Peggy Noonan Grosses Out
MANY FORMER presidential speechwriters are dismayed by the self-serving publicity hunger of Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, whose What I Saw at the Revolution will be published in January. A speechwriter is supposed to have a passion for anonymity. This is an important part of the ethics of the post, fully understood by all--or almost all. To be sure, even while functioning as a White House writer, Miss Noonan gave us fair warning, always letting it be known what speeches she had written.
A small portion of her book has now been published in the New York Times Magazine. It gives us some idea of Miss Noonan's scam. "I'd think: this is how Reagan should sound," she tells us. Miss Noonan had reached this Henry Higgins conclusion by reading FDR speeches and the poem "Invictus." Thus was Ronald Reagan invented. If she believes this, she is like the crazy astronomer in Rasselas who believes he controls the moon and the tides. In the real world, Reagan sounded like Reagan before Peggy Noonan was born.
And there is more of the crazy-astronomer syndrome. "Speechwriting was where the Administration got invented every day." By Peggy Noonan? Did tax-rate cuts, indexing, SDI, and the Pershing missile occur to her while she was sitting on a bench in Lafayette Park? When did she dream up Grenada?
Worse still--and why the book will be a media favorite--is the fact that she uses her privileged access as a speechwriter to take, now, a sneering attitude toward her staff colleagues, toward Nancy Reagan, and even toward the President himself.
There is a stern moral here for present and future Presidents, viz, when you hire a speechwriter of this moral character, lock up the silverware and keep your hand on your wallet.
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