April 17, 2009

"We started analyzing what it was that we were really missing. We were missing being around each other."

"As long as we can keep decreasing our bills we can keep making less money."

Trading money for time together. A trend? A good trend regardless of the condition of the economy? There's a lot you can say about this, but I'm taking it from a Peggy Noonan column, so let's see where Peggy goes with it:
The cities and suburbs of America are about to get rougher-looking. This will not be all bad. There will be a certain authenticity chic. Storefronts, pristine buildings—all will spend less on upkeep, and gleam less.

So will humans. People will be allowed to grow old again. There will be a certain liberation in this. There will be fewer facelifts and browlifts, less Botox, less dyed hair among both men and women. They will look more like people used to look, before perfection came in. Middle-aged bodies will be thicker and softer, with more maternal and paternal give. There will be fewer gyms and fewer trainers, but more walking. Gym machines produced the pumped and cut look. They won't be so affordable now....

This will be the return of an old WASP style: the good, frayed carpet; dogs that look like dogs and not a hairdo in a teacup....

More families will have to live together. More people will drink more regularly. Secret smoking will make a comeback as part of a return to simple pleasures. People will slow down. Mainstream religion will come back.... Bland affluence breeds fundamentalism. Bland affluence is over.
Everyone will become Peggy Noonan!

66 comments:

rhhardin said...

Noonan needs to get out more.

Pogo said...

Peggy is welcoming back the 1970s, era of riots, near-hyperinflation, pollution, swelling crime, gas lines, stagflation, rising unemployment, and the decade England had to take out an IMF loan to stay afloat.

I wondered how Noonan was going to justify having elected a socialist. But comparing his legacy directly to Jimmy Carter was just not what I'd have guessed.

George Will in drag.

Pogo said...

'Being poor is fun!'
By Peggy Noonan

Issob Morocco said...

Squiress Althouse, please do not venture into the Salons of Upper West Side Manhattan. Peggy's world is no place for a person who would contemplate eating a bacon, chicken, cheese and tomato sandwich the size of a nerf football.

No doubt the bubble in which Peggy lives needs a good warm water and vinegar cleaning, but good staff is so hard to find these days what with them fleeing back to their native countries due to lack of work in Obama's United Nations of the World.

rdkraus said...

Has Noonan turned into Huffington?

zedzded said...

This is a put on, right? Otherwise, what a freak show!

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

What Noonan misses completely is the very John-Galtian essence of the whole thing --leisure is valuable, and completely non-taxable.

People will not work hard, to the grave detriment of leisure, when the fruits of that work are to be taxed away at confiscatory rates.

11th Century serfs paid a 20% tax rate for defence and protection, a place to live, and participation in a reasonably unified economic network. What are you getting for your 40% or so, eh?

ShadyCharacter said...

Pogo beat me to it, but this is simply a rehash of George Will's infamous column (absolutely EVERYONE will enjoy this fisking of the column by Lileks http://lileks.com/bleat/?p=1908 ).

This is simply Peggy's version of "the way things should be". And just as silly as Will's.

Eric said...

I find this woman oh so tiresome. She and George Will need to realize when it's time to hang up the Underwoods they're still undoubtedly using.

Eric said...

Speaking of George, that was a hell of a long column he could have replaced with with "Get off my lawn!"

Richard Fagin said...

"Some of this......seems to key off what I am seeing in Manhattan, a place still generally with more grievances than grief."

There is the issue in a nutshell. Peggy needs to get the heck out of Manhattan.

People in Manhattan and similar places lived like there was no tomorrow because something caused them to believe that they'd never face responsibility for doing so, and with some justification.

Ms. Noonan is making a Manhattan virtue out of what the people in flyover country have been practicing all along.

What's next, bringing back mayor David Dinkins and his uniquely incompetent police chief Lee Brown?
George Will in drag, indeed, Pogo.

What's depressing is that the Obama administraion is one way or the other going confiscate the accumulated capital of lifetimes of work by the people in flyover country so that the Peggy Noonans of Manhattan and Chicago can once again feel virtuous.

Pogo said...

I find it startling that some people actually miss the Worst Decade Evar.

The drugs and sex may have been good for the college and post-grad set, but shit, mon, all the serfs had to actually live in that cesspool, not just skip school for the protest and Molotov cocktail orgy. Plus, the afterparty hangover lasted about 10 years. This ain't no party, and this ain't no disco, lady.

This ain't no fooling around. Noonan ought to just join the Red Hat Society and go to quilt shows and antiquing in New Hampshire, and get the hell outta the way. Wisdom was apparently not among the benefits of Peggy's menopause.

Where'd they teach you to write like that anyway, some broken-down Havana tourist bar? Or was today getaway day and you turned in your 1972 Master's thesis instead of a real column?

Go sell your Marie-Antoinette playing-the-farm-girl-isn't-poverty-noble shtick somewhere else; we're all stocked up here.

Peter V. Bella said...

Bland Flatulence would have been a better title.

"Green Acres is the place for me..."

EnigmatiCore said...

Actually, Noonan has always seemed to me to be akin to a dog that looks like a hairdo in a teacup.

It actually sounds to me like she is saying we will all become Althouse.

Henry said...

Pogo wrote: George Will in drag.Ha ha. You beat me to it.

Maybe Noonan and Will can turn their thoughts on frayed carpets and blue jeans into an epistolatory romance -- let them muse to each other instead of using up valuable op-ed space.

Okay, that's wrong. Unvaluable op-ed space. Let em muse.

Eric said...

Go sell your Marie-Antoinette playing-the-farm-girl-isn't-poverty-noble shtick somewhere else; we're all stocked up here.

I think it was a shepherd, but otherwise the perfect observation.

traditionalguy said...

What the hell is Bland Affluence? There, is not now and never was, anything bland about having all the money you need to do all the good things you are able to do in this life. Then she says having money leads to Fundamentalism in religion. She must not like the idea of the great unwashed masses wearing BlueJeans, praising and thanking God for abundance (all without the Catholic heirarchy's permission), and showing up everywhere with monry that buys the same priviledges she believes are properly reserved for her and her high class friends. What a big bore.

Paul Zrimsek said...

This is a domestic variation on the old world traveler's lament about how globalization has allowed the natives to shirk their duty to be picturesque.

Remember how popular An Inconvenient Truth was with people who expected all the inconveniences to be borne by someone else?

TosaGuy said...

Perhaps poverty-chic will return to the point that people like Peggy Noonan will no longer get paid for writing mindless drivel.

Balfegor said...

The cities and suburbs of America are about to get rougher-looking.Even if everything else she predicted were true, why would this follow? People who spend more time around the house are probably going to be more keen to keep their house in good condition, no? They're spending more time there, after all, and their neighbours are too. True, rich folk who depend on gardeners and housemaids to keep their domiciles clean will have to cut back, but I don't think that describes most suburbanites.

rhhardin said...

P.J.O'Rourke said when he was a kid he didn't know they were poor. He just thought they were broke.

Eric said...

Mmmmm. Affluence leads to fundamentalism? I guess, then, what we should do in Afghanistan and Pakistan is bomb their infrastructure until they're poor.

ricpic said...

Noonan has utterly lost touch with all those who live paycheck to paycheck. A downturn for her is a lifestyle adventure, for them it's a catastrophe.

Kirk Parker said...

Wow, is no one going to offer even a limited defense of Noonan? Me neither.

But here's a question for Althouse: did you simply forget the lameness tag, or is the Noonan tag supposed to imply that?

Night2night said...

Regular lurker comment: response to unanimous response so far: I see the cognitive dissonance in Peggy's sentimentality. Still, a cautionary note from the underground. I'm in southern florida, 4 years after purchasing a single family home which has lost over 40% of it's value since purchase and deeply underwater. The employer whose salary enabled my purchase is long gone (after informing me of how magnanimous their severance was). We'll survive, but I'm tired of moving everytime my employer changes, and I'm asking my wife why so much of our happiness seems to flow from the acquisition of stuff and application of that thin patina of consumption which seems to place us "among the successful". Is it a rationalization of our current circumstances? Perhaps, but it doesn't change my feeling there was a misstep greater than buying at the wrong time.

Pogo said...

Night2night,
No doubt we were spending money we did not have and not saving enough for bad times.

But this was true both at the individual family level as well as for the state and federal governments.

Yet where normal folks like you are taking the right approach, the gummint began spending $1Billion an hour, completely wasting anything you were trying to save.

Noonan is just telling the proles to be happy with their lot. but the nomenklatura and their press lackeys will be living far better than that. On the weekends they'll play poor, and walk among the joyous unwashed.

Kirk Parker said...

Night2night, cautionary note accepted. Indeed there are plenty of us in precarious circumstances, no one's questioning that. But there's far more wisdom (and grace) in your brief, perhaps hesitant, note, than in all of Noonan's verbiage.

Bissage said...

Wow, is no one going to offer even a limited defense of Noonan?

Having recently seen “Becoming John Malkovich,” I state with a fair degree of confidence I would spend $200 for 15 minutes in her head.

I’ve paid nearly as much to soak in a sensory deprivation tank so the extra money would be worth it for the bragging rights.

MEEEE-OOW!

** makes cat-scratching gesture **

Balfegor said...

Re: Eric:

Affluence leads to fundamentalism? I guess, then, what we should do in Afghanistan and Pakistan is bomb their infrastructure until they're poor.Haha -- I thought that was a little odd too. I have only limited exposure to fundamentalists in the US, but none of those few whom I know are particularly "affluent." They're not poor, but they're far from rich.

re: Pogo:

Yet where normal folks like you are taking the right approach, the gummint began spending $1Billion an hour, completely wasting anything you were trying to save.I think this is because the government is trying to force the economy back to the consumption equillibrium it was at from ~1996-2006, rather than smoothing the adjustment to a different balance between consumption and savings. You think that's misguided and so do I, but it's not trivially wrong -- there are respectable reasons to think that's the right policy.

Big Mike said...

I'm glad Peggy is not writing speeches for Republicans anymore.

Balfegor said...

Pogo beat me to it, but this is simply a rehash of George Will's infamous column (absolutely EVERYONE will enjoy this fisking of the column by Lileks http://lileks.com/bleat/?p=1908 ).

Very funny. I suspect someone in the street pointed and laughed at George Will's bowtie. It's that kind of thing that prompts a man to write a bilious screed about dressing down.

For my part, as it happens, I don't own a single pair of denim jeans, and I haven't worn them I was small child. I found them uncomfortable then -- thick, heavy, rumpled, and scratchy -- and they have ever since retained that sense of childishness and discomfort. I suppose children in other ages had the same reaction to sailor suits and Eton collars.

Pogo said...

"there are respectable reasons to think that's the right policy"As rhhardin has pointed out several times, this only works if the FED rapidly turns off the printing press and soaks up the new dollars once inflation begins, or it all falls to shit.

This will require an unlikely show of strength from Obama and Treasury.

MayBee said...

What are the odds Peggy and Jamie Lee Curtis will end up being housemates....and loving it!?

Personally, I think they'll end up getting in fights about whether they should go soft, or go on walks to maintain fitness levels.

John said...

I have often liked Noonan. I always thought she was kind of hot for a middle aged woman. But this is insulting and rediculous. When you lose your job and go broke it is not an opportunity to get closer to your family. It is a nighmare. Further, most people don't have the option to move out to the fields and go native. Most people are stuck in misery when they lose their jobs. Noonan has really lost her mind. She needs to stop writing.

Peter V. Bella said...

"Peggy is welcoming back the 1970s, era of riots, near-hyperinflation, pollution, swelling crime, gas lines, stagflation, rising unemployment,..."

An era when people also had a lot more sex. Your omission was probaby unintentional.

MayBee said...

Peggy Noonan as Fanny Dashwood.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

MayBee - perfect!

John said...

God Maybe you are right.

kynefski said...

Well, on second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.

Henry Buck said...

As the aging Baby Boomers begin to face their own decline and prepare for death, once again they are forcing the country to join them.

Mattman26 said...

Noonan today reminds me of the old Theodoric-of-Yoric schtick Steve Martin used to do on SNL. He was a medieval "barber-doctor" bleeding his patients to death, and then he would dare to dream about a time to come when man would learn from reason, not superstition, and other lofty ideals; then he would stop to think for a moment, and go: "Naaah!"

John Stodder said...

I share the belief that Noonan is a pompous windbag at times. I think her last three grafs are silly -- the litany of things to come, which looks a lot like the days of Noonan's early adulthood.

I don't think we're so predictable. The frayed carpets, yes. Fewer people being able to sculpt perfect bodies? Maybe. The return to mainstream churches and smoking? A weird fantasy, especially given the high price of cigs after all the state and federal taxes.

Movie stars looking like "normal" men and women? That's ignorant social history. In fact, the movies of the 1930s are noted for their glitz and glamour. 1932's best picture: "Grand Hotel." 1933's: "Cavalcade," a Noel Coward-scripted film about a wealthy couple. 1934's: "It Happened One Night," in which Claudette Colbert played an heiress. Gable might have looked normal in some people's eyes, but Colbert always looked like a million bucks. For 1935, the winner was "Mutiny on the Bounty," but among the nominees were "Top Hat" and "Broadway Melody of 1936." The first four "Thin Man" movies were released during the Depression. How were Dick Powell and Myrna Loy conceivably "normal?"

However, I think some commenteers have misread the column in question. It's not about Herself. It's about the resilience of some, not all, Americans in the face of the economic downturn; and then it is about how the downturn will affect Manhattan in particular, which is a worthwhile story because of its dramatic shift in fortunes as Wall Street went from bubble to burst. If you've got a city that was full of millionaires and billionaires, and suddenly a whole lot of them are gone, that will be felt by a lot more five- and low-six-figure income earners than by millionaires, who presumably socked some money away and can continue Botoxing if they want to.

Her larger point, that the disappearance of wealth from American society, while painful, might have some positive cultural effects is certainly a valid prediction. We will continue to be a relatively wealthy country, and people certainly know other things to do with themselves than merely spending money.

John Stodder said...

I suspect that the gym memberships, plastic surgery and hair treatments will be the last things to go. If you're 50 and suddenly unemployed, it's crucial to go out into the job market looking as young as you can manage to.

jdeeripper said...

Everyone will become Peggy Noonan!.

It's not just that she's vapid and shallow and empty and airy and weak and sexless and thoughtless and dull.

It's that she's so hopeful about it.

She hasn't got it and she wants to flaunt it.

mariner said...

Althouse:

"Everyone will become Peggy Noonan!"

I hope not.

former law student said...

But Peggy Noonan is single, is she not?

Remember when Faith Popcorn said we'd all be cocooning? Remember Faith Popcorn?

Nonetheless, I predict that the professor will be spending a lot of time in her pleasant Madison home playing Scrabble, and pursuing other low or no-cost domestic activities, with her beau.

John said...

"It's not just that she's vapid and shallow and empty and airy and weak and sexless and thoughtless and dull."


I will give you all that except thoughtless and sexless. She is not thoughtless. She thinks a lot. She tries very hard to be thoughtful at all times. Now what she thinks is no great shakes but she does think.

I don't think she is sexless. She is a good looking woman. I wouldn't kick her out of bed. Sexless to me implies someone with no sex appeal. I don't that is true at all.

PatCA said...

"the era they built is over, that something new is beginning, something more subdued and altogether more mysterious."

Yes, socialism.

Everything will be really calm and subdued. Like Canada.

Pogo said...

"We will continue to be a relatively wealthy country..."

I am far less certain of that, given the $1Billion per hour spending going on right now.

Wealthy compared to what? Mexico?

Maxine Weiss said...

Black Robin Givhan recently did a column about the popularity of the Real Housewives franchise:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/10/AR2009041000049.html


(I'm the blond, second from the right)

John said...

No way Maxine. That is really you? Honest?

knox said...

Peggy Noonan is just weird. Not in a good way.

BJM said...

Pogo @ 7:52

Thread winner!

Seven Machos said...

That was a classic quip, Althouse.

I've always felt that Noonan was a great speech writer, because the political speech as we know it today deals at best in big ideas and at worst in vague, feel-good platitudes.

She is an awful, awful writer of words on a page. It's unreadable tripe, really.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BJM said...

Trooper, as a proper conservative woman of a certain age; Ms Noonan would be delicately clutching the drapes.

Trooper York said...

Yes as Grusinskaya is beating her buttocks with a spiked shoe and she moans in an orgasmic trance.

lacegrl130 said...

Peggy is irritating anymore... Actually - this article really bugged me. What if you don't have land left by your father so you could withdraw from society and go farm? What if you only have your father's credit card debt? Who can afford the $1,000,000 a small farm would cost? Blah.

blake said...

She is a good looking woman. I wouldn't kick her out of bed. Sexless to me implies someone with no sex appeal.

"Sexless" to me implies that once you got her into bed, nothing would happen.

blake said...

I somehow doubt Ms. Noonan has any insight into what life is going to look like five years from now.

Mr. Yoshimoto said...

You can bitch that she asking for boring to make a comeback, but I get it. Who gives a shit what anyone else thinks about me.

amba said...

So far, older people are getting MORE plastic surgery because it's the only way to get jobs. I suppose that will stop when almost nobody can afford it, or get a loan for it.

amba said...

And: what is this about the '70s?? You people have short memories (i.e., you're younger than me). She's nostalgic for the 50s.

Joan said...

I don't think I've ever understood the appeal of Peggy Noonan, or why she is even still employed as a writer. Yes, yes, I know she was a speech writer for Reagan, but really, what has she done for anyone lately, except exasperate them? She is neither observant nor witty.

Still, any thread that gets Pogo quoting Talking Heads lyrics is a good 'un. He avoided the obvious quote, though: I ain't got time for that now.Why should we ever have time for Peggy's rantings?

AmyKane said...

Noonan's creepy tattered carpet fat middle aged fantasy made me want to go to the gym and buy a fashionable new rug.

Skookum John said...

Noonan has been dead to me since her snotty dismissal of Sarah Palin, and truth be told, since long before that. In retrospect I'm not sure she has contributed anything of value to the world I care about beyond a few good speeches by Ronald Reagan.