Noonan worked as the daily CBS Radio commentary writer for anchorman Dan Rather at CBS News, whom she once called "the best boss I ever had." From 1975 through 1977 she worked the overnight shift as a newswriter at WEEI Radio in Boston, where she was later Editorial and Public Affairs Director.
Noonan meeting with President Ronald Reagan in 1988
In 1984, Noonan, as a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, authored his "Boys of Pointe du Hoc" speech on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. She also wrote Reagan's address to the nation after the Challenger explosion, drawing upon the poet John Magee's words about aviators who "slipped the surly bonds of earth ... and touched the face of God." The latter is ranked as the eighth best American political speech of the 20th century, according to a list compiled by professors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Texas A&M University. The "Pointe du Hoc" speech ranks as the 58th best speech of the century, according to the website American Rhetoric.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Noonan wrote about Sarah Palin's vice presidential candidacy in The Wall Street Journal. In one opinion piece, Noonan expressed her view that Palin did not demonstrate "the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office," concluding that Palin's candidacy marked a "vulgarization in American Politics" that is "no good... for conservatism... [or] the country." Such commentary resulted in a backlash from many conservatives.
In 2017, Noonan won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, for "rising to the moment with beautifully rendered columns that connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation's most divisive political campaigns."
Noonan and her husband were divorced after five years of marriage. In 1989 she returned with her son to her native New York. In 2004, according to an interview with Crisis Magazine, she lived in a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights with her son, who attended the nearby Saint Ann's School.
While Noonan's speechwriting has been praised, her books and Wall Street Journal columns have been the source of criticism and mockery. Critics have singled out her reliance on personal anecdotes to make broad assertions about current events and changes in American politics and society.
In her book What I Saw at the Revolution, she recounts seeing two homeless people outside the White House and then comments: "In Washington in the eighties, as in every American city, the street people no longer tried to arouse an empathy or create a connection that might prompt a hand into a pocket. They often sought to menace ... In Washington in the eighties the insane were coolly used to advance ideological aims—cruelty in the name of higher compassion, engineered by men and women who were lauded in the press for their decency and concern."
On the day prior to the 2012 United States presidential election, Noonan wrote an article on her Wall Street Journal blog predicting a Mitt Romney victory after seeing Romney yard signs during a trip to Florida. Noonan's prediction was the subject of ridicule.
In a March 2013 column, she used her experience staying at a short-staffed airport hotel to demonstrate the Obama administration's lack of focus on job creation and infrastructure spending, even though infrastructure was a significant component of Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Noonan had previously criticized in November 2010.
In August 2019, Noonan was mocked for writing a column on Donald Trump's support among Hispanic Americans which centered on a conversation she had with a Dominican friend who worked at the deli counter at her grocery store. In June 2019, Noonan wrote a column about the loyalty of Trump's supporters that was based on conversations she had with her sister and her uncle.
During Hurricane Katrina, she called for looters in New Orleans to be shot. Henry Giroux called it a "barely coded rationale to shoot low-income Black people."
Recurring themes in Noonan's books and columns include the decline of civility, social graces, religiosity, patriotism, bipartisanship and statesmanship in contemporary American politics and society, as well as enduring praise for past conservative political figures such as Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. As a result, her writing is criticized for being overly nostalgic.
In June 2019, after Noonan called on congressional Democrats to censure President Trump in the wake of the Mueller Report, he attacked her on Twitter, calling her "simplistic" and claiming that she "is stuck in the past glory of Reagan."
1990: What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (ISBN 0-8129-6989-8)
1994: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (ISBN 1-55850-509-1)
1998: Simply Speaking: How to Communicate Your Ideas With Style, Substance, and Clarity (ISBN 0-7881-6775-8)
1999: On Speaking Well (ISBN 0-06-098740-5) (a paperback edition of "Simply Speaking")
1999: Character Above All (ISBN 0-684-82709-3) (one chapter in an anthology)
2000: The Case Against Hillary Clinton (ISBN 0-06-039340-8)
2001: When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan (ISBN 0-14-200168-6)
2003: A Heart, A Cross And A Flag (ISBN 0-7432-5005-2)
2005: John Paul The Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father (ISBN 0-670-03748-6)
2008: Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now (ISBN 978-0-06-173582-0)
2015: The Time of Our Lives: Collected Writings (ISBN 978-1-45-556313-5)
^Bothmer, Bernard von (2007). Blaming "The Sixties": The Political Use of an Era, 1980–2004. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-493-87308-4.
^Noonan, Peggy (2003). What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era. Random House Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8129-6989-4.
^About Rutherford High School Archived October 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Rutherford High School. Accessed July 7, 2007. "Career diplomat and ambassador Thomas H. Pickering and presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan are among those honored as part of this tradition."
^"Peggy Noonan". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
^Michael E. Eidenmuller (February 13, 2009). "Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century by Rank". American Rhetoric. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
Ryan, Erin Gloria. "Make Manhood Great Again? It Never Was". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
Haldeman, Peter. "Noonan in Pursuit of Herself: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
"A Heart, a Cross and a Flag". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
Sarno, John J. (June 17, 2008). The Time of our Lives by Peggy Noonan. Kirkus Reviews. ISBN 9781438946177. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
Manville, Brook. "Does Better Judgment Come With Age?". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
^@realDonaldTrump (June 2, 2019). "Peggy Noonan, the simplistic writer for Trump Haters all, is stuck in the past glory of Reagan and has no idea what is happening with the Radical Left Democrats, or how vicious and desperate they are. Mueller had to correct his ridiculous statement, Peggy never understood it!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
^Halaschak, Zachary. "Trump blasts Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan as a 'simplistic writer for Trump Haters'". The Washington Examiner. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
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