In her latest column, Peggy Noonan warns about the “ranters,” but it’s worth noting who she is talking about. Unlike many who criticize talk radio (especially when the name Rush Limbaugh appears), Noonan is not lying about people’s records. And while you might say she’s a romantic, waxing nostalgic about the late “elders” of the media, every civilization can probably do with some civic romanticism.
I think it’s hard for anyone giving Noonan’s column an honest read to disagree with its ending:
[I]t’s still possible to set an example, encourage the helpful, stand for the good, pass on the lore, take responsibility. The new Elders will have to rescue America from the precipice. They’ll have to be mature, think of the collective, of the country as a whole. If they don’t do it, who will? If they don’t lead through this polarized time, who can? People who are 25 and 30 can’t. They haven’t been around long enough and don’t have the sway. They’re the guests on the broadcasts, not the executive producers. The new Elders are. And they’ll have obits someday too. Their careers will be captured in eulogies, leaving their children proud, or not. In a way you’re writing your own obit every day. You’re making the lead paragraph positive and constructive, or not. Someone’s going to sum you up one day. You want to live your professional life in a way that they can write good things.
Of course, not just so they can write good things, but because the “good” is the thing.
It’s wise. It’s patriotic grace. It doesn’t hurt.