The Corner

Elitism & Andrew

Of all the arguments – and there’s no shortage of them – that Andrew Sullivan should be embarrassed to trot out, denouncing someone else’s inconsistency has to top the list. With the exception of his belief that Andrew Sullivan is the sole arbiter of political virtue (and, I suppose, the singular importance of gay marriage), the Party of Andrew has been a raging bonfire of self-contradiction.

So I find it amusing that he seems to think he’s found some sort of gotchya about my own inconsistency on the issue of elitism. His crack team of researchers (Andrew-the-lone-blogger now has quite a staff at the Atlantic), found this supposed zinger at this blog.

But they could have actually read my own post from the other night in response to one of Andrew’s readers. I wrote in part:

I should say, in all honesty, that I personally don’t much object to being called an elitist, as I’ve written around here a zillion times. If it’s worth it, I’ll fish out links on that score tomorrow. But whatever my own views on elitism, liberal elitism, etc, I don’t think that effects my analysis at all.

I still don’t. It is hardly as if it was a novel insight of mine that the Democrats have had a problem seeming like elitists. In fact, the whole point of my column was that Obama is nothing new in this regard. I think the column is pretty clear what I mean by liberal elitism – a “haughty cultural liberalism” where Democrats come across as nanny-state social planners who will tell you to do things for your own good. But whatever my own personal views on elitism may be, they have nothing to do with the argument I make in that column: that Democrats have an elitism problem. They’ve also had for the last 30 years a foreign policy problem, my own views on foreign policy don’t change that fact either.

But for those interested, I’ll say it again: my own problem isn’t with elitism per se, it’s with the current liberal elite. I think conservatives have become too populist in recent years (another of my hobbyhorses) and that a civilization worthy or capable of preserving itself needs a healthy elitism. That’s a point I made at length in the very column Andrew thinks displays my inconsistency which in reality merely explains my position. A difficult distinction for Andrew, I guess.

Update: Classic Andrew. From a reader:

I see that Andrew Sullivan has responded in his fashion to your post on “Elitism & Andrew.” The sum and substance of it is contained in exactly twenty-one words: “This post seems to have struck a nerve. And not to be elitist, of course, but he means ‘affects’ not ‘effects’. He, of course, totally ignores the substance of your lengthy post, and tries to skate over the gross defects in his original post with what is essentially a non-sequitur remark about the difference in meaning between use of the words “affects” versus “effects.” How pitiful and pathetic he and his writing have become over the last several years. I suspect that Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit probably has the right idea; he simply ignores anything Sullivan writes, whether about him or any other subject.

When someone catches Andrew making an ass of himself, he says “I must have hit a nerve.” I regret the error of my typo. I also regret the error of breaking my policy of ignoring the Party of Andrew.


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