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Monday, June 8, 2009
Peggy Noonan Day (and Some Housekeeping)

Here are links to a few excellent, recent Peggy Noonan columns, and to some other things I've read lately, some as recently as today.

Peggy Noonan

We had Thomas Sowell Day here at a blog a while back. I think it's time for Peggy Noonan Day. To that end:

The category of military hero -- warrior -- fell off a bit, in part because of the bad reputation of war. Some emerged of heroic size -- Gens. Pershing and Patton, Eisenhower and Marshall. But somewhere in the 1960s I think we decided, or the makers of our culture decided, that to celebrate great warriors was to encourage war. And we always have too much of that. So they made a lot of movies depicting soldiers as victims and officers as brutish. This was especially true in the Vietnam era and the years that followed. Maybe a correction was in order: It's good to remember war is hell. But when we removed the warrior, we removed something intensely human, something ancestral and stirring, something celebrated naturally throughout the long history of man. Also it was ungrateful: They put themselves in harm's way for us.

Republicans can be liberated by the fact that they're outnumbered and likely about to lose. They can step back, breathe in, and use the Sotomayor confirmation hearings to perform a public service: Find out what the future justice thinks and why she thinks it, explain what they think and why they think it, look at the two different philosophies, if that's what they are. Don't make it sparring, make it thinking.

Don't grill and grandstand, summon and inform. Show the respect that expresses equality and the equality that is an expression of respect. Ask and listen, get the logic, explain where you think it wrong. Fill the airwaves with thoughtful exchanges.

The colors were presented. The U.S. Army chorus sang the national anthem so beautifully, with such harmonic precision and depth, that some dry eyes turned moist, including those of the crusty journalist to my right. Congressmen hear choirs sing patriotic songs all the time and grow used to it. The rest of us do not and are stirred. Tourists walk through the Rotunda and think to themselves that they'd die for the signs and symbols of this place. Lawmakers experience the Rotunda as a connecting point between House and Senate that's too often clogged by overweight tourists in shorts from Bayonne. We need term limits. When the music no longer moves you, you should leave. When you cannot leave, you should be pushed.

These are the two great issues, the economic crisis and our safety. In the face of them, what strikes one is the weightlessness of the Obama administration, the jumping from issue to issue and venue to venue from day to day. Isaiah Berlin famously suggested a leader is a fox or a hedgehog. The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing. In political leadership the hedgehog has certain significant advantages, focus and clarity of vision among them. Most presidents are one or the other. So far Mr. Obama seems neither.

The indecipherable language of government has actually become dangerous to the well-being of the nation. As the federal government claims ever greater powers, its language has become vague to the point of meaningless and meaningless to the point of menacing.

He was an optimist not in the modern and prevalent sense of being too stupid to know things can go bad, but in a way that suggested an informed sunniness. If things get dark, and they might, we'll have the brains, heft and resourcefulness to turn it around.

Some leaders are inspiring, and some are effective managers. Kemp was both. He knew how to execute and was a successful legislator. Persuasion is not enough, action and movement must follow. Ms. Conway: "There's something about having been a quarterback that lets you understand the play clock is running, and if you don't move forward you lose your chance."

Non-Peggy Noonan Housekeeping

Here's are some other interesting things I've read, well, since the last time I listed interesting readings:

I've mentioned the Utah Children's Choir occasionally here at the blog, including some discussion of its recent anniversary concert. Here's a Daily Herald article about the choir's 25th anniversary.

The Obama adminstration is protecting it's side's tampering with elections. And it's tampering with the census, which has even broader electoral and other implications. In both cases, public confidence in elections and representation is jeopardized, and that's very bad for representative government.

It seems that the mortgage bailout is making things worse, in part because of legitimate concerns about the future impact of vastly increased deficits.

According to this Wall Street Journal opinion, Obama's Health Cost [Projections Are an] Illusion.

Karl Vick writes for the Associated Press about activists campaigning against the Mormons. Here's one interesting paragraph. (Apparently, humanitarian aid is welcome from a church, but preaching moral values is not.)

"I'm not intending it to harm the religion. I think they do wonderful things. Nicest people," said Fred Karger, a former Republican campaign consultant who established Californians Against Hate. "My single goal is to get them out of the same-sex marriage business and back to helping hurricane victims."

I can't say the political world is boring, just now.

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