Friday, January 21, 2005

Punditry Pays

Wow, Peggy Noonan stays in the same hotels as Warren Buffett? I guess punditry pays, when you reach her level.

Anyway, Noonan disapproves of what she views as Bush's detachment from reality. His speech was too over-the-top for her in its bold claims to rid the world of tyranny.

Sure, assertions that the US can do that are outlandish. Nevertheless, nobody really expects Bush to take on all the tyrannies around the globe. Perhaps Noonan missed the rhetorical point of the speech, which less literally-minded listeners understood to mean that the US stands for freedom and that it is often prepared to back that stance with many means including considerable, though not unlimited, force. No, we're not powerful enough to prevent tyranny everywhere; but we have enough muscle to put tyrants anywhere on notice that they could possibly be next, and to give significant hope to dissidents. We have enough muscle to make tyrants think twice -- just ask Colonel Gadhafi, and there's nothing wrong with brandishing that a little. This wasn't a policy speech; it was a policy-shaping speech, and Reagan's former speechwriter ought to know the difference. As David Brooks puts it, the policy goal of stability will now shift to that of reform.

Yes, the speech was rather heavy with God, providence, nature, and history, not distinguishing very carefully among these things and prompting one to wonder whether Bush's religion is his most important influence, whether he's trying to re-make the GOP into the party of natural right, or whether someone's been reading the Phenomenology of Spirit to him. Perhaps it was a bit ponderous. Many have also pointed out, however, the obvious influence of Lincoln.

Nevertheless, from a cushy hotel where you see Warren Buffett in his pajamas at a midnight fire drill, the speech might appear outlandish; from a prison cell somewhere else, it might not.


Blogger Jacob Golbitz said...

I love Noonan (who in addition to everything else is still a hotie), but you kick her ass with that last sentence.

1:18 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Buffett is cheap. I don't know about James Baker, but Buffett would stay at Motel 6 if the location were convenient.

2:50 PM  
Blogger John Coumarianos said...

excellent point about buffett. something tells me he doesn't stay at holiday inns anymore though.

3:06 PM  

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