Why are so many politicians bad at politics?
That was the observation posed by Peggy Noonan, the latest impressive guest speaker for The LeMieux Center for Public Policy, who spoke on Palm Beach Atlantic University’s campus Tuesday evening.
“It’s a people business,” Noonan said, yet it apparently attracts some who aren’t skilled at dealing with people. Noonan should know, having worked as a speech writer for Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush before going on to become an author of eight books and an influential columnist for The Wall Street Journal on American politics, history and culture.
In support of her points, Noonan pointed to the ego-driven behavior of some presidential hopefuls noting, “Would John Kennedy have talked about leading in the polls? Would Ronald Reagan?”
Just a day after the results of the Iowa caucuses, Noonan shared her assessment of the presidential contenders with an eager audience that filled the campus’ DeSantis Family Chapel.
With a near draw between the leading Democratic candidates, Noonan said that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders “emerged somewhat bloodied,” a far different outcome than what had been expected.
On the Republican side, she called Ted Cruz’s showing “a real victory” with Donald Trump “embarrassed and humbled’ by his second-place finish after his lead in the polls. Noonan credited Marco Rubio for withstanding the attacks by supporters of Jeb Bush to finish a strong third place. “Bush has a sense that he’s not going anywhere (withdrawing), and Rubio isn’t either,” Noonan said.
With both sides having dramatic outcomes, Noonan advised political watchers to “expect the unexpected” as the primary season unfolds.
In response to a question about whether the anger of the electorate is being reflected in modern politics, Noonan surmised, “As people become less educated, serious and grounded, they become more emotional. That’s part of it.” She noted that some candidates appear to be “over the top, theatrical” in an effort to “break through the media clutter.”
Noonan summed up her attraction to politics, saying that she “loves the humor and craziness.”
Prior to her public remarks, Noonan met with 25 students who form the President’s Lyceum and with a group of LeMieux Center supporters.