The Definitive Takedown of Andrew Sullivan?
posted at 12:59 pm on June 23, 2009 by Karl
The fair use doctrine constrains me to quote only the introduction of “Through the Looking Glass With Andrew Sullivan,” by Christopher Badeaux at The New Ledger:
Perhaps the single, common life goal of every intellectual, pseudo-intellectual, and intellectual aspirant, is to be a true Renaissance man — a genius whose force of will and flexible, dominating intellect allows him to master or nearly master not one or two, but a whole host of related and unrelated fields of study and practice.
Sadly, not everyone can be Leonardo da Vinci or Karol Wojtyla. Or Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan, who has worn dozens of hats in his lifetime, is truly unique. He stands astride the worlds of politics, journalism, theology, foreign policy, and applied obstetrics like the Colossus of Rhodes. A former editor for The New Republic — a publication that benefited from his razor-sharp insights on, among other things, the early masterpieces of Stephen Glass — columnist-about-town for Time, the Atlantic, and various Fleet Street rags; a Ph.D in the works of Michael Oakeshott, recognized by true conservatives everywhere as the only conservative thinker of the last four hundred years; and an itinerant blogger whose once-eponymous site has migrated to Time and now the Atlantic, Sullivan is one of those Washington fixtures that fit unusually well on the late-night talk show circuit, as he himself likes to demonstrate. Like a real-life, hyper-garrulous Forrest Gump, Sullivan has been present for, or at least has shared his thoughts — stray, organized, rational, and delusional — on most of the major events of the last twenty five years, at a rate that has only increased since he began blogging (before it was cool) and taking long vacations after pledge drives (which has been cool forever). More impressive than his output is his utter lack of fear of self-contradiction, flights of laughter-inducing hyperbole, public obsessiveness, repeated self-contradiction, betrayals of utter ignorance, and failed attempts to mimic the Bard by coining bizarre neologisms to match his wandering moods.
Few among us have the raw intellectual firepower to go where he has. Fortunately, the internet tubes allow us to track his movements over time – an otherwise dizzying effort made more vertiginous by Sullivan’s kaleidoscopic mind. As with all things Sullivan, the best place to start is with human genitalia…
Allahpundit asks whether this is the definitive Sullivan takedown. As good as it is, I do not think the definitive takedown has been compiled yet. A truly comprehensive piece would also have to draw on The Village Voice piece by Richard Goldstein, detailing how unhinged Sullivan was, even before 9/11. Also, inasmuch as Badeaux notes that Sullivan’s archives have become difficult to search as he moves from site to site, a definitive piece would scour them and quote at length from pieces like this one from October 2001:
THE COMING CONFLICT: The sophisticated form of anthrax delivered to Tom Daschle’s office forces us to ask a simple question. What are these people trying to do? I think they’re testing the waters. They want to know how we will respond to what is still a minor biological threat, as a softener to a major biological threat in the coming weeks. They must be encouraged by the panic-mongering of the tabloids, Hollywood and hoaxsters. They must also be encouraged by the fact that some elements in the administration already seem to be saying we need to keep our coalition together rather than destroy the many-headed enemy. So the terrorists are pondering their next move. The chilling aspect of the news in the New York Times today is that the terrorists clearly have access to the kind of anthrax that could be used against large numbers of civilians. My hopes yesterday that this was a minor attack seem absurdly na? in retrospect. So they are warning us and testing us. At this point, it seems to me that a refusal to extend the war to Iraq is not even an option. We have to extend it to Iraq. It is by far the most likely source of this weapon; it is clearly willing to use such weapons in the future; and no war against terrorism of this kind can be won without dealing decisively with the Iraqi threat. We no longer have any choice in the matter. Slowly, incrementally, a Rubicon has been crossed. The terrorists have launched a biological weapon against the United States. They have therefore made biological warfare thinkable and thus repeatable. We once had a doctrine that such a Rubicon would be answered with a nuclear response. We backed down on that threat in the Gulf War but Saddam didn’t dare use biological weapons then. Someone has dared to use them now. Our response must be as grave as this new threat. I know that this means that this conflict is deepening and widening beyond its initial phony stage. But what choice do we have? Inaction in the face of biological warfare is an invitation for more in a world where that is now thinkable. Appropriate response will no doubt inflame an already inflamed region, as people seek solace through the usual ideological fire. Either way the war will grow and I feel nothing but dread in my heart. But we didn’t seek this conflict. It has sought us. If we do not wage war now, we may have to wage an even bloodier war in the very near future. These are bleak choices, but what else do we have?
A post like that could be compared with Sullivan’s blase observation in August 2008: “John Judis wants a Congressional investigation into the source of the rumors that the anthrax attacks in 2001 originated in Iraq. ” Judis should asked Sullivan!
Furthermore, while Badeaux addresses Sullivan’s Trig Trutherism in delicious detail, a truly definitive piece would address all of the bizarre conspiracy theories Sullivan has floated in recent years, complete with sinister allusions to “the Likud effect.”
Badeaux’s piece may not be definitive, but that does not render it any less devastating on the subjects it does cover, both in substance in tone, so RTWT, natch.