From Peggy Noonan's last column in the Wall Street Journal, Is 'Octomom' America's Future? (Hat tip: Doug Kass1):
It's Sully and Suleman, the pilot and "Octomom," the two great stories that are twinned with the era. Sully, the airline captain who saved 155 lives by landing that plane just right—level wings, nose up, tail down, plant that baby, get everyone out, get them counted, and then, at night, wonder what you could have done better. You know the reaction of the people of our country to Chesley B. Sullenberger III: They shake their heads, and tears come to their eyes. He is cool, modest, competent, tough in the good way. He's the only one who doesn't applaud Sully. He was just doing his job.
This is why people are so moved: We're still making Sullys. We're still making those mythic Americans, those steely-eyed rocket men. Like Alan Shepard in the Mercury rocket: "Come on and light this candle."
But Sully, 58, Air Force Academy '73, was shaped and formed by the old America, and educated in an ethos in which a certain style of manhood—of personhood—was held high.
What we fear we're making more of these days is Nadya Suleman. The dizzy, selfish, self-dramatizing 33-year-old mother who had six small children and then a week ago eight more because, well, she always wanted a big family. "Suley" doubletalks with the best of them, she doubletalks with profound ease. She is like Blago without the charm. She had needs and took proactive steps to meet them, and those who don't approve are limited, which must be sad for them.
Any great nation would worry at closed-up shops and a professional governing class that doesn't have a clue what to do. But a great nation that fears, deep down, that it may be becoming more Suley than Sully—that nation will enter a true depression.
The image above, by Martin Kozlowski, accompanies Noonan's column on the WSJ website.
1I hadn't read one of Noonan's columns in a while, but was prompted to do so by Doug Kass's quote from the one above in his new post, "Fear and Loathing on Wall Street". Kass quoted the first part of Noonan's column, which described a shuttering of shops in upscale Manhattan neighborhoods. Kass included it as a sort of contrarian indicator of sentiment in his tentatively bullish post.