Peggy Noonan on John Edwards’ Hair Poofing
Peggy Noonan sizes up the presidential field for “Reasonable Person” qualities and passes all of the major candidates except Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
Her reasoning on Clinton is, frankly, unreasonable: Because she’s polarizing, she wouldn’t be able to rally the nation in a crisis. By that standard, of course, the current president isn’t “reasonable,” either. This is silly on two fronts. First, reasonableness and popularity are completely different qualities; one doesn’t judge one by invoking the other. Second, as we saw after the 9/11 attacks, the nation will rally around a polarizing leader during times of crisis.
Her judgment on Edwards is even lamer:
All the Democrats would raise taxes as president, but Mr. Edwards’s populism is the worst of both worlds, both intemperate and insincere. Also we can’t have a president who spent two minutes on YouTube staring in a mirror and poofing his hair. Really, we just can’t.
She’s right on the populism but the hair comments are rather juvenile for someone deigning to “speak for thousands, millions” of “grown-ups.” Any of us would look silly caught performing our grooming rituals on tape.
Glenn Greenwald, though, sees something more sinister here.
John Edwards, however, is disqualified, because four years ago, he was caught red-handed brushing his hair before a television appearance — “poofing,” in Noonan’s words, which isn’t really a word at all, but rather, a British epithet for a male homosexual — “Slang: Disparaging and Offensive” — a synonym for “faggot.” Noonan is making the same point Ann Coulter made: Edwards can’t possibly be President because he’s a faggot. And to make her “grown-up” case for this, she cites one of our national media’s most talked-about political stories of both 2004 and again in 2007: Edwards’ brushing of his hair.
Well . . . no.
It’s true that there’s a well-known British slang that takes the forms poof, poofta, or poofter. So far as I’m aware, though, there’s no gerund form of that word.
There is, however, a (somewhat dated) American expression of “poofing” used to refer to making one’s hair fluff out. A Google search for “poofing hair” returns over 5000 results. “Poofing” returns over 50,000 results; through the first five pages at least, none seem to have anything to do with gayness, whereas several refer to styling one’s hair.
Noonan is guilty here of being banal rather than tawdry. It’s the opposite of Coulterism, really.