Peggy Noonan

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Wit penetrates; humor envelops. Wit is a function of verbal intelligence; humor is imagination operating on good nature.

Peggy Noonan (born 7 September 1950) is an author, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and a commentator on broadcast and cable television news shows. She was also a speechwriter for U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

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  • Wit penetrates; humor envelops. Wit is a function of verbal intelligence; humor is imagination operating on good nature. John Kennedy had wit, and so did Lincoln, who also had abundant humor; Reagan was mostly humor.
    • What I Saw at the Revolution : A Political Life in the Reagan Era (1990), p. 179
  • Candor is a compliment; it implies equality. It's how true friends talk.
    • Peggy Noonan, in What I Saw at the Revolution : A Political Life in the Reagan Era (1990), p. 321
  • The Democrats had long labeled the impeachment debate a distraction from the urgent business of a great nation. But the Republicans argued that the pursuit of justice is the business of a great nation. In winning this point, they caught the falling flag, producing a triumph for the rule of law, a reassertion of the belief that no man is above it, and a rebuke for an arrogance that had grown imperial.
  • Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man. He's normal. He thinks in a sort of common-sense way. He speaks the language of business and sports and politics. You know him. He's not exotic. But if there's a fire on the block, he'll run out and help. He'll help direct the rig to the right house and count the kids coming out and say, "Where's Sally?" He's responsible. He's not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world. And then when the fire comes they say, "I warned Joe about that furnace." And, "Does Joe have children?" And "I saw a fire once. It spreads like syrup. No, it spreads like explosive syrup. No, it's formidable and yet fleeting." When the fire comes they talk. Bush ain't that guy. Republicans love the guy who ain't that guy. Americans love the guy who ain't that guy.
  • Imagine for a moment that angels exist, that they are pure spirits of virtue and light, that they care about us and for us and are among us, unseen, in the airport security line, in the room where we watch TV, at the symposium of great minds. "Raise your hands if you think masturbation should be illegal!" "I'm Bob Dole for Viagra." "Put your feet in the foot marks, lady." We are embarrassing the angels. … Lent began yesterday, and I mean to give up a great deal, as you would too if you were me. One of the things I mean to give up is the habit of thinking it and not saying it. A lady has some rights, and this happens to be one I can assert. "You are embarrassing the angels." This is what I intend to say for the next 40 days whenever I see someone who is hurting the culture, hurting human dignity, denying the stature of a human being.
  • The most qualified? No. I think they went for this — excuse me — political bullshit about narratives.
  • Because she jumbles up so many cultural categories, because she is a feminist not in the Yale Gender Studies sense but the How Do I Reload This Thang way, because she is a woman who in style, history, moxie and femininity is exactly like a normal American feminist and not an Abstract Theory feminist; because she wears makeup and heels and eats mooseburgers and is Alaska Tough, as Time magazine put it; because she is conservative, and pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life; and because conservatives can smell this sort of thing — who is really one of them and who is not — and will fight to the death for one of their beleaguered own; because of all of this she is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy.
  • I think it's Romney. I think he's stealing in "like a thief with good tools," in Walker Percy's old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney's slipping into the presidency. He's quietly rising, and he's been rising for a while.
  • Who knows what to make of the weighting of the polls and the assumptions as to who will vote? Who knows the depth and breadth of each party's turnout efforts? Among the wisest words spoken this cycle were by John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate, who said, in a conversation the night before the last presidential debate, that he thought maybe the American people were quietly cooking something up, something we don't know about.

    I think they are and I think it's this: a Romney win.

    • "Monday Morning" (2012-11-05), Peggy Noonan's Blog, Wall Street Journal

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