Noonan Defines 'Reasonable'

The WSJ’s Peggy Noonan argues today that her top characteristic when evaluating presidential candidates is “reasonableness.” The former Reagan s

The WSJ’s Peggy Noonan argues today that her top characteristic when evaluating presidential candidates is “reasonableness.” The former Reagan speechwriter insists: "We are grown-ups.... We’d like knowledge, judgment, a prudent understanding of the world and of the ways and histories of the men and women in it."

At face value, there’s nothing especially troubling about this standard. Noonan is setting the bar fairly low, but she’s sketched out a relatively practical model. That is, until Noonan starts applying her standards to specific candidates. Here’s her take on the former senator from North Carolina:

John Edwards is not reasonable. All the Democrats would raise taxes as president, but Mr. Edwards’s populism is the worst of both worlds, both intemperate and insincere. Also we can’t have a president who spent two minutes on YouTube staring in a mirror and poofing his hair. Really, we just can’t.

Noonan had just finished arguing that American voters “are grown-ups,” and then she turns around and takes on John Edwards’ hair? What’s more, Glenn Greenwald notes that “poofing” isn’t actually a word, “but rather, a British epithet for a male homosexual — ‘Slang: Disparaging and Offensive’ — a synonym for ‘faggot.’”

Noonan’s looking for a candidate with a “prudent understanding of the world.” I’m looking for a columnist with the same attribute.


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