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Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now Hardcover – September 30, 2008
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About the Author
Peggy Noonan is the best-selling author of seven books on American politics, history, and culture. Her essays have appeared in Time, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other publications. She lives in New York City.
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It is not an insignificant note that the book is dedicated to Senators McCain and Obama (among others).
Noonan begins with two powerful metaphors. The first recounts the story of brave, scared GIs, all huddled together in Higgins Boats headed accross the Channel to their unsought, but undenied, rendez-vous with destiny at Omaha Beach. The second is an accounting of a serious (but ultimately false) bomb scare that scattered dignitaries assembled in the White House for President Reagan's funeral. A wheel-chair bound older woman could not descend the stairs until she was quietly lifted up by others and carried to safety.
In both cases everyone knew that they needed to rely on the skills and strength, bravery and humanity of one another for their mere survival. And so, posits Noonan, it is now the same in America and for all Americans. The author urges that we must all learn, and expect, to carry one another - literally and figuratively - in a post 9/11 world that is more surly, more dangerous, and less accommodating of American arrogance and hubris than in the past. This means reducing/eliminating the symbols and distinctions that have increasingly divided us: red state/blue state; liberal/conservative; Democrat/Republican. These are the emblems of the past which do not serve us well in the future,
Noonan spends much time translating the meaning of the Bush years into a series of 14 common sense suggestions, and painful lessons, from which the next President, and coming generations can hopefully learn. They are too numerous to mention in a brief review, but, they clearly include comporting ourselves with a greater degree of grace and accommodation, both internally and internationally, to listen more to one other and to scream less at each other, and to work much harder at being a true beacon that other world communities strive to become.
And, all of this is written in a style as though the conversation were being held between the Author and her Reader. You read it. You understand it. You believe it. You want the new dialogue to begin.
Let's hope that our alleged leaders are listening. The world has changed and bad things have happened to the United States in this Millennium. Noonan predicts that even worse things are not only possible, but likely - which only accelerates the need to reduce and eliminate the noise and the bravado and the partisanship and the hubris, and to figuratively join together in a new, national Higgins boat in which people and politicians serve not with greed and corruption and partisanship, but with heartfelt grace and dignity and respect, to rediscover, to redevelop and to rejoice in real American solutions.
This is a must read!
It arrived today, the day after the election. I read it in about three hours or so.
As one who did not vote for President-elect Obama, I believe it is a book (more like a long three part essay) which should be ordered for him, his Cabinet, and every member of the House and Senate. Everyone who cares about this country and it's status in the world would profit from reading it, as well.
I am sick and tired of the politics of this country since November 2000. The hatered, the excessive partisanship, the willingness to weaken the country for political advantage are debilitating and dangerous.
We do need change. What kind of change we get will determine our progress as a country and a free people. There is change which can be decorative and insubstantive. Or there is change which can try and lift up our standing as a country that is still capable of doing great things and adhering to the basic role of government.
President Obama is presented with a dangerous world and difficult times. The time for blame is past. If he wants to lead this nation to greatness and a renewed sense of unity, he has that opportunity. If he choses otherwise it will have been a great opportunity squandered and the results can be not only demoralizing, but deadly.
Peggy Noonan speaks from a troubled heart, but with a great love of this country and we would all do well to hear her.
A problem emerges in the advances of modern communication where people are able to more rapidly post anonymously information that can be read by many more people than in the past. This can allow for more creative voices to rise, and it can lead to more destructive voices being heard.
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were a defining moment for our entire country. It united us, yet that unity was a delicate one. The author believes this unity has fallen apart and she attributes it to an overconfident national Republican leadership that did not believe it needed help and support from those outside its inner circles by reaching out to Democrats and to Democrats that became critical of the actions by the Republican leadership. The nation fell into a partisan divide. Noonan believes the Bush Administration make a mistake by encouraging supporters to bash opponents before the press, the Internet, on blogs, etc. This contributed to the widening of the divide of the political divide. She notes that 60 percentage points was the difference between the percent of Republicans who supported the Iraq War and the percent of Democrats who supported the Iraq War.
Noonan, a self-described "Reagan Republican", believes the Bush Administration destroyed a reputation that Republicans had spent a half century building on foreign policy matters. The author supports the war in Iraq but believes that Bush failed to properly explain the need to go to war. The Bush White House issued its sentiments for their actions but failed to provide the facts needed to convince most of the people. The public lost faith in their leaders.
Noonan warns we need to be better prepared for the challenges facing us. People will need to learn to work together instead of against each other. She argues for a stronger foreign policy and more civil defense preparation. She specifically concludes that the Homeland Security Department should be broken into smaller departments will clearly defined missions and responsibilities.