Friday, February 13, 2009


Mobs trying to make it impossible for emergency personnel to do their jobs -- you get that in places where the social order has broken down and thugs rule. You're also getting that right now in Washington. But I repeat myself.

To Peggy Noonan, however, if the patient expires, the emergency workers and the stone-throwers on the street are equally to blame:

There's a sense that everyone's digging in. President Obama has dug in on this stimulus bill: Pass it or see catastrophe. Republicans are dug in: Pass it and see catastrophe. The digging in is a way of showing certitude, and they're showing certitude because they're lost.

We hire politicians to know what to do about empty stores, job loss, and "Retail Space Available." But they don't, and more than ever we know they don't.

No, Peggy, you're wrong. Our politicians know what to do. Your politicians don't. And your politicians are hell-bent on preventing our politicians from doing what needs to be done.

Let me switch metaphors. For your politicians, Peggy, chaos and the suffering of innocents are tactics -- they're means of gaining the upper hand. Your politicians are economic terrorists.


Now I'll briefly address the ridiculous main conceit of this Noonan column:

A major reason people are blue about the future is not the stores, not the Treasury secretary, not everyone digging in. It is those things, but it's more than that, and deeper.

It's Sully and Suleman, the pilot and "Octomom," the two great stories that are twinned with the era. Sully, the airline captain who saved 155 lives by landing that plane just right....

This is why people are so moved: We're still making Sullys. We're still making those mythic Americans, those steely-eyed rocket men....

But Sully, 58, Air Force Academy '73, was shaped and formed by the old America, and educated in an ethos in which a certain style of manhood -- of personhood -- was held high.

What we fear we're making more of these days is Nadya Suleman. The dizzy, selfish, self-dramatizing 33-year-old mother who had six small children and then a week ago eight more because, well, she always wanted a big family....

... a great nation that fears, deep down, that it may be becoming more Suley than Sully -- that nation will enter a true depression.

So this is a generational thing? Let me talk about generations. You know when Sully was born? January 23, 1951. You know when Rush Limbaugh was born? Eleven days earlier. When "we" were "making" Sully, "we" were also "making" Limbaugh -- as well as the likes of Jim "All Tax Cuts" DeMint (also born 1951) and John Boehner (born 1949).

Limbaugh in particular, if he'd been Sullenberger and thought blaming the disaster on liberals would help movement conservatism more than landing the plane successfully, almost certainly would have let the plane crash (after parachuting to safety first). That's clearly how he's approaching this economy.

As for the nature of the younger generation, I notice that shortly after 9/11, when it suited her politics, Noonan didn't think we were breeding a race of parasites:

... what the New York Fire Department did--what those men did on that brilliant blue day in September--was like D-Day. It was daring and brilliant and brave, and the fact of it--the fact that they did it, charging into harm's way--changed the world we live in. They brought love into a story about hate--for only love will make you enter fire. Talk about your Greatest Generation--the greatest generation is the greatest pieces of any generation, and right now that is: them.

Actually, that's a reasonable, thoughtful conclusion: the greatest generation is the greatest pieces of any generation. It was true then and it's true now. It's always true. A few years ago, Noonan understood it. Not now, though.

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