The Seer

Like many of you no doubt, I’ve been trying to avoid the vast late-autumn harvest of Pure Spin pouring out of TV and computer screens today. Polls, yes. Actual analysis, yes. Insights into how it’s happened and what it might actually mean, sure. But please, no more phoned-in “Hark! The Sound of Momentum!” maunderings, no more data-free “Mood of the Heartland” ruminations penned in DC and Manhattan.

Ah, but then Peggy Noonan convinced the Editors of the Wall Street Journal that her final pre-election column discussing Obama’s Failed Presidency just wasn’t enough, leaving readers longing for more of her insight honed in Ronnie’s service, craving more of her gems of literary craftsmanship. So today we have Peggy’s blog–absolute catnip to me–and it’s all you’d expect.

First, there’s the obligatory insider scoop:

We begin with the three words everyone writing about the election must say: Nobody knows anything. Everyone’s guessing. I spent Sunday morning in Washington with journalists and political hands, one of whom said she feels it’s Obama, the rest of whom said they don’t know.

But quickly, on to her deeply intuitive hunch:

I think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in “like a thief with good tools,” in Walker Percy’s old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while.

As I mulled the question of what the late Walker Percy would have thought of Noonan’s writing, I nearly missed her transition of the “rising storm” metaphor from a Mitt positive to an Obama negative:

Obama and the storm, it was like a wave that lifted him and then moved on, leaving him where he’d been. Parts of Jersey and New York are a cold Katrina.

Yes, and FEMA was nowhere to be found and the president flew over and then went to a birthday party for John McCain. Oh, sorry! That was the warm Katrina! Moving right along, Peggy gets deep into Wisdom, a close friend of hers:

Among the wisest words spoken this cycle were by John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate, who said, in a conversation the night before the last presidential debate, that he thought maybe the American people were quietly cooking something up, something we don’t know about.

I think they are and I think it’s this: a Romney win.

Why? “All the vibrations are right.” “Something old is roaring back.” People at rope lines linger at the touch of surrogates who have in turn touched the hem of Mitt’s garment! Crowds are big! At this point, I’m thinking “I bet she mentions yard signs.” And there it is:

And there’s the thing about the yard signs. In Florida a few weeks ago I saw Romney signs, not Obama ones. From Ohio I hear the same. From tony Northwest Washington, D.C., I hear the same.

Now there’s a constituency Noonan knows well! And turns out, all along we should have been listening to Peggy instead of reading all those stupid polls and thinking all those stupid rational thoughts:

Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us.

Peggy Noonan, the new Columbus, discovering America all over again for us.

You can read the rest yourselves, if you can stand Noonan’s final triumphant argument that in the pomp and glitter of the Al Smith Banquet, Mitt Romney “looked like a president.” To gimlet-eyed Peggy, the whole solemn ritual of American democracy probably looks just like a paycheck.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.