Home > Opinion, Politics > Try A Little Tenderness – Peggy Noonan @ WSJ

Try A Little Tenderness – Peggy Noonan @ WSJ

I finally got around to read Peggy Noonan’s Try A Little Tenderness column at the Wall Street Journal Online today. It was a very good piece on the Democratic candidate for President, Barack Obama.

She confirms what I have learned about Barack Obama. He can clearly give a motivating speech and get people behind him, but when you dig deeper into what Mr Obama has said, you find that Mr Obama did not really say anything with substance. In fact, I do not have a clear understanding of where Mr Obama stands on any of the issues. Mr Obama speaks more in generalities than what Mr Obama proposes to do to address America’s issues of the day.

This section of Ms Noonan’s column has deep impact on this topic, asking questions about the Obamas which in turn their own words may actual get us to dig deeper to understand the real meaning behind their words:

His problem was, is, his wife’s words, not his, the speech in which she said that for the first time in her adult life she is proud of her country, because Obama is winning. She later repeated it, then tried to explain it, saying of course she loves her country. But damage was done. Why? Because her statement focused attention on what I suspect are some basic and elementary questions that were starting to bubble out there anyway.

* * *

Here are a few of them.

Are the Obamas, at bottom, snobs? Do they understand America? Are they of it? Did anyone at their Ivy League universities school them in why one should love America? Do they confuse patriotism with nationalism, or nativism? Are they more inspired by abstractions like “international justice” than by old visions of America as the city on a hill, which is how John Winthrop saw it, and Ronald Reagan and JFK spoke of it?

Have they been, throughout their adulthood, so pampered and praised–so raised in the liberal cocoon–that they are essentially unaware of what and how normal Americans think? And are they, in this, like those cosseted yuppies, the Clintons?

Why is all this actually not a distraction but a real issue? Because Americans have common sense and are bottom line. They think like this. If the president and his first lady are not loyal first to America and its interests, who will be? The president of France? But it’s his job to love France, and protect its interests. If America’s leaders don’t love America tenderly, who will?

And there is a context. So many Americans right now fear they are losing their country, that the old America is slipping away and being replaced by something worse, something formless and hollowed out. They can see we are giving up our sovereignty, that our leaders will not control our borders, that we don’t teach the young the old-fashioned love of America, that the government has taken to itself such power, and made things so complex, and at the end of the day when they count up sales tax, property tax, state tax, federal tax they are paying a lot of money to lose the place they loved.

And if you feel you’re losing America, you really don’t want a couple in the White House whose rope of affection to the country seems lightly held, casual, provisional. America is backing Barack at the moment, so America is good. When it becomes angry with President Barack, will that mean America is bad?

I would agree that Mr Noonan analysis that I am too concern about my country. Were losing it because our own politicians are not doing their jobs in addressing the issues of our times. They are too focus on their political gain than resolving issues.

I would have to agree with many others that Mr Obama’s words are empty rhetoric that will not helps us in the long run. Our future of country is at stake and the Democratic party appears to be offering us something that I do not want.

Categories: Opinion, Politics
  1. montgom
    24 February 2008 at 20:19

    Obama is rightly and insightfully credited with spearheading a “New Populism” in American politics (see “Obama’s New Populism,: by Michael A. Cohen, a report gracing the Wall Street Journal, Sat/Sun February 22/23 2008). Obama’s campaign strategies have tenderly galvanized a full cross-section of the vast number of Americans in creating the most diversified and unified democratic coalition, voting block and progressive political activism in American history.

    In stupid, vicious, transparent and dangerous attempts to discredit this development, the Obama’s will be and have been called anything but a successful unifying force for the country. For example, one reporter, (who shames the Wall Street Journal), says that Obama has no “eloquence,” and that we should fear that Obama lacks “love and affection.” This attempt to discredit relies on and is based on a mind missing comprehension but deeply full of confused thought.

    Point one: The article tells us to mistake eloguence as “deep thought expressed in clear words.” Neither eloguence of speech nor eloquence of writing is commonly and academically defined as “deep thought expressed in clear words.” In fact, written and/or spoken eloquence may best involve simplicity (rather than deepness) of thought and composition—-because speech/writing is eloquent not when it is deep but rather when it is vivid, fluent (expressively easy and flowing) and graceful (eloquent or dignified in taste and in manner).

    Point two: The article tells us to mistake someone’s degree of shared displeasure as their own lack of love and gratitutde. The proper definition of pride has nothing to do with love and gratitude. When one says they do not have pride in a certain thing, they do not mean they have no love and gratitude for it; they mean they are reasonably and realistically not fully pleased with it because it has such way to go. Having pride or not having pride should not be confused with having love and gratitude or not having love and affection. One can be proud or have pride absent any love and/or gratitude. In fact, the spirit of pride, in itself, is wholly short of love and gratitude—-while love and gratitude needs no pride and is whole, in itself, without any bit of pride. So, then, to be proud of one’s country or to pride oneself on one’s place of birth does not, by itself, mean one has any bit of love and gratitude for the country. Indeed, pride, itself, goes before the fall of a country where love and gratitude, itself, needs no pride to help build a country.

    Point three: one’s accelerated success is not necessarily and enough to cause one’s disaffection for others. Relatedly, the new pride Michelle Obama said she had is not a pride based on votes for her husband but is a new pride shared by American voters based on new evidence that Americans can unite around (at least the rhetoric of) common goals and democracy.

    Now, then, the honest assessment of Obana’s presidential draw recognizes his sheer eloquence; his love, affection and appreciation for the country; his ability to identify with the struggles of all Americans and to convince Americans that united they can elect to return to a healthy sense of pride in the country.

    The classically dishonest assessment is one that would censure the Obamas from joining critical observations about the country while at the same time that assessment goes on to lament about how “leaders have not lead us well,” how “something worse…formless and hollow” has been replacing America and how Americans are “paying a lot of money to lose the place they love.” The classically dishonest assessment is one that would censure the Obamas while referring to Barack and/or Michelle as being “…in a white country…working its way through questions of race…[to its own credit producing the persons of Michelle and Barack and giving them a shot at the top job in the Oval Officee]” and then say the Obama’s are owing some outstanding debt of “love and gratitude for the place that tries to give everyone a shot.” Of course, in our sanity we know that America is not a white country just as we know that Scandanavian Americans are not the indigenous Americans—and the Obama’s are indebted to no “massa” white country for their status and exercised freedoms.

    The classically dishonest assessment of the Obama’s and what they represent to America relies on the usual ideas and terms of both outright racism and transparently coded racism that are helping to hurt the unity, moral and security of the country. Examples are comments or suggestions that Michelle Obama is a “black woman in a white country” ~ and that we should be fearful that African Americans of Mrs. Obama’s generation cannot “apprehend” the struggle of others based on our imagination that they have been “drilled” … “every day” about [the history of racism in America]. This classically dishonest assessment is full of bare pride (which is sheer arrogance), envy and disaffection for others plus deep thoughts of paranoia—expressed in clear words.

    If Peggy Noonan had real analytical skills, her article could have focused on real merits and demerits of the Obama candidacy.

  2. 25 February 2008 at 17:14

    Thank you for thoughts on this matter. But, I feel that you are missing the point of the analysis. I believe that Ms Noonan column was addressing what Mr Obama and his wife having been saying in their campaign stops. She is challenging us to consider what Mr Obama is actual saying. Take away who was spoke those words of the speech, you find that it is rather lacking substance behind their words.

    Mr Obama does not tell me where he stands specifically on the issues. Mr Obama does not share his vision for America, except that he is for change and he will bring it. So, what is this change he is talking about? His populism sounds great, but again it is empty rhetoric to me. It is frustrating to hear that voters can be influenced more by feelings than where the individual stands on the issues.

    It is also not a matter of black versus white. This does not impact how I would vote. It is the issues I vote upon. But, if Mr Obama does become President, the race issue will not go away anytime soon. It will remain.

    At this point in time, I am under the impression that the regardless who the candidate is in the Democratic party, they will take us in the wrong direction. Having government do everything for us is surrendering our freedoms and liberties to them. Sorry, I cannot let our country go in that direction.

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