Have any of you wondered why Peggy Noonan has soured on President Bush? After all, she left her job as a columnist just to help him get re-elected in 2004. Yet, now she is one of his most ardent opponents. In a recent Op-Ed, she explains why she “let go” of President Bush and why she thinks other conservative supporters should do the same:
“The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.
“What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom–a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don’t need hacks. . .
“Bush the younger came forward, presented himself as a conservative, garnered all the frustrated hopes of his party, turned them into victory, and not nine months later was handed a historical trauma that left his country rallied around him, lifting him, and his party bonded to him. He was disciplined and often daring, but in time he sundered the party that rallied to him, and broke his coalition into pieces. He threw away his inheritance. I do not understand such squandering.
“Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it’s time. It’s more than time.”
I understand Noonan’s frustration. I think President Bush is dead wrong on his immigration policy and a number of other issues. Nevertheless, despite my frustration with him on these points, he has performed much better than Gore or Kerry would have if for no other reason than that he has appointed two outstanding justices to the Supreme Court. His appointments tipped the balance just a little bit with the result that the court has issued its first decision restricting abortion since Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973.
No, the President isn’t perfect. But I am thankful nonetheless for the pro-life legacy he leaves on the court.