10/04/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Peggy Noonan Seems To Be Of Two Minds On The Matter Of Palin

Thanks to an unexpected misadventure with a live microphone on the set of MSNBC, we now now know exactly what former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan (and former McCain advisor Mike Murphy) thinks about the decision to put Sarah Palin on the ticket:

MURPHY: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state government work. Angler, Whitman, Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. And these guys, this is all how you want to (inaudible) this race. You know, just run it up. And it's not gonna work.

NOONAN: It's over.

MURPHY: Still, McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

NOONAN: I saw Kay this morning

MURPHY: They're all bummed out. I mean, is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

NOONAN: The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives and (inaudible) the picture.

MURPHY: Yeah, but what's the narrative?

NOONAN: Every time the Republicans do that because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at and they blow it.

MURPHY: You know what's really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism and this is cynical.

[WATCH, here.]

Now, the only question is: "What was Peggy Noonan thinking when she filed this column for the Wall Street Journal this morning? In it, she refers to Palin as a "a Hail Mary pass," a tactic that often fails to work, but "when they do they're a thing of beauty and a joy forever." Beauty? Joy? Forever? Forever didn't seem to outlast the afternoon!

[Noonan echoed the "Hail Mary" line on Morning Joe today.]

Noonan goes on:

Gut: The Sarah Palin choice is really going to work, or really not going to work. It's not going to be a little successful or a little not; it's not going to be a wash. She is either going to be magic or one of history's accidents. She is either going to be brilliant and groundbreaking, or will soon be the target of unattributed quotes by bitter staffers shifting blame in all the Making of the President 2008 books. Of which there should be plenty, as we've never had a year like this, with the fabulous freak of a campaign.

More immediately and seriously on Palin:

Because she jumbles up so many cultural categories, because she is a feminist not in the Yale Gender Studies sense but the How Do I Reload This Thang way, because she is a woman who in style, history, moxie and femininity is exactly like a normal American feminist and not an Abstract Theory feminist; because she wears makeup and heels and eats mooseburgers and is Alaska Tough, as Time magazine put it; because she is conservative, and pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life; and because conservatives can smell this sort of thing -- who is really one of them and who is not -- and will fight to the death for one of their beleaguered own; because of all of this she is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy.

She could become a transformative political presence.

Shrewdly, Noonan plays it pretty coy, here, adopting a "maybe-she-will, maybe-she-won't" air to muse through her "gut" and beyond. But alone, unguarded, with Mike Murphy, she certainly doesn't seem to be hedging any bets. "It's over," leaves very little wiggle room. Neither does "political bullshit." Noonan, in her column, goes on to caution (her readers? herself?) about the tendency of the "chattering classes" to encase themselves in a "bubble." One imagines that her Journal readers are wondering: was Noonan in "bubblehead" mode when she was chatting with Murphy, accidentally on air, or was it when she wrote her column?