In yet another column asserting that Americans today are uncouth and vulgar, Peggy Noonan discusses recent remarks by Ann Coulter and Bill Maher, then writes:
I realized as I watched it all play out that there's a kind of simple way to know whether something you just heard is something that should not have been said. It is: Did it make you wince? When the Winceometer is triggered, it's an excellent indication that what you just heard is unfortunate and ought not to be repeated.
In both cases, Mr. Maher and Ms. Coulter, when I heard them, I winced. Did you? I thought so.
That's an interesting standard, because I recall that someone wrote a column last summer that included this fat joke:
Frank Rich is running around with his antiwar screeds as if it's 1968 and he's an idealist with a beard, as opposed to what he is, a guy who if he pierced his ears gravy would come out.
The same column also included these remarks about Hillary Clinton:
No one in America thinks she's a woman. They think she's a tough little termagant in a pantsuit. They think she's something between an android and a female impersonator. She is not perceived as a big warm mommy trying to resist her constant impulse to sneak you candy. They think she has to resist her constant impulse to hit you with a bat.... She does not seem like someone who would anguish and weep over sending men into harm's way.
... Maybe she thinks that if she wept, the wires that hold her together would short.
You know what happened when I read all that? I winced.
You remember who wrote all that, Peggy? It was you.
By the way, the current column asserts not only that today's Americans are uncouth and vulgar, but that it's all the fault of political correctness. Wow. For years right-wingers have alternately attacked the left for anarchic cultural libertinism and stultifying censoriousness, but Noonan's figured out a way to make both accusations simultaneously. That's quite a feat.
UPDATE: There are more wince-inducing Noonanisms at the Carpetbagger Report.