenly she and her children are not the bottom line on anybody’s statistical readout anymore.
It is the fantastic fluidity and hopefulness of Americans, their enduring sense that in only one generation they can go from nothing to everything and nowhere to anywhere, that contributes to some surprising statistics on the death tax. Only 2% of Americans pay the levy, but in the polls 70% are consistently against it. Maybe this is because, as Steve Forbes used to say, they think it unfair that anyone should have to deal with the undertaker and the taxman in the same week. But it’s also probably a good bet that this majority opposes the death tax because they believe that some day they’ll have money, or their kids will, and they won’t want to pay it.
We all think we can make it. We all think we can work hard and succeed, or win the lottery, or our cousin’s new restaurant will be a big success and he’ll hire us as greeter or maitre d’. We all dream. The inheritance tax seems antidreamer because it seems anti-American dream. A lot of Americans think that when you bash the rich you’re bashing their future ZIP code.”
Whoa there, Peggy! Someone needs to rein you in before you become hopelessly lost in the nether regions.
In actuality, Ms. Noonan is far too educated to actually believe the tripe she has written here. The meritocracy myth is a cornerstone of the opulent class’s relentless yet nearly invisible grip on wealth and power in the United States. Once can cite numerous examples of individuals who “pulled themselves up by their boot-straps” and “made something of themselves” in this land of “unlimited opportunity”.
Yet we live in a nation of 300 million people and statistics expose these “Horatio Alger’s” for the anomalies that they are. The top 1% of the US population boasts ownership of 40% of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 80% “hoards” about 9% of our riches. A child born into the bottom 20% of the US income stratification has a 1% chance of joining those in the top 5%. Those born into the middle class have a “greatly enhanced” 1.8% chance of enjoying such upward mobility. For every Larry Ellison or Bill Gates there are tens of millions of “won’t-haves”.
Incidentally, the reason many poor and working class US Americans oppose the “death tax” is precisely because media whores like Ms. Noonan have convinced them that the ESTATE TAX is “anti-American dream” and have bamboozled them into believing that there is more than an infinitesimal chance they will acquire enough financial wealth to face such a tax. The purpose of the estate tax is to limit the perpetuation of the very entrenched aristocracy Ms. Noonan would have us believe does not exist in the United States.
While Ms. Noonan is merely one soldier in an army of mendacious propagandists waging war on behalf of the moneyed elite in the United States, her incestuous ties with government, her veil of respectability, and her platform from which she penetrates the consciousness of millions who are intellectually unprepared to fend off her toxic perversions of the truth combine to make her quite formidable.
So the next time you are reading one of her columns or books, or listening to her speak, remember that Peggy Noonan is probably weaving a clever, subtle, and sophistic argument to advance the agenda of thieves and murderers. But it’s too late to worry about her soul. She made a whore of that long ago.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor ( http://www.bestcyrano.org/). He welcomes constructive correspondence at JMiller@bestcyrano.org or via his blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.