High Noonan

The latest intramural brouhaha in the GOP centers on the unlikely figure of my favorite columnist, the ineffably successful Peggy Noonan.

Earlier this week, you may recall, she penned a column (or a blog post, as it was styled, presumably because her rambling comments could not be edited, or were so urgent as to require immediate publication) that lashed Mitt Romney’s campaign for “incompetence” and then wandered around whatever keyboard or cocktail napkin she was drafting it on before settling on the suggestion that Romney deliver a “big speech” in Brooklyn. Yes, Brooklyn.

Anyhow, this act of heresy produced sufficient heartburn in the Romney campaign or amusement among her superannuated Republican cronies that she followed up today with a new blast at Team Mitt. This time around, perhaps with the aid of an editor, she produced an actual on-the-record quote from a “corporate strategist” who analyzed Romney’s mistakes at considerable, if unoriginal, length. Having teed up this moment (like all moments for many MSM pundits) as crucial, Noonan delivered herself of another Big Idea for Mitt, which is about as plausible as a redefining speech in Brooklyn: Romney needs his very own Jim Baker to take control of his campaign. Indeed, she may be (her crystalline prose leaves this unclear) be urging Romney to bring on the actual Jim Baker to take control of his campaign. Since Baker is 82 years old, I don’t think that’s happening. But putting that aside, the idea that Mitt Romney is going to bring in some Yoda to turn his campaign upside down with just over six weeks until election day is, well, the sort of thing only Peggy Noonan could say.

More generally, this Aging Republican Establishment obsession with alleged staff errors is a pretty good indicator these folks haven’t a clue about the structural problems facing Mitt, who rendered himself virtually immobile in winning the GOP nomination over a weak field and now has no record to run on, and an agenda he’s afraid to talk about–totally aside from having the least attractive persona of any GOP nominee since Nixon. Mitt doesn’t need a “new CEO,” Peggy; he needs a new biography, a new personality, and a new party–you know, one that doesn’t either demand he loudly promote a suicidal policy agenda, or sit around carping about how he doesn’t do things like Ronnie.

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.