Peggy Noonan Visits America

It’s been a while since I’ve read one of Peggy Noonan’s Friday columns, but it’s always rewarding, in a twisted sort of way. I do have to hand it to Peggy: she’s done a late-August column that’s not some sort of vaporizing about the Mood of America from the perspectives of the Hampton. It seems she’s moving around the country—perhaps from posh vacation spot to post vacation spot, hard to say–and talking to actual Americans. Three of them, to be precise.

The first is an old Noonan acquaintance:

I’ve written before about an acquaintance—late 60s, northern Georgia, lives on Social Security, voted Obama in ’08, not partisan, watches Fox News, hates Wall Street and “the GOP establishment.” She continues to be so ardent for Mr. Trump that she not only watched his speech in Mobile, Ala., on live TV, she watched while excitedly texting with family members—middle-class, white, independent-minded—who were in the audience cheering. Is that “the Republican base”? I guess maybe it is, because she texted me Wednesday to say she’d just registered Republican. I asked if she’d ever been one before. Reply: “No, never!!!”

That’s probably because there is no party registration in Georgia–which, of course, makes you wonder how this woman has managed to register Republican now. If she’s registering in another state while living in North Georgia, then I’d say Peggy is honor-bound to report her to the Secretary of State for committing that rarest of offenses, voter fraud.

The next cookie on the plate is equally interesting: a Dominican deli worker Peggy’s own neighborhood (so much for her ranging, omnivorous discussions with Americans in their native habitats!) He says the Spanish-language call-in radio station he listens to is a hotbed of Trjump support, and that listeners sided with The Donald in his altercation with Jorge Ramos, because they’re legal immigrants and they hate the illegal kind.

Peggy confirmed this impression with a DJ on the same station. Then she looked at a poll showing Latinos pretty much despise Trump. Who does she believe? The Dominican Deli focus group, it seems.

Finally, Peggy talks to someone in her own, elite class: a Republican consultant who says the people hate the elites and the elites hate the people. She reaches the conclusion that Trump is the Tribune of the People. But it’s not real clear which side she’s on. Maybe neither, being an objective journalist and all.

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.