Friday, May 28, 2010

Has Peggy Noonan Gone Wingnut?

If I can sum up some of the best conservative columnists out there, it would have to be David Brooks, David Frum, Ross Douthat, Kathleen Parker and Peggy Noonan. All of them are great observers of the political scene and rarely go down the angry path that Rush Limbaugh has blazed. I especially like Peggy Noonan because she can be critical of both parties and yet does it with a sense of grace, which you feel even if you don't agree with her.

Now, I don't always agree with her. In fact, I don't always agree with any of the above writers all the time. Some of their columns can bother me. But at least I hope I don't call them a "wingnut" because they wrote something bad about President Obama.

However, that is exactly what blogger E.D. Kain does in a post today where he rips Noonan for her column which chides the President's handling of Gulf oil spill. Here is a sample:

Peggy Noonan was one of the more (ostensibly) reasonable voices on the right during the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections. All that has changed. Noonan’s latest column on Obama’s dire predicament not only conveniently ignores the president’s continued popularity, but also wildly exaggerates the impact the three ‘crises’ he has faced in his short term as president. The oil spill looms largest, but Noonan also includes Obama’s healthcare reform bill and his opposition to the Arizona immigration law as evidence of his impossible position come 2012.

This is crazy.

The healthcare bill will work in Obama’s favor in the next election, and the immigration issue – while still probably an important one – will not focus on Obama’s reaction to the controversial Arizona law. The oil spill is the only potentially damaging thing, and even that is unlikely to really hurt Obama who is much more likely to respond to the disaster in the next two years with strong environmental regulatory reforms.

Now again, I disagree with Noonan over the immigration law in Arizona. But she does make some sense on how the public might percieve the health care bill and the President's handling of the oil spill. Now, I would agree that there is little the President can do, but Americans tend to buy into the cult of the presidency and believe that the President is superhuman and can solve any problem in a snap.

Of course, E.D. might be correct and come 2012 Obama will be re-elected. Truth is, we don't know yet.

E.D. also notes that the President is "popular." Okay, but polls are also giving the President poor marks in his handling of the crisis. Is that fair? Probably not. Again, I blame the cult of the presidency. But let's not pretend that the public is still gaga over Obama.

What Noonan wrote was critical of the President, but it was hardly Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck territory. She has written several pieces that were critical of Obama. Does that make her a wingnut? No, it makes her a conservative. If E.D. were paying attention he would notice that Noonan also writes columns that are critical of conservatives as well.

In some way, the whole argument about whether or not this is Obama's Katrina is really about Bush and Katrina. Conservatives who felt burned by all the scorn heaped on them in the aftermath of Katrina want to use this as a way to get back at the Left which showed Bush no mercy. Liberals want to relive Katrina to remind us of how bad the conservatives were and how Obama is not Bush.

As for how the oil spill will play out, well, we will have to see. It could be a black eye for the President, but it might not. Unlike a lot of other conservatives, and like Noonan, I am not rooting for him to fail. But the public is fickle and they can get pretty mad about a President that seen not doing anything while the seas turn black and gooey. I don't think it's fair, but it comes with the job of being president.

As for E.D., this post is part of a trend. When I started reading him, he seemed like a thoughtful hetrodox conservative that was interested in reform. Over time, he has grown more understandably frustrated with conservatives and has seemed to trend more and more leftward and become more angry in his postings. I frankly don't care if he becomes a liberal, but I wish he still showed more of the thoughftful and civil approach of his past writings. The blogosphere is already full of hyperbolic writers on both sides of the isle, we really don't need another one.

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