Friday, April 29, 2011

Make Him a Saint?

In her recent column, "Make Him a Saint," Peggy Noonan illustrates her sense of morality by demanding that Pope John Paul II be made a saint, right away, primarily because, she believes he defeated communism by making a trip to Poland in 1979. I thought Reagan ended communism by running up the deficit with excessive military spending. Actually, I thought communism ended communism, but I thought the orthodoxy dictated that Noonan’s old boss get the credit.
But you cannot make a saint out of modern history’s primary facilitator of child rape without some pretty important counterpoints. So Noonan claims John Paul ended communism by making a trip to Poland, and that the trip more than makes up for all those kiddie rapes, which Noonan characterizes as the “mistakes and sins in his papacy.” 
But why does Peggy use the term “in his papacy,” rather than directly saying they were John Paul’s mistakes and sins? Does she mean to exculpate him? Does she mean to say that it was not the rot at the top, but that the Pope was out of touch? 
Whatever his involvement, Noonan says you cannot expect perfection, and besides, all saints were “flawed, full of contradictions, and marked by stark failures.” This may be true, but running an organization of child molesters seems like more than a flaw or contradiction. “I am personally opposed to child rape, although I’ll help those who like to partake,” doesn’t seem very saintly to me. And a “stark failure” would imply that John Paul tried to stop the child rapes, but forces beyond his control prevented his valiant efforts. Is there any evidence of this? No. John Paul enabled the rapists before they were caught, and he protected them afterward. And he did this with the help of his friend and successor, Benedict, who is no Arnold. 
So what else does Noonan claim John Paul did to outweigh his complicity in the child rapes? She says he travelled a lot. Not even counting that trip in ‘79 that ended communism, he flew over a million miles. And don’t forget he got shot and later forgave the shooter. (While John Paul claimed to believe that the virgin Mary saved him by redirecting the bullet enough to tear up his guts, but not kill him, he came to rely on the “Popemobile” rather than Mary for subsequent crowd forays.) Finally, Noonan points out that he didn’t retire when he got sick. For years he hobbled and mumbled in public on the holidays. Noonan characterizes this as a sharing of his illness, but if I am not mistaken, popes do not retire. They leave the popehood only by death. So, on this, he had no choice.
Noonan insists that this is no time for doubts and questions. “Santo Subito.” Sainthood now. On this, she and Benedict agree. For one thing, John Paul’s only “verified” miracle is the cure of a nun who allegedly suffered from Parkinson’s disease. One problem with this verification is that thousands, if not millions, of sick Catholics have prayed to John Paul's corpse to ease their pain or delay their deaths. If one out of a million gets better, does that mean the corpse cured her? And if he only cures one out of a million...? Furthermore, some say the nun has become noticeably wobbly of late, and if we don’t get the ceremony over with soon, well, you can see the problem. And she insists on attending.
Besides, the longer we wait, the more victims, like cockroaches, keep coming out of woodwork. 
In conclusion, while I disagree with her opinion of John Paul, I want to commend Peggy Noonan for debunking the claim that Ronald Reagan defeated communism.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Peggy Noonan says nothing again

Ok, my title is an exaggeration, just like her title, "Obama is Likely to Lose." Here is what she really said: if the Republicans nominate an intelligent moderate, Obama is beatable. 
Meanwhile, the Republican frontrunner is Donald Trump.
And why is Obama so beatable? Obama is down in the polls. That's it. She does make some other claims, like Paul Ryan "outclassed" Obama with his "seriousness and substance," followed by her citation to polls showing Obama is down. Of course, the logical polls to illustrate a comparison between the proposals presented by Ryan and Obama are the polls showing public response to the ideas in those proposals. But those polls show most Americans agree with Obama's, so they are omitted.
But Noonan cannot even fairly cite her irrelevant polls. She claims Obama has suffered a devastating loss of white support. Rather than comparing the percentage of whites who voted for Obama to the percentage who now support him, she compares the percent who claimed to support him on inauguration day with the latest favorability. This gives a decline of 20%, from 60 to 40. But only 43% of whites voted for Obama, so the real decline is within the margin of error.
From here she goes to the Fox talking points, to wit, Obama concentrated on health care rather than the economic crash, jobs, and spending. And now, he has finally come around to talking about spending.
This, again, is simply dishonest. Health care reform was necessary to control the cost of health care, and to make our products competitive with other countries. Why do we import automotive parts from Canada? Because their health care adds less to the cost of their parts.
And why did Obama spend so much money during his first two years? Because it was necessary to run short term deficits to recover from the economic crash facilitated, if not created, by the Republicans. And even then, the first year's deficit, for which she blames Obama, was created and signed by Bush.
So it is disingenuous to say that, because Obama used stimulus spending during his first two years, he is not concerned about long run deficits. They are different issues.
Next, Noonan accuses Obama of being "disrespectful" to Paul Ryan, who is honestly alarmed by the deficit. Who is this Paul Ryan who deserves so much respect for his serious proposal to solve the deficit problem? He is the same guy who voted for spending on, but not paying for, Afghanistan, Iraq, Medicare D, and the Bush tax cuts.
And what could be more dishonest than Noonan’s accusation that Obama is making entitlement spending political. It was Obama who tried the adult conversation on health care. It was the Republicans who effectively ended town hall meetings in Democratic districts with right wing screamers about death panels and government takeover of Medicare.
Noonan concludes with a plea for the adults in the GOP to nominate someone who is not "strange, extreme or barely qualified." This is what they have done traditionally, she says. All they have to do to beat Obama is follow their established tradition.
How about the 2008 VP nominee? Isn’t that the traditional choice?