The Corner

SULLIVAN’S SELF-DEFENSE

He claims I’m misrepresenting his views. First: On embryonic stem-cell research, he claims that he has consistently raised moral concerns about it while opposing legal prohibitions on it. He’s “personally opposed,” in other words. Leaving aside the intellectual coherence of this position, it’s not what’s at issue. He wrote that killing a one-celled human embryo instrumentalized human life, and that he could think of no better description of evil. But one of the arguments he has made against “Christianists,” including me, is precisely that we give too much moral weight to “microscopic zygotes.” He’s not distinguishing between law and morality by writing these things. He’s just flailing around inconsistently. (Another inconsistency: The president takes the position Sullivan claims to take. Bush isn’t calling for a ban on all embryo-destructive research, but he doesn’t want to fund it. Yet Sullivan includes Bush’s position on stem-cell research as part of his indictment of the president’s fealty to “Christianists.”)

Second, Sullivan says that his support for Clinton’s resignation and opposition to his impeachment was a “nuanced position.” I didn’t criticize him for the position, but for a) his inability to come with any explanation of why the one, but not the other, should be supported, and b) his hysterical denunciations of supporters of impeachment. Can it really be the case that parsing the nuances differently than Sullivan makes you a puritan, fanatic, theocrat, Christianist, etc.?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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