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Political columnist for The Wall Street Journal

Author of eight books on American politics and culture

Special assistant to the President in the White House of Ronald Reagan

Former producer at CBS News in New York

Adjunct professor of journalism at New York University (1978-1979)


Peggy Noonan: Talking Religion and Politics

By Julie Blim
The 700 Club

CBN.comPeggy Noonan became famous as a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, crafting some of his best-remembered lines. Since then, she has made her mark as a political columnist for the Wall Street Journal, known for her frank, polished style. She shared some of those political thoughts with Scott Ross. Peggy’s musings on the election and the American political landscape in general appear in her latest book, Patriotic Grace.

Scott Ross' interview with Peggy Noonan:

Scott Ross:  The title – Patriotic Grace - so I went looking - grace:  politeness, dignified, decent behavior, generosity of spirit. Then I started to think about Washington and thought, I don’t know anyone like that. 

Peggy Noonan:  Well, even outside of Washington, you don’t know anybody like that. (She smiles and winks.)

Scott:  You. You’re patriotic. 

Peggy:  I am patriotic. I like these days, to draw the line between patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is love of county. Nationalism is breast beating 'we are number 1 and we can kick your butt.' Look, politically, we want to be a great nation. We want Washington to stop, breathe in, resettle itself, and realize we are in a key moment.

Scott:  OK, can we give Barack the benefit of the doubt at this point?

Peggy:  Look, he is a new president. Fifty-three percent of people voted for him, 46 did not - and did not in the time of two wars and economic collapse. So, you've got to realize that’s a lot of not support for Obama - 56 million people. What do you owe your new president? Grace. Give him a chance. Pray for him, seriously. Hope that as he prospers, we prosper. Hope that a new wisdom will come upon him as sometimes happens with a president. 

Scott:  Where does this leave the GOP? It was probably ‘76 the last time they were beaten this bad in the polls. And the differences between now and then - does this leave the GOP out in the wilderness? 

Peggy:  Yes. 

Scott:  They're out?

Peggy:  They are refiguring. There are times in life, in your life and mine, but also in political lives, where a great party has suffered a series of defeats - ’06, ’08; where it has perhaps lost touch with the American people, and where you have to settle down and redefine yourself.

Scott:  What are the positives now for the republicans? 

Peggy:  What are the positives? Well, in a cheap way, you can sit back and criticize the other guy for his stupid decisions. And let’s face it, a republican congress and a republican president have made plenty of mistakes. The fun is also, look - regeneration. 

Scott:  How do your personal spiritual beliefs inform what you write? 

Peggy:  I think they inform me as a human being; they inform everything I see and everything I think. I think about God more than I go to church, if you know what I mean. And I think that’s true of so many Christians. God’s on my mind. I ought to pray as much as God’s on my mind, because then I’d pray a lot. All I can tell you is God is real and so that infuses everything.

Scott:  There are major issues that become political, but are really moral:  abortion, stem-cell research, homosexual marriage. Do you write about these things? Will you write about these things?

Peggy:  Oh, sometimes. I wrote most recently about abortion when Obama and McCain were in the Rick Warren interview. However, you remember, there was that key moment when Rick Warren said to each candidate, 'tell me, at what point does a fetus deserve human rights?' (Obama video clip: Obama said, “to answer that question with specificity is - above my pay grade.') I just thought, above your pay grade? Abortion is the issue that will never go away. And every kid in America who buys a condom knows when life begins – do you know what I mean? Buying a pack of condoms tells you, you know exactly when it begins!

Scott:  'God has a plan, Peggy Noonan, God has a plan.' That was told you in ’92 by Lord Leonard Cheshire.

Peggy:  Oh, my goodness.

Scott:  ‘And that plan is revealed to you by prayer, keeping your mind open, life circumstances and the people you meet.’ How’s the plan going in your life?

Peggy:  Oh, what a big fabulous question. The plan is a mystery to me always, you know what I mean? My life is something that I understand it when I look back. But I’m here. I’m alive. I’m kind of happy, even though for a living I observe politics. And I keep thinking of something pope Benedict said in the last year:  as a throwaway line in a speech, he said 'God is in charge of history.' I quoted that in my last election column, 'God is in charge of history.' Do your best. It’s not all on you. But you must do your best. 

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