Thursday, June 30, 2005

OpinionJournal's Peggy Noonan says, "A plague on all your houses!"

"What's wrong with them?" That's how she begins. Who's them? Everybody. In Washington, that is. Guess how she ends. "What is wrong with them?" Get the story here. Hat tip to Michael from Southern Appeal. So what problem does Ms. Noonan have with our great leaders? This one:

In normal America if you have a high character you don't wrestle people to the ground until they acknowledge it. You certainly don't announce it. If you are compassionate, you are compassionate; if others see it, fine. If you hold to principle it will become clear. You don't proclaim these things. You can't, for the same reason that to brag about your modesty is to undercut the truth of the claim.
How exactly does it work? How does legitimate self-confidence become wildly inflated self-regard? How does self respect become unblinking conceit? How exactly does one's character become destabilized in Washington?

I honestly have no answer for her. I've never lived or worked in Washington. The only elected office I can recall holding, outside of the boy scouts and TAU Alpha Upsilon Fraternity, was as a board member of the Coop in which I used to live. I can't recall any spikes in egos or unnecessary needs to prove my character.

Perhaps Washington has finally caught that wonderful distillation of popular culture known as the Oprah factor. I speak of the self-help culture that originated in the legitimate Twelve Steps of AA and Al-anon. The one that then mutated into the most bizzare and relativistic self-congratulation-as-modesty behaviorism you'll ever see. Courtesy of Oprah. Her television show provided the forum necessary for the myriad "12-steppers" that came out of the dysfunctional woodwork to achieve mass popularity. She effectively made it OK to air your dirty laundry and congratulate yourself on whatever virtues you happened to have after your survival.

It's only a working theory, however. I'm open to suggestions. Besides, it's real late here in NY at this hour. What do you think?