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Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan Quotes

Quotes by and about Peggy Noonan

(Continued from her main entry on the site.)

Noonan: "There were times when I thought that I was viewed as ... a little different. Not quite an oddball, not quite a strange one, not quite a walking occasion of sin, but those phrases came into my mind."

Noonan: "A fellow columnist [once] asked me if at the beginning [of writing my column] I was afraid I wouldn't have a thought each week. I was startled and said no, that never occurred to me, I guess I figured there's always something going on."

Noonan: "I can't do my job ... unless I say what I really see and think. And sometimes what I see and think is against the grain or heterodox. You can't at that point bow to the feelings of the crowd, even when the crowd is full of people you like, and sometimes love. The minute you do that you're a hack. ... So you do it your way. And then duck."

Noonan: "There are writers who believe their impenetrability and lack of liveliness is proof of their gravity. 'I'm boring because I'm serious.' No, you're boring because you're boring. If you were serious you'd be interesting."

Noonan: "I would love to be the kind of writer who has a lovely mole notebook which she keeps in her pocket with a lovely Cross pen, or whoever makes great pens. Instead I'm a frantic do-you-have-a-piece-of-paper person. Do you have a pencil? I write notes ... on everything. Also, most dishearteningly, on yellow [post-it notes]. It's so humiliating if you saw my desk; it's post-it notes all over the place. And I can't read the handwriting!"

Noonan: "In [my body of work] there [is] a sense of constantly being in pioneer territory."

Noonan: "I like the sound of thinking aloud. I love the sound of a columnist working out his or her thoughts right in front of you, and you can follow the thoughts and see where they wind up. That, to me is interesting and fun."

Noonan: "You need to read to write, you need to take in other people's words and thoughts and images. If you want to be a good conversationalist you must both talk and listen; if you want to be a good writer you must both write and read."

Noonan: "Try to write well. Which means, try to think well. Try to put clearly the position you're advancing or the thought you're explaining."

Criticism of the Clintons

Noonan: "Who is this woman who ... has so preoccupied us, who is admired by so many and detested by so many? So many newspaper stories and magazine articles have been written about her ... and yet when you think about her, when you ... summon her figure to your mind's eye, when you imagine where this person fits in the long line of American history you are struck by this thought: She does not seem big enough to be the focus of such passion."

Noonan: "The most interesting thing about [the Clintons] that they appear to be disturbed. The most important thing about them is that they have made their disturbance our disturbance; they have foisted it upon a great nation."

Noonan: "The Clintons behave as though they are justified in using any tactic in pursuit of their goals. These include but are not limited to misleading constituents on serious and crucial issues; evading responsibility for governmental and administration mistakes, derelections, and scandals; taking actions that are damaging to others but beneficial to the Clintons; smearing opponents and critics; ruining the lives of perceived enemies; and lying."

Noonan: "John Kennedy had wit, and so did Lincoln, who also had abundant humor; Reagan was mostly humor."

Noonan: "[George W. Bush] is the triumph of the seemingly average American man. He's normal. He thinks in a sort of common-sense way. He speaks the language of business and sports and politics. You know him. He's not exotic. But if there's a fire on the block, he'll run out and help. He'll help direct the rig to the right house and count the kids coming out and say, 'Where's Sally?' He's responsible. He's not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world. And then when the fire comes they say, 'I warned Joe about that furnace.' And, 'Does Joe have children?' And 'I saw a fire once. It spreads like syrup. No, it spreads like explosive syrup. No, it's formidable and yet fleeting.' When the fire comes they talk. Bush ain't that guy. Republicans love the guy who ain't that guy. Americans love the guy who ain't that guy."

People Magazine: "[She writes] sprightly prose [with] clear-eyed candor."

People Magazine: "In early 1988, Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speech-writer, was driving to the supermarket ... when she heard a radio report that George Bush was in trouble in the primaries. ... As soon as they got home, Noonan put in a call to the Bush campaign and said simply, 'You guys need me.' She was right. In the following months Peggy Noonan showed George Bush the light - a thousand points of it. And it was she who wrote his dazzling acceptance speech for the Republican National Convention - the one calling for 'a kinder, gentler nation,' the one that made the reedy-voiced, malaprop-prone George Bush sound eloquent and confident."

People Magazine: "Such is Noonan's talent, in fact, that she makes speechwriting seem almost dangerous."

William Safire: "She has a blessed irreverence that's hard to come by in White House staffers."

People Magazine: "[Her] casual personal style ... didn't sit well at the Reagan White House, where Noonan was hired as a speechwriter in 1984. ... On one occasion, she writes, 'a young woman took me aside and said, 'I heard you had wine in the mess... and smoked cigarettes.'' On another, Noonan's walking shoes and wrinkled khaki skirt drew a look from Nancy Reagan that was clearly meant to wither the plants."

Forbes Magazine: "Noonan's strength ... is that she holds Her Own Side to standards as high as the ones to which she holds The Other Side."

Forbes Magazine: "Her column ... is by far the most readable thing in The Wall Street Journal. ... It is now the best op-ed column in America."