Peggy Noonan Offers Two Lessons Conservatives and Republicans Need to Learn

4798Two lessons on how conservatives and Republicans might approach the future, and a look at the meaning of Obama.
Lesson one: Golf star Phil Mickelson this week complained about taxes--"I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state"--and suggested he may leave California. Before anyone could jump down his throat, he abjectly apologized: He didn't mean to hurt anyone, he shouldn't have said it, taxes are a "personal" issue

Actually they're pretty public. The American Revolution started as a tax revolt. It is not remarkable that a man might protest a 50% to 60% tax rate that means he has to work from January through July or August for the government, and only gets to keep for himself and his family what he earns from then through December.

Most fans would rather see Mr. Mickelson hit a ball with a stick than hear his economic analysis, and talking about tax burdens when you're making up to $50 million a year sounds like . . . well, a pretty high-class problem.

But his complaint came as kind of a relief. It was politically incorrect. It was based on actual numbers and facts and not grounded in abstractions, as most of our public pronouncements are. And it was unusual: Most people in his position are clever enough not to sound aggrieved.

Conservatives and Republicans feel a bit under siege these days because their views are not officially in style. But The Cringe is not the way to deal with it. If you take a stand, take a stand and take the blows. Many people would think paying more than half your salary in city, state, county and federal taxes is unjust. Mr. Mickelson is not alone.

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Lesson two came from Republicans on Capitol Hill. Conservatives on the ground are angry with them after the Benghazi hearings. Members of the Senate and the House have huffed and puffed for months: "It's worse than Watergate, Americans died." Just wait till they question the secretary of state, they'll get to the bottom of it.

Wednesday they questioned Hillary Clinton. It was a dud.

The senators weren't organized or focused, they didn't coordinate questions, follow up, have any coherent or discernible strategy. The only senator who really tried to bore in was Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who asked a pointed question that was never answered: If you wanted to find out what happened when the consulate was attacked, why didn't you pick up the phone the next day and call those who'd been there? John McCcain made a spirited, scattered speech--really, it was just like him--that couldn't find the energy to end in serious questions.

Some conservatives are saying Mrs. Clinton looked unhinged, angry. In their dreams. She came across as human and indignant, and emerged untouched. What air there was in the Benghazi balloon leaked out. Someday we'll find out what happened when somebody good writes a book.

All this looked like another example of the mindless personal entrepreneurialism of the Republicans on the Hill: They're all in business for themselves. They make their speech, ask their question, and it's not connected to anyone else's speech or question. They aren't part of something that moves and makes progress.

Minority parties can't act like this, in such a slobby, un-unified way.

Hill Republicans continue not to understand that they are the face of the party when the cameras are trained on Washington. They don't understand how they look, which is like ants on a sugar cube.


Source: Wall Street Journal | Peggy Noonan
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