Peggy Noonan: An American Crisis in Character

An Obama TSA agent marches away after bringing a passenger to tears at a Midwest airport.

Peggy Noonan’s column today at The Wall Street Journal deals with the modern day American crisis in character.

People in politics talk about the right track/wrong track numbers as an indicator of public mood. This week Gallup had a poll showing only 24% of Americans feel we’re on the right track as a nation. That’s a historic low. Political professionals tend, understandably, to think it’s all about the economy—unemployment, foreclosures, we’re going in the wrong direction. I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.

Now I’d go a step beyond that. I think more and more people are worried about the American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.

Every story that has broken through the past few weeks has been about who we are as a people. And they are all disturbing.

A tourist is beaten in Baltimore. Young people surround him and laugh. He’s pummeled, stripped and robbed. No one helps. They’re too busy taping it on their smartphones. That’s how we heard their laughter. The video is on YouTube along with the latest McDonalds beat-down and the latest store surveillance tapes of flash mobs. Groups of teenagers swarm into stores, rob everything they can, and run out. The phenomenon is on the rise across the country. Police now have a nickname for it: “flash robs.”

That’s just the young, you say. Juvenile delinquency is as old as history.

Let’s turn to adults.

Also starring on YouTube this week was the sobbing woman. She’s the poor traveler who began to cry great heaving sobs when a Transportation Security Administration agent at the Madison, Wis., airport either patted her down or felt her up, depending on your viewpoint and experience. Jim Hoft of recorded it, and like all the rest of the videos it hurts to watch. When the TSA agent—an adult, a middle aged woman—was done, she just walked away, leaving the passenger alone and uncomforted, like a tourist in Baltimore.

There is the General Services Administration scandal. An agency devoted to efficiency is outed as an agency of mindless bread-and-circuses indulgence. They had a four-day regional conference in Las Vegas, with clowns and mind readers…

Read the rest here.

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  • P. Aaron

    What”s the matter Peggy? You finally puke up the ‘O’ koolaid?

  • BuddyG

    Reaping the rewards of moral relativism.

  • http://yours? old glazier

    Don’t you have an important “event” to attend Peggy? Just another daily scrum or two for average americans to deal with down here in the trenches.

  • Really??

    Interesting that NOW at last Ms. Noonan has “seen the light” after all those pro-Obama-the least qualified President ever-columns she wrote beginning in 2008. One of my mentors-an AfiricanAmerican ex Sarge and former Olympic competitor-drilled this bit of observation into my young mush brains: “Sh!t rolls downhill”. Translated:look to the top leadership to know what is coming next.
    Ms. Noonan: you are a day late and a dollar short.

  • Watcher

    As if the so called republican ELITE from the Northeast are any different than the democorrupts. The elites are clueless and scorn we the hoipoiloi, Ms. Noonan included. The political class of all stripes are so isolated from the real country in their northeastern enclaves of privilege that they lost contact with the rest of the country fifty years ago.

  • MAC

    Well let’s see, forty years of “do gooder” government and gyno-marxism. Forty years of single mothers raising boy children into boy men. In our culture the art of manliness and chivalry is dying. No one helped the victim for a basic reason, no one was qualified. In our brave new world only credential teachers know what’s good for children and only the state (police)is qualified to save anyone from a beating. Try to step in and save a victim, you’re mostly going to get arrested.

  • Gary

    If anybody recalls, the libs really descended on that thread last week. Dozens of post repeating only one point: the TSA was started under Bush.
    The thread got up near 300 posts before they finally gave up.

  • ebayer

    See,and after WWII,they said,”It could never happen here”

    It can,it will and it does,happen here.
    Instead of coming from the right,it’s coming from the left.

    Sieg Heil
    (Characteristic of a cult of personality, it was adopted in the 1930s by the Nazi Party to signal obedience to the party’s leader )

  • Gary

    The original thread if anybody cares. I was playing last man standing with some real mindless Obamabots.

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  • SeniorD

    Ms. Noonan is spot on regarding the content of her essay. America is rudderless in the sea of moral relativism permeating today’s society. As a culture, Americans have no clue as to the character of even ‘The Greatest Generation’.

    Considering the comments in this thread, ad hominem attacks on Ms. Noonan support her premise of no character.

    She’s thrown down the gauntlet – is anyone going to accept her challenge?

  • Winston Wolfe

    Well, it sure is a good thing we’ve got a calm, reasoned, experienced leader in the White House to help guide us through these times, huh.

  • Lemonaide

    What we’re seeing is trickle down ethics. Leadership sets the tone and standard for those not rooted in Chtistianity.

  • P. Aaron

    Senior D. We’ve been out here, those Americans that care about our country and have character. For so long, we’ve been told ‘character’ doesn’t matter. Only to find that it’s all that matters, we were made fun of and banished.

    Character has ALWAYS been a factor in preserving our Constitutionally limited government.

    We remember Noonan selling us out over Obama’s rhetoric. She got in on the ‘hope & change’ vibe and failed to EXAMINE Obama’s past, or his present.

    Because folks like Noonan wrote us off for DARING to question Obama’s words and past deeds. We hurl invective in herndirection. She left us, and any examination of Obama’s character in search of a Demi-god.

    Noonan needs to examine her own premises before she starts the roll call for the rest of us.

  • http://yours? old glazier

    #11 Senor D Sorry for not hurrying to come, fetch, set, and heel Ms. Noonan’ homily. If not for the internet, everyday occurrances would rarely penetrate her orb. Sorry you RINOS need social conservaives every 4 yrs. or so, but that’s how it is. Favorite Noonan quote? “normal is overrated”. See you at the club, TaTa!

  • Dwayne the canoe guy

    The problem with 76% thinking we’re not in the right track is this, How many think the right track is turning around and how many think the right track is going in the same direction only faster? I talk to folks who say this country is on the wrong track because we gave a Tea Party and vocal conservatives.

    A poll like this means nothing unless you define “Right track”

  • James

    peggy noonan supported obama, the worst president in american history and she is responsible for him.

  • jt

    The TSA was created by the right wingnuts under Herr Bush. You can pretend whatever you’d like, a fact is a fact.

  • StrangernFiction

    She’s thrown down the gauntlet

    Peggy Noonan throwing down the gauntlet?

    If you say so.

  • S. Wolf

    ‘What’s terrible about this story is that for anyone who’s ever seen the Secret Service up close it’s impossible to believe. The Secret Service are the best of the best.’

    Not any more. The SS is now the best of the mediocre.

    ‘In New York the past week a big story has been about 16 public school teachers who can’t be fired even though they’ve acted unprofessionally. What does “unprofessionally” mean in New York? Sex with students, stalking students, and, in one case, standing behind a kid, simulating sex, and saying, “I’ll show you what gay is.”‘


    ‘The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people who have enough years on them to judge with some perspective.

    Something seems to be going terribly wrong.’

    Oh yes, never before did an illegal immigrant like Hussein ever run for the presidency let alone get elected. That itself is terribly wrong and everything else flows from that.