Are you a “great American”?

What does a “great American” who disagrees with President Obama do?  Pray for him.  Peggy Noonan, who has already informed Obama about her own prayer-activities on his behalf, says that the Right to Life march prayed for the president during the inauguration–“as great Americans, which is what they are, would.”   Readers have criticized me for being too prickly about public announcements of prayer, so I will assume that Noonan merely means to say that “great Americans” wish their president well and that she is making no claims about the relationship between good citizenship and religiosity.

Noonan warns Obama that “radical movement on abortion” would rouse the “sleeping giant  that is American conservatism.”  Maybe so.  But many conservatives are just as worried that a Democratic Congress is about to give government an all but permanent role in the economy, thus impairing the dynamism and entrepreneurship that is America’s greatest economic asset.

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31 Responses to Are you a “great American”?

  1. That’s true, but conservatism’s idea that the free market will take care of everything if government keeps its hands off has failed (and is failing) quite spectacularly. There will be reregulation of a lot of things and it’s none too soon.

    like the site so far, btw. I’m not used to seeing conservatives who actually are reasonable.

  2. Susan says:

    A few posters here have vigorously maintained that God hears and answers all prayers. If that’s indeed the case, Ms. Noonan will be in the lucky position of being able to say that she got that for which she prayed, whatever she prayed for and whatever happens. Frankly, I stopped reading her pieces years ago when my treacle absorption threshold reached its limit.

  3. Ken_K says:

    I wonder how Christians like Noonan would take it if “non-traditional” religious types told Obama that they “will sacrifice a goat for you”? People should refrain from this sort of thing out of simple politeness and courtesy.

  4. gs says:

    (Having stopped reading Noonan after her Palin episode, I didn’t click on the links.)

    The Rovian “giant that is American conservatism” barely won the 2004 election against the ludicrous Kerry, and was decisively rejected in 2006. Schiavo…flag desecration…stem cells…Internet gambling…Intelligent Design…every single one a winning national issue, right?

    Speaking of Palin, I had hoped that she might resurrect a modernized Reagan coalition. That possibility is not dead, but Sarah has studyin’ and explainin’ to do before I consider resuming my support.

  5. Bad says:

    I’m not sure what the proper courtesy is, but I think people need to be a little more clear what they mean when they say that they “prayed for” somebody. That’s about as vague as saying that I talked about somebody. Well, what did I say? What was my position? Did the NRTL folks pray for Obama’s health? Pray for his now damned soul to be shown mercy in hell? Pray that angels will fly down and alter Obama’s position on abortion by mucking around in his brain? What was the content of their wishes?

  6. Joel says:

    God answers all prayers, but sometimes the answer is no. Nice try.

  7. That is the beauty of prayer. You don’t have to have an intelligent opinion, you don’t have to actually do anything helpful, yet you can be seen as noble and above reproach.

  8. Bill says:

    Glad I found this site.

    Have worked for years with my local Republican Party and have always been frustrated with all the kowtowing to the members of the Christian Right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m Christian myself, but I don’t believe in wearing my religion on my sleeve.

    Many issues of the Christian Right (Shaivo, Abortion, etc.), in my opinion, should be up to the voters of a particular state and NOT part of the national platform of the party. By contrast most of the issues of the “Secular Conservatives” should be – and MUST be – part and parcel of the national party platform (economics, capitalism vs. socialism, the proper role of government in our lives).

    The abortion issue is a case in point. For many years, the issue was decided on a state by state basis (by the voters). Then came Roe v. Wade which made it a federal issue. Conservatives decried federal meddling in what, by rights, was a state issue. Today, the same people who decried federal intervention in state affairs are now pushing federal intervention in the opposite direction.

    It seems to me, that conservatives of all stripes, should be against the federal intervention in either direction. This is consistent with our limited government philosophy. Federalizing the issue goes against the “Prime Directive” of limited government.

    Glad I’m not the only one who feels that religion has its place in our society but it’s place is NOT in politics.

  9. Steve from Wisconsin says:

    I’m pretty tired of hearing the mainstream media refer to Peggy Noonan as a conservative. They also say the same about Kathleen Parker, Dazvid Brooks, and George Will. These people are not conservative voices at all, and when they refer to them as such, they show just how liberal the MSM really is.

  10. Cathy says:

    Oh my gosh.

    So I’m not the only one who’s stopped reading Noonan.

    I wrote her recently and told her so.

    I figured it was like spitting in the ocean, but if enough of us did it . . . well, I like to think we at least rocked her boat.

  11. Marcus says:

    From what I read it was obvious she meant that above all else their love of country is demonstrated by their prayerful support of Obama. The “great American” reference is pointed at the fact that they are offering their respectful form of support to a new President.

    When you pray for someone you simply ask the Lord to provide guidance and support to that person. I think it’s a little nit-picky to say “So what exactly did you pray for Him to do?” Prayer for someone is an act of love, and the act is a way to bear your heart to help someone. Many times you don’t know how they can be helped, but you leave it to God to do as He wishes.

  12. Paul says:

    I think you’re being a little too sensitive on this. I’m no fan of Peggy Noonan, but I think she indeed meant prayer as akin to “wishing one well.” Some people have a religious ritual of this “well-wishing.” It’s called prayer. I don’t see it as anymore offensive or ridiculous than wishing someone luck.

    Susan, if someone told me they’d sacrifice a goat for me, I’d probably just say thanks. I may not agree that it would help me in any way, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Or are you equated the slaughtering of an animal with speaking to one’s God?

  13. msd says:

    There are two people who I will neither watch on TV, listen to on radio, or read in print or online: Peggy Noonan and John McCain. I pray the former doesn’t gag on her own treacle (perfect word, Susan)and that the latter doesn’t fall and break a leg as he crosses the aisle to stab conservatives in the back.

  14. Lisa E says:

    I can’t fathom the burden of going through life continually offended by the mention of anything remotely religious. Must take gobs of energy to be mad all the time.

    I had a really lovely day with my family. I appreciate the way this site helps me not take simple things like smiling and being happy and enjoying things for granted.

  15. America says:

    That’s the great thing about America, if you want to say you’d like to pray for someone, THAT is free speech. And if someone else wants to say they’d like to sacrifice a goat, too, well then that’s their right!! It’s jerks that get their little feelings hurt by the bare MENTION of prayer that is wrong with MANY on the left! Freedom to speak your mind. Whether someone else likes it or not!!

  16. harry flashman says:

    As a non-religious, and in some cases, anti-religious conservative (we do exist), I offer the following cynics in rebuttal.

    The Bard of Baltimore, H.L. MENCKEN – “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”

    And the incomparbale AMBROSE BIERCE – “Pray – v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.”

    Conversly, many world leaders have found great social utility in religion and have echoed Napolean’s observation on the subject – “Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.”

    It would not be too hard to imagine the lumpen proleteriat, the “Great Unwashed,” unencumbered by the threats and guilts instilled and inculcated on them by their various mythologies, removed.

    I’m sure someone else can define “anarchy.”

  17. Don L says:


    Prayer makes you seen as “noble and above reproach?”

    It does a lot of things – including most importantly, keeping you close to your Creator, but in this post-Christain (read as anti-Christian)world, the heathen and God haters come running out of the dark shadows to excoriate anyone who dares to mention anything good about religion.

  18. Thrasymachus says:

    Wishful thinking on Noonan’s part. The pro-life movement has only ever exercised any influence through the Republican coalition, which is utterly dead, partly due to people like Noonan.

  19. Theophilus says:

    My prayer for the president is that he will serve out his one and only term in good health and retire to Illinois in obscurity.

  20. Theophilus says:

    @Steel Phoenix
    Yeah, you should try it some time, Phoenix.

  21. Naomi Stan says:

    We conservatives aren’t dead, we’re just in hiding. When you hear Obama saying things like “We are no longer a Christian Nation if we ever where. We are a Jewish, Hindu, and non-believing nation.” Even in his big speech on Tuesday he added non-believers to his list of believers. Because non-believers have to not believe in something. Sort of like I don’t believe in Obama. What do we pray. We pray that Obama will be blocked in his aggressive stand against abortion. We pray that he’ll not destroy all that our fore fathers worked and died for. We pray that the Dems. won’t succeed in turning this country into France, and we pray that before it’s too late people see what’s going on and do something about it. That the clouds of personality are washed from their brains and they start thinking like rational humane beings again.

  22. Susan says:

    Where does Noonan get the idea that abortion is the foremost issue in the minds of a majority of people? Or even a major issue?

  23. Jeeves says:

    Frankly, I stopped reading her pieces years ago when my treacle absorption threshold reached its limit.

    Susan, you have a lot of company. Her “prose” became gooier the more she reached for profundity.

    That Sleeping Giant stuff is a real howler and proves once again that she’s a one-trick pony.

    I wonder if she’s praying to the God of her church–the one that I presume denies her communion because she’s divorced.

  24. Caledonian says:

    There is a difference between praying for someone, and announcing that you’re praying for someone.

    One is basically harmless because it has no particular effect, and one is quite offensive for a variety of reasons.

  25. gs says:

    Elections can be won by misleading the public (sometimes deliberately, sometimes in good faith). In principle, I don’t fault the religious right for praying for their opponents.

    But I wish they spent more time praying for the insight to recognize when they are wrong.

    (Is your team getting consistently crushed in big games? No need to change strategy. Just pray for your opponents’ souls.)

  26. Eric says:

    A Secular Conservative Great American who disagrees with The One needs only to speak against such policies and try to persuade and influence others to abandon the failings of bigger government control. And speaking as a great American Secular Conservative, it would not offend me in the least to have Peggy Noonan pray for me simply from the fact that she is performing a very personal and important act (for her) intended for my benefit. What is there to be upset about if a secularist truly is settled in one’s beliefs?

  27. Susan says:

    Paul, please read the posts a little more carefully. I wasn’t the author of the slaughtered goat comment. You should address your response to him.

  28. Donna B. says:

    My answer to the slaughtered goat question is… will there be BBQ and beer?

  29. Ken_K says:

    Conflating free speech with acceptance of bad manners and annoying behavior isn’t much of an argument.

  30. gene berman says:

    Russell Miller:

    And what do you see as the major failures of the free market? Most of the “failures” for which the free market is faulted turn out, when examined, to be actually instances of the failure of government regulation of the market. Anything resembling the market that could be termed “free” hasn’t existed in over a century.

    The single general area in which the market is ill-equipped to deal with frequently-arising problems has to do with the phenomenon called the “tragedy of the commons,” including pollution of many kinds, etc. (and these can sometimes be addressed by the creation of “property rights” in areas previously exempted.

    And, most certainly, the periodic recessions and financial debacles have absolutely no relationship to any concept of market freedom: in fact, these occurrences are the direct (and predictable) result of coercive (government) interference with markets (most especially in the area of currency and “management” of its quantity).

  31. Kevembuangga says:

    gene berman
    And what do you see as the major failures of the free market?

    An inability to reach for “collective goods” against short term incentives.
    When talking about collective goods I do NOT mean leftists do gooders delusionsal wishes, I mean something that ALL participants in a group desire.
    See Mancur Olson’s book “The Logic of Collective Action”.

    Quoting from Michael Nielsen’s blog:
    What Olson shows in the book is that although all parties in a group may strongly desire and benefit from a particular collective good (e.g., a stable climate), under many circumstances they will not take individual action to achieve that collective good. In particular, they often find it in their individual best interest to act against their collective interest. The book has a penetrating analysis of what conditions can cause individual and collective interests to be aligned, and what causes them to be out of alignement.

    And don’t forget Mencken:
    “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

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