Patriotic Grace

Published: July 6, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
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“You know that the liberal media elites and the Obama Democrats are hoping you will put this letter down right now and do nothing…” – Michael Steele

Steele is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland and current chairman of the Republican National Committee.

“‘Let’s play grown-up.’ When I was a child, that’s what we said when we ran out of things to do… And that’s what the GOP should do right now: play grown-up.” – Peggy Noonan

Noonan is an author and former speech writer and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan who currently writes for the Wall Street Journal.

Noonan: “Some… look at Judge Sotomayor and say: attack, attack, kill. A conservative activist told the New York Times, ‘We need to brand her.’ Another told me a fight is needed to excite the base.  Excite the base? How about excite a moderate, or interest an independent? How about gain the attention of people who aren’t already on your side?”

Steele:  “We have been on the defensive as the Democrats in Congress put partisan politics in front of the best interests of the nation, attacked our leaders with personal smears, and saturated the media with propaganda.”

One persuades by thoughtful, reasoned words; the other by fear and insinuation.

Steele:  “[Obama] intends to immediately bring about ‘change’ that will stifle our fragile economy, undermine our nation’s sovereignty and create a massive new government bureaucracy.”

Noonan:  “The choice for Republicans isn’t between ‘attack’ and ‘roll over’… There’s a new and fresh opportunity here for Republicans in the Senate to be serious, and, in their seriousness, to be seen and understood in a new light.

“They can step back, breathe in, and use the Sotomayor confirmation hearings to perform a public service: Find out what the future justice thinks and why she thinks it, explain what they think and why they think it, look at the two different philosophies, if that’s what they are. Don’t make it sparring, make it thinking.

“Don’t grill and grandstand, summon and inform. Show the respect that expresses equality and the equality that is an expression of respect. Ask and listen, get the logic, explain where you think it wrong. Fill the airwaves with thoughtful exchanges.”

While Steele “excites the base” with exaggerated bluster, Noonan inspires to action by causing us to think beyond ideological differences and face our common challenges with a common sense politics.

Peggy Noonan is a conservative whose words and thinking are clear and compelling and her latest book, Patriotic Grace –What It Is and Why We Need It Now, has too much wisdom to be ignored, not only by likely voters, but more importantly, those in Washington who wish to work for all the people, not just “the base.”

Written on the eve of the presidential election, Grace is a 2008 edition of “Common Sense,” and Noonan is Tom Paine:  “We keep going through the same old motions in the bitter old ways.”  But, she reassures, “We are Americans, and mean to make it better.

“By the end of the Bush era, I think this could be said:  What began with love ended in dissension… the bad political behavior of the era was a denial of the sincerity and meaning of 9/11.

“Here is what that day was, in its purest form, from Michael Daly’s The Book of Mychael, which contains the best reporting to this date on the fireman’s experience in the Twin Towers.

“The stairway, Daly writes, was “’only wide enough for a single file of firefighters going up and a single file of office workers coming down… The office workers marveled at [the fireman’s] spirit… the same spirit seemed to fill the office workers….  The word Captain Jay Jonas of Ladder 6 would use to describe the prevailing emotion fit those going up and those coming down:  ‘Altruism.’”

“That’s who we fail with our mischief,” Noonan writes, “our gamesmanship, our teamism, our me-ism.  And we of course must turn it around.

“We should set ourselves to reclaiming, to the extent we can, a bipartisan spirit… We must try to reclaim our unity.  We should leave behind bitterness and blame:  they are empty wells.  We must try again to be alive to what the people of our country really long for in our national life: forgiveness and grace, maturity and wisdom.

“That’s what I think people want.  It’s what I want.

“Our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls.”

These are the priorities that showed up in the Capps Center’s 2008 Post-Election Poll:

“Work for America, not the party;” “Bring us together;” “…a spirit of reconciliation.”

“Get us back to the individualism and personal responsibility that this country was founded on.”

“Brains… hustle… leadership… courage… vision… faith… tenacity… character… sound reasoning…  strength… wisdom… transparency… common sense… honesty… compassion… patience… instill trust.”

That’s what Americans want.  That’s what we need. And that’s what we can achieve again.

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