Peggy Noonan Knows How Foreigners Think

Breathy Reaganite Peggy Noonan has lived. She has stayed in a hotel, traveled to darkest Brooklyn, and even seen a Mexican. Who better to explain this world of ours—this world, a wide one—to us, the Americans, the brave, the free?

America. Is it still shining, upon a hill? For now we have a hill called "Syria," blocking our vision, eroding our image, a stumbling block, if you will, to send us, a proud nation, stumbling and tripping, like a man off balance. A man named Ronald Reagan, perhaps? Perhaps, yes.

So what do those mysterious foreigners think of us now? What is the image of "America," in the impenetrable mind of the gentle savage abroad? Peggy Noonan explains:

The world knows a lot about us, and in ways removed from specific military actions. Their elites come here, and increasingly their middle class. They know our unemployment problem—it's not a secret. They take the train from New York to Washington and see the abandoned factories. They know about our budget problems, they know who holds our bonds. They read about the kids who are bored so they killed the visiting Australian baseball player, and the kids so bored they killed a World War II veteran. They read about the state legislator who became a hero because she tried to make sure babies can be aborted at nine months—they see the fawning interviews. They go home with the story of the guy who spent his time watching violent videos and then, amazingly, acted out his visions of violence at the Washington Navy Yard. They notice our mass killings are no more than two-day stories.

The foreigners—they are carrying Peggy Noonan's royal carriage. They see what she sees, and go where she goes, and watch the television programs she watches, as they sweat and strain, feeling their muscles tremble, trying to remain impassive, supporting the full weight of Peggy Noon's reclining form, in contemplation. Not so hard to understand then, are they?

[WSJ. Photo: Getty]