The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Decline and Fall of Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan discovers that minorities who live in urban areas are more likely to vote Democrat:

The latest Zogby shows a big lead in Miami-Dade. The Miami Herald's Jim Defede concludes:

According to the Herald poll, done by Zogby International, Kerry is positioned to win Miami-Dade by anywhere from 90,000 to 100,000 votes. A margin that large in Florida's most populous county would be hard for Bush to make up across the rest of the state.
Now I realize if the poll's margin of error were to fall in the president's favor, Kerry would beat Bush, 53 to 46 percent (instead of 56-43). But even then, because of new voters, Kerry would still walk away with 50,000 more votes than Bush. But here is why the Herald poll rings true. Between 2000 and 2004, the split between Democrats and Republican is virtually the same in almost every category... The one group that is radically different -- and it is why the poll makes sense -- is a shift among non-Cuban Hispanics, who are backing Kerry almost two-to-one.

If Kerry wins Florida, Bush is really up against it.

And if Billy Beane discovers a magic pony who shits hundred dollar bills, the rest of the American League is really up against it.

It amazes me to recall that Sullivan was once considered the sine qua non of the blogosphere. Someone (I forget who) once proposed a "Sullivan count" whereby bloggers would be rated by the number of links from Sullivan's blog to theirs. (At the time Sullivan had three links, to Instapundit, Steven Den Beste, and Mickey Kaus.) I enjoyed reading Sullivan when he debuted in 2001, but 9/11 was clearly out of his league. He turned maudlin and incoherent, viz. his praise for the first post-terrorist Onion issue:

THE ONION PULLS IT OFF: The first attempt to laugh our way through this that actually works. The TV listings are priceless.

I loved The Onion in its heyday, which is long past. The TV listings of that issue were marginally amusing; everything else sucked. (What the Wisconsin emigres had to offer was "Holy Fucking Shit", which they had already used for their historical satire of the Apollo moon landing.)

Sullivan was already pro-Bush, and became a supporter of the war on terror. He did some useful work exposing the shameful beliefs and tactics of the anti-war left:

"The prison in question was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children - toddlers up to pre-adolescents - whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace." - Scott Ritter, Time Magazine.

Sullivan mocked the more egregious bloviations of the left with his "Sontag Award Nominees" (which we haven't seen for awhile; wonder why?). For instance:

SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: "In Britain, we call this sort of thing criminal damage, and you can get three months in jail for it, as 37-year-old Paul Kelleher discovered recently when he beheaded a marble effigy of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Poor Mr Kelleher: wrong time, wrong place, wrong statue." - Brian Whitaker, in the Guardian, comparing the toppling of Saddam's statue with British vandalism.

But fundamentally, Sullivan was only in favor of war if no one got hurt. He did not understand that even with the best intentions and meticulous care, war is a dirty, messy, bloody business. Thus when some American jailers were caught posing Iraqi prisoners Mapplethorpe-style, Sullivan snivelled like a child who finds out where meat comes from and insists that her family turn vegetarian:

THE CHASTENING: The question I have asked myself in the wake of Abu Ghraib is simply the following: if I knew before the war what I know now, would I still have supported it? I cannot deny that the terrible mismanagement of the post-war - something that no reasonable person can now ignore - has, perhaps fatally, wrecked the mission. But does it make the case for war in retrospect invalid? My tentative answer - and this is a blog, written day by day and hour by hour, not a carefully collected summary of my views - is yes, I still would have supported the war. But only just. And whether the "just" turns into a "no" depends on how we deal with the huge challenge now in front of us.

Over the past few months Sullivan increasingly sniped at Bush and twirled his hair when Kerry was nearby. Finally he endorsed Kerry. I won't bother criticizing Sullivan's endoresement, because Lileks has already torn it to shreds. Sullivan's detractors claim that his rather sudden switch is due to Bush's support for the anti-gay marriage "Federal Marriage Amendment" is the only issue that Sullivan finds dear. But I think that the aspects of Sullivan's personality that caused him to flip-flop have nothing to do with his sexuality.

Sullivan is a self-absorbed individual, as you can tell by reviewing the title of the post I quoted above. "The Chastening?" Has there been a more pretentious title for a blog post? The Abu Ghraib scandal affected many people: The prisoners who were abused, the guards who will break rocks for the next decade or two, and the chain of command of those guards. No one gives a damn that Mr. Sullivan's face turned a delicate shade of red.

Sullivan also shares many character defects with the pundit class as a whole. While always happy to criticize others' actions, he sees no reason to question his own doings. In his endorsement Sullivan claims that "in wartime, a president bears the greater responsibility for keeping the country united. And this president has fundamentally failed in this respect." Never mind, as Lileks noted, that half the political spectrum now entertains itself by mocking Bush as a moron and holding Two Minute Hates with the president playing the role of Emmanuel Goldstein. And never mind that Bush was able to convince the Senate to approve his adventure in Iraq -- and that one of those Senators voting yes was his opponent in the presidential race. (For that matter, Kerry claims to have the same position as Bush on gay marriage. Sullivan -- and I -- may not like it, but opposition to gay marriage is one issue where America is quite united.)

What has Sullivan been doing for the past three years to foster unity in this country? The answer, of course, is "not a fucking thing." Sullivan attacked the excesses of the anti-war left, and the homophobic troglodytes who make up the right. He has more scornful "awards" -- Derbyshire, Sontag, Hoffman -- than I can keep track of.

Like many pundits, Sullivan has vast areas of ignorance and has no real interest in patching the gaps in his knowledge. Witness this complaint about Bush:

It didn't help that during the Abu Ghraib mess, the president was in a bus campaigning in Ohio. Did he not understand the gravity of what had happened?"

It doesn't help that Sullivan appears to have no idea of the enormous authority that the President commands -- or for that matter, that campaigning is a politician's natural habitat in an election year. Bush is head of an enterprise with millions of employees, and is many layers removed from the happenings of a military prison. Just what did Sullivan expect Bush to do, drop everything and return to the White House to engage in nonstop teleconferencing with the prison guard's superiors? "I want to see photos, every hour on the hour, and I'd better not see anyone's bare ass!"

Finally, Sullivan is prone to making ridiculous arguments just for the sake of taking a contrary position. Some of his rationalizations for supporting Kerry were so incoherent as to be borderline insulting to his readers' intelligence. For instance:

FORCING THE DEMS INTO RESPONSIBILITY: It's a simple argument and it goes as follows. One reason to vote for Kerry this time is that, whatever his record, he will, as president, be forced by reality and by public opinion to be tough in this war. He has no other option. You think he wants to be tarred as a wimp every night by Fox News? Moreover, he would remove from the Europeans and others the Bush alibi for their relative absence in the war on terror. More important, his presidency would weaken the Michael Moore wing of the Democrats, by forcing them to take responsibility for a war that is theirs' as much a anyone's. ...

"It's a simple argument and it goes as follows: One reason to vote for John Ashcroft for president of the ACLU is that he will be forced to take civil liberties seriously." Drivel like this is almost too painful and too embarrassing to read. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: What remains of nexus of the early 2000's blogosphere.

(Please note that although Sullivan makes considerable money off his blog, and has an intern to help him, his site has no search function and I had to find many quotes using Google.)



Yeah....Sullivan was once one of like 5 blogs that I read religiously every day for the last few years, but I just can't do so anymore.

His endorsement of Kerry, and the bullshit justifications he uses in its support, draw a plain picture for me: he wants to punish Bush and the Republicans for not yet discovering a way to wage war perfectly; he wants to reward Kerry and and the other ostriches in the hopes that they will somehow be forced into taking such things "seriously".

How a "reasonable" person can come to this conclusion is beyond me. If he's honestly concerned about there being a viable opposition party to the Republicans, as I am, he would only consider rewarding them once they have viable ideas or are at least willing to take dire matters seriously.

Paul Hepburn

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:52 PM  

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