Peggy Noonan Reminds Us Why Trump Won, by Bruce Thornton.
Three years after outsider Donald Trump blew up the political world with his implausible victory over the consummate insider, Hillary Clinton, many establishment Republicans still don’t get it. From their elite cocoon, they continue to indulge the hauteur that put off ordinary voters who had grown tired of a fossilized political class that serially ignored their interests, and seemed more concerned with their own insider perks and privilege, rather than in repairing the damage that decades of bipartisan progressive technocracy had inflicted on the Constitutional order.
The grande dame of the disgruntled NeverTrump Republicans has been the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan …
Noonan’s latest is an attack on the Republicans’ behavior during the House impeachment hearings …
Her comments about the Republicans reveal the underlying grounds for NeverTrump hatred: the resentment against those who don’t accept the progressive assumptions that politics is the business of a self-proclaimed guild possessing knowledge, techniques, and professional manners and decorum that the voting masses don’t have. …
Consider this example from the testimony of acting ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor — which the mainstream press hyped as a “bombshell,” and whom Noon praises as an exemplar of professionalism––as summarized by David Marcus in the New York Post: “He said David Holmes, a counselor for political affairs at the US embassy in Kiev, told him that he had overheard a phone conversation between Ambassador Gordon Sondland and President Trump.” In what courtroom other than the old Soviet Union or Cuba today would this twice-removed hearsay be admitted?
Likewise in the Kavanaugh hearings, the Democrats were contriving specious charges to derail a confirmation they had no plausible merit-based arguments for rejecting. In the current hearings, the Democrats are again contriving specious charges for impeaching a president against whom three years of a Special Prosecutor’s investigation have not produced credible charges that rise to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” Constitutional standard. That’s why the Dems have dropped the “quid pro quo” and are attempting to call the legal and obligatory conditions for giving a country foreign aid “bribery” and “extortion,” using the same Orwellian corruption of words that turns a mutually consensual but later regretted sexual encounter into “sexual assault.”
Class snobbishness on the loose:
Noonan goes on to expand on her elevation of “professionalism” by giving us the res gestae of acting ambassador William Taylor, consisting mainly of his military record. She also singled out George P. Kent, highlighting his degrees from Johns Hopkins and Harvard, and his 27 years in foreign service. Again, the NeverTrump preference for sizzle over steak, evident in Noonan’s “They seemed [N.B.] to have capability and integrity.” Why? The right credentials — military service and Ivy League degrees — are assumed to bespeak achievements benefitting the American people, just as a polished delivery suggests “integrity.” Maybe these gentlemen have such achievements and virtue, but reading off their CVs and praising their demeanor are not dispositive, and say nothing about the veracity or worth of their testimony.
Indeed, when it comes to foreign affairs, generations of highly credentialed foreign policy mandarins have not compiled a record that would suggest those credentials contribute to success. The two most consequential failures include misreading the Iranian Revolution as an anticolonial bid for freedom and popular sovereignty, rather than a religious revolution aimed at creating an Islamic theocracy; and failing to foresee and thus prepare for the collapse of the Soviet Union, something that was unthinkable to the big brains of our foreign policy establishment.
Moreover, the great foreign policy success in the postwar period was victory in the Cold War, which was the accomplishment of an ex-actor and foreign policy amateur looked down on by the government agency “professionals.” They contemptuously dismissed Reagan’s common-sense wisdom like “we win, they lose,” “evil empire,” and “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The latter iconic phrase, by the way, was argued against by the State Department and National Security Council because it was too provocative and naïve.
The simple truth that people like Noonan miss is that credentials, including military service, no matter how sterling or impressive, do not necessarily bespeak wisdom or future achievement, any more than exquisite manners, as Jane Austen has taught us, bespeak a true gentleman.