Peggy Noonan is not my favorite columnist, but I feel compelled to read her weekly pieces in the Wall Street Journal anyway.
The latest, however, contains a passage so condescending — and so rooted in the self-serving victimization of “The liberal media is against us” — it really merits being quoted at some length:
American culture, high and low, is governed and run by the entertainment industry. And the entertainment industry is, and has been since the New Deal, firmly rooted in the Democratic Party. It was invented by the ethnics of the East, the children of immigrant Irish and Jews and others who joined the Democratic Party as soon as they got here.
And they let everyone in America know, and they do it to this day, that the Democratic Party is the cool party, and the Republican Party is the one a nice person should be slightly embarrassed to belong to, the one that seems like a character flaw to belong to. You know this if you are a conservative in a blue state. You wind up constantly emphasizing that no, you like everyone and no, you’re not angry. “I’m trying to be protective over here and keep the family going!”
Democrats were, through most of the 20th century, better at propaganda, though they didn’t think of it that way. Liberalism attracted artists, and artists made stories about the greatness of liberal leaders. …
That the Republican Party could overcome all this is actually quite a feat, and speaks to the enduring strength of core conservative convictions.
Got that? So if you’re a liberal, it’s because you’ve been brainwashed by George Clooney — oh, and the Jews who run Hollywood. If you’re a conservative, it’s because you have genuine, deeply held convictions.
Of course, there are crumbs of historical and even contemporary truth in what Noonan has written — yes, some people are surely influenced by Hollywood, just as others parrot whatever they hear on conservative talkradio — but as is so often true when this topic arises, she paints in such broad black-and-white strokes as to eradicate most of the merit in her argument.
Moreover, she conveniently ignores the strides conservatives have made in the propaganda business during the last part of the 20th and early 21st century. That has included shrewdly leveraging the issue of not trusting the “liberal media” — lashing out at news organizations, Hollywood stars and “limousine liberals,” who present a target-rich zone — to buttress their case, as in, “If you find Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin obnoxious, then you must be on our side.”
Noonan built her reputation writing cornball speeches for Ronald Reagan, and when she churns out columns like this, she could use him now. Because it would take an actor or politician of the Gipper’s talents to make her claptrap resound with a clear sense of conservative conviction.