Peggy Noonan: “Let Go of George Bush”

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.

“Too Bad: President Bush has torn the conservative coalition asunder” – by Peggy Noonan (OpinionJournal.com)


  • Bryan L

    You said “…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.”

    Wow, Denny! How do you know how either of those 2 would have performed? All your criteria is for judging whether Bush performed well was by appointing 2 judges to the Supreme court that could restrict abortion just a bit? I’m sad that people vote the way you do in this country. No matter that Bush could run this country and the rest of the world into the ground, as long as a particular abortion is just a little harder to get, then he performed well? Hopefully when it’s all said and done that’s not a decision/position you look back on with regret.

    Bryan L

  • Travis Hilton


    An interesting take from Noonan. I’m in agreement with you. I can’t see how Bryan and Paul could think we would be better in any particular area with Kerry or Gore at the helm. That includes the war on terror.

    If Bush had not been elected abortion in all trimesters would insured for another generation and embryoes would be used like labortory rats for reasearch.


  • dennyrburk

    Brian and Paul,

    I have said before on this blog and I will say it again that I think abortion-on-demand is the single greatest human rights crisis in our country. Whether or not you view this as a “crisis” depends entirely on what you believe about the humanity of the millions that are killed each year by abortion on demand (over 40 million since 1973). For this reason, I am unashamedly a one-issue voter. I don’t mean that being right on one-issue qualifies a person for political office, but I do mean that being wrong on certain issues certainly can disqualify a candidate. In my view, abortion is a deal-breaker. If a candidate supports the continuance of the Roe v. Wade regime, he/she is disqualified from my vote (no matter if I agree with him/her on every other issue). That is why I will never cast a vote for Rudy Giuliani.


    I agree with you. Whatever you think about the war in Iraq, I think Bush has proved to be much stronger in the war on terror than either Kerry or Gore would have been. I think Kerry and Gore would have prosecuted the war on terror as a law-enforcement operation. I don’t think they would have put the U.S. on a war-footing, which is what was required after 9-11.


  • Paul


    I agree that abortion is a major, MAJOR problem. However, our solutions to the problem are different.

    You believe that you should just outright ban a procedure and leave it at that. Forcing the abortions that do happen back into the back alleys in an unregulated manner that will put the lives of both mother and child at risk.

    You believe that sex education should be left up to parents that end up not talking to their kids about sex, because sex shouldn’t happen until marriage. And so when UNPROTECTED sex happens before marriage, we either have an abortion statistic, or a poorly raised child statistic. Either way, it’s a bad scenario.

    I, on the other hand, believe that we need to look towards countries like Sweden and see how they look at abortion. There, it’s banned after 3 months, except for life threatening circumstances. They educate their kids about sex early on. And they take sex education seriously. And throughout Europe, the abortion rates are far lower than they are here.

    So, if you TRULY believe that abortion on demand is the number one human rights crisis happening in the world today, then do something about it. But that something has to go far further than just casting a vote.

    Insofar as the war on terror goes, I think Gore especially would have done a far better job. For one, we would have not invaded Iraq, leaving us able to bomb N. Korea and/or Iran back to the stone age if necessary. Secondly, Kerry was proven right. Intel is a far better way to thwart terror than pre-emptive wars which leave more people dead in Iraq than there were under the old dictator. And as far as Afghanistan goes, let’s face facts: Gandhi would have invaded Afghanistan, so lets stop kidding ourselves here. And Gore, I am certain, would have gone in with a lot more than 11,000 troops. That wasn’t an invasion, that was lip service.

    As was our idea of paying locals to hand over suspected terrorists in Pakistan. There were plenty of people that were incarcerated at Guantanamo who were completely not guilty, but hey, for $10K, I might be talked into pointing out innocent people too! Especially if I lived in Pakistan.

    If you’re going to be a single issue voter Denny, that is fine. That’s your perogative, and it’s understandable. But don’t defend that single issue president when he fails in EVERY OTHER INSTANCE.

  • Bryan L

    I don’t know how relevant your question is, but for curiosity’s sake (since I don’t know) how many times was America attacked before 911 and after Pear Harbor?

    Bryan L

  • Paul

    Bryan beat me to it. But to answer the question…technically once, although its hard to call the first WTC bombing attempt successful. I don’t think anyone died in that one did they?

    I do remember Ted Koppell’s report the night that they caught the ringleader of that attempt…”in a move of breathtaking stupidity…”

    That’s a fantastic line.

  • Travis Hilton

    America was attacked many times (once on our own soil) before 911, which actually enhances my point. Our country has twarted all attempted terrorist attacks since 911. What became evident with 911 was that we had to start fighting back. We had to defend our country against enemies both at home and abroad. This required leadership that was willing to do whatever it takes to stop this threat.

    Under President Bush’s administration, we have seen our homeland defended as well as our interests in the Middle East. Let me make myself clear, I am not defending every decision that has been made. I am particulary concerned about the current immigration bill. I am bothered by the administration’s attitude toward their consituency on this. Nevertheless, I couldn’t imagine an adminstration under Gore or Kerry instituting any kind of policy that would protect our national interests and our homeland.


  • Paul


    I love how so many on the right can speak with absolute certainty about events that didn’t come to pass. If anything under Gore or Kerry, we might have seen a much more worldwide effort to thwart terrorism, which might have also spared Spain and Britain their attacks as well.

    Remember, Bush COMPLAINED THAT CLINTON WAS “PARANOID” ABOUT BIN LADEN. I can only assume that Gore would have been just as “paranoid” and we might have even been spared 9/11.

    But, instead, not only did we get a president who tried to tie Iraq to 9/11, we also got a president who put the interests of CEO’s above those of the average worker. We got a president who put a senseless war in Iraq over the needs of the residents of the gulf coast and Kansas. We got a president who is afraid to check every last one of our cows for mad cow disease (even when ranchers want to at their own expense). We got a president who deemed the airspace over disneyland more important than the airspace over the largest commodities trading floors on the entire planet in the time of war. We got a president who puts the interests of packing plants trying to hire cheap labor over the interests of the rest of the labor in the country.

    In short, y’all elected a terrible piece of work. And while the republican shills might stand by him, the right wingers with any sense of integrity are dropping from his side faster than you can say Katrina. Peggy Noonan is simply the latest one to finally come to her senses.

    That said, if the right actually decides to put up a decent candidate, namely, Ron Paul, I’ll vote for him in a heartbeat.

  • Bryan L

    I just saw you reference the once on our own soil thing; sorry I missed that. And I guess you’re probably referring to the WTC thing that Paul brought up. If that’s the case then I again fail to see what your point was in the question you raised and what it was supposed to prove, especially considering that the 911 attack (our worst ever) happened during Bush’s presidency. It seems someone could equally turn your question around and pose it in a negative way towards Bush (which would be useless since I think we can see the problem with appealing to that type of argument). People could also ask how many soldiers have died or been injured since our last war, again I don’t know how many that would be, but it seems like it would be another useless question that wouldn’t prove anything. That’s why I am failing to see where you were going with that question in the first place. Maybe you could help me to see.

    Also you said “Nevertheless, I couldn’t imagine an adminstration under Gore or Kerry instituting any kind of policy that would protect our national interests and our homeland.”

    Again what does that prove or help in this discussion since I’m sure others could equally imagine how much better they would have been able to do? It’s an opinion that doesn’t mean much since it’s based on a hypothetical presidency that didn’t happen. This isn’t fantasy presidency. All we can look at is what President Bush did do and evaluate it, and many seem to be finding his actions and judgments as very poor (even from among his own side).

    Bryan L

  • Barry

    Do you really think that “back alley abortions” were/are the real impetus for abortion on demand? The statistic for those kinds of abortions prior to the 1973 decision were less than 10,000 per year. Even if they were 10 times that, it would still pale to the numbers of actual abortions that were and are simply done out of convenience sake. Give me a freaking break. “Back alley abortions” have served as the smoke screen. The real reason is because the promiscuity brought about by the 60’s, which is all the more rampant today, has made the norm to be consequence-free sex. If someone gets pregnant, just abort. The “back alley” line of argumentation is a load of crap. To be sure, there are the cases of rape etc., but we all know that the vast majority of the 43,000,000 and counting cases do not come from cases when the life of the mother is in danger or rape or incest etc., but from situation in which irresponsible people just can’t control the urges between their legs. The child shouldn’t have to die because the biological parents did something stupid.

    And do you really want to use Sweden or most other European countries as a model to follow in matters of morality such as this? C’mon!

    Further, a poorly-raised child is far better than a dead child. Surely you could agree to this. That child could grow up and serve the Lord to do a number of great things. Either way, the child should not have to die because someone decided that he or she would be “poorly raised.”


  • Paul


    first the points on which we agree (of which there are more than you think…)

    1) We need to go back and evaluate just how “great” the 60’s really were. Yes, we saw civil rights legislation which should have been passed in the 1860’s, but really, outside of the arts, what good did that decade give us? I’d say far less than people want us to believe.

    1a) That said, lets face facts here: indiscriminate sex isn’t exactly a new problem. The only difference between the 1900’s and the 1960’s is the fact that it was out in the open. Remember, even Pat Robertson’s first child was conceived out of wedlock. While I agree that there has most certainly been a loosening of morals, it’s not as if people just started having pre-marital sex the day after the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    2) abortions of convenience are despicable. We agree 100% on this one.

    3) I would agree that a poorly raised child is better than a dead one. But, that’s where EDUCATION comes into play here more than any conservative evangelical wants to admit, but more on that in a second.

    One thing that I think you fail to comprehend Barry is this: the 1973 numbers do not take into account the fact that abortion on demand wasn’t part of the fabric of our society. Now that it is, we’re looking at a vastly different scenario (look at prohibition for an example of this). I would love to be proven wrong, but I fear that it would not be the case.

    As for whether I want to use a European country as a model to follow, YES, I do! Especially if what they’re doing works! At least they’re not hypocritical about their stances! Here, we as a nation claim to be 88% Christian. And yet, here we are, killing our unborn children. In evil Europe, the abortion rates are a sliver of ours. As are the divorce rates! They’re obviously doing something right. Not to mention, they still like good music in Europe, but that’s another discussion entirely.

    In short, I have less problems with criminalizing abortions than you’d think. But without comprehensive sex ed, parents being willing to actually talk about such matters, too many voters will still be getting pregnant to ever let that really happen.

  • Don

    Well all out there, you are all right on some things and wrong on others. Some will say Bush is strong on the war on terror. After 9-11 how could he not be? I’m not so sure he has been strong.We know we could get bin laden and the rest of those bums If and a big If we as a country had the guts to do it. Sure we don’t know how gore or kerry would be: my guess is they would stink as gore did as vp and kerry as a blowhard sen. After 9-11 the country sat glued to their tv sets waiting for the Pres. to lead. He had the chance to seal the borders wipe out the bad guys and everyone would have jumped out of their seats and said aye aye sir. Overall his big mistake had been from the get-go “The new tone”. I know some will say “we haven’t been hit again” True but why? Some good work by many and some luck. Have they tried to hit us?

  • rachel

    barry & denny

    just want you to know i thank God for your persistence in setting the standard high for Christians on the issue of abortion. If abortion is murder (and i say without a doubt it is), then no argument for legalizing such a disgusting act is worth a look. There are indeed people who are going to commit murder in back alleys though it is forbidden by law. It is inconceivable that anyone, especially one who names the name of Christ Jesus our Savior, would propose regulating murder just so that we can make ourselves sleep better at night. I am not equipped intellectually to make as articulate an argument as you may – not to mention the emotional handicap i have concerning this issue-but, I do pray that God will continue to use your willingness to speak on behalf of the millions of innocent unborn babies killed in horrible ways every moment of every day in this country because it is legal and safe for mothers and because we have made it so. God forgive us.

  • Travis Hilton

    Paul & Bryan L,

    You’re right, this discussion is a bunny trail because Kerry and Gore were not elected. (Senator Kerry voted for the war in Iraq though he has attempted to undermine it since then, btw).

    I could go into the chronology of attacks on our interests abroad under the Clinton administration (not to mention the first attack on the World Trade Center here at home). The first attack should have served as a warning that other attacks were on the horizon (at home and abroad). I could point to President Clinton’s negligence in capturing Osama Bin Laden when he had the opportunity and then later just lob a few bombs to say you tryed. I could point to the ineffective bombing of Iraq in ’98.

    We could compare and contrast which administration (Bush or Clinton)has been more aggressive in defending our country against our enemies (defending at home and abroad). But I’m sure you may consider that irrelevant as well.

    I’m sure you realize that any new administration takes time to set their agenda on foriegn policy. During the transition from the Clinton Administration, little or no information was brought to the attention of the new Bush Administration by the previous administration. If you recall, a particular FBI agent who was tracking terrorist activity and suspected an increase and possible attack was let go by the Clinton appointed FBI Director Louie Freed. He was later employed with the port authority and died in the 911 attack.

    There could be plenty of blame spread around for 911 if we would like to assign blame, but similar to Pearl Harbor, this was a surprise attack. The thing to evaluate is what has happened since then. We are at war. There will be casualties unfortunately. But like every war we fought in the past to defend our freedom, this one will be with a costly sacrifice.

    Again, I’m not satisfied with everything Bush is doing, but as Denny has pointed out, the alternative of any Democrat that has previously run for office or is currently running would be a disaster (save the grace of God).

    Oh, and Paul…Abortions of inconvience are just as despicable.


  • rf2r2

    Bryan L. said,
    So when were we attacked? I really don’t know, so if you could help me I’d appreciate it.

    In the military we are constantly reminded that attacks on Americans happen all the time for the very reason you have just illustrated: if it doesn’t happen to Americans in the fifty states, a sense of false security develops which leads to low readiness. I can’t count how many briefings, training videos/courses, and memos I have been exposed to that highlight specific instances of attacks carried out on Americans (civilian and military) prior to 9/11.

    In the Air Force we hear a lot about the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, which claimed the lives of 19 airmen, because the alertness and quick action of a single airman saved untold lives.

    There is also the USS Cole bombing which claimed the lives of 17 sailors in 2000.

    Those two immediately came to mind when I read your post but there are many, many others. Also, there is the 2001 Anthrax attacks that quickly followed the tragedy of 9/11. Now, while this answers Travis Hilton’s question (i.e. we have been attacked on U.S. soil once since 9/11), somewhat nullifying his argument, it does not discount the effectivness of the Presidents policies in keeping the homeland safe beyond the chaotic days and weeks following 9/11.

    I hope that answers your question.

  • Bryan L

    I was just curious when we were attacked on our soil. The way he made it sound when he brought up not being attacked since 911, it was like we had all these attacks on our soil and because of Bush we hadn’t had anything. I wasn’t trying to prove anything. I was just curious since I really didn’t know what he was referring to. But then to try to turn it around and talk about how we’ve been attacked outside of the U.S. and that the danger is very real and so on, I don’t think anyone doubted that. He made it sound like it’s far more safer on our homeland because of Bush. I didn’t agree or doubt it (at least not in the comments), I just didn’t think his example proved anything.

    Bryan L

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