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Sullivan, Daft and Dishonest


Actually, I didn’t say that Andrew Sullivan’s book can only be daft or dishonest: I said only that five of the six passages from it I had randomly glanced at were. But reading comprehension has never been his strong suit, has it? As it happens, his latest post mentions one of those passages: the bit about Robert P. George. It is, for those who follow these things, rather funny.

Sullivan more or less admits that he has trouble following George’s arguments, and so he lets the views of Edward Feser stand in for his. But George’s arguments and Feser’s are completely different. George disagrees with the aspects of Feser’s thought that Sullivan quotes, and has said so explicitly on numerous occasions. Just another day’s work for our “card-carrying intellectual.”

Sullivan, meanwhile, continues to justify the idea that nobody should say anything critical about his book without reading it while he was perfectly within bounds to carry on a stalkerish campaign against mine without reading it. Here’s his latest swipe: “A book that describes anyone who disagrees with it as ‘The Party of Death’ excludes itself from reasonable discussion.” Well, the book never did that–but then you’d have to read it to know that. Meanwhile, Sullivan seems to be defining everyone who disagrees with his book as a threat to American democracy. What else can he mean by saying that David Brooks has made “common cause” with “Christianists”?

That’s one of the points I made in the post to which he is reacting. He doesn’t respond to that point, or any other point I made. Instead he resorts to one of his tried-and-true rhetorical tricks. If I said that you beat up small children, and you became indignant about it, would it be very persuasive for me to say: “A-ha! Look how my truth-telling has riled him up! Obviously I am cutting close to the bone.” Sullivan does this sort of thing all the time. So, keeping up his sidelight in psychoanalysis, I’m “angry” because his book “exposes” the fact that I’m not a “real conservative.”

Well, maybe. Or maybe I called Sullivan daft and dishonest because long experience of reading him has persuaded me that he is.


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