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Sullivan’s Travels: Andrew’s Alternate Universe

October 21, 2009

Once considered one of the more interesting conservative intellectuals, Andrew Sullivan had an emotional meltdown during the Bush years over two issues: gay marriage — Sullivan is desperate for government approval for him to play house — and the supposed “torture” of terrorists (which Sullivan emotionally argues is morally equivalent to our enemies’ slaughter of innocents.)

Last year, Sullivan gave up any credentials he had for criticizing the “birthers,” or any other fringe element, when he spent about a week hysterically promoting the obvious hoax that Trig Palin was not really born to Sarah, but to his older sister, Bristol.
Andrew’s conviction that former Vice President Dick Cheney is a sociopathic monster has earned him a semi-regular guest spot with Matthews as each man– whenever the subject of Cheney– can be brought up, takes turns on some variation of

“To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee!”

Sullivan occupies the Faux Conservative Chair on the weekend Chris Matthews Show, a McLaughlin Group-style roundtable ratings bomb that the NBC affiliates are stuck with, which is usually occupied by Kathleen Parker, another Palin-hater.

Sullivan showed just how far ‘round the bend he has gone this weekend on The Chris Matthews Show when it was up to Matthews to counter him with fiscal sanity, and Dan Rather (!) to be the voice of reality.  Yes, Dan Rather.

On whether the economy and previous bailouts make it impossible for the Administration to sell the idea of another trillion for the  public option:

MR. SULLIVAN: I would say the public option is not dead for a couple of reasons, and the first is that it actually will reduce the deficit. In other words, there is a fiscally conservative argument for a public health option. Secondly, I think there is another kind of conservative argument for it, which is it really does increase choice for people…

MATTHEWS: Could it be that a lot of the people on the left, on the progressive side will say if it hadn’t been for this lousy economy this year, with jobless almost at 10 percent, there would have been a real shot for a real public option taking effect immediately. Do you buy that, Andrew, that if the economy…

Mr. SULLIVAN: I think the reverse is true. I think that the economy’s making a public option more appealing, because people are tight, and this might actually give them a cheaper health insurance plan.

On the free market vs. big government

MATTHEWS: I’ve got—I never thought I’d ask this question. Why is it some people trust private enterprise even when it’s failed more than they do government when it hasn’t failed yet?

Mr. SULLIVAN: Because they’re ideologues, they haven’t actually looked at reality.

On Obama, the visionary—even Chris “Tingly Leg” Matthews thought “conservative” Sullivan was too in love to deal with political reality.

MR. SULLIVAN: I think that the White House thinks they can get this maybe, and I think they understand, in a long game—remember, Obama always plays the long game, and he’s a good closer—that maybe they can pivot in the next month and a half. I think it’s perfectly on the table. And don’t underestimate him. He’s Road Runner.

MATTHEWS: Well, your romance is your selling point. I mean, it always will be with me, anyway.

On the town hall movement this summer, which undeniably motivated independents against Obama, turned seniors against Obamacare, and saw the President’s approval ratings slide as long as they were going on, Sullivan offered this counter-intuitive hypothesis:

Mr. SULLIVAN: The town halls clearly hurt them. They’ve turned the debate around in favor of the President.

After 8 years of watching the Left hamper America’s war effort just to use it as a hammer against George W. Bush and defeat Republicans, Sullivan predicts—to the astonishment of the rest of the group– that Republicans will do the same to Obama in Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS: That is really a good analysis, I think, from Helene, about why we would not want to pull out.

But historically, Dan, is there any case for really hunkering down and thinking that an outside force like us would do any better than the Brits did back in the 19th century or the Soviets did? Everybody gets repelled who’s outside.

Mr. RATHER: Well, but whether you agree with the argument or not, there is an argument for sticking it out. And, you know, I’ve said—I’ve said before on this program, with Afghanistan it’s either go big, be prepared to go long, or come home. But having said that, there’s a great difference. When people use these analogies with Alexander the Great, the British and the Soviets, all three of them sought to colonize Afghanistan. We don’t. A lot of Afghans understand that we’re not there as the Russians were, as the British were, as Alexander the Great was. We don’t want a bit of their soil, we want to get out of there. They understand that. They think we are there to give them the best chance at self-government, not necessarily democracy in our own image.

Good for Dan Rather for not sitting still for the moral equivalency between our presence in Afghanistan and that of the Soviet invasion—or even British colonialism, for that matter.

Mr. SULLIVAN: I think the real danger for him, actually, is that he might ramp it up and do the McChrystal route, and the Republicans will turn on him. I mean, I think the base of the Republican Party is not totally sold on this war. I think that if Obama’s for it, they may actually turn against it. Remember what they did in the Balkans with Clinton?

This is truly bizarre.  Conservatives are completely mobilized against jihadism and Islamofascism.  George Will found few takers on his “plan,” just as he did when he wobbled on Iraq.  Conservatives are only mumbling against Obama pulling what George W. Bush did in the middle years of Iraq—muddle along with no clear plan and wimpy rules of engagement.  And the rewrite of history on the Balkans is priceless—conservatives were split because the American interests there were murky. We know what’s at stake in fighting al Qaeda, that’s why Dick Cheney is a hero to conservatives, Andrew.

Then came this truly humiliating and priceless exchange:

Mr. SULLIVAN: The Republican—it’s not a conservative thing to go in there and remake an entire ancient society.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. But what about the left?

Mr. SULLIVAN: I think they’ll probably be extremely mad if he does. I mean, he’s already vastly escalated troops, and it’s certainly not what he was elected to do. And he—it might have been a necessary war, but Dan’s—I think Dan is mistaken on this point.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Mr. SULLIVAN: {waving his arms] Of course they think it’s an occupation. We’ve been there for eight years. If a—if a foreign army is in your country for EIGHT YEARS… [gestures emphatically]

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

Mr. SULLIVAN: …and then planning to ramp up, of COURSE it’s an occupation!

MATTHEWS: OK, let me…

Mr. SULLIVAN: …and you will resist it. That’s why terror attacks have been going UP since 2001! [gesticulates wildly, hands almost in Rather’s face]

Mr. RATHER: Well, respectful question. Have you been to Afghanistan? Have you talked to the Afghans there?

Mr. SULLIVAN: No, I have not. [very small voice, Sullivan suddenly sits back in his chair and plays with his beard nervously]

Mr. RATHER: Well, at—well…

Mr. SULLIVAN: And when were you last talking to them?

Mr. RATHER: I was there earlier this year and again last year. [OUCH!]

But not to be argumentative about it, honest people can differ about what’s in the Afghan hearts and minds. I do take your point that, being there eight years, there’s certain Afghans who say, `Look, they’re just like the Russians and the British.’ My only point was there are many Afghans who know the difference between what we’re trying to.”

Dan Rather might know a little more about Afghanistan than Andrew Sullivan

The Andrew Sullivan who wrote the provocative masterpiece, “What’s So Bad about Hate?” is long gone.

Now he uses the word “conservative” a lot, but he spent this whole hour without making one argument that would be considered conservative.  In fact, Matthews pointed out that he was “arguing for progressives” to the delight of a laughing New York Times columnist, and Sullivan quickly replied “I don’t see it that way.”

That’s right, Andrew, you don’t.  You are so blinded by your hatred for social conservatives, that you reflexively have taken the opposite position to them on even economic matters—the very attitude you are predicting from “the Republican base.”  You are so admiring of Obama that you even defend him from things conservatives have not done yet—and are extremely unlikely to ever do.

Just man up like David Brock, and admit that you’re pitching for the other team, now.

David Frum and David Brooks can’t even fit you in their tent anymore.  At this point, even they are likely to ask, “O, brother, where art thou?”

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5 Comments
  1. Kevroc permalink
    October 21, 2009 11:22 pm

    MR. SULLIVAN: I think that the White House thinks they can get this maybe, and I think they understand, in a long game—remember, Obama always plays the long game, and he’s a good closer—that maybe they can pivot in the next month and a half. I think it’s perfectly on the table. And don’t underestimate him. He’s Road Runner.

    MEEP MEEP

  2. Jack Hampton permalink
    October 22, 2009 4:28 am

    I have never really bought the idea that Sullivan is a conservative for several years now. His squawking about torture is pure hog wash. If he really wants to know about torture then have a talk with Col. Bud Day the Medal of Honor recipient that was the only person to escape from the North Vietnamese and the real torture these men endured. Hell we used to water board each other with beer at Ft. Benning. I believe that he pretended to be conservative for a time because it was to his personal benefit. Now he has come full circle and back to whence he came.

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