Friday, August 08, 2008


Peggy Noonan is a member of the media elite, so when I read the opening of her latest column, I thought she was going to tell us she'd left her lofty perch to walk among us hoi polloi:

You're in a plane and you're flying over the campaign at a level of about 10,000 feet, and you look down and see: Not much has changed. Battle lines fixed, topography the same, troops pretty much where they were.

But land the plane, walk around and talk to people, and you realize: This thing is moving. Things are shifting around a bit. That's what I see looking back at the past four weeks....

She certainly seems interested in what we in the rabble are thinking:

There's a thing that's out there and it's big, and latent, and somehow always taken into account and always ignored, and political professionals always assume they understand it. It has been called many things the past 50 years, "the silent center," "the silent majority," "the coalition," "the base." The idea of it has evolved as its composition has evolved, but the fact that it's big, and relatively silent, and somehow always latent, maintains.... I see it as the old America, and if and when it reasserts itself, the campaign will shift indeed....

And, in fact, she thinks it is shifting.

But what's her evidence -- conversations with actual voters? Heavens, no. She may not still be at 10,000 feet, but she's hardly letting her feet touch ordinary ground. She has three sources:

1. Her own feelings.
2. Recent polls (no, not the ones that show Obama holding his lead).


3. Conversations with two of her friends:

But the other day a friend said something I hadn't heard before: "This is 1948, and Obama is Tom Dewey" -- the sleek, well-groomed, inevitable one who lost.... even the cliches have begun to shift....

Two weeks ago a journalist, a moderate liberal, spoke to me of what he called Mr. Obama's arrogance....

That's it. That's the sum total of her evidence. "The cliches have begun to shift" because one friend -- a fellow political pro -- referenced Dewey in 1948.

Oh, but her own feelings are deduced from a close reading of political news:

Mr. Obama got tagged the past month as something new, not the candidate from Men's Vogue but arrogant, aloof and somehow ethereal.

Excuse me, but Noonan's fellow Republicans put out a press release calling Obama "arrogant" (and "insulated," which is very much like "aloof") in February 2007. One of their sources was this column by Noonan's catty doppelganger, Maureen Dowd, which had recently appeared and called Obama "sniffy," "huffy" and "emotionally detached" (and, for good measure, "legally blonde"). "Something new"? Those are the oldest bits in the Obama-bashing playbook.

Ah, but McCain hung out with bikers, which thrills Noonan and literally makes her write the words "vroom vroom." So you know she's in tune with regular folks.

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