Peggy Noonan tries to exercise at the YMCA: another in a series of tales from Barack Obama’s degraded Amercia

I want to thank author and commentator Peggy Noonan for choosing to follow up her fantastic Wall Street Journal column with this second part, here at and that’s the way it was. I’m a little concerned that it kind of falls apart at the end, but Ms. Noonan was unreachable after she submitted the piece and so I’ve chosen to run it as is. –DWD

by Peggy Noonan, special to and that’s the way it was

There comes a time when one must recognize the defeat at the core of the meadow that is our daily lives. Shiftless barges, floating by on the rivers of bleak and senseless misery, blaze a path through the undergrowth of contempt and the burning magma of crushed dreams, the dreams that used to fuel the spirit of American guts and gall bladders but that now lie empty, fallow, like so many strangled thoroughbreds before winter’s cold embrace. Who strangled those thoroughbreds? Who set the barges aflame in the dreams of forgotten gall bladders? This president, our too flawed and too human president, so unable to stand before the blistering winds of our despair, he has barged through the magma to core the horses.

It is Wednesday morning, 8:30 AM, and I find myself carrying a faded pink duffel bag across the beaten and worn floors of my neighborhood YMCA as I search in vain for the duffel bag porter to relieve me of this burden and take it to my locker. A fire, perhaps the same fire that is smothering the very richness of American ingenuity under this blinkered administration, has rendered my usual workout facilities unusable, and I am left without recourse on this bitter morning, as bitter as the shapes of discarded American lives I see strewn all around me as I furtively look for someone, anyone, to assist me. There’s no one to call to, no one who can answer my plaintive cry for help, just as the White House is empty of anyone who can respond in kind to the plaintive cry of America herself in this dark time. There is no information desk, no concierge, no sports drink sommelier at this facility. These are good jobs that are going unfilled because of President Obama’s inability to fill them.

I go to the information desk and ask why there are no valets to take my duffel bag, but I am brusquely told to produce an “identification card” by which I may obtain entry into the facility. Yes, in Obama’s America, we are denied access to that which would nourish the steel and brawn of this nation, unless one can provide the documentation that determines if one is “qualified” to partake of the bounty of freedom that this country has always offered. I produce a card and am “buzzed” into a locker facility by the attendant. I explain that I am uncomfortable operating the mechanism of a locker device in a publicly accessible locker room, and the desk attendant mutters something indecipherable before summoning a second attendant to accompany me into the locker room. It seems that America herself, under this president, is muttering something indecipherable at each of us. The second attendant takes me into the locker room, and I ask her how I can be sure that no one will take my things while I am exercising. “It’s called a locker?” she says, “Because you put a lock on it so nobody else can get in?” I explain that I am used to my regular facility, where patrons are provided with locking suites and keys. “Jesus Christ,” she says, and then walks away shaking her head. I am afraid that even He can no longer help us.

I note, wryly, that the YMCA’s people mover is as broken as this nation, or that it would be if there were such a thing, which there is not, no doubt because of Obamacare.

When I enter the gym I am again confronted with the reality of Obama’s America. Where is the large man upon whose back I can climb while he runs on the treadmill? You know, “exercise”? Sadly, in this crippled economy this is another job that must go unfilled. Reluctantly, I approach a machine that is intended to simulate the climbing of stairs, because apparently we are also unable to hire men to form large human pyramids to simulate stair climbing, as the great Ronald Reagan intended. The crippling weight of privation leaves me unable to do more than seven of these simulated steps before I am spent.


As my men carry my litter the 20 blocks back to my flat, I read the lyrics to the song “Yank Me, Crank Me,” by Ted Nugent, who’s emerged as one of the most persuasive and eloquent critics of the president. He needs the woman he’s singing about, he explained in the song. Her legs, apparently one of her best features, feel pleasing to him. “Well, you can yank me, and you can crank me, ” Mr. Nugent noted. “But don’t you wake up, and don’t you try to thank me.”

Meanwhile the president seems to be willing neither to yank, nor crank, America in her hour of need. If only he were willing to do something to stimulate this economy, to build something, to put our fellow citizens back to work, then we might have a chance to escape this dark netherworld of hopelessness. Instead he spends all his time trying to get Congressional Republicans to allow him to do something to stimulate this economy.

What a mess.

I assume now that the sequester has begun, the president will tear what remains of us apart, stone by stone. Mandatory workouts on the 15th to keep us strong for the manual labor brigades that will be formed on the 20th, building the interstellar battle cruisers that will be launched on the 25th, only to be turned around to strike our nation’s homeschoolers on the 30th, then to mop up the last band of refugees from Io on the 35th.

You have to assume that’s the plan, because it doesn’t make any sense, and that’s why it’s so sensible.

America is hurting. We are struggling to climb the simulated stairs of economic recovery, and Dr. Fancypants is wrestling in the mud with sprockets and jingle-makers. It’s frozen, stuck, like a popsicle in brandy. Smooth, sweet brandy, the immortal nectar of liquors. But are we allowed to have it? This president thinks he’s in a game, the kind of game to which one might bring a pale ale or a maibock, but crisp, cold gin is all that will rum us now. Red wines, white wines, it matters not what kind of single malt solution we find to the bourboning problems facing us as a nation. But he’s lost his mind!

Vodka. Or Thunderbird. Either way you’re in a better place.


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