The other day I received my weekly missive from Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, in which she informed me and the world that “the Romney campaign has to get turned around.” She added helpfully, “This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant ‘rolling calamity.'” The media loved this column and repeated it widely. Their goal is to depress the Republican vote. Noonan’s goal, apparently, is to get attention.
Noonan got a lot of it in October 2008, when she wrote the following giddy nonsense about Barack Obama:
He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief.
Noonan is hardly unique among what I would call the “lace curtain right.” Despite their resources and exposure, they offer no new information. They allow the left to determine what is news and what is not. And they are much more comfortable scolding their shanty right-wing allies than they are scolding their enemies.
I was in Washington Thursday for an Accuracy in Media conference, in which I gave a talk on the subject of lace curtain obstructionism. There I met a high-level strategist who, over drinks, ripped the Romney campaign up and down. When I asked him what he thought of Romney’s choice for vice president, he expressed displeasure. He preferred Condoleezza Rice to Paul Ryan, which made me wonder whether he or Noonan or any of these great thought thinkers had met, in the last half-century or so, a Republican who lived west of 495.
All of this put me in mind of George Thomas, easily the Union’s most successful and humane Civil War general. After winning the battle of Nashville decisively, a victory that historians rank with Austerlitz in terms of pure generalship, Thomas began a relentless pursuit of General John Bell Hood’s Confederate forces through Tennessee. As Benson Bobrick relates in his excellent book, Master of War, this chase took place in late December through hideous weather, down muddy roads, across swollen creeks, amidst a hostile population, and across a countryside long since stripped of forage. None of this bothered Thomas quite as much as the patronizing series of telegrams he received from his proto-Beltway superiors, Henry Halleck and Ulysses Grant.
Although nowhere near the action, as Bobrick notes, “[b]oth condescended to give him lessons in how to wrap things up.” This they did with instructions that were either self-evident or fully at odds with events on the ground. “Permit me, General, to urge the vast importance of a hot pursuit,” Halleck wrote, adding layers of irrelevant detail. Thomas had enough. “General Hood’s army is being pursued as rapidly and vigorously as it is possible for one army to pursue another.”
Thomas then explained the lay of the land, something about which neither Halleck or Grant had a clue. “This army is willing to submit to any sacrifice to crush Hood’s army or to strike any other blow which may contribute to the destruction.” Left unsaid, but felt, was this: “So get off my damn back.”
That is the advice I would give to the Noonans of the world: get off Romney’s back. I had the pleasure a few years ago of meeting General Jack Keane after a talk he gave at Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College. Keane was arguably the principal force behind the “Surge” in Iraq that rescued that country from anarchy. The thrust of his talk was that, almost inevitably, the American military blunders out of the gate.
What distinguishes ours from other militaries, however, is its willingness to correct mid-course. Only the Romney people truly know the facts on the ground and the direction of their campaign. They will make mistakes, and God willing, they will self-correct. I would urge our lace curtain allies that unless they have Romney’s ear, they should keep their advice to themselves.
If our respectable friends want an enemy to attack, they should use their clout to hammer their pals in the shamelessly corrupt and complicit “mainstream” media. If they are looking for some game-changing topics, let me suggest a few and even supply the headlines:
- Who wrote Dreams from My Father and why it matters
- Obama’s “Seattle years” and why he concealed them
- 042-68-4425: Just why does Obama have a Connecticut SSN?
- The original birther: why did Obama tell the world he was “born in Kenya”?
- Why did Barack Obama let Dr. Terry Lakin go to jail?
- Was the 2-minute gap in the Romney tape just another “error”?
To this point, lace curtain conservatives have conspired, wittingly or otherwise, to suppress any stories that might fray their genteel reputations. If Obama wins in November, those reputations won’t be worth having.