Five extra minutes a week

That’s how much time I’ll save because I’ve stopped reading your columns, Peggy Noonan.  It’s a shame.  For many years- dating well back into the Clinton days- I looked forward to reading your thoughts.  You write well, I agreed with your values, and you always took a unique, positive perspective. 

But that’s not today’s Peggy Noonan.  In the last few months, I was surprised at your reticence even to comment about, much less criticize, the hugely consequential actions of the Obama administration.  Maybe you’ll speak up the next time the government takes on $15 trillion in new debt, takes over the auto business, tries to restructure the health care industry, and enact a profoundly important energy tax.  I guess this time you need to focus on what really matters- settling scores with Sarah Palin.

(In fairness to you, you did gently observe last week that maybe the administration is a bit ambitious.  Not wrong.  Just…. ambitious.  Thanks for that, Peggy.)

My split with you has been a long time coming, but the last few weeks have put me over the edge.  Two weeks ago, you wrote a column criticizing conservative radio talk show hosts for being harsh and divisive.  You said that they are preventing the Republican party from moving forward to start to win elections- because they’re too thoughtless and harsh.  Your take on the hosts is that they take too little time (3 hours a day not being sufficient for you) to say what is needed to be said to sell more ad time. 

The end for me was today’s missed takedown of Sarah Palin (it’s on www.opinionjournal.com) .  Here’s a few bits and pieces-

* Palin makes the Republican party look “stupid”, a party of “the easily manipulated”.

* Palin is a “ponder-free zone”.

* Her performance in the campaign was “rather horrifying”. 

* She is a “complete confection” of Republican party elites.

The problem, Peggy, is that your criticism of Palin was at least as vitriolic as anything I ever hear from Rush or Sean or Mark.  But unlike the talk show hosts, you didn’t bother to present any facts or evidence, nor did you ground your opposition to Palin on principle.    With you, it is instead some personal issue you have- always had- with her.  Also unlike the talk show hosts, who talk for hours without scripts, you had a whole week to collect your thoughts and exercise that restraint you talked about only two weeks ago.  Instead, you used the time to sharpen your words for maximum, personal, sting.

Peggy, I am genuinely saddened that you’ve taken this new direction.  By the way, it’s you who has changed, not me, not the many, many principled conservatives who so respect the great President who, as you love to remind us, you served.  I can’t imagine the Peggy Noonan of ten years ago writing such a petty little column.  You’d be writing about the big issues and big thoughts, with real insights and perspective about what the actions of our leaders.  You would think about what’s next.  Above all, you would provide some real insight about how normal Americans see things (you know, the “working class” as you, the expert, choose to define it).    Instead, you write columns about how the last Republican vice presidential candidate was a “bonbon”. 

So- see ya’ later.  If a columnist can’t even take her own advice two weeks after she gives it, then why should anybody else?