Peggy Noonan is an elitist. She’s a good one too. Being an elitist involves displaying exceptional manners and grace. Noonan does both. Her polite, calm demeanor often obscures her passions. She doesn’t allow herself to become too emotional. To do so would be undignified.
But Sarah Palin has gotten under her skin. There is something about Sarah that has Noonan unhinged. Without any effort, Sarah has exposed Noonan’s latent snobbery. Sarah also exposed the hypocrisy and superficiality of Noonan and the elitist class that Noonan so desperately seeks to please.
There is too much ammunition to dump on Noonan all at once, but this an amusing article. In 1997, Noonan wrote about raising her son to be gentleman. Noonan crowed:
My son knows, for example, that you do not call adults by their first names unless asked to do so; you do not answer a call with “What!” but “Yes?”; you do not interrupt others unless you really have to, as in, “Excuse me, Aunt Patty, but your nose is on fire.” You do not turn to a person who just sneezed and say, “Ooooh, d’ja get any on ya?”.
You Betcha Sarah gets under Noonan’s skin!
Noonan married late in life and divorced only five years later. She bore only one child and raised him alone amongst the glitterati of New York City. Being wealthy and raising a single child in NYC, a parent like Noonan can afford the luxury of raising Junior in accordance with the aristocratic rules of etiquette. That’s a luxury a small town working mother of five doesn’t have.
This is one source of Noonan’s irritation with Sarah; not ideology; not talent; not intelligence; but raw class snobbery and contempt. Sarah and her whole family are the antithesis of what Noonan considers ‘proper’. One can almost imagine Noonan, divorced and alone, sitting in some Upper East Side condo, sipping pinot blanc, snacking on raclette, and sighing, grimacing and lamenting over Sarah’s every small town colloquialism and idiosyncrasy.
Noonan, instead, is focused on teaching her son the proper etiquette of opening doors. She writes to her son:
you will be a member in high standing of an invisible but honored group called The People of Politeness, who recognize each other wherever they go and honor each other with secret nods.
Yes, that “invisible but honored group called The People of Politeness”. Perhaps it is Sarah’s home grown wink and nod that upsets Noonan. Palin, not being one of the ‘honored group’, didn’t earn the right to give the ‘secret nod’. That’s like a biker wearing colors before they were officially sworn into the gang. The latter gets assassinated. The former gets their character assassinated.
Noonan writes frequently about manners and grace. This is Noonan’s cause. This is her rebellion:
I realize I am asking him to observe old forms in a new world. But I prefer the old forms and think they should be continued, and if this is at odds with reality, well, reality will have to live with our rebellion.
Sarah observes some ‘old forms in a new world’ too like killing and cooking her own food and honoring the institution of marriage. But I guess those don’t count in Noonan’s class.
In Noonan’s world, manners and grace even transcends post modern feminism:
I tell him that in fact feminists think it’s wrong for a boy to bow to a lady, as they feel this might suggest women are weaker; and, anyway, they don’t want women to be ladies, they want them to be I-Am-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar persons.
I know of a few conservatives who are “women-hear-roar” persons too. Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michelle Bachman and, what’s her name … Sarah Palin come to mind. Each are probably too brash for Noonan’s liking. Conservatives are suppose to be meek and polite. Fighting back with ferocity and passion requires bad manners and that is the biggest ‘faux pas’ of all.
Simply, to Noonan, Sarah is white trash. Sarah is classless, uncouth, abrupt, loud and divisive. Sarah is not worthy of her ascendency.
Noonan was Reagan’s speechwriter. It’s Noonan’s party in her mind. How could white trash from Alaska become the most important and powerful woman in her party? Sarah annoys and frustrates her. Noonan wants her gone.
Noonan still thinks she holds the keys to the kingdom; that she gets to define ‘proper’ conservatism and ‘proper’ conservative women. All she is holding on to is the legend of herself that she created in her own mind. She is a pathetic, useless has-been.