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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Peggy Noonan’s “The Time Of Our Lives”

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Peggy Noonan joins me today to discuss her new book, The Time of Our Lives.

Along with Joseph Epstein I think of her of one of the great wordsmiths of our time, and thus am intimidated by her.  That intimidation dates back to 1985 when, as a young lawyer in the White House, I wouldn’t sit at the round table in the White House Mess if Peggy was there.  I was simply afraid of saying stupid things around this fountain of eloquence.

Today, though, we’ll talk. Don’t miss it.




HH: So pleased to welcome as a guest this hour Peggy Noonan, who has a brand new book, The Time Of Our Lives, out. Peggy, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show, it’s great to have you here.

PN: Hugh, it’s an honor and a pleasure. I thank you very much.

HH: It’s really my pleasure, but I’m going to start with a critique.

PN: Okay.

HH: I finished The Time Of Our Lives, and my favorite Peggy Noonan essay was not in there, of all of them. I’ll talk about it. It’s the November 2nd, 2000 essay that you wrote, Bush, A Modest Man Of Faith, which was prophetic. And it included this closing couple of graphs. “The next president may well be forced to shepherd us through the first nuclear event since World War II, the first terrorist attack or missile. When it comes, if it comes, the credibility, the trustworthiness of the American president will be key to our national survival. We may not be able to sustain a president who is known for his tendency to tell untruths. If we must get through a terrible time, a modest man of good faith is the one we’ll need in charge.” I’m just curious, why didn’t you put that in the book?

PN: My goodness, I suspect I remember seeing it. I remember going through it. I had a big section on each president. I don’t know the reason it’s not in there. I sort of feel abashed at the moment. It sounds to me like it should be.

HH: Well, it’s prophetic. I’ve quoted it in my own books as saying the only person who had an intimation of what was ahead of us was Peggy Noonan. But it’s so great to have you. Let me tell you what I love about the book. I love your introduction on writing, especially your comment, “We are part of an era in which we live. We must fully see this and pitch in. That’s a John XXIII quote. Do now walk through time without having worthy evidence of your passage.” Quite a high bar.

PN: Yeah, well, but it’s the sort of thing you think of as you do your career, and as you do your family, as you do the important parts of your life, isn’t it? It’s like do your best. Pitch in. You are part of something huge. We all forget it, because we’re all caught in the dailiness of life, but we’re actually, all of us together, living out history. I actually think that.

HH: There’s also an admission of modesty here which I like. You find things that you got wrong when you look back. I hesitate to look back, because I’m sure I’ve gotten so much wrong, but you were brave.

PN: You know, you’ve just got to. When you have been doing what we do, which is react to the world around us, very often, the political world, sometimes the historical world, sometimes the cultural, when you are reacting in real time to that world, to those worlds, honey, you’re just going to get some big ones wrong, you know?

HH: You’re going to swing and miss.

PN: And just admit. I mean, it’s absurd not to.

HH: Well, well said. You also tell me the story I did not know that Bartley got you started, and he sent you Helprin’s A Soldier Of The Great War, which along with A Prayer For Owen Meany are the two novels I recommend to young people all the time.

PN: Oh, my goodness. Well, Bob Bartley adored Mark Helprin’s work. I mean, who doesn’t? Mark Halprin is a genuinely great novelist who also unusually is a genuinely great essayist and op-ed writer when he feels like it. And Bartley just came to me when he wanted me to start writing in the early days for the Wall Street Journal page, he came to me with that book, with a paragraph, and I can’t remember which paragraph it was, about a third of the way through the book. It was a descriptive paragraph from Mark Helprin’s book, and he tapped it. He didn’t even say anything. He tapped it and gave it to me to read. And what he was communicating was that’s what I want. I want you to be like Mark. Mark just does it Mark’s way. You do it your way.

HH: That’s a very high bar.

PN: Oh, yeah.

HH: That should tell you that would be intimidating. You write as well, and this is something I wish every college student who’s studying journalism would get into their heads, or inscribe and put on their desk. There is no crying in baseball, and there is no blockage in journalism. You have deadlines. You meet them.

PN: You got it, baby. You know, that was lucky for me. You know I say in the book, I write about my beginnings. I started out at CBS. I’ve got to tell you, Hugh, at CBS, I had hour lead deadlines. There was no waiting for the muse to come and pat me on the head. I had to write news, and I had to get it to an editor at 15 minutes before the hourly show went on. And honey, when you have to do it, you find you can do it, because you’ve got to make that paycheck. You’ve got to be starting a career. You can’t just say oh, it’s not in me. You do it.

HH: You do it. You say you were both a pioneer and the Last the of Mohicans, because you began writing columns even as there was a transition underway, and so you had to be the first to move into the new world, and the last at the same time, to maintain the Journal’s old standards. The Last of the Mohicans part, there aren’t many people left who can just be a columnist anymore in print. I don’t know if there’s anyone who can just do that anymore.

PN: There’s a number of syndicated columnists and big sheet newspapers columnists who are simply functioning as columnists who also do other things. I mean, many of them write books and make speeches and such, but I feel it’s just simply because of my age and where I am in terms of the times in which we live, I wound up 15 years ago being hired as a columnist for the Journal, so joining those who could make a living as columnist, while at the same time, I started out not in the paper, but in the internet, which made me part of a pioneering generation of columnists working simply on the net. And their reality was so different from that of newspaper columnists of the past.

HH: The biggest change is that the comments section is there. And you comment on a few comments you received, including the man who wished upon you an aneurysm.

PN: Yeah.

HH: And then in a beautiful turn of phrase, you said they arrive like arrows at Agincourt. Now I love that. You didn’t bother to explain it. You assume your readers will know what that meant, and I don’t know that they do.

PN: Well, yes. I say they do. I say they can, half of them recite the ‘we few, we happy few’ speech from Henry V.

HH: Oh, but the arrows at Agincourt falling like so the sun was blotted out. That is like the comments page. Do you wish that the comments page would go away? I took it off of my blog. I won’t let people comment on my stuff.

PN: Yeah, I understand that. Someone said on Twitter the other day the comments page is the hell of Heaven, you know?

HH: Well said.

PN: Heaven is being a writer or a bloviator, and the comments page brings you right back into the Devil’s work. So what do I think of it? I would enjoy comments pages more if people did not make up false names for themselves and claim to be who they claim they are. The anonymity of comments pages is lowering many standards, while at the same time, the miracle, and I mean this very seriously, of the comment section, is that after something big like, in my case, after 9/11/01, my comments page, which had previously been full of people saying great column, Ms. Noonan, or I hope you have an aneurysm, Ms. Noonan, that’s what you deserve, suddenly my comments page became a gathering place for people exactly like me who were in New York who say the towers come down, and who gathered every week and actually talked to each other. And people shared their stories in the comments section. It was so moving to me. It was so beautiful. I wound up quoting things from my comments sections in the next week’s column. So I will never forget that spontaneous community springing up when we were all so battered and wounded and frightened, too.

HH: And then it went away. And then it’s back, it’s even worse. I do want to tell people though you saw this board, you don’t do it for it very long, and I’m glad you do it, which is that women have a different burden when they’re writers. And I did a television show for ten years with a woman co-host, and every night, they would get called-in comments. None of them were ever about me. They were always about Patt Morrison, and they always critiqued how she looked. And I always thought man, what a double standard, and it’s become grosser, as you say. I believe your quote is our culture has become grosser.

PN: Yeah.

HH: That impacts women more than men, I believe.

PN: It does. I am, you know, I don’t do special pleading, because I don’t do it, and we don’t like it. That having been said, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina are all exactly correct when they say as women in public life in America, they are critiqued in a different, cruder, meaner way than is done of men on their level. If you are a woman who is a writer, in public, I mean, you know, going forward with your thoughts, and all thoughts are to some degree a provocation, you will face desperately awful comments from people. And you really, I mean, I talk about this in part because I want to talk to women who are doing what I do for a living. You have to not let that stuff enter your head, and it’s harder for women, I absolutely think.

HH: I think that you had some great mentors in Bill Safire and Bartley, and all those CBS radio greats that you were hanging around. We’ve got about 45 seconds to the break, Peggy. In many respects, you were very blessed before you ended up at the White House having worked with some giants.

PN: Absolutely. There were men all around me in there. I thought they were ancient. They were 58. They had lived through World War II with Ed Murrow. They had invented writing for thoughts going into your ear as opposed to your eye. I needed to learn that. I didn’t know I needed to learn it, but I sure did. And they taught it to me for free.

HH: An entire hour coming up with Peggy Noonan. Her brand new book, The Time Of Our Lives, is linked at

—- – – –

HH: Never has a bump tune been more appropriate for a book than that one for Peggy Noonan’s The Time Of Our Lives. I don’t know if you’re a Green Day fan, Peggy, but that is the appropriate music as you reminisce and go through here and add your side notes. There was one bit of bio about you I did not know. And that’s that Jane Jane and Etta would take you for long periods of time. They would speak Gaelic to their niece. Maybe you were a great-niece. They didn’t really want you around. It seems like from a different planet or even a different time that they were there, and yet they impacted you.

PN: Oh, they sure did. We’re going back to my real childhood. I mean, childhood as in age six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. These were two fabulous old women, old immigrants from Ireland who were my grandfather’s sisters. They lived in a little house out in barren, almost unpopulated Long Island in a town called Selden, which is now a vibrant suburb. But I used to be placed out there for weeks and sometimes months at a time as a child, and it was an odd place to be, but I learned something big about life in retrospect through my time with them. What did I learn? We were all alone. I mean, these were not people who had a phone. They didn’t have a car. There was little to do out there, but once a week, my great aunt, Jane Jane, would take me to the local store. Now there were no real local stores, but there was a store area five miles away, ten miles away, twenty miles away. And she would put on her little dress and her little black wool hat at high summer, and she would take me to the end of our road, which then was called Sanitarian Road, and we would wait for people to drive by, and we would hitchhike to the stores.

HH: That’s amazing.

PN: And then we’d spend a day walking around those stores in the air conditioning and loving it, and then we would hitchhike back with all sorts of people picking us up. I never told anybody the story of those days until very recently, like the past 18 months. I told it to my son, who’s now a grown man. He listened to me, and as I got to the end of the story, I said and nobody killed us.

HH: And nobody killed…well, she would say, she would call out, we’re going to Selden, could you be taking us?

PN: Yes.

HH: And I just thought that’s a beautifully-phrased appeal from her.

PN: Well, she had a real Irish accent. And she would just, she kind of thought people would take pity on us, or be bemused, and they would, you know, they didn’t, the first car didn’t necessarily say yes, but sooner or later, the third or fourth car, they’d look at us, this ancient woman, this little girl, little unkempt seven or eight year old, and they’d say sure, get in. Sometimes, truck drivers picked us up. We’d be in the back of the truck. Sometimes, businessmen, traveling salesmen, and you know, what we were doing was dangerous, but Jane Jane somehow didn’t know, and I was a child. What did I know? She didn’t think it was dangerous, I didn’t. But the larger point about Selden and my experiences there is that, Hugh, it was a little bit scary and unprotected out there, and yet there was something I could really rely on to make me feel better, and it was putting on TV. In 1958, and in 1962, that’s when I first saw Ronald Reagan, on, I think, Death Valley Days. But the American culture at that time, you’d put on the radio, it was benign, and it was sweet, and it was the sort of thing, the stories they told on TV were stories about how good triumphs, and people take care of each other. It was an optimistic culture. And it was very lucky for me, because it made me feel better, and it made me feel dreamy about life. And it made me feel safe, and it sort of preserved my sense of optimism and happiness, and helped me go forward into the world. So I’m very grateful for the old America that served as a protective force for kids.

HH: You note at one point that parents would basically say go out and play in America. That’s how you phrased it.

PN: Yeah.

HH: That’s gone. That’s gone.

PN: It is, and that’s a real psychic loss. I’m telling you, when, you know when all these polls that you and I cover, the right track/wrong track polls come out and they say oh, 78% of the American people think we’re on the right track? That’s because the economy’s down and the Mid-East is blowing up. Honey, it’s in part about parents can’t say to their kids go play in America, I’ve got to clean the house. They can’t let them out at 8 in the morning, and the kids would come home at 6 at night, and they know the kids will come home safe. Parents have to be helicopters now. They don’t like that. Kids get paranoid about what they hear about on the news. So do parents. So this is an actual cultural loss that nobody comments upon, but that is…

HH: But it’s profound.

PN: …as you see, a preoccupation of mine.

HH: Well, there are many things. I’m going to skip around in the essay now, and just entice people to go out and pick up The Time Of Our Lives, because they will enjoy it whether they read it front to back as I did, or they just dip in and out. You write about Tim Russert, and you say the world admires and wants to hold onto, and not lose goodness. It admires virtues. At the end, it gives its greatest tributes to generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well-used, talents that brought into the world make it better. That’s what it really admires. That’s what we talk about in our eulogies, because that’s what’s important. And I think you know, that alone is worth the price of the book, Peggy.

PN: Oh, thank you, Hugh. I really, I often think about young people, and I literally, I began that essay with the words the world is a liar. The world tells you you want fame, and you want to be Beyonce. It tells you you want wealth and you want to be Jay-Z. It tells you you want these things. Guess what? They’re not even important. What’s important is that you be a decent human being.

HH: I also appreciated at a couple of places, you talk about Lady Thatcher. And going to her funeral, it’s a very neat, little anecdote, the Queen and Prince Philip were there honoring a prime minister for the first time since they had attended Churchill, even despite the scandalous treatment by her papers. But you come a few chapters later, and you talk about how Meryl Streep actually inhabited Thatcher the way I say Frank Langella inhabited Nixon in Frost. But you got a special seat at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. That’s a wonderful aside.

PN: Do you know, it was, it’s funny. One of the things I do in the book is I will show you a column that I like, that you know, looking back I think I respect that. I was throwing the ball hard that day. But then afterwards, I will tell you some background on things that happened around the column. The thing that happened with Margaret Thatcher is that she died, I was invited to the funeral, I was honored to be invited. I was told to go to London and go to a certain place to pick up a ticket, be at a certain place at St. Paul’s, they’ll let you in. So I walk in. I’m not an important person in Margaret Thatcher’s life. I’m not English. I’m not someone from her government. So I walk in knowing all of the tickets were colored, and I knew my color was probably a bad color, and I’d be in the back of the cathedral. I don’t care. I was so honored to be there. So I walk in, and an usher looks at my ticket, and says go forward. A hundred yards later, another usher. Go forward. Another, go forward. I wound up sitting, I can’t remember the number, I think it was eight or nine rows behind the Royal Family, and I could not understand that. And I was shocked by it. And as I say, I kept waiting to be told, I was slightly irritated, because I knew I was going to be told Miss, you’re in the wrong seat.

HH: (laughing)

PN: And one of these officious ushers are going to say get out of there, lady, you’re supposed to be in the back. But nobody came. At a point, I turned around and looked at the whole crowd, and I saw a woman who I didn’t know. She looks at me and she mouths the words, she read my mind. She knew I was confused. And she said the words, mouthed them, she loved you.

HH: It’s a terrific story, of there are dozens and scores of them in Peggy Noonan’s new book, The Time Of Our Lives.

— – – –

RR: And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it’s hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted. It belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.

HH: Welcome back, America, it’s Hugh Hewitt. 34 minutes after the hour, and I’m at the Kirby Center of Hillsdale College in Washington, D.C. talking with Peggy Noonan, essayist of our time. Her brand new book is The Time Of Our Lives. It’s in bookstores everywhere. I’ve linked it at She penned the Challenger speech, which most of you will know, but you will not know that it’s Ben Elliott’s seven year old son who led to that paragraph. That’s a remarkable anecdote, Peggy Noonan.

PN: Oh, it really was. That was an amazing day, beginning to end, you can imagine, and a deeply painful and kind of shocked one, a nervous-making day. It was actually Ben Elliott who ran the speechwriting office for Reagan. It was his daughter, Meredith, who was a little girl at the time, a little grade school child. I still can’t remember why she went to work with her father that day, but she was my little friend. She used to hang out in my office. When it became clear that the Challenger had exploded, that this disaster had occurred, she walked musingly into my office, and she looked at me, and she said the teacher was on the rocket. Is the teacher okay? And it immediately pierced me, pierced my head that the schoolchildren throughout the country had been watching the launch of the Challenger, because there was a teacher, a fabulous woman named Christa McAuliffe on board as a civilian for the first time, first teacher in space. And I knew the President, you know, that chaos ensues when things like such a disaster happen. I knew the President would have to speak. I knew he’d have to speak fairly quickly. And I knew that he would have to address, in fact, children while not patronizing anybody, and addressing adults, and Hugh, addressing the world, because this was also a sort of military disaster, and we were at the height of the U.S.-Soviet conflict. So we had to make a few things clear about this doesn’t change anything.

HH: It’s a beautiful paragraph, as there are many. You write a lot about 9/11, and the impact that it had. In fact, in your essay, Courage Under Fire, where you talk about the 300 firemen lost on 9/11, not until today, my gramps was a fireman, 50 years, ended up as the fire chief in Ashtabula, I never thought about it until this morning when you wrote that those 300 firemen were like D-Day. They were invading into certainly, or at least extremely certain peril.

PN: Yeah, and they knew what they were getting into, too. They knew what had happened. They could see the smoke and the fire high up in those buildings. They saw the people running out and telling them what had happened. They were also experiencing those people who were called the jumpers. They were not jumpers, but they were people who no longer could take the fire inside the building, and who were going to burn to death, and who started coming outside the building. Those firemen knew what they were going into. And just like the D-Day guys, by the way, they were wearing like 75 pounds of equipment as they walked floor after floor up through the towers to rescue people, to try to get them out of there, but also to see what could be done about the conflagration, if anything.

HH: Yeah, it changed everything. In fact, at one point you write in one of your columns, “My friends, this is the kind of column I used to do now and then before the world changed.” And I made a note the 9/11 impact is so deep and profound, I think, it’s going to take superb historians and a long stretch of history before we get it right. But we see bits of it every day. Co you continue to see, or reflect upon the big change of 15 years ago?

PN: You know, a self-reference, you’re reminding me that one of the gifts of being online and only online in those days was that I could do 5,000 word columns, and I did. That allowed me to cover 9/11 for one year, for 50 columns, in such a big way. And as I mentioned, this community sprang up. I’ll tell you one of the things that surprises me so far about 9/11, when it happened, you know, the psychic impact of such a moment, you can say it’s like Waterloo in a way. Waterloo had a huge impact one the psyche of Europe after that great battle, and after Napoleon lost. And Waterloo was followed by great art. You know, Tolstoy, Vanity Fair…

HH: Oh, and you like the 9/11 Museum, yeah.

PN: I beg your pardon?

HH: You like the 9/11 Museum quite a lot in one of your essays.

PN: I did, but I’m surprised that 9/11 has not, no one has ever yet done the great 9/11 novel. NO one has done the great 9/11 moment of art. But the 9/11 Museum, that underground museum down in downtown New York where the towers were, that’s a fabulous museum which had come under such fire in New York over goofy things like, oh, they’re selling vulgar trinkets in the gift shop. My goodness, when I was a kid and I went to museums, I lived for vulgar trinkets, you know?

HH: Amen on that. I’ll be right back.

— – – —

HH: There is an essay on privacy that connects with today’s headlines, Peggy. On Page 371, you write, “If you, complicated, little pirate that you find yourself, caught in the big, messy scandal in America right now, you can’t go to another continent to hide or ride out the storm. Earlier generations did exactly that. But you can’t, because you’ve been on the front page of every website, the lead on every newscast. You’ll be spotted in South Africa and Googled in Gdansk.” Ben Carson can’t get away from this today. No one can get away from anything today.

PN: Yeah, and it’s having a distorting effect on life. I tell a funny anecdote. Joan Rivers, who was a friend of mine, once told me, now this is going back about 15 years ago, maybe 20 years ago. She’d gone to Africa on safari. She’s walking along, you know, some little wooded path in Africa with a friend of hers, and suddenly, some tribesmen of a local tribe start coming towards her. And they both move slightly aside so they can pass each other, and one of the tribesmen looked at Joan and said Joan Rivers, what are you doing here? He’s an African tribesman. I said Joan, what does that tell you? She said American fame, American media has made fame universal now. Everybody can know everybody if they want to. And I said what does that mean? And she said there’s no place to hide.

HH: Yeah.

PN: Isn’t that something?

HH: Your Catholicism is also on display throughout The Time Of Our Lives, repeatedly. You taught a confirmation class. I’ve done that as well. My confirmation name is Matthew. What’s yours, by the way, Peggy?

PN: I’m Teresa, but I have to tell you, I cannot remember if I took Teresa for Teresa the Little Flower, or Teresa of Avila. I just don’t remember what I was thinking when I was 11.

HH: Well you reflect on that great requirement of the ceremony, do you renounce Satan and all of his works, and it caused me to write down a very personal question. When you go to confession, do you confess anger or injustice in your columns?

PN: Oh, God, yes. As a matter of fact, I had a very interesting, don’t get me on the subject of confession, because I love confession so much. For me, it’s like psychotherapy, but Jesus and the Saints are there. You know, you’re hoping the Holy Spirit is going to make all of this be helpful to you, and I will pour out anything and everything. And it’s just so helpful to me. But the, my story happens to be about six or nine months ago, I went to confession with the local priest, and I told him about something I’d done in the column, and I thought it was too tough. And it turns out he reads me, and he looked at me and he said it wasn’t too tough.

HH: (laughing)

PN: I said you don’t think so? And he said no, he said did you mean well when you wrote it? I said totally. He said no problem.

HH: You’re a braver person than I am. I also have to say I love your taste in TV. And you write movingly about the Sopranos, and I agree with you, by the way. Adriana’s most horrifying moment ever, and you mentioned I, Claudius and Upstairs, Downstairs, but did you watch Friday Night Lights, John Adams, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Rome, Sherlock, House of Cards, do you watch them all?
PN: I don’t watch them all. I watched Rome. I watched one other that you mentioned. I, everybody tells me I have to watch Game of Thrones. I’ve got to take a weekend and binge watch, because of its mythic quality and its characters representing essentials of human life in a Jungian way, do you know what I mean?

HH: Oh, yes.

PN: People actually say that, and I need to.

HH: And the wounded and yeah, the wounded and the disformed and the disfigured are the heroes in that. But I was most curious if you have watched Friday Night Lights, because it’s such a good series.

PN: Oh, I loved it. It was so, you know, it sounds like oh, football, Texas, Friday Night Lights, oh, it’s innocent, it’s the old America. No, it was acute and sophisticated and full of all the difficulties of modernity. It was fabulous.

HH: Now the one essay that upset your editor, and it upset him because you said these are the things that stay God’s hands. Pray unceasingly, take the time. What upset him the most?

PN: Oh, that is from, I have two long essays from Forbes Magazine…

HH: Yes.

PN: And the one on time wound up, it was written about, I can’t remember, 1997-1998, or ’99, but it essentially said at the end, look, we’re going to enter difficult times now. There are people who hate us. And when you think of the extremely bright, capable people who hate us most, it’s impossible to think they won’t be hitting New York and Washington at some point, and they’re going to hit us hard. So pray unceasingly, take the time. The editor wasn’t upset that I made a reference to prayer. He was upset that I was prophesying that America was going to get hit by terrorists. It hadn’t occurred to him, and it made him sort of anxious, and it made the other editors anxious.

HH: It’s inevitable, isn’t it?

PN: It sounded whacky at the time, do you know what I mean? People weren’t walking around saying that, but to me, one of the things you find out as a writer, and as a broadcaster, things that are very obvious to you in your head and your heart, they’re so obvious, you will say them. And then you find everybody else being startled, because actually, they’re not. Those ideas don’t exist in those people’s heads and hearts. So you can wind up in a funny position where you look a little odd. I mean, to these guys, I looked weird and dark.

HH: Huh, well let me assure the reader there’s a lot of fun in here. I didn’t expect to find Indians second baseman Jason Donald in here, or Armando Galarraga, or Jim Joyce when he blew the perfect game. I didn’t know you wrote about baseball. I missed that column entirely.

PN: I knew I liked baseball. I like baseball, and I liked watching the fights with my father when I was a kid. I used to watch the Friday night fights. I like baseball. I’m odd about baseball in that I don’t root for a team. I’m not one of those people who says Red Sox, Red Sox, or Yankees, Yankees. I just like baseball. I’ll watch any baseball game if I’m in a hotel and put on the TV. But I wrote more about baseball as I went through boxes containing 35 years of work. I found so much on baseball that actually didn’t even make the book, but a number of pieces did.

HH: Well, there’ll be a second one, then. One more segment coming up, America.

— – — –

HH: There is a theme in Peggy Noonan’s book about immigration. Her new book is The Time Of Our Lives, and it’s linked over at And Peggy, you talk about Henry Kissinger growing up on 181st and Broadway, and I made a note. I think Vin Scully’s widowed mom was taking in boarders across town on the east side at about the same level. You write about Mike Nichols getting of the boat, seeing Hebrew letters, and asking is that allowed here, and his father said yes. You write about Mary Dorian, who I do not know. And then you come back later and you put essays in there. It’s very near and dear to your heart, this immigration subject.

PN: It is. I grew up with immigrants. I know what the experience is. I identify on some profound way with the immigrants of my city who are considered on every area in America has its own experience. But in New York, immigrants keep the joint up and operating, and they are just my friends. But they are also what I came from. I relate very much to the loneliness of immigrants, by which I mean immigrants come here. They speak a different language. They come from a different place. The hills were shaped different. They had different trees. I mean, they’re all new here, and they have to get used to something new. And they miss home, even if home they came from was horrible. They miss it. So I relate to them very much, but you can see from my work, I am also practical, I think…

HH: Yeah.

PN: …in my view about how we should handle immigration. I’m not dreamy about it. I’m only loving about it.

HH: That’s very well put. And finally, you close with Truman and the question of whether or not a Truman is possible getting elected today. I think not. I don’t think he could make this gauntlet. Do you agree?

PN: Well, the Harry Truman that I loved is the guy who didn’t exploit his presidency to become a multi-multi-multi-millionaire, and who went home to Missouri and was worried he wasn’t going to be able to support himself and his wife and his kids. They didn’t, in those days, vulgarly use the presidency to become hugely wealthy Americans who live lives detached from the people who raised them so high. So I just, I honor guys like Truman. When I read about Mrs. Clinton and the amount of money she was raising and getting into the Clinton Foundation, I just thought wow, wow, do we know what presidents used to do? Let me tell you about little Harry.

HH: Yeah, well, it’s an excellent way to close the book, and congratulations, Peggy. I know it’s doing well. It’s a bestseller, and I’m sure there are more behind it. But thanks for spending an hour with me, and walking through. We have barely touched on the book, but there’s much, much more there, and I hope Volume 2 is on its way.

PN: I will tell my publisher you recommended it. Thank you, Hugh, so much.

HH: Thanks, Peggy.

End of interview.


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