Peggy Noonan

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Peggy Noonan
Peggy Noonan by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Noonan in 2016
Margaret Ellen Noonan

(1950-09-07) September 7, 1950 (age 68)[1][2]
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, columnist, speechwriter
Known forPresidential speechwriter

Margaret Ellen "Peggy" Noonan (born September 7, 1950) is an American author, weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and contributor to NBC News and ABC News. She was a primary speechwriter and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and has maintained a center-right leaning in her writings since leaving the Reagan administration. Five of Noonan's books have been New York Times bestsellers.

Noonan was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on America: A Tribute to Heroes. She has also been widely recognized for her appearances on ABC's This Week and NBC's Meet The Press.

Early life and early career[edit]

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]

Presidential positions[edit]

Noonan in 1986
Noonan meeting with President Ronald Reagan in 1988

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 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 speech of the 20th century, according to a list compiled by professors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Texas A&M University. The "Pointe du Hoc" speech ranks as the 58th best speech of the century, according to the website American Rhetoric.[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 George H. W. Bush, Noonan coined the phrase "a kinder, gentler nation" and also popularized "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 major reason for his defeat in his 1992 re-election campaign.

Later career[edit]

Noonan 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 George W. Bush's reelection.

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."[7] Such commentary resulted in a backlash from many conservatives.[8] 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.[citation needed]

Noonan is now an author, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and a commentator on several news shows, including CNN, where she has distanced herself from more conservative Republicans and President Donald Trump's presidency. She sits on the committee and is one of the founding members of, along with Liz Smith, Lesley Stahl, Mary Wells Lawrence, and Joni Evans.

In 2017, Noonan won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, for "rising to the moment with beautifully rendered columns that connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation's most divisive political campaigns."[9]

Personal life[edit]

In 1985, Noonan married Richard W. Rahn, who was then chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Their son Will was born in 1987.[10]

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.[11]

Noonan lives in New York City.[12] She is a practicing Roman Catholic[13] and attends St. Thomas More Church on Manhattan's Upper East Side.[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)
  • 2015: The Time of Our Lives: Collected Writings


  1. ^ Bothmer, Bernard von (2007). Blaming "The Sixties": The Political Use of an Era, 1980–2004. ProQuest. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-493-87308-4.
  2. ^ Noonan, Peggy (2003). What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era. Random House Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8129-6989-4.
  3. ^ "Laura Bush Fascinates Ex-speechwriter".
  4. ^ About Rutherford High School Archived October 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, 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 (October 17, 2008). "Palin's Failin'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  8. ^ Blankley, Tony (October 22, 2008). "The Birth of the Me-Too Conservative". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
  9. ^ "2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists", April 10, 2017.
  10. ^ Hugh Sidey, "The Presidency: Of Poets and Word Processors", Time, May 2, 1988.
  11. ^ Anne Morse, "Meeting Peggy Noonan," Crisis Magazine, September, 2004.
  12. ^ "Astuces pour en finir avec le tabac !". Archived from the original on January 13, 2009.
  13. ^ Noonan, Peggy (December 26, 2014). "Cardinal, Please Spare This Church". Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ Today, Rick Hampson USA (March 3, 2015). "NYC Churches Hit The Market For Millions". The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 2, 2016.

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