Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan told the cabbie to wait for her, and then rather regally, she entered Park Avenue Liquor. The doors parted before her with a gentle swooshing noise, and like a luxury cruise liner coming into port, Noonan entered the store.
Noonan gave a familiar nod to the man behind the counter, he looked up and smiled, his skin so burnished, so smooth and his smile so dazzling. “Here,” thought Noonan, “is an example of immigration done right.”
The man, a refugee-immigrant from one of the Middle Eastern countries, probably liberated by George W. Bush, the greatly underrated former President now in political exile — no one wanted to remember him, let alone talk about him — this immigrant, this man, this immigrant man was now successful, working in the heart of Manhattan. “To think that just a few short years ago he was herding goats in someplace unpronounceable,” Noonan thought as she reached for a wobbly shopping cart, “and here he is now, an American success story, working for an honest living in Manhattan, the greatest city in the greatest country on earth.” She felt warm inside and glad to be supporting this turbaned fellow in his Great American Success Story by purchasing her supplies at his store, and happy in knowing that the Middle East wars were just, and good, and right. Her immigrant, he was just one of a thousand points of light.
Noonan noted that the great contribution of the immigrants to American society is the work ethic, so proud, fiercely proud of their new lives, these immigrants, the successful ones anyway, create their own jobs, open their own businesses, give a shot in the arm to blighted neighborhoods in dreary and dreadful non-Manhattan places.
Ronald Wilson Reagan would be proud of them. The greatest president of the last half of the last century, perhaps the greatest president ever admired the plucky determination that he saw in immigrants as they mowed the lawns, folded the laundry, nannied the babies. “They don’t ask for things that they don’t need, they don’t feel entitled to all the good things, they work for them. They don’t buy what they cannot afford, they live simply using their wits and their gritty determination as their currency.” Noonan, too, admired that ethic, unlike what she saw in the Senate this week.
“The problem with the Baucus bill is that healthcare will become another unpaid entitlement,” Noonan thought as she careened her little shopping cart, so small, so chic, down the Rum aisle. “The Democrats keep adding, adding, adding to entitlement programs without a care in the world, with no idea how to pay for them. Here, during the worst recession in her lifetime, the Great Recession as some dare to call it, the one that is being blamed on the GOP for reckless tax cuts and reckless spending — ridiculous charges — here, in such dreadful economic times, the Democrats want to take on yet more deficits, and if you oppose then they say you don’t care about your fellow human beings and that you therefore love and support the insurance companies.”
Noonan shot down the aisle towards the produce. “The problem, of course, is that unlike my Successful Immigrant from the Gulf, expanding the nanny state takes responsibility and dignity away from the people who need it most.” Her little bird-like hands gripped the shopping cart even tighter.
At the check stand, Noonan unloaded her cart: the 17-year old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican rum, the French Orgeat, and the Dutch Orange Curaçao, the fresh pineapples and the imported Morello cherries, and was starting to write her cheque, when she noticed that her immigrant, he of the burnished skin and dazzling smile, he had one of her recent columns pinned up on the wall behind him. She smiled and handed over the cheque.
Peggy shyly pointed to the column, “I wrote that,” she murmured and handed over her ID. The man looked at the ID, and looked at the column, smiled another dazzling smile and tore up the cheque. Noonan was touched, this immigrant, this man with nothing, less than nothing, this fine man with burnished skin, this refugee from a war-torn land was giving her purchases back to her because he was a fan, a loyal fan, so handsome, so smart.
“I’m sorry, Miss Noonan, for you, cash only. Your last several cheques have bounced.”
There Is No New Frontier — by Peggy Noonan