Epiphany Watch, Peggy Noonan Version
By: Mark W Adams

I don't know if Peggy Noonan ever read any of Bob Altemeyer's study of the authoritarian personalities that are the heart and soul of the conservative Republican political infrastructure, but sometime in the last several months of reading the scribbling on the White House walls, she's reached the beginning of understanding why the current incarnation of the GOP coalition was doomed, eventually, to fail.
Mr. Bush has squandered the hard-built paternity of 40 years. But so has the party, and so have its leaders. If they had pushed away for serious reasons, they could have separated the party's fortunes from the president's. This would have left a painfully broken party, but they wouldn't be left with a ruined "brand," as they all say, speaking the language of marketing. And they speak that language because they are marketers, not thinkers. Not serious about policy. Not serious about ideas. And not serious about leadership, only followership,"
I say she's only reached the beginning of understanding. The key here the last sentence, and it bears repeating: ... not serious about leadership, only followership.

Tim the Soldier reminded me of the words of Paul Wellstone, who while using the word "politics," really was talking about leadership, or rather the ideal of leadership:
"Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people's lives. It's about advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and the world. Politics is about doing well for the people."
The leadership of the conservative movement, now gasping for air, never once led with any sense of altruism -- ever. Power for power's sake, for money, for winning simply to "prove" they were every bit as good as the "elites" they scoff at who think they know better. Winning not to lead a better way forward, but simply so the other guys lose.

Peace, justice? Making life better for everyone? If life in the early 21st Century has shown us anything so far, it's that these concepts are the antithesis of Republican Party rule.

40 years ago, a much more thoughtful and principled Senator represented the State of Arizona than the current aging incarnation. When Barry Goldwater was the icon of conservative leadership, there was a consciousness to the party. His last noble act was to inform Nixon that the thuggery that had usurped the conservatives' cause and betrayed the nation was through.

Nixon was gone, but his thugs and misanthropes stayed on in the party leadership, one of whom holds the record for the longest serving Defense Secretary whose answer to GOP electoral disappointments is not to govern more effectively but to invite an attack against our country's interests; and another who picked himself as the nation's most powerfully sinister Vice President. The intellectual soul of the party, unfortunately, (more interested in good politics in the Wellstone tradition) were relegated to mere tools used by the factions that cared more about "winning" than governing. Peggy Noonan was and is one such useful tool.

The hard-built paternity of 40 years that Noonan eulogizes was effectively neutered the day they allowed a win-at-all-cost criminal like Nixon to take control of an authoritarian political culture that survives more on loyalty than lofty ideals. Promoting incompetent politicians who can act the part, and do it well as long as they have good writers like Noonan authoring the script, they never understood that "big" government or "liberal" government is not the enemy of the people. Bad, incompetent, corrupt government is the insidious evil that can destroy a nation and it's society. Real leadership can cure that sickness.

Noonan has taken a first step, but has a long way to go to understand that this former Reagan speech writer is just the other side of the coin that laid the stench on America's body politic. Her old boss was given pass after pass, defended vehemently by Peggy herself for betraying the Constitution and conservative orthodoxy, making deals with terrorists, conducting illegal wars, "fixing" illegal immigration through amnesty and never enforcing the laws against employers who created the demand for cheap labor in the first place -- and living in a perpetual "Senior Moment."

I doubt seriously that Noonan will ever get to the point where she will acknowledge that the doddering buffoon she and her friends spent so much effort lionizing wasn't really "leader" they believed him to be. Ronald Reagan was an opportunist, like Nixon before him and the two Bushes who followed, and every bit the pandering flip-flopper the Republics collectively are holding their nose and offering up as a sacrifice to the political gods today.

Come on, Reagan was a union president and a Democrat before he saw a clearer path to power as a Republican and in his first major act as President busted the Air Traffic Controllers Union. Call him many things, but someone who stood on long standing principles he most definitely was not.

Peggy's recognized that in a party with no leaders, just opportunists and blind followers, there is a dim future. What she many never come to terms with, much to her unending confusion, is that she was merely 18 years old when the thousand points of light that illuminate that shining city on the hill started going out one-by-one. Now there's none left.