Friday, April 13, 2007


Peggy Noonan finds the current crop of presidential candidates lacking in gravitas:

...There is a sort of stature gap in the presidential campaign so far, isn't there? A lack of personal height among the candidates, a lack of the bearing that befits the office they seek.

... Why are these candidates acting so small when the job they think they deserve is so big?...

Here are a few memorable photographs from the presidential administration in which Peggy Noonan was once employed:

She gropes for an explanation for what she sees as the lack of seriousness in this election cycle, but the words "Ronald" and "Reagan" never once appear in her column.

Hey, Peg, you don't like Giuliani doing an imitation of Marlon Brando in The Godfather at a campaign stop? Blame Saint Ronnie and his handlers -- they invented the pop presidency.

(More Reagan "wit" here.)


Noonan describes the problem as a general one, but she's particularly put off by Rudy and his wife. (Noonan says Judi "sets people's teeth on edge" -- meow!) I'm a bit surprised at that -- but check back a year from now, after Rudy's won the nomination. She'll be proposing him for Mount Rushmore before we've even had the general election.

Oh, and of course Hillary Clinton comes in for her share of Peggy's ire:

...None of these [gravitas-challenged moments by Republican candidates] are as bad as what may be the worst moment in the entire campaign so far, that being Hillary Clinton's adopting of a deep Southern drawl when she spoke at a church last month in Selma, Ala.

"Ah don't feel no ways tarred, ah come too far. . . . And the chair of all the mares in the country, Mare Palmer from Trenton, New Jersey . . "

Oh my goodness. It was so embarrassing, so lead-footed and cynical, so patronizing. You know she was shocked that it didn't go over because she'd seen her husband hop up his own accent and go with the sing-song cadences a hundred times in his career, a thousand times, and no one ever knocked him for it....

But if you listen to the audio -- even in the truncated compilation that inspired so much scorn on the right -- it's clear that "I don't feel no ways tired" did go over in Selma: there are cheers.

And while I understand what right-wingers are getting at when they quote that part of the speech (though I disagree with their take on it), could someone please explain to me what the hell is so unusual about her pronunciation of the word "mayor" in the other part of the clip? It sounds absolutely normal to me.

And after that, maybe someone can explain to me why quoting a moving line from a gospel song shows lack of "bearing" in a way that's comparable to faking a Mafia thug's accent for a cheap laugh.

Ah, but Ronnie was the gold standard for dignity -- right?

He used to make jokes: About Africans, "When they have a man for lunch, they really have him for lunch."

They were giants in those days.

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