Peg O’ My Heart

I’m now really half-convinced Joe Biden might run for president after all.

That’s not so much because of the reports I wrote about this morning where Ted Kaufman was telling Biden supporters to batten down the hatches for what might be a long weird cycle. No, it’s because Peggy Noonan wrote this in her Friday column:

Something big happened at the Democratic debate. It didn’t have to do with Hillary Clinton besting Bernie Sanders or Jim Webb. What she had to do, after the long, battering summer, was show she is up to the battle, ready for it, capable—that she can do this. She did. She was crisp, lively, a presence. In demonstrating that she is up to the race she deprived Vice President Joe Biden of his rationale for getting into it.

While you’re wondering why the hell Peggy is talking about HRC “besting…Jim Webb,” she gets more categorical:

I don’t see how he gets in now.

Hence my calculation that Biden may at this very minute be working out his northeast Iowa itinerary for next weekend.

Like any Peggy Noonan column, though, this one has more than one head-scratcher. Check this out:

Asked which enemy she was proudest to have made, Mrs. Clinton mentioned the NRA, the Iranians, some others and “probably the Republicans.” She was smiling, but if any GOP hopeful declared “the Democrats” to be on his enemies list he would be roundly condemned as polarizing, and people like me would be saying: “You don’t demonize the other team, you win them over!” It is interesting that in Mrs. Clinton’s case that isn’t happening.

No, I can’t recall any occasions over the last eight years when any Republican has demonized “the other team,” can you? I mean, other than calling them un-American election-buying baby-killing socialists who are consciously trying to destroy the country and all.

Indeed, in another example of Peggy’s charming ability to forget the point she was making a couple of graphs earlier, she concludes the column by blaming Barack Obama for Donald Trump:

There are many reasons we’re at this moment, but the essential political one is this: Mr. Obama lowered the bar. He was a literal unknown, an obscure former state legislator who hadn’t completed his single term as U.S. senator, but he was charismatic, canny, compelling. He came from nowhere and won it all twice. All previously prevailing standards, all usual expectations, were thrown out the window.

Ah, Peggy. There’s really nobody quite like her. And for those of you who get irritated every time (and I don’t indulge myself in this way all that often) I deconstruct one of her columns, remember she’s got a vastly larger audience than me or thee, Lord help us.

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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.