The Divider vs. the Thinker

Peggy Noonan is always a pleasure to read. She has a provocative essay (“The Divider vs. the Thinker”) in today’s WSJ (ungated).

Ms. Noonan presents a compelling account of the current state of affairs, concerned with the “sense now that the glue that held us together for more than two centuries has thinned and cracked with age,” giving rise to a host of bitter conflicts. She turns to the position the tactical president has struck, seeking to exploit the divisions:

Where is the president in all this? He doesn’t seem to be as worried about his country’s continuance as his own. He’s out campaigning and talking of our problems, but he seems oddly oblivious to or detached from America’s deeper fears. And so he feels free to exploit divisions. It’s all the rich versus the rest, and there are a lot more of the latter.

The President—the “Divider” is contrasted with a “Thinker,” Paul Ryan (R-WI), who “is doing something unique in national politics. He thinks. He studies. He reads. Then he comes forward to speak, calmly and at some length, about what he believes to be true. He defines a problem and offers solutions, often providing the intellectual and philosophical rationale behind them.”

Ms. Noonan concludes with some excerpts from a speech that Congressman Ryan gave at the Heritage Foundation. I quote it, in part, because it comes quite close to precisely what I believe (a little confirmation bias never hurts at the end of a long week) and I hope it will entice you to read the Noonan piece in its entirety.

“Why have we extended an endless supply of taxpayer credit to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, instead of demanding that their government guarantee be wound down and their taxpayer subsidies ended?” Why are tax dollars being wasted on bankrupt, politically connected solar energy firms like Solyndra? “Why is Washington wasting your money on entrenched agribusiness?”

Rather than raise taxes on individuals, we should “lower the amount of government spending the wealthy now receive.” The “true sources of inequity in this country,” he continued, are policies “that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless.” The real class warfare that threatens us is “a class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society.”

If more Republicans thought—and spoke—like this, the party would flourish. People would be less fearful for the future. And Mr. Obama wouldn’t be seeing his numbers go up.

For those who are interested in reading Ryan’s  full remarks, a transcript can be found here.

One thought on “The Divider vs. the Thinker

  1. Paul Ryan? Really? Give me a break. This is the same guy that favored the exact same policies as Obama post 9/11 when the economy was not even close to being this bad. I find Peggy Noonan to be a tad hypocritical talking about the politics of division. Bush never was this way, of course. (Giant sarcasm.)

    His quote from the speech is a nice one and I agree with it, but it’s the exception and not the rule.

    In addition, he has a deep misunderstanding of the incentives and economics that drive the American healthcare system.

    I am no Obama fan, but Paul Ryan does not impress me one bit.

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