Peggy Noonan has never much cared for Sarah Palin. In 2008, she deemed
Palin's presence on
the Republican ticket "political bullshit," and later noted
the former Alaska governor seemed "out of her depth in a shallow pool"
during the campaign. Now Palin has riled her again, with her observation
on Fox News that Ronald Reagan was "an actor" before becoming
president. Needless to say, this isn't sitting well with Noonan, who so
eloquently praised Reagan's feet in What I Saw At The Revolution ("It
was a beautiful foot, sleek. Such casual elegance and clean lines. But
not a big foot, not formidable, maybe even a little...frail. I imagined
cradling it in my arms, protecting it from unsmooth roads..."). In her
Wall Street Journal column today
Noonan makes it clear she feels no such affection for Palin, or her tootsies.
Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs.
Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I'll voice their
consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who
willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor
union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union
successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars,
labor-management struggles, 3 ); discovered and honed his ability to speak
persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for
eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of
California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his
own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political
philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he
was elected president.
The point is not "He was a
great man and you are a nincompoop," though that is true. The point is
that Reagan's career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all
in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into
politics with him. He wasn't in search of a life when he ran for office,
and he wasn't in search of fame; he'd already lived a life, he was
already well known, he'd accomplished things in the world.
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