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Opening Arguments

Got mine, get yours

I don't especially like "the trolley is going off the tracks and the people who should care don't" pieces, but Peggy Noonan says it so eloquently. Noonan's lament isn't quite the same as Jimmy Carter's famous malaise speech (in which he didn't use that actual word); he blamed the American people in general. Noonan zeroes in on a more specific group:

Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I hope she's wrong and, as she notes, it's nothing that can be proven. But not once in reading the piece did I think, "Oh, no, that's not right."

UPDATE: See the two comments attached to post for readers who agree with Noonan. Not everyone does. Phil Bowermaster tells her to cheer up. And Justin Katz wonders if it's really the "whole ball of wax" that's falling apart or just an articficial construct.

Posted in: Current Affairs


Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:47am

Good catch. I haven't been reading the WSJ much lately, so I almost certainly would have missed that piece. I usually don't much care for Peggy Noonan's writing. I've generally been on the same side of most issues as her over the years until recently, but her writing style just leaves me cold. Style aside, she's dead-on. We're in for what the Russians call a Time of Troubles.

Our elites have and continue to import large numbers of aliens (illegal *and* legal) into our midst, most of whom would be assimilated only with the utmost difficulty in the best of times, but who, in today's politically correct America, are inassimilable. The West--not just America--has lost its way. We've lost our Will. We don't believe in ourselves any longer, and so who are we to defend ourselves from any Guatemalan or Somali or Chinee or Mussulman who wants to break & enter into our country and start demanding things? We acquiesce to them. We learn their languages, so as not to make things too hard for them. We hire interpreters, even though it's our houses into which they've crashed. We tell ourselves how wonderfully tolerant we are. We kid ourselves that diversity is beautiful, when diversity only inevitably leads to, at best, Brazil, or, at worst, to the wonderfully peaceful Balkans.

But no one can say this. Nope. We'll be called racists. Ted Kennedy bears much of the blame, if only for the 1965 Immigration Act. But he's certainly not alone. Our ancestors who imported Africans also must bear much of the blame. And all of those braying for open borders--including the op-ed page of the WSJ--have sold us out. Who cares about America and Americans anymore? Not our elites.

Warren Zevon said to send lawyers, guns, and money. Well, I don't think lawyers are going to get us out of this mess, but it would behoove all right-thinking Americans to stockpile guns & ammo; money in the form of gold & silver coins; food & water; medical supplies; and anything else we can get our hands on. Because things are going to get ugly, my friends.

Steve Towsley
Fri, 10/28/2005 - 2:19pm

The difficulty is always the same. Tens of millions of American voters elect a few hundred political leaders to represent their interests in the halls of government, and when those public servants arrive there, they serve themselves.

We then have to throw the bums out and try again. It seems politicians are slow as glaciers to get the connection between finding yourself no longer in office and not doing what the majority hired you to do. They always seem surprised when they get voted out. They always assert they were doing something they call "the right thing," without asking US what the right thing is.

The refreshing thing about the contract with America was that some politicians told us what they were going to do, we liked it, we supported them, and they did it. As I recall a long period of frustrating congressional gridlock ended at that point.

Most politicians appear to view achieving high office as their own personal lottery win -- and to hell with the constituents that put them in the seats. Their parties don't seem to understand the connection between their politicians giving their own voters the shaft and their party getting voted out of office soon afterward. Or they don't care, and make hay (and money) while the sun shines.

If the Republicans want to keep the Democrats out of power in Washington, this Republican believes they are going to have to be a lot more responsive in a lot of areas than they have been lately. They are going to have to find out what our expectations are (if they truly don't know), and fulfill them, rather than running their own personal agendas.

One vital area is in the appointment of Supreme Court justices. Harriet Miers was far more troubling to the party base than she was to any congressperson, though we didn't have the sound bites to say so. Those of us who want to see the important issues of this age decided constitutionally had no idea how to assess Miers, but we felt in our guts she would not be nearly tough enough on cases from immigration to homeland security to the unborn to our overdue-for-rehabilitation Second Amendment rights.

If the large turn-out in the last national election suggests anything, it is that Americans are angry and tired of politicians who won't produce the desired results for their bosses: us.

Right now, Bush and the RNC is having a remedial lesson in that same course, in terms of Miers, the borders, energy, the economy...

Do you think they can read the writing on the wall, or will they screw it up and be back on the pavement in '08? I'm sure I don't know, but the withdrawal of Miers and the changes in the immigration policy are at least seedlings a couple of bricks in the bridge that needs building back to the base.

Leo Morris
Sun, 10/30/2005 - 8:21am

Be sure to see the update of the post for two people who disagree with Noonan's take.