Friday, July 31, 2009


In today's column, Peggy Noonan imagines Richard Nixon talking to modern Republicans:

" ...they are tagging you as guys who think this is all just about politics.... stop the 'Obama's Waterloo' stuff -- what a mistake that was, to make yourselves look cynical and purely partisan! -- and refocus. Come back to first principles and prudent warnings, but always within a context of clear patriotism. At the end of the day, America needs a successful president. It's dangerous to have a wounded duck six months into a presidency in a dangerous world. So help him by gently instructing him. He'll hate that, because in his mind he's the teacher and you're the student. Point out that there's a lot the president doesn't understand, come forward every day with your ideas, talk them up, get them out there...."'

Um, really, Peggy? Nixon would urge Republicans to be nice? And constructive? Yes, he was a great believer in co-opting liberal and moderate ideas -- in a country that had seemed to favor them for nearly forty years. In a country shaped by Reagan, Atwater, Limbaugh, Gingrich, and Murdoch, do you really think he'd be like that? I think he'd say, "Go for the kill! Hit 'em even harder!" (Never mind what he'd think about Obama's ancestry.)

Noonan also imagines FDR talking to Obama:

"My friend, you're in a bit of a fix. Falling polls, decreasing support for health care. Beyond that, you're stuck in a bit of a lose-lose. If you don’t get a bill along the lines you've announced, you'll look ineffective and weak --a loser. If, on the other hand, you win, if you get what you asked for, it will all be a mess and all be on you. The system will be overwhelmed, the government won't be able to execute properly, the costs will be huge...."

That's right -- in Noonan's fantasy, FDR was against large government programs.

Yeah, that makes sense.

(To give her her due, though, Noonan's FDR does seem to be in favor of Medicare for All -- and it seems as if Noonan likes the idea, too. Who knew? But she also thinks Republicans would go along with a changeover to Medicare for All -- or at least her imagined FDR thinks they would. Er, no. Unlike Noonan, FDR didn't live in a dream world.)

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