Peggy Noonan, Roy Moore, And The Impossible Goldilocks Standard For Our Side

Peggy Noonan, Roy Moore, And The Impossible Goldilocks Standard For Our Side

Peggy Noonan tells us that "we" -- everybody, not certain people more than others -- have fallen short recently and must do better:

In 2018, we have to do better, all of us. We need to improve. In the area of politics this means, in part: sober up, think about the long term, be aware of the impression you’re making, of what people will infer from your statements and actions....

It might help if all public actors, from leaders and investigators to journalists and voters, made a simple vow to make it a little better, not a little worse. The other night a dinner partner marveled at the expensive new fitness monitor he wears on his wrist. I wish there were an Ethical Fitbit that could report at the end of each day that you’d taken 12,304 constructive steps, some uphill, or 3,297 destructive ones, and appropriate action is warranted.

Yes, she really wrote that. But let's move on.

Everyone appears to be equally at fault -- with the exception of voters in Alabama:

There is inspiration in the Alabama outcome.... The headline to me: American political standards made a comeback. Roy Moore’s loss was not a setback for the GOP; it was a setback for freakishness. It was an assertion of prudential judgment by the electorate, and came as a relief.

Well, it was assertion of prudential judgment by part of the electorate:

Primary voters should absorb what happened to Alabama Republicans after they picked Mr. Moore. They took it right in the face. They misjudged their neighbors. They were full of themselves. They rejected the sure victories offered by other contestants and chose a man whom others easily detected as not well-meaning.

Alabama Republican primary voters clearly didn't misjudge their close neighbors, who stuck with Moore even through pedophilia charges. The people they misjudged lived in other neighborhoods altogether.

Voters in coming primaries should observe and absorb. There is something we have been saying in this space for almost a decade, since the Sarah Palin experience. Something happened when she ran. Suddenly to seem real and authentic some Republican candidates thought they had to be polar and extreme. They had to show umbrage, signal resentment, wave guns. But these are not indications of authenticity. They are a sign voters are being played, probably by a grifter. When a candidate is equable and experienced it is not a sign of cynicism and not evidence that he is “establishment.” It’s a sign he can maybe do a good job—and win. Conservatives who are real conservatives don’t ape the social-justice left and make politics a daily freak show.

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Well, there you go -- rage-filled Republicans are only that way because they've decided to "ape the social-justice left." I suppose that's true even of Roy Moore, who's been doing this act for decades -- he learned it from Black Lives Matter! Via a time machine!

Noonan, to her credit, doesn't like Roy Moore. She doesn't like Donald Trump either, and she's said so in many columns, including this one. But after a swipe at Trump ("His tweets, his immaturity, his screwball resentments and self-pity alienate and offend"), she takes one more shot at our side:

As to his foes in the other party, the biggest silence in American political life is not from the Republicans, who can’t stop arguing. It is from the Democrats when they are asked what they stand for. What economic policy do they want? What is the plan, the arrangement they hope to institute? What philosophy are they trying to put in place? What in terms of foreign policy do they want?

Domestically the only thing they’re clear on is identity politics. Who’s going to unite or find the place of common ground between the rising left and the older middle? What program can accomplish that?

Oh, please, not this again. Remember 2016?

To date, Trump’s campaign has posted just seven policy proposals on his website, totaling just over 9,000 words. There are 38 on Clinton’s “issues” page, ranging from efforts to cure Alzheimer’s disease to Wall Street and criminal justice reform, and her campaign boasts that it has now released 65 policy fact sheets, totaling 112,735 words.

But the coverage of Clinton in 2016 was overwhelmingly about emails and the Clinton Foundation.

Doug Jones had policy positions, too -- here, Peggy, you can read them. But Moore's culture-war posturing and his sexual sleaziness dominated news coverage.

Please note the two ways our side is covered by Noonan. On the one hand, we're the howling banshees of "the social-justice left," and we're so poisonous to the political culture that we even infect Republicans. On the other hand, we're no-policy Democrats who don't even know what we stand for.

It's the Goldilocks story, except that bowls of left-wing porridge are always either too hot or too cold -- we're never just right.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog


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