Peggy reveals that while other Presidents have also put their personal stamp on the office--and backs this startling insight up by actually naming several of the more recent ones--none has ever tried this by being completely disengaged from reality before. (This leads, by the way, to one of those amusing Psych 101 experiments, where Noonan describes the same precise trait as benign toleration or sadism, depending on whether it was Reagan or FDR who exhibited it.)
The more I read Noonan on a regular basis, as opposed to when somebody's link made me curious enough to rubberneck at the scene of the accident, the more I find that my favorite moments are not the ecstatic religious hallucinations, but the more natural, down-to-earth, sitting-around-the-hearth-completely-insane moments when she spews some orthodox "conservative" history she hasn't bothered to check:
He [Bush] is not, like Jimmy Carter, a man who seeks to gain a sense of control by focusing on details. He would not, as Mr. Carter did at Desert One, instruct the leaders of a high-risk military rescue mission not to shoot on any Teheran crowds if they move against the mission. (See Mark Bowden's recounting of that failed endeavor in this month's Atlantic.)
Well, the rules of engagement in Iraq, at least initially, were said to be the most stringent US troops ever fought under, and somebody issued those instructions. The Desert One forces were there to rescue 52 American hostages, and they, not the hostages, were expendable. That's the point behind those rules; the minute they fired on a crowd those hostages would have been dead. As it was, despite a failed military operation all 52 eventually came out alive, thanks in no small part to President Carter's restraint, and only slightly delayed thanks to your boy Ron.
The Iraq rules of engagement, in contrast, look suspiciously like an attempt to invade a country without making it look too much like war, or at least one that civilians might get caught up in. There's a real distinction between what a commando force might have to endure on a mission and the average soldier does on a day-to-day basis.
Back in the day I used to ask the screaming rightists I knew whether they'd have rather seen the hostages killed, but that was at a time when people took a single position and tried to be consistent about it. Today's "conservative" would rather the military operation failed, the hostages executed, and then everybody rescued by Ronald Reagan. At the head of his own squadron of tanks.