At BYU, Peggy Noonan hammers Obama, talks Romney, Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes
"I think Mr. Bush might have learned something about programmatic modesty from Mr. Clinton," she said, "but Mr. Obama certainly might have learned a few things about compromise and collegiality and closeness with the other party from George W. Bush."
After her speech, one of the questions came from Josh Davies, a psychology major who said he is Romney nephew. What, Davies asked Noonan, does the country need in its next president?
"Sane, stable and modest would be good," she said. "Humorous, even-keeled and easy-going would be good. When I think of the future president, I don't so much think of the personality as I tend to think of what their experience might be that might be applicable to our needs at the moment."
For Noonan, that means a multi-term governor with a track record of deep executive experience.
"There's something that I think we haven't had in a president (recently) that I'm really hungry to see again," she added, "though I don't know if I'll see it again in my lifetime, but it's a man or a woman who has simple wisdom. Wisdom is what I miss."
Later, she said she had called the Romney campaign "a rolling calamity" and praised the Obama campaign for its ability to reach people. The praise set up another jab at the administration.
"These people know how to use a computer when the object is important to them," she said. "They've already won, I guess it's not important now as you set up a health care program, but it was important to them to use the Internet to win, and they won."
Called Reagan "the last, great, sweet gentleman of American politics in terms of great personal grace and a lovely public dignity."
Said she appreciated Reagan's merry disposition. "Clearly there is a power in merriness. It signals that you're on an even-keel, you have perspective, you get it about life. One of the things that concerns me about our current president is that he is a relative merry-free zone. We could use more merriness."
Expressed concern about what she sees in American culture in her travels: "There's a lot of drugs going on. There's a lot of porn going on."
Noonan arrived at BYU by way of Dallas, where she joined the CBS Sunday morning news program "Face the Nation" to help host Bob Schieffer frame the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination.
Her address came just weeks after another famous conservative columnist visited BYU. Nationally syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor George Will appeared on Oct. 22 and decried a decadent American democracy suffering from a growing, financially irresponsible government and the disintegration of the family, though he expressed confident optimism for the future. His speech also is archived on BYUtv.org.
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