GEORGE: Oh! You mean that posh bird who gets everything wrong?SIMON: Excuse me?GEORGE: Oh, yeah. The lads frequently sit around the telly and watch her for a giggle. One time, we actually sat down and wrote these letters saying how gear she was and all that rubbish.SIMON: She’s a trendsetter. It’s her profession.GEORGE: She’s a drag. A well known drag. We turn the sound down on her and say rude things.
Many of the speakers at the two political conventions brought out the George Harrison in me. When they came on, I’d only be able to listen for a moment. Then I’d turn the sound down on them and say rude things.
Peggy Noonan apparently kept listening, and then when it was done, wrote down the rude things she was thinking. For my part, sometimes I only went so far as to turn the sound down. That was the case, near as I can recall, with Sandra Fluke. She came on, I listened a bit, then turned the sound down and went back to reading Wolf Hall. So next time I see her, I might confuse her with Anne or Mary Boleyn.
I learned later about what she had to say from reading Ms. Noonan, who characterized it thusly in her column this weekend:
The sheer strangeness of all the talk about abortion, abortion, contraception, contraception. I am old enough to know a wedge issue when I see one, but I’ve never seen a great party build its entire public persona around one. Big speeches from the heads of Planned Parenthood and NARAL, HHS Secretary and abortion enthusiast Kathleen Sebelius and, of course, Sandra Fluke.
“Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception,” Ms. Fluke said. But why would anyone have included a Georgetown law student who never worked her way onto the national stage until she was plucked, by the left, as a personable victim?
What a fabulously confident and ingenuous-seeming political narcissist Ms. Fluke is. She really does think—and her party apparently thinks—that in a spending crisis with trillions in debt and many in need, in a nation in existential doubt as to its standing and purpose, in a time when parents struggle to buy the good sneakers for the kids so they’re not embarrassed at school . . . that in that nation the great issue of the day, and the appropriate focus of our concern, is making other people pay for her birth-control pills. That’s not a stand, it’s a non sequitur. She is not, as Rush Limbaugh oafishly, bullyingly said, a slut. She is a ninny, a narcissist and a fool.
And she was one of the great faces of the party in Charlotte. That is extreme. Childish, too.
Unusually harsh language, coming from Peggy “Thousand Points of Light” Noonan.
I didn’t watch Ms. Fluke long enough to form the same impression Ms. Noonan did. But her description of why she found the young woman so off-putting is very familiar to me — it’s very like what I thought listening to non-headliner speakers at both conventions (sorry I’m not remembering any names; I wouldn’t have remembered this one had Ms. Noonan not made such a thing of her). So much of what they talked about just seemed… off-topic. Something they were going on about just to divide their partisans from the other partisans.
What’s interesting about this is that the parties apparently know this. They know the difference between these wedge issues and the central ones that should decide elections. The central issues, the ones that are not non sequiturs, are the ones the nominees themselves, and to some extent their running mates and other top surrogates talk about. There seemed to be a fairly strict line between the pre-10 p.m. speakers and topics, and the ones we heard from and about post-10 — the hour at which the parties got serious about trying to reach beyond their bases to try to win an election.