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October 17, 2008

An Open Letter to Peggy Noonan

Dear Mrs. Noonan,

Once, you were a revolutionary.

You were a footsoldier in the "Reagan Revolution"; a speechwriter who augmented the Gipper's own formidable communication skills with your own ability to construct a well crafted phrase. When Pres. Reagan spoke of the Challenger crew having "slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God" it was perhaps your finest moment. It showed that you had a feel for the pulse of the nation, and that you could, in but a phrase, employ the power of words to heal and inspire a grieving nation. That sense of moment was perhaps your most important gift.

1986, when you wrote those words, doesn't seem so long ago, does it? And yet, 22 years in politics is a long time. The revolution has advanced. Many of our fellow revolutionaries, lacking the ability to "sense the moment" within the conservative movement, have been, or are in the process of being, left behind.

Today you write about Governor Palin:

This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn't seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.

How ironic that today, these words could just as easily apply to you.

Mrs. Noonan, you are no longer a leader. Once, perhaps, you were. But now you are not only a follower, but a follower of the worst kind. As a conservative you should be aware of the unique pain suffered by conservatives: our "leaders" often seem to "grow" in office. They tend to adopt positions to align themselves over time with the political left.

That's one of the reasons the base is a "vast and broken hearted thing"; whenever something or someone we can celebrate happens to it, there is no shortage of "conservative intelligentsia" who can be counted on to suddenly "grow" in their thinking. The pain comes not from any disappointment in the selection of or performance of Gov. Palin, but from the fact that all too often conservatives are left to feel betrayed by the very people who have made their fortunes by proclaiming themselves to be our spokesmen.

With your column, you too, could have chosen to "reinspire" or "reinspirit". It is you who seems not to "understand the implications of her own thoughts."

Once you were a revolutionary. And that revolutionary would have been floored by the crowds that Gov. Palin is drawing. Last night she drew 7000 people to a rally in Salem New Hampshire (population 29,000). It was heralded as the largest political event, for a Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate, in Southern New Hampshire's history.

That revolutionary would have been impressed by similar stories of recent overflow crowds in Maine, Virginia, Wisconsin and Florida. Crowds not just of GOP partisans, but of regular Americans from all walks of life and political leanings.

That revolutionary would have been touched by the inspirational stories of the legions of Mom's with children at the rallies, all identifying with the words Gov. Palin uses, her lifestory, and the common-sense conservatism she offers. There was a time when "soccer moms" were the rage, after all. We have a "hockey mom" who pulls them in by the busload, and suddenly, you disapprove.

The revolutionary you once were, would also have made a special note of the sudden emergence of a new kind of attendee at these rallies. The parents of children with special needs see in Gov. Palin an inspiration, a champion, and a leader. They also see someone who is ardently pro-life. It's funny how you, a self-professed member of the pro-life movement, could overlook this fact. I guess it doesn't fit with your narrative.

Apparently the people attending these rallies are reacting to something about Gov. Palin. Something that you either do not understand, or are willfully blinding yourself from seeing. There was a time when the Reagan Revolutionaries used to understand the importance of talking directly to the American people and bypassing the filters of the mainstream media. But that was then. Apparently those rules don't apply for Governor Palin.

Or, perhaps, like many a faded revolutionary, you have simply lost your sense of the moment.

Once, Mrs. Noonan, you were a revolutionary. You would have understood and celebrated the Palin phenomena. You would have lauded the good it has done for our party.

It appears that those days are gone.

Once you were a revolutionary.

Now you're just revolting.

I understand that you have a book coming out soon. I'm sure today's column will grant you all the attention you could have hoped for.

Very truly yours,

Jack M.


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posted by Jack M. at 11:56 AM

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