You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. But it's not the normal kind of jealous, the kind reserved for girlfriends who can squeeze into size 2 jeans. No, it's the kind of jealous that hurts, that grabs your gut and twists, that has you howling with rage into your pillow in the middle of the night, screaming "It's not fair" like a two-year-old denied another piece of cake. It is Sarah Palin jealous...and it is consuming you.
You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You are a card-carrying member of the intellectual conservative elite, a PBS-anointed expert on family values who worked for both Ronald Reagan and Dan Rather, a talented speechwriter and wordsmith. And you are fuming: Sarah Palin refuses to be yesterday's news. You just can't get her out of your mind.
And, what's worse, everyone continues to talk about her. You've tried everything, using your mainstream media platforms, your Wall Street Journal columns, and powerful friends -- so many of them -- to savage her, to give her a rhetorical beating so fierce that it would bring a smile to the face of Vince McMahon -- if you knew who he is, and if you had ever watched a WWE wrestling match, which he heads. "She is a complete elite confection. She might as well have been a bonbon," you wrote, your $300 manicured fingers shaking on the keyboard.
You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. So you loosed a multi-column primal scream: Palin is an idiot who is "out of her depth in a shallow pool", a woman who has no sense of personal limits because she is not even smart enough to realize she is "a ponder-free zone." Whoa-good one! The rhetorical equivalent of the chickenwing camel clutch, where you come up behind and twist her arm behind her back, and then force her face to the mat. Or, in her case, to the snow. That's what they have in Alaska, don't they? You don't know, of course-Martha's Vineyard is about as far north as you venture, and then only to observe humanity-you know, the common folks-from "a little pier" before strolling over for dinner with two of the more brilliant stars in your friends firmament, television personalities Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric. You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You pal around with Sawyer and Couric, Jane Fonda, Marlo Thomas, Lily Tomlin -- the world is your aging oyster -- and The New York Times (which is sort of iffy on your writing) admires you for the company you keep. The Manhattan and beltway salon denizens love you. Brian Williams even said he'd nominate you for a Pulitzer, calling your writing "sparkling." Yes, THE Brian Williams, He Who Anchors NBC News, who had an audience with President Obama, to whom he bowed when leaving.
You hang with the grandees, and they understand the world. Unlike Sarah Palin, who uses a pier simply to fish and wouldn't know a winsome observation if it jumped into her net. And you just don't understand the crowds, the admiration for someone who owns the kind of fishing boat that is not equipped with a champagne cooler. Oh, the unfairness of it all!
You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You don't understand it. Sure, maybe she has accomplished a few things (like the $26 billion dollar natural gas pipeline deal, restructuring Alaskan government, and taking an ice pick to corrupt politicians). But she has no style, no pizzazz -- she just does stuff. But so do you -- and you can't understand why you don't get the same adoration. After all, didn't you go before the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission and not just protest, but elegantly protest -- so said The New York Times -- a 16-story tower a developer wanted to build in your ritzy Upper East Side Manhattan neighborhood? Sarah Palin wouldn't have done that; she's not brilliant enough to understand preservation. She probably would have looked at the jobs the construction would create and given it a déclassé "Hell yeah!"
But you're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. Why didn't you get acclaim for your accomplishment? You're every bit as go-get'm as that baby mama from the tundra. You went before the commission hand-in-hand with actor Kevin Kline and Woody Allen -- just a couple of guys from the ‘hood -- and protested this outrage. You looked those preservation commissioners in the eyes, and quoted Prince Charles. Yes, THE Prince Charles, of Princess Diana fame, who -- you told them -- once called a facelift for the National Gallery in London ''a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved and elegant friend.'' Can you imagine Sarah Palin resisting with such elegance?
You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You don't understand it: Sarah Palin has never stood in front of bulldozers with Kevin Kline, and yet they cheer her. And she wouldn't stand anywhere near Woody Allen, who she'd probably insist register as a pedophile. The assorted celebrities -- neighbors all -- cheered your courage in noting that your wealthy enclave, filled with the best and brightest, did not need a building that was the equivalent of low-income housing, what with units starting at a mere $7 million. Talk about slumming.
You called attention to how the new construction would block the sun on Woody Allen's nearby $24 million mansion, not to mention annoy Robert De Niro and Jerry Seinfeld, as if they weren't annoyed enough by the notoriety given to the neighborhood by the television hit Gossip Girl. Not in my backyard! Workers of the Upper East Side unite -- you have nothing to lose but your carbuncle! And so the developer agreed to a smaller building, more a boil than a carbuncle. Success! Take that, Sarah Palin, you "bulls**t" outsider!
You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You do stuff, too -- and yet all you hear is Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Don't they read your columns, don't they understand that she's "dropping her G's," that she is "faux down-home, patronizing-and infantilizing"? You have ten, maybe a hundred times the vocabulary she has, and yet they're talking about her. Don't you read my columns, people!? She is a "dope and unqualified," representative of "a new vulgarization" and still, they talk about her.
You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. You started a new venture, "The Women on the
Web" website, a very conservative, free-enterprise thing to do and still you are not
appreciated. They talk about the Palin family fishing business-big deal. Anyone can get
a couple of fish -- just call Leonards' on Third Avenue and they will deliver. But Palin is
not the only savvy executive type. You got together with your closest friends, all the kind
of women who, unlike Sarah Palin, live in the real world where women wear "Channel
jackets" and "long, flowing pants with heels," and understand life, as Reuters noted, "on
a level that goes beyond the mundane."
You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. Your "beyond the mundane" co-founders --
"buds" as the Sarah Palin types so crassly put it-for your new venture are the essence of
your kind of middle America: they include "60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl; actresses
Candice Bergen (actress, Democratic and Planned Parenthood spokesperson), Whoopi
Goldberg (dropped by advertisers after a nasty Bush joke at a Democratic fundraiser and
then hired by The View, a Barbara Walters talk show on ABC ), and Marlo Thomas
(a major Democratic donor who is married to Bush-hater Phil Donahue), your type of
conservatives, which puts them a bit to the right of Hugo Chavez. But after a year the
audience is less than 20 percent of what you defined as success, your investors are worried,
and the same women who pack Sarah Palin rallies are ignoring your venture, which features
such pieces as "Michelle Obama's Scintillating Style" and "French Fashion Designers Churn
Out Stylish Burqhas."
What is wrong with this country? Isn't anyone a real conservative anymore? Don't they listen
to you? Can't they read without moving their lips?
You're Peggy Noonan and you're jealous. And, worst of all, Sarah Palin is not.
Stuart H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is a former newspaper and retail executive. He is on the faculty
at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.