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Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan
Noonan meeting with President Ronald Reagan in 1988
Born Margaret Ellen Noonan
(1950-09-07) September 7, 1950 [1][2]
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality American
Occupation Author, columnist, speechwriter
Known for Presidential Speechwriter
Religion Roman Catholicism

Margaret Ellen "Peggy" Noonan (born September 7, 1950) is an American author of several books on politics, religion, and culture, and a weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal. She was a primary speech writer and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and has maintained a conservative leaning in her writings since leaving the Reagan Administration.

Five of Noonan's books have been New York Times bestsellers. Noonan is a trustee of the Manhattan Institute. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from Miami University; St. John Fisher College; her alma mater, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Adelphi College; and Saint Francis College. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on America: A Tribute to Heroes. She has also been widely recognized for her regular appearances on ABC's This Week and NBC's Meet The Press.

In her political writings, Noonan frequently cites the political figures she admires, including Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and Edmund Burke.


  • Early life 1
  • Career in presidential politics 2
  • Later career 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Books 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Noonan was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of a merchant seaman. She is of Irish descent.[3] Noonan is a graduate of Rutherford High School in Rutherford, New Jersey, and Fairleigh Dickinson University.[4]

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.

In 1978 and 1979 she was an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.[5]

Career in presidential politics

In 1984, Noonan, as a speechwriter for President 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 famous 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 speeches of the 20th century, according to a list compiled by professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Texas A&M University and based on the opinions of "137 leading scholars of American public address." The "Pointe du Hoc" speech ranks as the 58th best speech of the century.[6]

She also worked on a tribute Reagan gave to honor John F. Kennedy at a fundraising event held at the McLean, Virginia, home of Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the spring of 1984.

Later, while working for then Vice President a thousand points of light," two memorable catchphrases used by Bush. Noonan also wrote the speech in which Bush pledged: "Read my lips: no new taxes" during his 1988 presidential nomination acceptance speech in New Orleans (Bush's subsequent reversal of this pledge is often cited as a reason for his defeat in his 1992 re-election campaign).

Later career

Noonan also worked as a consultant on the American television drama The West Wing.

In mid August 2004, Noonan took a brief unpaid leave from the Wall Street Journal to campaign for Bush administration after Bush's inaugural address in January 2005.[7][8]

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."[9] Such commentary resulted in a backlash from many conservatives.[10] In the 2012 presidential campaign, in the days prior to the November election, she expressed optimism for a Mitt Romney victory over Barack Obama because she said she saw happy faces and optimism among Republicans.

Noonan is now an author, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and a commentator on several news shows. She is a member of the Manhattan Institute's board of trustees and one of the founding members of, along with Liz Smith, Lesley Stahl, Mary Wells Lawrence and Joni Evans.

Personal life

In 1985, Noonan married Richard W. Rahn, who was then chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They lived in Great Falls, Virginia. Their son Will was born in 1987.[11]

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.[12]

Noonan currently lives in New York City.[13] Noonan is a practicing Roman Catholic.[14]


  • 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)


  1. ^ Bothmer, Bernard von (2007). Blaming "The Sixties": The Political Use of an Era, 1980--2004. ProQuest. p. 126.  
  2. ^ Noonan, Peggy (2003). What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era. Random House Publishing Group. p. 21.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ About Rutherford High School, 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."
  5. ^ "Peggy Noonan -". Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  6. ^ Michael E. Eidenmuller (February 13, 2009). "Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century by Rank.". "American Rhetoric. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  7. ^ Noonan, Peggy (January 21, 2005). "Peggy Noonan, "Way Too Much God," ''The Wall Street Journal'', January 21, 2005". Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ Noonan, Peggy (July 14, 2007). "Peggy Noonan, "American Grit: We can't fire the president right now, so we're waiting it out," ''The Wall Street Journal'', July 13, 2007". Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  9. ^ Noonan, Peggy (October 17, 2008). "'"Palin's Failin. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  10. ^ Blankley, Tony (October 22, 2008). "The Birth of the Me-Too Conservative". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  11. ^ Hugh Sidey, "The Presidency: Of Poets and Word Processors", Time (magazine), May 2, 1988.
  12. ^ , September, 2004.Crisis MagazineAnne Morse, "Meeting Peggy Noonan," Archived October 22, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Margaret Rahn in Busch/Quayle (sic) Alumni Directory.
  14. ^ Noonan, Peggy (December 26, 2014). "Cardinal, Please Spare This Church". Wall Street Journal. 

External links

  • Peggy Noonan official website
  • Column archive at The Wall Street Journal
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • , February 18, 1990.What I Saw at the Revolution interview with Noonan on Booknotes
    • interview with Noonan, March 3, 2002In Depth
  • Peggy Noonan at the Internet Movie Database
  • Works by or about Peggy Noonan in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Peggy Noonan collected news and commentary at The New York Times
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