Wall Street Journal columnist and eloquent Republican apologist Noonan (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, 1994, etc.) reprints pieces that ran weekly in the year following 9/11.
There is nothing new in Noonan. Her universe is as uncomplicated as a Saturday morning Western serial from a half-century ago. There are the good guys (all Republicans), the better guys (Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes, Rudy Giuliani), and the best guy (the pope). There are the bad guys (Democrats and liberals), the worse guys (Al Gore and Joe Lieberman), and the worst guy (Bill Clinton). She says Reagan is like a battleship, Clinton like a collapsed accordion. (The latter is also a lazy slob.) George W. Bush is like Truman: decisive, steadfast, diligent, tongue-tied but trustworthy, the real thing in a faux world, a guy who found his soul in the ashes of 9/11. And so on. The author justly—and repeatedly—celebrates the heroism of the emergency workers on that awful day but then indulges in some silly sentimentality about how great it would be to have more retro-males with big muscles and soft hearts who stand to surrender their subway seats to women. She waxes nostalgic for the pervasive patriotism of a century ago but neglects to mention that in those wonderful times her grandmother would not have been allowed to vote, nor would anyone else who failed the tests of gender and race. Oh, but weren’t they the good old days! Noonan rages justifiably against the failures of the American Catholic church in the sex scandals and honors the pope with lovely lines and even a few of her tears. She saw the actual face of Satan in the explosion at Tower Two and writes credulously about a statue of Mary weeping blood. She says we must credit Reagan for the booming ’90s economy, Clinton for 9/11. Corporate greed is bad. Profiling is good.
Alternating spoonfuls of treacle and wormwood.