Peggy Noonan was friends with Oscar de la Renta. Were you? Pity. A fine man. A fine, gentle, and wise man. A Reagan, of the world of drapery. Why can't you, the childish majority, be like him?

"Oscar," is what Peggy Noonan calls him. They were friends. Yes—personal friends. The wordsmith and the designer, together, both designing, in their own ways. Creating beauty. He, with dresses, and she, with abstract paintings made by dribbling gin from a handle bottle onto a canvas, and then vomiting onto it. Vomiting freedom. Vomiting America.

Peggy remembers:

I said at the top that I hope Oscar proves to have been a carrier of dignity, an encourager of it, even when he's gone. There are fewer and fewer in my beloved city who can make this old town work with all its divided and competing parts. Oscar was both a cultural and social force, and as those things he was both a leader and an example. He penetrated to the essence of a person and put aside the outer differences in which we are all encased.

New York needs to remember this style. My city now is increasingly a town of babyish partisans, especially on the liberal and Democratic side, which is the biggest and almost only side. Their primary fault is not that they can see no goodness on other sides, though that is often true, but that they don't even know what their own side believes, and so they cannot see potential areas of progress and peace. They know nothing. They watch a little cable, go to dinner, take their cues. Not only are they smug, their smugness is unearned. And they are running the city, in almost every area.

Oscar, that discerning man, was not like that. I hope the old style of his dignity and discernment spreads.

Babies. It had to be said. Most of New York City's 8.4 million citizens are babies, who know nothing. (Peggy knows—she has even been to Brooklyn.) Unlike Oscar. Why can't you babies, here in Peggy's city, exhibit the sort of dignity that this fashion designer had? Or, indeed, the dignity of Peggy Noonan, who has called you a baby?

Later on Peggy writes, in reference to Ben Bradlee: "I think some Torquemadas of his profession accused him of being insufficiently pure. But I never understood journalism to be pure."

Unsurprising, since she used to be a professional speech writer for Ronald Reagan, and now she is a professional "journalist."

[Photo: Getty]