Monday, October 23, 2006

Peggy Noonan on dancing with the politicos

Noonan has to be one of my favorite writers. She has a way with words and images that sets her above ideology. She sees through the fog and knows whether to expect a tanker, a luxury liner or an aircraft carrier. In Friday's column she talks about politicians and how some of them know how to "dance" and others, well, seem to be faking it.

The dance is where you see the joy of the joust. It's a gifted pro making his moves. It's a moment of humor, wit or merriness on the trail; it's the clever jab or the unexpected line that flips an argument. It's a thing in itself and is so much itself, so distinctive, that whether you are left, right or center, red team or blue, you can look at the moves of a guy on the other side and say with honest admiration: "Man, that was good."

That's how I feel when I see someone -- even when it's someone I don't agree with -- score well. It's the reason I like Neal Boortz. Or Newt Gingrich. And yes, even the president. These are people who are like cats. No matter what happens they will always land on their feet.
Bill Clinton is still the master. Last week he went to Iowa, in the middle of the country, and told Democrats to reach out and embrace with love all these poor Republicans who no longer have a home. Their party has been taken over by "the most ideological, the most right-wing, the most extreme sliver of the Republican party!" Republicans are good--it's their leaders who've gone nutty! "Forget about politics. Just go out and find somebody and look them dead in the eye and say, 'You know, this is not right.' "

He's moving to drive a wedge between an unpopular president and his frustrated party. It's a move to reframe, to separate and pick off. And it's exactly how to go at moderate Republicans right now, not with a punch but a hand on the shoulder.

It's classic Clinton. He gets real nice when he smells blood. You may say he has a natural advantage: The dance is what he was born for; governing was his problem. But give him his due. He can foxtrot.


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