Via the Great and Illustrious Roger Ailes, I just read a disturbing piece from Peggy Noonan. And when I say “disturbing” I mean in relative terms compared with the typical Peggy Noonan piece; which are disturbing unto themselves. She is clearly on the short bridge to Cuckooland with this one, so hold on tight:
It is not so hard and can be a pleasure to tell people what you see. It's harder to speak of what you think you see, what you think is going on and can't prove or defend with data or numbers. That can get tricky. It involves hunches. But here goes.
Jesus christ, I’ve had mushroom trips that made more sense than this. To be fair to Peggy, I suspect that this paragraph was written at the insistence of her editor, to serve as a disclaimer to let us know that the person we’re about to read is completely off their rocker and is about to share some delusional fantasies, in the hope that we’re seeing the same shit. I’ve had moments like that too; but each time was successful in convincing myself that the dots on the wall really weren’t moving. Unfortunately, Peggy has had no such luck. And that’s just the beginning.
Her point seems to be that we’re all suffering from Information Overload, and that life has become too confusing, too complex, and too scary. But she doesn’t realize that that’s the problem, and attributes it all to the “wheels coming off the trolley”. And the real message is clear: Peggy Noonan is suffering from Information Overload (along with a whole host of other mental problems), and has become confused and scared. The wheels are indeed coming off, but only the ones in Peggy’s mind. Here’s what I mean:
It’s a bit long, but the third paragraph starts with “I'm not talking about "Plamegate." As I write no indictments have come up. I'm not talking about "Miers." I mean . . . the whole ball of wax. Everything. Cloning, nuts with nukes, epidemics…” This laundry list of troubles ends with, “Great churches that have lost all sense of mission, and all authority. Do you have confidence in the CIA? The FBI? I didn't think so.”
And no, that really doesn’t make much more sense in context. But the main point is that she knows too much stuff, and it’s just blowing her mind. For the rest of us, things may seem relatively normal. I myself think that this is the best time to live in yet. But for poor Peggy Noonan, these are the End Times. (I should note that she never uses that phrase, but that’s clearly what she means).
Too Much Information
I mean, the question isn’t whether we have confidence in the CIA or FBI. It’s whether we ever should. Anyone with a brain would be hard-pressed to argue that this is the worst time in the history of either agency; but to Peggy, things haven’t looked worse. And oh no, our great churches haven’t seen worse times. Crusades, inquisitions, reformation, burning witches, corruption, Vatican II; all child’s play compared with today’s churchy woes.
And the same goes for her entire list of modern troubles. But it’s not that anything is worse, it’s just that she knows about it and it worries her. Peggy is a worrier, and thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, TMI is kicking her butt.
And the thing that bugs her most is that Bush is to blame for many of these problems. She even says as much. Saying things like how “some of us have felt discomfort regarding President Bush’s leadership the past year,” and how he seems to be “looking for trouble” and is making “startling choices.” But this hasn’t started this past year. It’s just her perceptions that have changed.
And that’s the most troubling aspect of all for her. Her strong leader seems to be making some really bad decisions, and it’s totally freaking her out. She worked with Reagan, a man always slightly out of touch with reality; and towards the end, half out of his mind; but this is what’s freaking her out.
I mean, sure, Reagan was responsible for secretly selling banned weapons to anti-American terrorists, in exchange for hostages; and lied about it. (He just couldn’t get the hostages back otherwise). And sure, he then funneled that money illegally and unconstitutionally to Central America, to support thugs and killers. And there are some indications that they may have even gotten into cocaine smuggling to finance these illegal operations. And then there’s the issue of supporting and training the extremist Muslims which are now threatening our country; as well as aiding Saddam in his quest for WMD’s. And their best defense is that Reagan had no idea what was going on in his Whitehouse, or what he was agreeing to. But it’s Bush’s leadership that’s freaking her out.
But of course, she’s still too enamored with him to actually blame him; so she instead blames everything on the End Times. Perhaps if she could personalize all this and place blame where it belongs, it would help her realize that everything isn’t hopeless; and she’d be greatly comforted. But that would involve blaming her party and her fearless leader. She’d much rather continue to believe them all to be competent, but that even competence isn’t good enough any more. Because we’re all doomed!!
The End of Something
But that’s nothing. Check this shit out:
A few weeks ago I was chatting with friends about the sheer number of things parents now buy for teenage girls--bags and earrings and shoes. When I was young we didn't wear earrings, but if we had, everyone would have had a pair or two. I know a 12-year-old with dozens of pairs. They're thrown all over her desk and bureau. She's not rich, and they're inexpensive, but her parents buy her more when she wants them. Someone said, "It's affluence," and someone else nodded, but I said, "Yeah, but it's also the fear parents have that we're at the end of something, and they want their kids to have good memories. They're buying them good memories, in this case the joy a kid feels right down to her stomach when the earrings are taken out of the case."
This, as you can imagine, stopped the flow of conversation for a moment. Then it resumed, as delightful and free flowing as ever. Human beings are resilient. Or at least my friends are, and have to be.
“Resilient,” yes. I guess that’s what they’re calling it these days when you can actually refrain from saying those things the doctor warned you about. And it’s just a hunch, but I suspect that Peggy has an awful lot of these conversation-stopping moments; though I doubt the resumption of conversation is quite as delightful and free flowing as she’s led to believe. It’s a wonder anyone invites her to parties anymore.
And this is clearly part of a theme with her. She’s decided that all of these events are leading up to something horrible and disastrous, and that if we don’t act as crazy as her about it, then we’re either lost in “classical and constitutional American optimism” or “going through the motions” and trying to live it up before things get really bad. Leftie-types have been complaining about this mindless materialism for decades; but Peggy’s now pegged it as a reaction to the post-9/11 world. And she cites as proof the number of accessories that parents buy their demanding teens; as if this was a very recent phenomenon. I wonder how many earrings she had before 9/11.
But in no case does it occur to her that she’s just fucking crazy. Or more likely, it does occur to her and she’s worried about it; thus this column, which is intended to either seek out other like-minded people, or perhaps to create them. But she’s really struggling hard to convince herself that she’s not the only one.
Even Teddy Knows…
As proof that she’s not the only one, she cites an anecdote from Christopher Lawford, a nephew of Ted Kennedy. Apparently, while Teddy was drinking heavily amongst friends and family, he said “I’m glad I’m not going to be around when you guys are my age.” When asked why, he replied “Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.”
And I’m sure that the floor just dropped right out from under poor Peggy when she read that; as this confirmed everything she already believes. Sure, he could have just meant that the government will go to the crapper due to Bush’s budget deficits, or that the youngsters are going to ruin everything, or maybe that he personally will be falling apart at that old age; or just about any other damn thing a drunken Kennedy might have been thinking about at the time. Hell, he might even have been confessing to a Kennedy plot to ruin America! But like all deranged people, she sees this as yet more confirmation of her “hunches”. When all the pieces keep fitting together, you’re either on the right path or completely insane; and too often, the line between the two is utterly blurred.
She writes of this “And—forgive me—I thought: If even Teddy knows…” That’s right, when a drunken Ted Kennedy confirms your biggest paranoid delusions with vague and ominous remarks, you must be right!
Diagnosis: Fucking Insane
In the end, I can say little else but that this woman is insane. And not just any insane. She is fucking insane. But the cause of this is simple: She’s a liberal trapped in a conservative’s body. It’s obvious from her list of woes and worries that, like most of us, she’d like a strong and proficient daddy government to take care of these things so she doesn’t have to. She’d rather not even think of these things. But as a Bush Conservative, it’s her job to worry.
The Bushies have been forcing her to think about 9/11 and suitcase nukes and rogue states and Social Security meltdowns and all kinds of other creepy and scary things that she can’t do anything about, and it’s really starting to get to her. That’s been part of the neo-con push: to scare the shit out of the Peggy Noonans so they’ll feel powerless and scared, and therefore be more receptive to the solution to their problems: The Iraq Solution. It’s a standard marketing technique. You identify and amplify a problem, and then offer your solution. And the neo-cons had one hell of a solution.
But even that’s fallen through, and now she’s just scared shitless. The big marketing campaign is over, but someone forgot to turn off Peggy. She’s still waiting for the handsome actor to come out from behind her washing machine to offer her a newer product; a shinier answer. Something to help make sense of it all. All the old standbys of church, government, and friends have fallen through, and Peggy’s now out on her own; freaking it up public-style in newspapers throughout the land. Her brand of psych-out conservatism is over, but Peggy still plays on; a helpless victim of the very machinations she helped to institute on the rest of us.
Like most of her recent columns, this was little more than a cry for help; a plea to be kept blissfully ignorant. And the irony is that she’s so much closer to that than she can possibly imagine; and really just needs to work a little harder on the blissful part. It was for people like Noonan that Valium was invented. I hope she finds her peace soon.