However, sometimes, if someone adds a dollop of creamy egregiousness to their steaming chili bowl of helpless, pathetic insanity, I cannot resist, especially if that person is one of the most famous of pundits. Thus, my "no picking on the retarded" rule finds an exception in such worthies as Oliver North, Ben Shapiro, and, of course, Peggy Noonan. Or as she is known around these parts, "Peggy Fucking Noonan".
For years now, the former G.O.P. speechwriter and author of such golden phrases as "a thousand points of light", "read my lips: no new taxes" and "a kinder, gentler nation", having blossomed from a hard-nosed, mildly disillusioned Reagan Democrat into, essentially, the Republican version of Blanche DuBois, has made a career out of elevating her 'oh my goodness!' sensibilities to a sort of perverse artform. She specializes in weeping about how liberals made her ashamed of loving John Wayne and writing post-mortems of dead Democrats (or, in the case of Hillary Clinton, live ones) where they talk about how humiliated they are about members of their party who haven't had the good taste to keel over and become dignified corpses. (Famously, when Paul Wellstone was less than a week in the grave, she wrote his supporters -- who had the temerity to discuss liberal politics at the funeral of a liberal politician -- a supposed 'open letter' from Wellstone in Heaven. Although she'd never had a decent thing to say about the man when he was alive, Peggy found him a useful ally when dead, and through his cold dead lips made the claim that Ghost Wellstone was ashamed of his followers for such a tasteless display; she even reanimated the cadavers of other dead liberals like John Adams and JFK to tsk-tsk at the Democrats of Minnesota. In one of her books, she even has Eleanor Roosevelt breach the great veil to condemn Hillary Clinton for being, uh, Hillary Clinton, I guess.)
It's become next to impossible to read Peggy Noonan without hearing her words in the voice of the woman on King of the Hill who, when her husband does his dirty sinful business, just thinks of those pretty flowers until it's all over. Her ludicrous 'we must protect the blossom of American womanhood I see myself as' have become even more deranged since George W. Bush, who she absurdly posits as the inheritor of John F. Kennedy's legacy, became president; she wrote a book about him called, in an access of pitiably naked desire, A Heart, A Cross, And a Flag. Peggy, in her own precious way, is crazier than Andrea Dworkin ever was; the feminist firebrand was merely so consumed by her beliefs that everything, including rational thought and linear logic, was second to buttressing them; while Peggy doesn't really believe in anything other than the idea that she is a pretty little flower and society must do something to keep her in bloom.
But this month, her wilting-hothouse-lilac sensibilties took a turn from the crazy into the help-mommy-I'm-scared. She started off last week complaining how she was humiliated and belittled by the gruff (read: dykey), incomprehensible (read: black) women of the TSA when she was picked for a random airport search recently, and that her humiliation was compounded when she was seated on the plane next to a "British gentleman" who likewise had his precious dignity assaulted when he was forced to leave behind an $800 cigarette lighter he was forbidden to bring on the plane. The fact that all this airline security is the fault of panicky hysterics like herself who demanded tougher standards after 9/11; the fact that her English chap is probably the only person left in the world who doesn't know that you can't bring lighters on a plane anymore; the fact that a true gentleman doesn't talk about the price of things -- all this was ignored by Peggy as she wept real tears at the fact that a fragile soul like herself, someone who surely deserves better, was treated like so much working-class chattel.
This week, she followed up that column with an expansion of its themes. Boy, did she ever.
AIRPORT SECURITY MEASURES EMBLEMATIC OF DECLINE OF VICTORIAN ERA
I want to revise and extend my remarks, as they say, from last week's column on airport security. The reaction was great, but I have two reasons to amend. The first is that I didn't really get to the heart of what is for me most offensive about airport security, and the second is that that thing, the most offensive part, connects to a larger, and I think more painful, fact of our culture.
OH, THE PRETTY, PRETTY FLOWERS
Here is that larger fact: America has become creepy for women who think of themselves as ladies.
NOT "ASSAULTIVE" LIKE, SAY, BEING INDEFINITELY DETAINED IN A PRISON CAMP IN CUBA WITHOUT TRIAL OR LOCKED IN A PRISON WITHOUT CHARGES WHERE GUARDS SODOMIZE YOU WITH A GLOW-STICK, BUT "ASSAULTIVE" LIKE WHEN A VERY IMPORTANT LADY-WOMAN CAN'T JUST BOARD HER FLIGHT IN PEACE
It has in fact become assaultive.
RHETORICAL TIP: ANY TIME SOMEONE BEGINS THEIR ARGUMENT BY CONSULTING THE DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF SOMETHING, THEY ARE 100% FULL OF SHIT
I start with a dictionary definition, from American Heritage
I CAN'T TELL YOU WHAT THEY ARE, BUT I KNOW THEM WHEN I SEE THEM
not that anyone needs it because everyone knows what a lady is.
ROLAND BARTHES SPINS IN GRAVE
It's a kind of natural knowledge.
BUT IT CAN'T HURT
I would add that a lady need not be stuffy, scolding, stiff.
SHE...DOES THE WHAT NOW?
A lady is a woman who projects the stature of life.
NOT REAL SEXUAL ASSAULT, LIKE, SAY, SEXUAL ASSAULT, BUT THE KIND OF SEXUAL ASSAULT WHERE AN UNDERPAID WORKER TOUCHES YOUR BRA
These definitions are incomplete but serviceable--I invite better ones--but keep them in mind as I try to draw a fuller picture of what it was like to be taken aside at an airport last week for what is currently known as further screening and was generally understood 50 years ago to be second-degree sexual assault.
NOT SHOELESS! MY SALVATORE FERRAGAMOS!
I was directed, shoeless, into the little pen with the black plastic swinging door.
NOT JUST A STRANGER, BUT A DYKEY ONE WITH BAD HAIR
A stranger approached, a tall woman with burnt-orange hair. She looked in her 40s. She was muscular, her biceps straining against a tight Transportation Security Administration T-shirt. She carried her wand like a billy club. She began her instructions: Face your baggage. Feet in the footmarks. Arms out. Fully out. Legs apart. Apart. I'm patting you down. It was like a 1950s women's prison movie.
I WILL NEVER FORGET THAT HORRIBLE DAY AS LONG AS I AM A PRETTY LADY
Beeps and bops, her pointer and middle fingers patting for explosives under the back of my brassiere; the wand on and over my body, more beeps, more pats. The she walked wordlessly away. I looked around, slowly put down my arms, rearranged my body.
IT'S IN THE CONSTITUTION, RIGHT NEXT TO THE RIGHT TO BUY COP-KILLER BULLETS
I experienced the search not only as an invasion of privacy, which it was, but as a denial or lowering of that delicate thing, dignity. The dignity of a woman, of a lady, of a person with a right not to be manhandled or to be, or to feel, molested.
FUCK MEN, THEY'RE USED TO THIS SHIT
There aren't many middle-aged women who fly who haven't experienced something very much like what I've described.
THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ANYONE EVER
Women take the searches worse than men, and become angrier. But then they would, for they are not only discomforted and delayed, as the men. There is also the edge of violation.
I BLAME POSTMODERNISM, AND ALSO THE NAZIS
Are the women who do the searches wicked, cruel? No, they're trying to make a living and go with the flow of modernity. They're doing what they've been taught. They've been led to approach things in a certain way, first by our society and then by their bosses.
NO ONE EVER THINKS ABOUT WHETHER THIS IS SORT OF A BAD THING TO DO TO A PERSON WHO IS A LADY
They're doing what they've been trained to do by modern government security experts who don't have to bother themselves with thoughts like, Is this sort of a bad thing to do to a person who is a lady?
DIRTY, FILTHY LITTLE MEN WITH THEIR FILTHY LITTLE TIES AND SHIRTS AND NAMETAGS
By, that is, slobs with clipboards who have also been raised in the current culture.
AND THAT IS A BAD THING TO DO TO A PERSON WHO IS AN ADULT WOMAN WHO IS A LADY
I did experience it as to some degree violative of my dignity as a person. An adult. A woman. A lady.
OTHER THAN THIS COLUMN?
And I have been experiencing a lot of things in this way for a while now. Have you?
"TAKING YOUR SHOES OFF"="ALMOST STRIP-SEARCHED"
I experience it when I'm almost strip-searched at airports.
THESE KIDS TODAY, WITH THEIR NOISY ROCK AND ROLL, AND THEIR HAIR. IT'S CRAZY!
I experience it when I listen to popular music, if that's what we call it.
I SAY IT IN MY MIND, WHERE I AM A WOMAN WHO IS A PERSON WHO IS FEMALE AND A LADY
Let me tell you what I say, in my mind, after things like this--the symposium, the commercials, and so forth.
ALSO, WE ARE MAKING BABY JESUS CRY
I think, We are embarrassing the angels.
I WOULD HAVE TO IMAGINE IT, WOULDN'T I?
Imagine for a moment that angels exist, that they are pure spirits of virtue and light, that they care about us and for us and are among us, unseen, in the airport security line, in the room where we watch TV, at the symposium of great minds.
I THINK PEGGY IS GONNA GET SEARCHED A LOT MORE IN THE NEXT 40 DAYS
"You are embarrassing the angels." This is what I intend to say for the next 40 days whenever I see someone who is hurting the culture, hurting human dignity, denying the stature of a human being.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN WE'RE TAKING A DUMP, ARE THE ANGELS EMBARRASSED THEN? HELP ME, PEGGY, I NEED INSTRUCTION
I mean to say it with belief, with an eye to instruction, but also pointedly, uncompromisingly. As a lady would.
YEAH, I'M SURE THIS IS REALLY GONNA CATCH ON
All invited to join in.