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July 25, 2004

Andrew Sullivan Kerry-Endorsement Watch: Bong

Thanks to NRO's K-Lo, and thanks to George for the tip.

Well, Andrew Sullivan has, surprise surprise, not only endorsed John Forbes Kerry for President but, get this, endorsed him as the "conservative" choice for President. He endorses Kerry despite his admission that...

On the most fundamental matter, ie the war, I think Bush has been basically right: right to see the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and the nexus of weapons of mass destruction and Islamist terror; right to realise that the French would never have acquiesced to ridding the world of Saddam; right to endorse the notion of pre-emption in a world of new and grave dangers.

But nevermind all that. There are other equally-important considerations, like Sullivan's alleged right to get hitched to a man (a right he has not, as of yet, seen fit to take advantage of).

At the tone, the Andrew Sullivan Kerry-Endorsement Watch displays a time of

(bong)

12:00AM midnight -- endorsement made

In a way, I'm peeved that NRO discovered this article and publicized it. I would have liked to have seen how long it took Sullivan to finally admit his blatant, but unacknowledged, Kerry partisanship had he thought his remarks, like those made in the Advocate, might have remained secret from his blog-audience.

As Donald Luskin first noted (and I have repeated consistently since then), Sullivan is an intensely personal, emotional, and ad hominem analyst. Part of this tendency was unseen by many conservatives for a while, because his intensely personal, emotional, and ad hominem style of hyperventilating hackery often was in praise of Bush or Reagan ("A Mash-Note to Reagan"... ewwww) or directed at conservatives' opponents (Howell Raines, the Stalinist gay left), and people have a tendency to miss unfairness when that unfairness inures to their own benefit.

But now the mask is off, and thus so are the gloves, and the basic viciousness of Sullivan's "analysis" -- a viciousness common in both areas of Sullivan's political education, the British political tradition and the Stalinist gay-left tradition -- will be brought fully to bear on the one person in the world keeping Sullivan from getting married...

...apart from Sullivan himself, I mean.


Extended Excerpt Update: AllahPundit said he was having trouble accessing the piece and wanted an excerpt. What Allah wants, Allah gets. Here's a longish excerpt, his bits in quoted plain text, my bits in italics, because it's a pain in the ass reading italics for a long piece:

"If you are a conservative, whom should you be rooting for in the American elections? I am not being entirely facetious here. The conservative “movement” in the United States is still firmly behind the re- election of President George W Bush."

Nice "scare" "quotes," "Andrew."

"...

And yet if you decouple the notion of being a conservative from being a Republican, nobody can doubt that the Bush administration has been pursuing some highly unconservative policies.


"Start with the war. Almost overnight after 9/11 Bush junked decades of American policy in the Middle East, abandoning attempts to manage Arab autocracies for the sake of the oil supply and instead forging a policy of radical democratisation. He invaded two countries and is trying to convert them to modern democracies. "

This is a funny criticism from someone who supported the war on these very same grounds, and in fact continues to do so (as he admits later on).

"Nothing so liberal has been attempted in a long time. In the 2000 campaign, Bush mocked the idea of “nation building” as liberal claptrap. Now it’s the centrepiece of his administration. The fact that anti-American lefties despise the attempt to democratise foreign countries should not disguise the fact that Bush is, in this respect, indisputably a foreign policy liberal. He has shown none of his father’s caution, no interest in old-style realpolitik. "

Again, he would seem to be arguing that the war was wrong because it was undertaken for traditionally-"liberal" motives. And yet: He actually supported it.

I suppose he's a bit like John Kerry on that point. He sorta supports it, but not in the details, we need our allies, Bush misled us, etc.

"At home Bush has been just as radical. He has junked decades of conservative attempts to restrain government and pushed federal spending to record levels, dismissing the idea that this will have damaging consequences. He has poured money into agricultural subsidies, he famously put tariffs on foreign steel, he has expanded the healthcare programme and increased the role of central government in education.

"He has little or no concern for the separation of church and state, funnelling public money to religious charities, and he has appointed some of the most radical jurists to the federal bench. Just try finding a coherent theme in Bush Republicanism. It is in fact one of the most ramshackle distillations of political expediency ever tarted up as an “ism”.

"There has also been, it’s safe to say, a remarkable recklessness in Bush’s approach. Was it really necessary to insist that the Geneva conventions do not apply to detainees in the war on terror? "

Yes.

"When so many people warned that the hardest task in Iraq would be what happened after the fall of Baghdad, was it sensible to junk all the carefully written government reports for reconstruction and wing it? Was it wise to brag in the days after the first military victory in Iraq that it was “mission accomplished”? When the insurgency was growing, was it sensible to apply the methods of Guantanamo Bay to the hundreds of petty criminals and innocents hauled into Abu Ghraib?

"At almost every juncture where prudence might have been called for, Bush opted for winging it. This approach can scarcely be called conservative. "

Winging it. Note how well this criticism just happens to dovetail so nicely with one of John Forbes Kerry's biggest applause lines, the one about Bush "not having a plan."

Sullivan has always been fundamentally flighty and unserious about this whole effort. His passion in favor of the war was appreciated, simply because it was so gushing; but he's always been childishly unrealistic and, well, liberal about what war actually means. War means deaths. War means sacrifice. War means occasionally having to act in a fashion you might otherwise not like to in order to achieve some important goal.

Andrew has always been a very weak link in the chain, as he's always insisted, with the sputtering tantrums of a three-year-old, that war means never having to, you know, actually hurt anyone.

"So where is conservatism to be found? Maybe you should cast a glance at Boston, where this week the Democratic convention will anoint one John Forbes Kerry, a northeastern patrician who is fast becoming the eastern establishment’s favourite son. "

Fast becoming? Ummm, fast becoming? You mean there's been a point in the last two years when he wasn't the eastern liberal establishment's favorite?

I suppose he's "fast becoming" the establishment's favorite the same way he's "fast becoming" Sullivan's favorite. I.e., he's been a favorite of both for at least a year, but only now are they growing more comfortable about saying so.

"Yes, Kerry’s record on spending, defence and social policy has been liberal. But that is not the theme of his campaign."

Oh-- it's not the theme of his campaign. I guess the theme of a campaign is a better predictor of future decisionmaking than a lifetime of votes and speeches.

I guess Bush needs only to announce "Fair Play for Gays" as a "theme" to win Andy's support back.

" Kerry says he is as dedicated to seeing through nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan as Bush. But where Bush has scrapped America’s long-standing military doctrine of attacking only when attacked, Kerry prefers the old, strictly defensive doctrine. "

Sullivan just announces this without comment, but this is in his brief in favor of Kerry. Notice he avoids mentioning an inconvenient fact: that he himself argued passionately (and I don't mean that in a positive way, necessarily) against the Kerry position for three fucking years.

"Where Bush has clearly placed American national interest above international concerns, Kerry demands that the old alliances — even with old Europe — need to be strengthened. Kerry insists that he is a fiscal conservative, aiming to reduce the deficit by tax increases. He has argued that stability in some parts of the world should take precedence over democracy or human rights.

"He opposes amending the constitution and supports legal abortion, the status quo that Bush wants to reverse. He has spent decades in the Senate building an undistinguished but nuanced record. He is a war veteran who plays up his record of public service. He’s a church-going Catholic who finds discussion of religious faith unseemly in public. In the primaries he was the safe establishment bore compared with radicals such as Howard Dean and the populist charmer John Edwards.

"His basic message: let’s return to “normalcy”. The radicalism of the past four years needs tempering. We need to consolidate nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan before any new adventures in, say, Iran. We need to return to the diplomatic obeisance to the United Nations. We should stop referring to a “war” on terror and return to pre-9/11 notions of terrorism, best dealt with by police work in co-ordination with our democratic allies. "

Ahem. Once again: Sullivan was a passionate, indeed, often loopy, proponent of that very "radicalism."

"At home we need to restrain the unruly religious right. We must balance the budget again. We need to redress some of the social and economic inequality that has so intensified during these past few years. Kerry’s biggest proposal — one sure to be modified by Congress — is a large increase in the number of people with health insurance. It’s far more modest than that proposed by Bill and Hillary Clinton a decade ago.

"Does that make Kerry right and Bush wrong? On the most fundamental matter, ie the war, I think Bush has been basically right: right to see the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and the nexus of weapons of mass destruction and Islamist terror; right to realise that the French would never have acquiesced to ridding the world of Saddam; right to endorse the notion of pre-emption in a world of new and grave dangers.

"Much of the hard work has now been done. Nobody seriously believes that Bush will start another war. And in some ways Kerry may be better suited to the difficult task of nation building than Bush.

"At home Bush has done much to destroy the coherence of a conservative philosophy of American government and he has been almost criminally reckless in his conduct of the war. He and America will never live down the intelligence debacle of the missing WMDs. He and America will be hard put to regain the moral high ground after Abu Ghraib.

"The argument that Kerry must make is that he can continue the war but without Bush’s polarising recklessness. And at home he must reassure Americans that he is the centrist candidate, controlled neither by the foaming Michael Moore left nor by the vitriolic religious right.

"Put all that together and I may not find myself the only conservative moving slowly and reluctantly towards the notion that Kerry may be the right man — and the conservative choice — for a difficult and perilous time."

Anyone else notice that in this long, detailed piece, which even mentions some fairly small-bore issues like agricultural subsidies and the now defunct steel tarriffs, Sullivan deliberately and dishonestly omits any clear mention of the one issue that obviously drives him (to distraction, and then back again)?



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posted by Ace at 03:13 PM

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