Patterico's Pontifications

6/23/2009

The Definitive Takedown of Andrew Sullivan?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:56 am

[Posted 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 naﶥ 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 and tone, so RTWT, natch.

–Karl

69 Responses to “The Definitive Takedown of Andrew Sullivan?”

  1. Maybe one day you can be big league bloggers. True renaissance men of such intellectual talent and brilliance that your blog posts literally change the conscience of a nation and, when angered, you can consume your enemies with rivers of napalm flowing from your arse.

    Andrew Sullivan, defender of the faith against the likes of Palin. The only true consevative leftist.

    Becuase Andrew Sullivan is to Barack Obama how Kathryn Jean Lopez is to Mitt Romney. Only Sullivan is more fauning and has more of a crush.

    Joe (dcebbd)

  2. Does Excitable Andy explain how Teh One is responsible for the Iranian uprising, yet is not willing to make a definitive statement condemning the atrocities, for fear of injecting the US into Iranian politics?

    JD (1517ae)

  3. Stop Picking on Andrew!

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  4. Back in the days when I was young, I read Andrew’s blog every day and even contributed to it.

    Then I grew up.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  5. JD, that is a difficult challenge you raised for Andrew Sullivan…

    But love will find a way.

    Joe (dcebbd)

  6. Supermanglutes’ Trig-trutherism is simply inspired writing.

    JD (b537f4)

  7. Funny, but I found Badeaux’s piece to be cringe-inducingly bad. You, know, it really is not hard to paste together a list of criticisms of anyone, if that is your goal. Especially if you devote no time to any original thought, but just dredge up stale old bitter insults that others have hurled at your subject over the years.

    The very fact that this piece was written speaks volumes about the real importance that Sullivan plays in American political discourse. And how Badeaux (who the hell is he anyway) is nothing but someone who is trying to hitch a ride on Andrew’s fame, to make a name for himself.

    Do you really find this insightful? Or “definitive”? Its just insults, buddy. Insults with $20 words rather than 25 cent words. Lame, petty, ankle-biting stuff.

    Andrew is, whether you love him or hate him, or do both at various times, the best blogger out there. He helped shape the medium, and no one does it better.

    Stop being sniveling little jealous snarks and learn a few things.

    JoeCitizen (d2928e)

  8. JoeCitizen – The best blogger out there? Really? Trig-trutherism was the pinnacle of his career? How about when he declared himself the true conservative? Your definition of best and the rest of the world’s definition are not even in the same ballpark.

    JD (06cd1d)

  9. 12:10pm – it really is not hard to paste together a list of criticisms of anyone, if that is your goal.

    It is, however, impossible to criticise an author by pasting together a compilation of delusional writings if the author of such writing did not, in fact, write them himself.

    The insults would just be insults if not supported entirely by the lunacy of Sullivan’s blog posts.

    Definitive? Perhaps. Damning? Absolutely.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  10. JoeCitizen dismisses as insults the substantive criticisms made in the Badeaux piece… and mine for that matter — presumably because there is no real defense for the Trig Trutherism, the Alex Jones-inspired conspiracy theory about Dick Cheney, the suggestion that we might nuke Iraq for anthrax attacks w/o evidence, his incoherent view of Catholicism, the rampant windsocking hypocrisy, etc. It is not surprising that someone who either misses — or is in denial about — all of that might think Sullivan is the “best blogger out there.”

    However, I do not deny that Sullivan has a sizable audience, and perhaps influence. That’s the only reason Badeaux or I would bother pointing out that he’s a deranged lunatic so much of the time. Otherwise, he would be no different than the dude wearing the sandwich board on the corner downtown. That a number of people — including JoeCitizen — haven’t figured that out is what makes Sullivan worthy of comment.

    At least JoeCitizen was amusing enough to start by dismissing Badeaux’s stuff as mere insult, but end by calling people “sniveling little jealous snarks.”

    Karl (f07e38)

  11. JD–”JoeCitizen” is Andrew Sullivan engaging in some sock puppetry.

    Joe (dcebbd)

  12. suggestion belied by every word from President Obama’s mouth since he accused the Jews of driving the U.S. into the Iraq War in 2002

    What he refer here to? Where did Obama accuse the Jews of anything?

    Nikolay (76ec15)

  13. suggestion belied by every word from President Obama’s mouth since he accused the Jews of driving the U.S. into the Iraq War in 2002

    What does he refer here to? Where did Obama accuse the Jews of anything?

    Nikolay (76ec15)

  14. Karl, that writing style of “JoeCitzen” really does read like Sullivan.

    Joe (dcebbd)

  15. [...] on weekdays” rule for this one… Posted on June 23, 2009 by Joe Tobacco via Patterico, this piece on Andrew Sullivan looks like one I may need a beer or three to accompany: Perhaps the [...]

    I may have to break my “no beers on weekdays” rule for this one… « Cadillac Tight (c67638)

  16. Andrew is, whether you love him or hate him, or do both at various times, the best blogger out there.

    Yes, and Hearst newspapers were the best of the news media in 1898, even if they did lie us into the Spanish American War. After all, some things are too good to check.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  17. With all this snark and hyperventelating among obscure far right bloggers, do I sense a little blog envy due to Sullivans’s widely read blog stature?

    Reagan (e4334c)

  18. [...] Dan also predicts, Andrew Sullivan will be returning to his medical practice to study the bags under Sanford’s eyes and any facial lines, no [...]

    Fausta’s Blog » Blog Archive » Sanford, missing and found (a98aa5)

  19. “Reagan,”

    I refer you to comment #10. But attacking people’s motives is easier than having a response on the merits, I suppose.

    Karl (f07e38)

  20. The real question, Karl, is if Reagan has ever snarked or criticized Rush Limbaugh. I mean, if so, there might be a little envy over his popularity?

    Eric Blair (0b61b2)

  21. 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.

    The travails of ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ indeed.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  22. I’m sure Rush Limbaugh is more widely read than Andi, but something tells me they won’t like that logical extension of their “arguments”.

    Techie (482700)

  23. I can’t get the linked “definitive takedown” to load (for over an hour now).

    Meanwhile, laughing at the sock puppets defending himself, er, I mean, Sullivan.

    Mitch (890cbf)

  24. I take Badeaux’s points, but he sure does need a better editor. Even Goldstein has written with more clarity.

    gp (a3af9f)

  25. Excitable Andy’s journey is not even 1/100th as entertaining as our serial fabulist DSCSA.

    JD (0d1f38)

  26. I’m sure Rush Limbaugh is more widely read than Andi

    I’m not even sure what information would be available to you to falsify this claim.

    What basis do you have for a belief in how widely read either man is?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  27. gp – You are right about Badeaux’s need for an editor. I struggled through this piece at lunch. At one point he refers to “Sullivam.”

    That said, the criticisms are valid. Sully is a very popular, widely-read blogger, who goes off on non-factual, paranoid rants. He went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show a few years back to support his book and was quite incoherent in his rantings about “Christianists.” The other points are all valid. I used to like his blog, but you really can see why he doesn’t have comments.

    carlitos (84409d)

  28. #2 and you filthy neocons would be the first to call Teh One a hypocrite if he came down hard on the present Iran regime and the later found this his own proposed Brown Shirt Civilian Defense Forces that rival the Pentagon in budget constraints had their own moments of carnage against dissenters in present day Amerikkka. Yes, W was accused of plans to ship off his own dissenters to gulags. Would it not be funny if Obama actually managed to bring such plans to fruition? Let’s start with those dirty Faux News people who refuse to fellate Obama. When did Bush II ever stand up for himself or crack down on the traitors at State and CIA, not to mention the NY Times?
    Gotta love how the libtards are outraged at Miss California for having the same views of gay marriage as the Magic Negro Potus. Maybe the libs on this board can explain how they and Sullivan reconcile THAT?

    aoibhneas (55634c)

  29. aphrael,

    Sullivan accounts for about half of the traffic to The Atlantic (which is why they put up with him). When people thought he might be under DDOS attack from Iran, it turned out to be traffic overwhelming their server. Sullivan got about a million visits that day. That’s a lot of traffic compared to, say, Patterico. But HotAir reaches about 700-800K daily recently.

    Limbaugh, depending on whom you consult, reaches about 18-22 million weekly on the radio. Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod wouldn’t be attacking him otherwise.

    Karl (f07e38)

  30. “Editor, editor.” That Badeaux article would have to be better written for me to get past about the sixth paragraph, and I really wanted to read it, given Karl’s summary and promotion of it.

    m (41e7a3)

  31. Stop being sniveling little jealous snarks and learn a few things.

    Comment by JoeCitizen — 6/23/2009 @ 12:10 pm

    Whether left or right, surely all readers must have been disturbed by Sullivan’s obsession with Palin’s reproductive life. How is it possible to ignore, rationalize or justify a year’s worth of sickness manifesting itself in a middle-aged gay man’s fervent obsessing over, and even creating conspiracy theories about the activity of one woman’s uterus?

    And while Sullivan may indeed get half the traffic to The Atlantic, how much of it is simply checking to see if it’s a train-wreck effect day: you know, the day where his post is something so outrageous, so unbelievable, so disingenuous, so distorted, or even a blatant flat out lie that readers simply can’t take their eyes away? Just like the horrified disbelief when watching a train wreck.

    Dana (8d88ef)

  32. “Andrew is, whether you love him or hate him, or do both at various times, the best blogger out there. He helped shape the medium, and no one does it better.

    Sheesh, is Greenwald subcontracting out sockpuppets now? This is silliness on the order of the best of the Brazilian cabana boys.

    SPQR (72771e)

  33. long vacations after pledge drives

    Hey! I forgot about that! Pissed me off when I forked over 20 bucks to my favorite blogger only to have him go on vacation for a month just a couple weeks later. And that was before guest bloggers. I don’t think there was an announcement either. The posting just stopped. For a month.

    tim maguire (4a98f0)

  34. Dana: The only reason I check Andy anymore is I want to track his coverage of Obama to pinpoint when it goes from slobbering fawing obsequience to frothmouthed vein-bulging rage. Already he has showing signs of slipping into stage 2 (dissappointment), but he’s managed to pull back before reaching stage 3 (gobsmaking heartbreak).

    Sean P (e57269)

  35. Sully was mildly interesting at first, but when he held a pledge drive early on in order to keep up his blogging site, he garnered over $150K from his readership. Thereafter he promptly announced he was quitting, only to come back a few weeks later after the outrage wasn’t subsiding – I thought he was either duplicitous or off his rocker, but I quit reading him soon after that – a total drama queen, you could say.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  36. Can someone explain to me the hatred in the conservative blogosphere for Andrew Sullivan? Why him above anyone else? I’m not being snarky.

    I don’t read him much, except when another blog links to him. But I’ve seen plenty of people writing specific posts attacking him. Why does he incite such vitriol? For instance, why are people looking for the “definitive takedown” of him? I guess I wonder why anyone cares that much.

    Myron (98529a)

  37. Myron, why is it that you think your own utter ignorance of the issues with Andrew Sullivan is something we care about?

    Telling us that you don’t know anything about a subject, but are baffled why others are interested in it is a pretty lame comment.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  38. Myron,

    As is often the case, the information you seek is in the post on which you comment. And at the links therein.

    carlitos (84409d)

  39. …so try actually reading them before opening that blowhole of yours. Mmmmmkay?

    Dmac (f7884d)

  40. OK, so no one wants to answer the question. I guess everyone’s tired. But thanks for my own personal slice of vitriol.

    So I guess I should feel honored. :)

    I do feel you only increase Sullivan’s importance by obsessing over him.

    Myron (98529a)

  41. Karl: ahhh. I see what happened now.

    “Widely read” is in some contexts a phrase meaning “has read a lot” or “is knowledgeable in many different subjects.”

    I took the comment about Rush and Sullivan to be in that sense.

    If the comment was meant in the “more people read/listen to him” sense that you seem to be using, then my question was inapposite.

    aphrael (4163e2)

  42. Its not vitriol, Myron. Its ridicule.

    You should learn the difference.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  43. But thanks for my own personal slice of vitriol.

    So I guess I should feel honored.

    You seen where da Magical Mau Mau Ninja swats a fly? Feel just as honored as the fly.

    nk (7cc6e1)

  44. Christopher Badeaux wrote:

    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…

    You know, when someone writes this about you, you know you’re going to have a bad day.

    I admit that I cannot understand Mr Sullivan. He moved from an early-achieved fame and widespread respect, even among those who disagreed with him, to an obsessive style; he has gone from breadth and depth to becoming Johnny One-Note, locked in on a few topics. Yeah, his current obsession, Iran, is the hot topic now, but it will fade and he’ll go back to Sarah Palin and Trig Palin Trutherism.

    He’s smart enough to see that his Palin fixation has worn thin, and that his lack of fresh material hurts his reputation, but, like a porn addict, he can’t help from returning to the stuff again and again and again.

    He’s on a downward spiral. Having reached so high a perch, it simply means his fall will be that much harder.

    The Dana who has seen this kind of thing before (474dfc)

  45. You’re lucky he even performs for you b*stards…..leave Andy alone!!!

    harkin (2e0d4b)

  46. At least nishi is in good company with her Palin obsession with bug fuck crazy Sullivan.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  47. Whether left or right, surely all readers must have been disturbed by Sullivan’s obsession with Palin’s reproductive life.

    Maybe that’s to counterbalance his other major socio-sexual obsession of needing (based on his own confession) to use various body parts of his in a grotesque way — and which likely caused his HIV infection in the first place — and which requires he go trolling for willing like-minded males, health and hygiene be damned.

    Typhoid Mary, meet Andy Sullivan. Andy Sullivan, meet Typhoid Mary.

    Mark (411533)

  48. Now that poor Ed is gone will Sully join the Hollywood Death pool in Vegas?

    HeavenSent (1e97ff)

  49. Points to harkin.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  50. OK, so no one wants to answer the question. I guess everyone’s tired.

    Myron, if you are too lazy to click the links, don’t comment.

    Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") (bcc87c)

  51. nk: Why is Obama a Mau Mau, or I guess, former Mau Mau? You seem to be on one track with him. There are any number of warrior groups from history you might have chosen.

    Myron (98529a)

  52. Paul: Don’t tell me whether to comment or not. Who are you?

    Myron (98529a)

  53. Myron – Have you read the material at the links yet? All your mysteries will be cleared up there.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  54. Paul: Don’t tell me whether to comment or not. Who are you?

    Whats-a-matter? Don’t like being called out?

    Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") (bcc87c)

  55. [...] the Looking Glass With Andrew Sullivan,” then Karl at Patterico’s Pontifications Goes Through the Memory Hole with Andrew, flashing back with plenty of links to Sullivan’s many earlier worldviews, both [...]

    Ed Driscoll » Through The Looking Glass (a3d746)

  56. There is much to criticize Andrew Sullivan for and much evidence to support that criticism. But the piece in the Village Voice by Richard Goldstein isn’t such evidence. And perhaps the opposite.

    Brad (b943a6)

  57. any number of warrior groups from history you might have chosen.

    Comment by Myron — 6/23/2009 @ 8:40 pm

    The Mau Mau were not a warrior group — they were (Kenyan) Marxist terrorists. Besides, it alliterates.

    nk (7cc6e1)

  58. nk: Riiiggght. It was the alleged Marxist and terrorist link that made you associate Obama with the Mau Mau. Why THOSE Marxists, I wonder. There are plenty of Marxists. And plenty of terrorists, too.

    I think you would feel better if you just said what you want to say about the Big O, publicly. It would be cleansing for you. You’re among friends. Let fly.

    Paul: I have nothing but a Heisman for you. I have enough clowns in my circus here at P’rico. Not auditioning at present.

    Myron (98529a)

  59. Myron, you still seem unable to get past the point of bragging of your ignorance of the topic.

    SPQR (72771e)

  60. “Paul: Don’t tell me whether to comment or not.”

    That was friendly advice: Don’t advertise your foolishness. :-D

    pst314 (672ba2)

  61. “It was the alleged Marxist and terrorist link that made you associate Obama with the Mau Mau.”

    Alleged? Who are you? The reincarnation of Lillian Hellman?

    pst314 (672ba2)

  62. Yeah, the leftist morons have no problem accusing people of not wanting a black man as President, when they, themselves, could not stand the thought of having a woman as either President or Vice President.

    nk (7cc6e1)

  63. Paul: I have nothing but a Heisman for you. I have enough clowns in my circus here at P’rico. Not auditioning at present.

    Fine. Just don’t comment if you are too lazy to read the link provided that answer all of your questions.

    Paul (creator of "Staunch Brayer") (bcc87c)

  64. The Diagnosis

    Sully has hetero-phobia!

    Fred (adc8d1)

  65. Myron – Just scream RACIST!!!! At everyone. You know you want to. It will make you feel better. I will go first.

    RACISTS!!!!!!

    Ah ….. cleansing, refreshing even.

    JD (46cf2b)

  66. I considered calling him The Watusi Weenie but Obama’s dubious antecedents seem to be more from the east of Kenya than from the south. Link is safe.

    nk (d78a32)

  67. [...] “the most popular one- or two- or three-man blog on the internet” has descended from unhinged conspiracy theorist to delusional [...]

    The Greenroom » Forum Archive » Andrew Sullivan: Pity the fool? (e2f069)

  68. [...] that “the most popular one- or two- or three-man blog on the internet” has descended from unhinged conspiracy theorist to delusional [...]

    Patterico's Pontifications » Andrew Sullivan: Pity the fool? (e4ab32)

  69. [...] “the most popular one- or two- or three-man blog on the internet” has descended from unhinged conspiracy theorist to delusional [...]

    Andrew Sullivan: Pity the fool? (e7ecf5)


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