Please don’t write a “comment” on this column. I’m already sorry I wrote it, and I haven’t even started yet. I’m really not this kind of guy. But America has never been in this much trouble before.
Some of our biggest-name conservatives have been rolling big boulders down a high hill, aimed squarely at the Romney campaign. “Incompetent.” “Inept.” “Incoherent.” “Bumbling.” “Worst I’ve ever seen.” That’s a sampling of the salvoes descending upon Romney from the right.
The latest rock-roller is the fabled Peggy Noonan, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “This week I called it (the Romney campaign) ‘incompetent’ but only because I was being polite. I really meant ‘rolling calamity.'”
Noonan and her conservative cohorts have every right to level whatever comments they feel like at the Romney campaign. After all, they’re conservative journalists. They don’t live, like so many on the left, in the back pockets of the candidates they’re presumably going to vote for. They have a constituency to serve, and they don’t want their offerings diluted by equivocation. Bad news is big news. The direct attack out-draws the gentle stroke. Negative japes can make for interesting reading. The painful invective, particularly if there’s a laugh attached, confirms the altitude of the pundit in the upper reaches of his or her profession.
They have the right, all right, to write what they write. They might also show awareness of their less-practiced right to keep their damned mouths shut.
As a Jew I’ve always envied that great line in Christianity from Christ on the cross who looks skyward and pleads, “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.” I think I understand Peggy Noonan and her brother and sister demolition experts. The question is, do they understand the effect of what they’re doing? A remark that diminishes Mitt Romney diminishes Mitt Romney whether it’s uttered by Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Osama bin Laden or Peggy Noonan. I don’t know of any of these conservative critics who’ve ever run for anything. So maybe they really don’t understand. Getting bitten by your own dog is painful under any conditions. When that insult comes from “one of us” and gets hailed by David Axelrod, the destructive power is multiplied. Morale is all-important in a political campaign. When you watch your boxcars of morale and energy destroyed by your friends, the plug is jerked out of the wall socket.
I can imagine the contempt for my stance among our journalistic heroes. I understand how noble they feel when they haul off and remind the world they’re not owned by the Romney camp or any other. “Primitive” is about the highest compliment my attitude would earn from my fellows, who would likely unanimously deny me the right to call myself a journalist.
There are times to rise up and be a “journalist.” Truman versus Dewey would have been a good time to be a “journalist.” Or Nixon-McGovern. Or even Reagan-Carter. No race you can name packs the importance of the one upon us right now. Mitt Romney is the only person on earth who can deny Obama four more years. So, what’s so bad about ignoring a little haplessness in his campaign? Am I proposing lying for Romney? Dirty tricks? Sabotage against Obama? Of course not. To put it on a Nixon-esque bumper sticker, all I’m asking is: Quit handing the enemy so many sharp swords.
Ahh, but what if the weaknesses a shrewd commentator detects in Romney’s campaign could, if spotlighted, correct that weakness? Great! Let Peggy Noonan write a three-page private memo and use the power of her celebrity to make sure Romney reads it and reacts. The preservation of our America doesn’t need noisy nobility. Silent loyalty will suffice.
America has never faced the threats and challenges it faces today; from nuclear jihadists to a 16-trillion-dollar debt to a demonstrably counter-productive president with a compliant mainstream media that will congratulate the Peggy Noonans for their criticism of Mitt Romney but never criticize their own Barack Obama. Sure, the Civil War threatened everything we’d achieved as a nation. So did August 1942 when Nazi armies owned Europe from North Cape, Norway, all the way down including North Africa, and the Pacific Ocean was a Japanese lake.
If you’re in the media and you deny the danger Barack Obama presents to America, then you’re worse than somebody who says, “Hey! Knock it off. Talk about the Obama administration, not the Romney campaign!”
It’s time to spotlight that old slogan needle-burned into millions of shellacked slabs of pinewood suitable for wall-mounting in middle-class American game rooms. I mean the one that tells us, “If you can keep your head while everyone else is losing theirs, maybe you don’t understand the problem!“