A Long Overdue Goodbye to Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan was one of two big-time bloggers–the other being, of course, Glenn Reynolds–to have helped put me on the blogospheric map. For that, I shall always be grateful.

He was also–as Ross Douthat pointed out–extraordinarily influential in advancing the cause of same-sex marriage. Anyone who is the least bit concerned with fundamental human rights should be grateful to Sullivan for all that he has done on this issue.

At the outset, when I first started blogging, Sullivan’s political views and mine coincided quite neatly. After a while, they began to diverge. I certainly changed some of my political views as the years went on, and I don’t quite see how anyone could go an appreciable period of time without reappraising at least some political views. Sullivan’s views, of course, changed drastically. He went from being a supporter of George W. Bush to a fervent opponent. The shift began when Bush signed on to the Federal Marriage Amendment issue, and Sullivan reacted with outrage. I always got the sense that this issue became the jumping-off point for other Sullivanesque disagreements with the Bush administration; over Iraq, over interrogation and detention policy, and over foreign policy in general. Of course, it ought to go without saying that Sullivan was and is entitled to change whatever political views he wanted and wants to change.

So while Sullivan and I had our differences, some of those differences were reasonable in nature. Others . . . not so much.

In 2008, Sullivan decided that he really liked Barack Obama a lot. But he didn’t want to be identified as a contemporary American liberal, so he started concocting all sorts of ridiculous claims that the onetime senator and future president was and is a conservative. Hayek was cited, as was Locke, as was Oakeshott. Oakeshott was cited a lot. The claims, of course, made no sense whatsoever, but that didn’t stop Sullivan from making them, even as the rhetoric and policies from the White House became more and more port-sided. Of course, Sullivan could have taken the honorable road and simply announced a fundamental shift in his political philosophy. But instead, Sullivan, like Shakespeare’s Caesar, claimed and claims to be as constant as the North Star when it comes to his ideology, and his approach instead has been to desperately try to shoehorn Barack Obama into that ideology. It never worked before, it doesn’t work now, and it won’t work in the future, but Sullivan, not recognizing defeat when it stares him in the face, keeps on trying to make it work. The whole thing is rather pathetic, really.

There have been other Sullivanian obsessions as well. As anyone and everyone remotely familiar with Sullivan’s work are aware, he has engaged in an on-again-off-again seven-year obsessive quest to prove that Trig Palin is not actually Sarah Palin’s son. Oh, Sullivan denies over and over (and over) again that he actually doubts Trig’s matrilineal line. He just felt and feels that he needs to ask questions, and if only Palin would answer those questions by releasing a medical history that proves that she had the baby she claims to have had, Sullivan will give up his Ahabesque project to show that Trig is someone else’s son. To be clear: Sullivan’s theories and mutterings have been proven insane by science, but Sullivan refuses to admit defeat, and still periodically questions Trig Palin’s matrilineal line–against any and all medical and scientific evidence showing that Sullivan is making a fool of himself by continuing to doubt and deny the bloody obvious.

The obsession with Trig Palin’s parentage alone should have made Andrew Sullivan the laughingstock of the Blogosphere, but Sullivan, always willing and eager to double down on lunacy, decided that for his next trick, he would hate on Israel so much, that he would and could reasonably be accused of anti-Semitism. “Something Much Darker”, indeed. It is, to be sure, possible to criticize Israeli foreign policies without sounding and acting like an anti-Semitic loon, but the evidence shows quite plainly that Sullivan failed spectacularly to do so.

I guess I should mention as well the perpetually ridiculous periodic “meep, meep” blog posts, in which Sullivan wrote smugly about how, if one ingested enough LSD to kill a herd of elephants, an Obama political defeat could actually be viewed as a political victory–mostly over Republicans. This blog post had it right; during the Obama era, Sullivan has indeed blogged “like a hack in a one-party state.” At times, Sullivan’s blogging project seemed like a giant audition aimed at getting Sullivan named chief propagandist of the Obama administration. Sullivan may have failed to achieve this particular station in life, but his failure wasn’t for lack of trying.

I write all of this, of course, because Andrew Sullivan claims that he has decided to quit blogging. Now, Andrew Sullivan has claimed that he decided to quit blogging before, and he has come back, so I’m keeping the champagne on ice for the moment. But I’d like to think that at long last, Sullivan has realized that his fatuous, overwrought, emotionally unstable, intellect-insulting writing has finally reached China Syndrome proportions of insufferability. I would like to think that Sullivan took a good long look at his writing, his thought process (if one can be so generous as to claim that Sullivan’s writing is backed up by any thought whatsoever), and himself, and didn’t like what he saw. I would like to think that at long last, Andrew Sullivan decided that a belated embrace of discretion and silence was the best–the only–way to salvage whatever dignity he once had, before he decided to squander the vast majority of that dignity via anti-Semitic trolling, logic-defying apologetics on behalf of the Obama administration, and the spelunking of Sarah Palin’s womb.1

I would like to think all of this. So, I will do what Andrew Sullivan has frequently asked his readers to do.

I will know hope.

Andrew, if you read this, remember: We can’t truly miss you, if you won’t stay away.

UPDATE: Cross-posted.

1. I thought that I had come up with the “spelunking Sarah Palin’s womb” image. Alas, I did not.

Comments

  1. I had the reason for his obsession with Sarah Palin pegged (poor choice of word, but . . .) from the beginning. He is in competition with her. She is – what’s the best way to put it? – BITCHIER than he is. And it drives him batty. Catty. Whatever.

  2. Never heard of him. Was he a writer or something?
    Anyway, America’s libertarians are sure glad he’s gone. I’m guessing by the comments at Reason.com that he was at least as bad as Stalin, if not Dave Weigel. But how long to keep hating him? While he’s still breathing? Ten years after he’s planted in his grave? For all eternity? Libertarians hold grudges forever, so I’m thinking all eternity. What do you think?
    http://reason.com/blog/2015/01/28/a-fond-farewell-to-andrew-sullivan-who-i#comment

  3. Sullivan was never that conservative, even though he professed to be one. He was, after all, the editor of The New Republic.

  4. I read Andrew Sullivan when he first started blogging. I knew him from college because he was a graduate student living in my dorm.

    His reaction to the 9-11-2001 mass killings was very strong and not a little paranoid. Within a week of the attacks, he was warning of a seditious fifth-column of Americans who would sooner or later come to the support of the terrorists. I read his blog-posts assiduously and took them seriously, but it was always difficult to accept his perspective in the black-and-white take-it-or-leave-it terms that he embraced. I always had to wonder if there was a filter in his brain that wasn’t fully operational when he had some original brainstorm that seized his imagination.

    I stopped reading him regularly when he flipped without warning and without credible explanation from being a supporter of the Iraq invasion to an opponent. It’s not that I disagreed with him — it’s just that there didn’t seem to be much that I could learn from his opposition inasmuch as his writing had suddenly turned into something like the exposition of a religious position.

    I agree with the Reason commenters who point out that the Sarah Palin/Trig one-man crusade was not just an indictment of his rationality. It was much more an indictment of his decency, a bizarre willingness to show the world how angry, hateful, and hurtful he could be. My reaction was not be angry in turn, or even to disagree with what he said, but just to feel sorry for him and hope he would win against his personal demons.

    In an indirect way, his faults only serve to make his good points stand out more prominently. His obsessive mean-spiritedness with regard to Palin couldn’t be further from his thoughtful and frequently nuanced defense of homosexual marriage, although they were both products of his tenacity and intellectual combativeness. His achievements were truly the product of hard work combined with discipline, because it was often apparent what he was capable of when he failed to meet his own highest standards. So congratulations to him for that much. I hope he finds happiness and success in his future endeavors.

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