Peggy Noonan (b. September 7, 1950)

In Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan's autobiographical book, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness she talks about growing up in a struggling Irish Catholic family. "We loved the Kennedys, but they died" was the way she succinctly put it, adding she'd learned to fear Communism from them. She began reading the National Review instead of protesting the Vietnam war, writing of a peace rally speaker this way: "I think he was stoned. I think we were stoned." Obviously, she stopped smoking, and doing any higher thinking too.

Noonan seemed destined for prominence, according to her. When Robert Kennedy was shot she says she dreamed he was a black man, and heard the words "44 days." Martin Luther King was shot 43 days later. After she learned newswriting (which she describes more like advertising copywriting), her first day working for Dan Rather was the day Reagan was shot. The two were so steamed they wrote an editorial disguised as news. The rest is Herstory.

Noonan has re-embraced Christianity and admittedly never appreciated nature much, writing, "I have come to wonder about the worldview or life-view of those who so avidly promote the environmental movement. I get the impression nature is, consciously or unconsciously, their God. Their substitute God. And, like happy little moralists secure in the knowledge that there is the one true faith, they are not only instructing our children but manipulating them." She compares environmental indoctrination to the scene from the movie Dr. Zhivago where a schoolgirl calls the former czar an "enemy of the people" with all the surety of a wise old man. Noonan adds later, "if you do not believe in another, higher world, if you believe only in the flat material world around you…then you are more than disappointed when the world does not give you a good measure of its riches, you are in despair." Good thing the Reaganites believed in a higher power when they degregulated away the little people's livelihoods. We're still waiting for the trickle down to feel like something other than being pissed on.

On p. 215 she writes, "My generation, faced as it grew with a choice between religious belief and existential despair chose…marijuana. Now we are in our Cabernet stage." [Well, some of us are.] She continues, "Jung wrote in a letter that he saw a connection between spirits and The Spirit; sometimes when I go into a church and see how modern Catholics sometimes close their eyes and put their hand out, palms up, as if to get more God on them, it reminds me of how kids in college used to cup their hands delicately around the smoke of the pipe, and help it waft toward them." She wonders whether we will see a deep turning toward faith, now that people, inexplicably to her, no longer have faith in American's future.

In the book, when Noonan tells a friend "I miss repression and shame" and he replies, "Yes, it was so sexy." They laughed and laughed. She concludes that James Joyce could not have written Ulysses without an angry Irish populace to inspire and ban it. In her earlier book, What I Saw at the Revolution, she tells the charming story of Reagan giving her an anecdote about his governor's race against Edmund Brown. Asked whether he would give Gov. Brown equal time to his TV appearances in "Death Valley Days," Reagan replied, "Well sure, our audience is accustomed to seeing both ends of the horse." Noonan writes, "these were the days when it one candidate appeared on TV the other had to have as much time on TV" without mentioning that it was the Reagan administration that stripped away those requirements. No pot smoker could have missed the connection.

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