Skip to comments.A Cold Man's Warm Words
Posted on 07/02/2010 6:46:04 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross
The tenderest words in American political history were cut from the document they were to have graced.
It was July 1, 2 ,3 and 4, 1776, in the State House in Philadelphia. America was being born. The Continental Congress was reviewing and editing the language of the proposed Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson, its primary author, was suffering the death of a thousand cuts.
The tensions over slavery had been wrenching, terrible, and were resolved by brute calculation: to damn or outlaw it now would break fragile consensus, halt all momentum, and stop the creation of the United States. References to the slave trade were omitted, but the founders were not stupid men, and surely they knew their young nation would have its date with destiny; surely they heard in their silence the guns of Fort Sumter.
Still, in the end, the Congress would not produce only an act of the most enormous human and political significance, the creation of America, it would provide history with one of the few instances in which a work of true literary genius was produced, in essence, by committee. (The writing of the King James Bible is another.)
The beginning of the Declaration had a calm stateliness that signaled, subtly, that something huge is happening:
"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separate."
This gave a tone of moral modesty to an act, revolution, that is not a modest one. (snip)
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Frankly, I’m waiting for the Feds to start a plan to move gulf Residents to OTHER parts of the Country.
Zero has destroyed their way of life by golfing while the oil gushed into the Gulf. BTW how long did it take the EPA to OK the drilling of the 2 relief wells?
"For Thomas Jefferson it became a painful ordeal, as change after change was called for and approximately a quarter of what he had written was cut entirely." I quote from the historian David McCullough's "John Adams," as I did last year at this time, because everything's there.
Jefferson looked on in silence. Mr. McCullough notes that there is no record that he uttered a word in protest or in defense of what he'd written. Benjamin Franklin, sitting nearby, comforted him: Edits often reduce things to their essence, don't fret. It was similar to the wisdom Scott Fitzgerald shared with the promising young novelist Thomas Wolfe 150 years later: Writers bleed over every cut, but at the end they don't miss what was removed, don't worry.
"To write is to think, and to write well is to think well," David McCullough once said in conversation.
And so to all writers (would-be, occasional and professional) and all editors too, down through our history: Happy 234th Independence Day. And to our British cousins: Nice growing old with you.
There’s also the subtle timing of Kagan refusing to speak on behalf of the Declaration. A very cautious smack. Noonan knows right from wrong — for some reason she had calculated that she needed to distance herself from the majority.
When they told him he needs to go to the Gulf, he thought they saie he needed to play more golf.
And recently, they got the head of Churchill handed to them, too. And that was rude of us. Or, I should say, of him.
Seeing it’s Noonan, I’ll just pick.
It’s “to the separation,” not “to separate.”
I've read Noonan closely enough to guess at her preferred writing method: She usually starts by emptying a single event into the coffee press of her socially-conscious conservatism. After adding her own thoughts and letting the resulting mixture steep until a theme brews itself, she uses a disarmingly conversational style to push controversies aside, and then pours a lightly-caffeinated essay into the plain white mug of her "Declarations" column.
Because that method relies more on observation than on research, it works best with her peers and with people who share the values they admire, such as the Marines whom she praised in the aftermath of a tragic jet crash for being even harder on themselves than they are on their foes.
The problem for Noonan is that Barack Obama claims to be non-ideological and interested only in what works. Evidence debunking these claims accumulates daily, but Noonan expects the people whom she writes about to use language as honestly as she does.
Polishing speeches for Ronald Reagan, Noonan learned to think about news made around her in an atmosphere of confidence and maturity. Her love for Pope John Paul II affirmed that approach.
It would be wrong to say that now that those men are gone, Barack Obama is unworthy of her steel, but only because steel is not what Noonan brings to the table. She looks for rainbows against the squall line of current events, and has a soft spot for Senator Ted Kennedy. Asking someone like that to come to grips with a president who strains even American military airlift capability by jetting off to Europe with no fewer than 4 speechwriters and 12 teleprompters in an entourage of 500 people is like asking a ballerina to dance after trading her toe shoes for swim fins.
Patrick O'Hannigan definitively brands (ny-libs-party-loving) pegster with this. Thanks for posting.
The idea that all conservative pundits and thinkers must adhere to an undefined set of standards is silly.
I look to the Heritage Foundation for clearly defined policy analysis.
But Peggy's unique view of America and the loving language she weaves into her narratives always leaves me with a desire to understand what she understands.
She rarely has an impact on my fundamental conservative principles, but I love her perspective and would never want her to change it.
As for the article...
Well. Talk of love was a little much for the delegates. Love was not on their mind. The entire section was removed.
Poignantly, with a plaintive sound, Jefferson addresses and gives voice to the human pain of parting: "We might have been a free and great people together."
What loss there is in those words, what humanity, and what realism, too.
I don't agree with her assessment. The editors were right in eliminating that language. But I can't help but love her enduring and endearingly romantic patriotism.
Well said. The tendency of certain “conservatives” to demand adherence to some sort of party line — which, ironically, they cannot define — is just stupid.
However, she did change dramatically. First, during President Bush's later years. It was pretty clear that there was an unbecoming "woman-scorned" aspect to it all.
Then she became an 0bama apologist. See Meet President Obama and What I Saw At The Inauguration. Her hatred of Sarah Palin was not rational, and it was elitist. She is very comfortable in the NY upper east side social structure that it has affected her perspective on politics. She became 'David Brooks squishy', although she does seem to be finding her way back as the bloom is completely off her 0bama rose.
IMO, the animosity at FR toward Ms. Noonan is well placed. No different than what is directed at Graham, McCain, Collins, Snowe, Brooks, Lowry, Chris Buckley, and other faux conservatives, etc. It's not that she doesn't (didn't?) adhere to 'a undefined set of standards', it was that she wasn't conservative at all, yet presumed to still speak on behalf of conservatism and the Reagan legacy. I think Ronald Maximus would have taken her to the woodshed.
You nailed it. Very well said.
Obama named in stark terms America's essential foe: "For those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror . . . we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."
And her article about the inauguration captured the unbridled enthusiasm of the Obama supporters. She understands their ebullience. She embraces it with the empathy of experience. But then she adds:
As for Mr. Obama, some thoughts that start with a hunch. He has the kind of self-confidence that will serve him well or undo him. He has to be careful about what he wants, because he's going to get it, at least at the beginning. He claimed a lot of moderate territory in his Inaugural Address (deepen and expand our alliances, put aside debates on size of government and aim for government that is competent and constructive), but no one is certain, still, what governing philosophy guides him. He would be most unwise to rouse the sleeping giant that is American conservatism.
You've included people on your list of faux conservatives who are truly dangerous because they can submit and/or vote on legislation. They need to be rendered impotent by voting them out of office.
Buckley...I can't take a man seriously who uses writing as his preferred method of "Daddy issue therapy". And the NY Times editorial board may be the largest group of people who consider Brooks a serious conservative thinker.(Coincidentally, with his own William F. Buckley issues.)
I am not an expert on the complete works of Peggy Noonan, but every time I read her, it is an extremely enjoyable experience...but I will admit Palin has managed to "energize" a couple of female conservative writers.
My opinion...worth less than the FR cover charge.
In my office I have a huge cut-out of Clint Eastwood pointing his gun and saying, "I said, NO RE-WRITES!!"
RE: Peggy and Sandra Day O’Connor and Elizabeth Dole and ...
“If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Ann Coulter, Oct. 2 New York Observer
Or here’s John Lott on women, and Peggy, and her unique, loving understanding of America:
“For decades, polls have shown that women as a group vote differently than men. Without the women’s vote, Republicans would have swept every presidential race but one between 1968 and 2004.
The gender gap exists on various issues. The major one is the issue of smaller government and lower taxes, which is a much higher priority for men than for women. This is seen in divergent attitudes held by men and women on many separate issues. Women were much more opposed to the 1996 federal welfare reforms, which mandated time limits for receiving welfare and imposed some work requirements on welfare recipients. Women are also more supportive of Medicare, Social Security and educational expenditures.
Studies show that women are generally more risk averse than men. Possibly, this is why they are more supportive of government programs to ensure against certain risks in life.” http://johnrlott.tripod.com/op-eds/WashTimesWomensSuff112707.html
Too many of the Peggys and Sandra Days and Elizabeth Doles want too much affirmative action and compensatory outreach job programs and big government run by community organizers. Too many of ‘em want to be Sunday School teachers in Big Government’s godless church of high taxes and benign redistribution. Too many of the Peggys and Sandra Days and Elizabeth Doles are Republicans, but aren’t really constitutional originalists or conservatives.
These are particularly galling now that 0bama has proven by his actions that he's a cheap liar and Noonan was a useful idiot. I usually don my flame suit when I merely post a Noonan article, but today it's been fun to objectively discuss her pros/cons. More recently, He Was Supposed To Be Competent and A Snakebit President have been fun to read. I believe she is a talented writer who went seriously wobbly but pretended she was still conservative.
What does it say on your wall about posting pictures or copying/pasting?
I’m working on a “Stop Nagging Me!!!” sign.
Putting Noonan in the same category as Sandra Day and Elizabeth Dole is the mistake. While they all may suffer from frequent bouts of “enlightenment”, Elizabeth Dole actually votes on legislation that can have a direct impact on my life, so what she says has insight into how she will vote. And don't get me started on Justice O'Connor. After reading “Supreme Conflict”, I learned a great deal about the inner workings of the Rehnquist court, and basically, O'Connor voted with whoever wasn't mean to her.
Peggy muses...no laws are changed. This is my point. The vitriol seems out of proportion to her actual influence.
Besides, the “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” gets her a lifetime pass in my book.