Noonan Rant

In uncharacteristic fashion, Peggy Noonan pans Bush’s inauguration speech. OK, she doesn’t just pan it – she freakin trashes it.

"Whoever picked the music for the inaugural ceremony itself–modern megachurch hymns, music that sounds like what they’d use for the quiet middle section of a Pixar animated film–was . . . lame."

"The inaugural address itself was startling. It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike."

"A short and self-conscious preamble led quickly to the meat of the speech: the president’s evolving thoughts on freedom in the world. Those thoughts seemed marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty."

"No one will remember what the president said about domestic policy, which was the subject of the last third of the text. This may prove to have been a miscalculation."

"President Bush sided strongly with the moralists, which was not a surprise. But he did it in a way that left this Bush supporter yearning for something she does not normally yearn for, and that is: nuance." (uh oh, she said the Kerry word -ed.)

"reality-based community, a dumb phrase."

"The president’s speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly."

"Ending tyranny in the world? Well that’s an ambition, and if you’re going to have an ambition it might as well be a big one. But this declaration, which is not wrong by any means, seemed to me to land somewhere between dreamy and disturbing. Tyranny is a very bad thing and quite wicked, but one doesn’t expect we’re going to eradicate it any time soon."

"One wonders if they shouldn’t ease up, calm down, breathe deep, get more securely grounded. The most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible. Perfection in the life of man on earth is not."

By this time she ran out of column space – but you have a sense that she wanted to keep going. Cripes Peggy – are we upset because we weren’t asked to write W’s speech? You think you’ve got dibs on him since you wrote for Pappy? Are you tired of the fame that comes from coining the phrase, "A Thousand Points of Light"?

Lots of people agree, she should have stayed home.


  1. I enjoyed the speech. I could appreciate the parallels that he drew between the Civil War and the end of slavery and the Bush doctrine and the attempt to spread democracy.

    Ambitious, yes, but do we really want a President who sets the bar low so he make sure he ensures for himself the correct “legacy?”

    As for the speech being “God-drenched” I refuse to see how that’s a bad thing. I for one would celebrate a more “God-drenched” America.

  2. Losing Peggy

    I saw Dorian Davis, one of my wonderful guest commenters, on Wednesday night before I left for DC. We were talking about our big-media must-reads. Mine are James Lileks, Mark Steyn and James Taranto. His are Peggy Noonan and Ann…

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