Peggy Noonan and the left's prom dress

Ray Kroc, the man who built McDonald's, once said that if his competition was drowning, "he'd stick a hose in his mouth."  A very American attitude toward life and winning, which hasn't taken root in today's Republican establishment standard-bearers.  Odd, since it was Reagan who famously said, "Here's my strategy on the Cold War.  We win.  They lose" – or, more germane to the politics of 2016, quipped that he was reluctant to allow a government shutdown until one day he asked himself, "What's the worst that could happen?"

But almost as if Reagan never lived, the sad fact is that you almost always find Republican establishment types today parading around in the 1950s prom dress liberals hand them to wear – a mentality they're encouraged in by conservative establishment pundits like Charles Krauthammer, or most particularly Peggy Noonan, when, in "A Rash Leader in a Grave Time" (12/18/15), knocking Trump, she says this:

[O]ne thing an effective leader must always do is know what can be misunderstood and guard against it, what can be misconstrued and used to paint you – and your followers – as bigoted. Leaders try hard not to let that happen. It is the due diligence of politics.

Whew!  Coming from Ms. Noonan, I suppose this is the gold standard of establishment thinking.  But what a way in which to define leadership or diligence.  I remember Ms. Noonan sideswiping Sarah Palin (during McCain's campaign?) with the comment that we need leaders who can think through problems.  Reading this mush, you're forced to ask – what manner of thinking through does it take to conclude that effective leadership requires one not to say that which can be "misconstrued and used to paint you—and your followers—as bigoted"?  News flash: Democrats always misconstrue and paint Republicans as bigoted.  It's what they do, the fetid air they thrive on.  Indeed, there's nothing Republicans can say, ever, that Democrats won't misconstrue or lie about.  Pretending there is just means you allow the left to control the debate. 

Besides, wasn't it Balfour, one of the most civilized, thoughtful, gentlemanly politicians who ever lived, who said "to accord the opposition any respect is to provide it an advantage to which it is not entitled"?

So let's be honest, Peggy: as long as Trump's mouth is moving, Republicans are for the first time in more than a decade actually dominating the political agenda – forcing liberals to defend the indefensible on immigration, security, trade, and over-regulation, not to mention the Clintons' sordid and sorry very personal war against women.

And if you do somehow manage to shut him up, where are you?  Only back to pirouetting in front of your bedroom mirror, wearing the pink tulle and snug princess-cut bodice your enemies think you look best in.

And while you may, most of us don't have the legs for that.

Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD.  He lives and writes in the colonial-era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York; blogs at; and can also be reached at

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