I read Andrew Sullivan’s site fairly regularly, as do lots of people I know. In fact, I get some grief from some readers — and Cornerites — for paying as much attention to Sullivan as I do. That doesn’t bother me. I respect Andrew, consider him a friend and I respect his influence which is an objective fact regardless of my personal attitudes.
As even moderate readers of Sullivan’s site can attest, his positions of late have been something of a moving target. I get lots of conjecture from our mutual audiences about “what’s going on” with Sullivan and it varies in persuasiveness. Whatever his motivations, no one who reads his stuff can deny that he’s moved increasingly into the anti-Bush camp, often for reasons that don’t seem powerful or at least persuasive enough to match his pro-Bush conviction from, say, this time last year (See my “everyone into the pool” post below).
But I must say I was surprised to discover this link from the gay magazine The Advocate. It seems that Andrew had been unequivocal about his opinions on Bush in that publication but not in his blog. In his advocate essay he writes:
But it’s time to say something very clearly: Bush’s endorsement of antigay discrimination in the U.S. Constitution itself is a deal-breaker. I can’t endorse him this fall. Like many other gay men and women who have supported him, despite serious disagreements, I feel betrayed, abused, attacked.
I will be excoriated by the same people who always denounce anyone who doesn’t toe the Democratic Party line. “What took you so long?” they sneer. Hope, engagement, principle are my answers. I do not regret trying to make conservatism safe for gays. It’s still possible to be in favor of small government, low taxes, a tough foreign policy, and to be a proud gay man. My principles haven’t changed. Nor will they anytime soon. But when a president allies himself with forces that really do want to keep gay people in jail, therapy, or the closet, it’s time to break off. The deal is broken. And no amount of rationalization can make it whole again.
Now I disagree with much (but not all) of what Andrew says in his essay. But it’s an honest and decent position. Still what baffles me is why, to my knowledge, he’s made no reference to this essay or his absolutist position on his site. Maybe, I missed it and he has. But I don’t think so. Obviously, there’s no binding code of ethics governing the blogosphere and even if there were I doubt it would have anything to say about not linking to articles you’ve written elsewhere or being obligated to express every significant opinion you have. But still, reading Andrew over the last year, you would have gotten the impression that at least theoretically his mind was open on who to support. According to this piece, it isn’t. And that strikes me as an extremely significant silence.
Indeed, last March, Andrew offered this response to a post by Kathryn Lopez:
DON’T RUSH ME: National Review’s Kathryn Lopez made the following remark before my spring break: “I do wish Sullivan would save time and come out for Kerry now. In just a matter of time he will come up with the rationalizations, but it’s taking him painfully long to get on with it. I’m betting all Kerry will have to do is say that he’s against terrorism.” I’m mystified by this remark. It has always seemed to me that a political writer is not necessarily partisan. Some of us are actually trying to figure out who’s the better candidate for the next four years and haven’t made our minds up already. This time in the last election cycle, I was for McCain before I was for Gore. It took till the fall for me to realize where Gore was headed and narrowly opted for W. And one of the unique joys of a blog like this is that a writer can actually think out loud in real time together with the readers. Is that a crime? Am I supposed to stop thinking at all? Now, no one need wonder for more than a few nano-seconds whom National Review will endorse this fall. That’s fine. But it’s equally fine for others to take a more independent approach. There’s a difference between “rationalizations” and “reasons.”
I think that’s all fine, if a bit haughty. But, Andrew, whatever happened to the benefits of “thinking out loud”?