Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Peggy Noonan, born Margaret Ellen Noonan

American Author, Columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Speech Writer and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan

"Most people aren't appreciated enough, and the bravest things we do in our lives are usually known only to ourselves. No one throws ticker tape on the man who chose to be faithful to his wife, on the lawyer who didn't take the drug money."

"A great speech is literature."

"As we have become more open minded (tolerant) in society we have become more closed hearted. "

"Beware the politically obsessed. They are often bright and interesting, but they have something missing in their natures; there is a hole, an empty place, and they use politics to fill it up. It leaves them somehow misshapen. "

"Boundaries aren't all bad. That's why there are walls around mental institutions. "

"But one immediate thing can be done right now, and that is: lower the temperature. Any way you can, and everybody. Just lower it. "

"A speech is poetry: cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep! A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart. "

"Candor is a compliment; it implies equality. It's how true friends talk. "

"Great speeches have always had great soundbites. The problem now is that the young technicians who put together speeches are paying attention only to the soundbite, not to the text as a whole, not realizing that all great soundbites happen by accident, which is to say, all great soundbites are yielded up inevitably, as part of the natural expression of the text. They are part of the tapestry; they aren't a little flower somebody sewed on. "

"Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. "

"Don't fall in love with politicians, they're all a disappointment. They can't help it, they just are. "

"I love eulogies. They are the most moving kind of speech because they attempt to pluck meaning from the fog, and on short order, when the emotions are still ragged and raw and susceptible to leaps. "

"I find this to be true of my spiritual life, and maybe it applies to yours as well: I think about things more than I do them; I ponder what seems their goodness more than I perform them. As if my thought alone were enough. But a thought alone isn’t quite enough; it’s an impulse and not a commitment, a passing thing that doesn’t take root unless you plant it and make it grow. "

"I now know that God has a plan for each of us. The thing is to find out what it is. How? Through prayer, through keeping your mind open, and through the circumstances of daily life and the people you meet. "

"I should say here, because some in Washington like to dream up ways to control the Internet, that we don't need to 'control' free speech, we need to control ourselves. "

"If you join government, calmly make your contribution and move on. Don't go along to get along; do your best and when you have to - and you will - leave, and be something else. "

"I think miracles exist in part as gifts and in part as clues that there is something beyond the flat world we see. "

"Now he is a statesman, when what he really wants is to be what most reporters are, adult delinquents."

"Sincerity and competence is a strong combination. In politics, it is everything. "

"The most moving thing in a speech is always the logic. It is never flowery and flourishes. It is not sentimental exhortation; it is never the faux poetry we're all subjected to these days. "

"Our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls. "

"Part of courage is simple consistency."

"Speeches are not magic and there is no great speech without great policy."

"TV gives everyone an image, but radio gives birth to a million images in a million brains. "

"We must try again to be alive to what the people of our country really long for in our national life: forgiveness and grace, maturity and wisdom. "

"You don't have to be old in America to say of a world you lived in: That world is gone."

"What we need most right now, at this moment, is a kind of patriotic grace - a grace that takes the long view, apprehends the moment we're in, comes up with ways of dealing with it, and eschews the politically cheap and manipulative. That admits affection and respect. That encourages them. That acknowledges that the small things that divide us are not worthy of the moment; that agrees that the things that can be done to ease the stresses we feel as a nation should be encouraged, while those that encourage our cohesion as a nation should be supported."

"What I got was not so much gifts and wishes come trues but a feeling of peace. I got peace itself, actually. And when you have peace, you can be strong; and when you are strong, you can get through what you have to get through, and not with exhaustion and frown marks and slumped shoulders but with relative happiness, and humor, and sometimes even gaiety. "

"Wit penetrates; humor envelops. Wit is a function of verbal intelligence; humor is imagination operating on good nature. "

"And most of us know something else: in an age when politics is everything, people will do anything. They will have no scruples, no compunction, no remorse."

"Abortion is either OK or it's not."

"Affluence detaches. It removes you from the old and eternal, it gets you out of the rain."

"Do not be afraid! I can see that Americans are not afraid. They are not afraid of the sun, they are not afraid of the wind, they are not afraid of 'today'. They are, generally speaking, brave, good people. And so I say to you today, always be brave. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. God is with you. Do not be afraid to search for God-then you will truly be the land of the free, the home of the brave. God Bless America."

"A friend, noting what has and will continue to happen with car sales, said America will look like Havana?old cars and faded grandeur. It won't. It will look like 1970, only without the bell-bottoms and excessive hirsuteness. More families will have to live together. More people will drink more regularly. Secret smoking will make a comeback as part of a return to simple pleasures. People will slow down. Mainstream religion will come back. Walker Percy again: Bland affluence breeds fundamentalism. Bland affluence is over."

"I close with a nod of small thanks for the title of a book I saw the other day called, Are You There, Vodka? This is Chelsea. The stewardess was reading it on a flight from Phoenix to Newark. She was laughing. It was nice."

"I further know that if God has something special for you, you have a knowledge of it inside you, which"

"I was starting to feel that Washington was a city run by two rival gangs that had a great deal in common with each other, including an essential lack of interest in the well-being of the turf on which they fought."

"A thought: good people are always at a disadvantage in the world because to be good is to be honest and the honest feel the weight of their misdeeds. Real bad guys don't, or not often, or not consistently, or not much."

"Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It's unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don't have to try."

"Everyone over 50 in America feels like a refugee. In the Old America there were a lot of bad parents. There always are, because parenting is hard. Inadequate parents could say, 'Go outside and play in the culture,' and the culture -- relatively innocent, and boring -- could be more or less trusted to bring the kids up. Grown ups now know that you can't send the kids out to play in the culture, because the culture will leave them distorted and disturbed."

"He [Pope Benedict XVI] spoke of the distilled message of John Paul's reign: Be not afraid"

"Hypocrisy is one traditional value our society might reconsider re-embracing. Old America was full of grown-ups who were wonderful hypocrites."

"Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone's garage, somebody's kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That's where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts."

"I always got the feeling with John Paul that if he could have narrowed down the people he met and blessed those he loved the most, they would not be cardinals, princes, or congressman, but nuns from obscure convents and Down syndrome children, especially the latter. Because they have suffered, and because in some serious and amazing way the love of God seems more immediately available to them. Everyone else gets themselves tied up in ambition and ideas and bustle, all the great distractions, but the modest and unwell are so often unusually open to this message: God loves us, his love is all around us, he made us to love him and be happy"

"If you commit a big crime then you are crazy, and the more heinous the crime the crazier you must be. Therefore you are not responsible, and nothing is your fault."

"Memory is a trickster, moments fade, what grows more vivid with time is interpretation."

"My generation, faced as it grew with a choice between religious belief and existential despair, chose marijuana. Now we are in our Cabernet stage."

"Novak was saying that the pope?s message was in part: You are not nothing; you are a great deal. God made you in his image, and he calls you to be like him. And so you must walk forward in to the world each day with confidence and humility. This reminded me of what a woman in Bible study said once. Walk with pride, for you are the daughter of a king."

"Let's cause some senators distress."

"If everyone lived as Christ asked, Communism would have no converts but the devil."