The Corner

Andrew and Will…

Sorry I missed this. After a long quote from Slate’s Will Saletan which jibes with Sullivan’s view that Edwards “eviscerated” Cheney, Andrew Sullivan writes:

On all the critical questions in this election – why is Osama bin Laden still at large? why did we invade Iraq? why has the Iraq occupation come unglued? why the poor jobs record? why the record deficits? – Cheney had almost no answer at all. If you’re already a committed Bush voter, it must have felt great to see a candidate articluate and aggressive. But any undecided voter would have sided with Edwards. That’s what matters. (Btw, here’s what Jonah said last night, after calling me “batty” for believing that Cheney was eviscerated: “I’d go so far as to predict that Sullivan is the only big name/mainstream pundit in America who has that opinion.” Hmmm. Does the political correspondent for Slate count?)

Fair enough. However, while Will Saletan is a smart and good guy and I’m happy to say I’m friends with him, I think he’s also been drinking too much anti-Bush Kool-Aid over the last year. For quite a while his writing has been fairly unqualified in its anti-Bush fervor. I’m sure it’s sincere, but that also suggests where he’s coming from.

Moreover, my main point that night was that I thought Andrew’s description of Cheney as “roadkill” was batty. Here’s his original quote:

Boy was I ever wrong. If last Thursday night’s debate was an assisted suicide for president Bush, this debate – just concluded – was a car wreck. And Cheney was road-kill. There were times when it was so overwhelming a debate victory for Edwards that I had to look away.

This, I think, is still batty. One can reasonably argue that Cheney lost. You can even reasonably argue that Cheney lost badly, even if I think that’s incorrect. But I don’t think you can reasonably say what Andrew said above — as a matter of political analysis. Sure, if you personally think Edwards fired on all pistons, you should feel free to say so. But as I noted that night, commentators are also supposed to watch these things for their political significance beyond what we personally think happened. And I think the fact that Andrew’s spent the last two days trying to clarify his initial reaction in the face of readers, the journalistic consensus and the polls shows that I was right about the battiness, but wrong that he would be alone in it.

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