June 17, 2004

To Hell with the Republican Party

Dear Andrew Sullivan,

I see you’ve decided not to support the re-election of the president. Well, good for you then.

For a while there I was a v-e-r-y reluctant Bush supporter because the Democrats refused to take the Terror War seriously and picked a worm in the primary. Now I’m back in the undecided swing-voter camp for most of the same reasons you are. I don’t know who I’ll vote for. But I’m sure I’ll hate myself in the morning no matter which way I go.

I see there’s an Andrew Sullivan hate-fest going on over at Lucianne Goldberg’s Web site. I read the first half of the comments in that thread and didn’t see a single person sticking up for you. It’s nothing but accusations of “fag,” “traitor,” liberal,” “anti-American,” and so on ad nauseum.

Look. I went through the same thing on the other side. For a while I thought I was a dissident hawkish liberal. But there are only so many times a person can be told he or she is a heretic before walking out of the ever-shrinking “big” tent with their sleeping bag and gear to set up camp somewhere else.

Political parties are cruel to people who think. The more partisan members are bigots. They hate people in the other political party, and they hate you if you don't follow orders. If you’re going to talk about principles you might as well be writing in Martian for those who will jump at a moment’s notice to stay on the right side of the party line.

Quit. Just walk away from the Republican Party. They are not your comrades as you can plainly see. Don’t bother calling yourself a conservative anymore. Publicly declare yourself an Independent and a Centrist. Don’t let anyone call you anything else. Oh, but they’ll try. Ann Coulter will call you a traitor and a leftist. Michael Moore will say you’re an imperial neocon cabalist. Who cares what they think? They’re slapstick buffoons, not your peers.

Your conservative friends who are worth their body weight in water will still be there for you. Your subscription to The Weekly Standard will still arrive in the mail. Your boyfriend will still love you. Your neighbors will still wave hello. Your favorite bartender will still smile when he sees you pull up a stool. Your Web site will still be one of the most popular blogs in the world. Don’t be afraid to lose readers. Some of us have learned a lot from your work, and we are not going anywhere.

The Democrats will no longer have me. That’s fine because now I am free. If the Republicans no longer want you, we in the middle will welcome you. Come on in. The water’s fine. It’s only cold for a second.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 17, 2004 07:18 PM
Comments

Might it not have been a bit more fair to title the post,
"To Hell with the Rpublican/Democratic Parties"?

Posted by: Renzo at June 17, 2004 07:29 PM

Sorry....Republican.

Posted by: Renzo at June 17, 2004 07:30 PM

Renzo,

Not in this case. This is to and about Andrew Sullivan. I've already written plenty of "to hell with the Democrats" pieces.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 17, 2004 07:32 PM

Amen. Although I'm a liberal-leaning moderate myself (due to my enormous distaste for most Republican social values), I try to actually think about the facts of issues before making up my mind. I've noticed that most people who self-identify with either party prefer to be highly selective when deciding which facts (or "facts") they accept and which they'll happily ignore.

Posted by: mallarme at June 17, 2004 07:40 PM

Michael --

I think much of the reaction to Sullivan is that he appears to have become a Bush opponent overnight in response to the President's position on gay marriage. While I certainly support his right to vote for the candidate of his choice for whatever reasons he finds compelling, I think Sullivan is being somewhat disingenuous in that he is now critical of the President in areas where he previously offered support (or at least acquiescence) for reasons that do not seem to be related to the issue at hand.

It appears to me, as well as to many others, that his change of heart on other issues is motivated solely by his fanatical support for gay marriage. He is entitled to his views on that issue, but I don't think that relieves him of the responsibility to be intellectually honest about his change of heart. If his change of heart is motivated by other considerations, he can certainly prove me wrong by explaining himself.

Posted by: Ben at June 17, 2004 07:56 PM

Sullivan was only a RINO anyway

Posted by: Mark D. at June 17, 2004 07:56 PM

Michael, please indicate the comments directed towards yourself that correspond to "fag."

Posted by: roy edroso at June 17, 2004 07:57 PM

He wasn't a "RINO" because he never even claimed to be a Republican.

Pretty decent discussion of this on "Allahpundit" if you're interested.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at June 17, 2004 08:41 PM

True, he said he was not a Republican. But he's consistently said he is a conservative. He should probably just drop it. He's sorta conservative and sorta liberal, kinda like me. He'll feel better if he labels himself that way.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 17, 2004 08:50 PM

Michael -

I'm a Republican. Says so on my voter registration card.

However, what is rapidly becoming clear to me, too, is that whatever the party is up to they are repeating the classic "Well, we got what we wanted....now what was it we were supposed to do?" schtick of amateurs.

There's too much power in those offices. Too much emphasis on merit of seniority and too damned little on actual performance. Small states like Utah keep on sending the same senators and congressmen back to D.C. because without senior representation, we are screwed. There has to be a better way.

Your essay "European Earthquake" comes to mind. The silver lining is that Euroes are just about trained that they don't have any control over their governments. We aren't. Not by a long way.

The Greens are a party because the Democrats wouldn't bend far enough left...so, pow, there's a party. Libertarians are not conservatives. Conservatives have identified with the Republicans big time since Reagan...and will look for other options if the country-club pork barrel get-alongs forget why they were a minority until an unabashed conservative laid down the law.

I'm pretty disgusted with the party on several levels. Outlandish discretionary spending is just the tip of the iceberg. Cutting taxes IS the best way for government to keep out of the economy's way, but the next logical step is to quit upholstering outhouses in West Virginia and stop funding studies of college-age drinking habits for distillers.

I discovered Sullivan about four years ago; great writer, interesting personality, always worth the time to read. Once the gay marriage thing popped, he became a single - issue guy. With the Advocate article he seems to have violated one of the unwritten rules of blogging : what is written is what the author really thinks. It's just my opinion, but it surely looks like he has been engaged in a polished propaganda effort since his gay activist button got pushed. Go figure.

The Democrats have screwed minorities forever, especially black Americans, and are just now waking up to the fact that without those votes they are not a national party. The Republicans who have offices now seem to be treating conservatives the same way.

What a time to be a citizen, eh?

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 17, 2004 09:04 PM

For me the issue isn't his credentials as a republican or conservative or independent or whatever. He's suggesting he might sit out the election. That's nothing but petulance. Adults vote. College sophomores whine in the ways he is. If he doesn't vote, he loses me as a reader and I think he'll lose others too. He'll also lose any pretense to authority. He was a cheerleader for the Iraq war (and I support that). Our soldiers have been killed, in part, to enable Iraqis to have free and fair elections. The least he can do is spare us the Scarlet O'Hara routine, drag his sorry Hamlet butt out to the polls and pull the lever for someone. For a supposedly serious person to entertain sitting out the election because he can't set his priorities is an insult to the blood shed enabling us all to vote.

Posted by: Barry Dauphin at June 17, 2004 09:07 PM

Amplification:

The Republicans are become centrist/moderate. That's the problem.

Conservatives want the least government possible, and would like to see it run efficiently.

After the last four years of pork and lip service, they are not getting the job done.

And yes, that's a reflection on Bush's leadership. Not a good one, either.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 17, 2004 09:08 PM

LOL

Hey Michael, misery loves company doesn't it.

Posted by: David at June 17, 2004 09:10 PM

Sullivan is not a true conservative; he has always been, at most, a conservative with complications--probably makes him a more interesting guy and commentator. But his proclaimation that he feels "hurt" and "abused" because George Bush announced he was backing the FMA is, frankly, childish.

Memo to Sullivan: Gay marriage is not the foremost issue of our times! And for most Americans, it's barely an issue at all. The only thing Sullivan's conversion into a single-issue voter will accomplish is to weaken his voice with conservatives.

There's an old saying: "It's better to be inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 17, 2004 10:01 PM

FMA was just the straw that broke the camel's back. In Sully's case, it happens to be a mighty big lead straw, but it's still something that's been building for a while now - he's been complaining about the budget and trade since I started reading him two years ago.

What it boils down to is this: hawkish centrists and small-government conservatives are sufficiently unhappy with Bush that all Kerry needs to do is convince us that he won't be a total friggin' disaster. Thus far, he hasn't succeeded, but I'm no longer merely willing to be convinced. I now activelye want to be convinced.

That's not to say I'm ready to vote for Kerry; more just a lament that we're stuck with these two numbskulls.

Posted by: Independent George at June 17, 2004 10:12 PM

David: Hey Michael, misery loves company doesn't it.

Indeed! And Sullivan is good company, as far as I'm concerned.

I don't see him as a single-issue guy. He's detailed a lost list of complaints about George W. Bush aside from gay marriage, and I agree with most of them. Sullivan echoes some of TmjUtah's gripes above and though I can't say I feel the same way about it, I can understand why it bugs the two of them. I don't "get" the small government thing the way some people do, but that doesn't make me a cheerleader for something like the EU's illiberal statism either.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 17, 2004 10:16 PM

Michael,

what makes the EU's statism "illiberal." If you don't think they're Liberal, then perhaps it's you who isn't really.

Posted by: David at June 17, 2004 10:34 PM

Someone mentioned pissing out of the tent...

Michael, why not stay and fight for the soul of your party and the true spirit of liberalism? When you or I get called a heretic for aspiring to JFK and Truman and Scoop Jackson instead of McGovern and Kucinich, why not stop and stand up for the liberalism these heroes espoused? The muscular liberalism of those days will trump wimpy leftism, anytime.

Something went horribly wrong with the Democratic Party back in the 60s and something quite valuable was lost in the jungles of Vietnam. I'll spend the rest of my life trying to get it back, pissing out. Well, so long as my dream centrist party never sees the light of day (and we all know it never will). So, yeah, piss out my friend.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 17, 2004 10:51 PM

David,

I mean "liberal" in the classical sense. The EU wants to micromanage every damn thing. That is not okay.

Paul Berman recently said in the New York Times that socialism has finally become what it should have been all along - an ethical orientation rather than an economic how-to manual. I like that definition of socialism, and I think the average European understands that. The average EU bureaucrat gets it, too, but a little more dimly. What I don't want to do is pitch socialism's ethical orientation over the side along with the statist nonsense, which is why I prefer the Democrats in some ways to the Republicans.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 17, 2004 10:51 PM

> what makes the EU's statism "illiberal."
> If you don't think they're Liberal, then
> perhaps it's you who isn't really.

For one thing, the EU's statism is socialist. Socialist != Liberal.

For another, the EU's statism intends to restrict the rights of its citizens, not uphold them. Restricting rights != Liberal.

It's funny, I was just over at Sullivan's and was reading some of his complaints about the handling of the war. It's hard not to agree. I like the overall strategic vision for the war that Bush has, but the implementation has been problematic -- and the unwillingness to admit mistakes bothers me.

On the one hand, I can see why Bush is so intent on presenting a "united front": there are plenty of media pundits who would rip into him big-time if he said, "we goofed, we could have done this better".

But the people that Bush needs to vote for him don't care about that. I respect people more when they admit mistakes and say, "here's what we're going to do so this doesn't happen again".

Michael, I totally agree with you that political parties are an enemy of critical thought. The problem is that even centrists have to decide which lever to pull in November. Losing a self-identity as a party member doesn't really make that any easier.

Posted by: Matt Cline at June 17, 2004 10:53 PM

MJT--

If you have been reading Sullivan's blog for the past year, you will note his excrutiating contortions on the issue of gay marriage. Last fall he thought G.W.B. hung the moon: fine C-in-C, tolerant guy, giving money to combat A.I.D.s in Africa, etc. Not a peep on fiscal conservatism.

Then he put his stake in the ground and publicly said he could not support Bush if he backed the F.M.A. He hastened to add this wasn't going to happen for x,y and z reasons.

In January, Sullivan parsed Bush's SOU address to the nth degree, emphasizing the conditional word "if" (as in "if it becomes necessary, I will support the F.M.A....). Then lo and behold, in February, on the heels of much extrajudicial shenanigans in San Francisco and elsewhere, Bush announced he was supporting the F.M.A.

Ever since then Sullivan has been acting like a jilted lover. Dormant issues, like the budget deficit, are suddently important. He publicly yearns for John McCain! to be Kerry's veep so he will have a reason to vote Democratic. He's Hamlet on the freaking Potomac!

He may not normally be a single-issue voter, but in this election he most certainly appears to be.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 17, 2004 11:09 PM

Oh, and hey, more power to Andrew Sullivan. Something quite valuable was abandoned by most conservatives back in the 60s, too: The Commitment to Individual Liberty.

In essence, Sullivan is standing up for the conservativism of Barry Goldwater. Barry Goldwater opposed legislation against abortion and criticized the military's ban on gays. Why? Because it was big government, plain and simple. Goldwater once went on record as saying, "Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass". Andrew Sullivan is, in a kind of way, trying to reclaim the spirit of liberty-loving conservatism from the theocrats of the Religious Right...and the grandfather of the conservative ascendency would be proud.

The commitment to limited government and individual liberty doesn't make him any less of a conservative, just a better one.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 17, 2004 11:10 PM

I stopped reading AS a few months ago. His histrionics regarding gay marriage just got on my nerves. He's a brilliant writer, however the gay marriage issue is not comparable to the war on terror.

Also, a while back he alluded to 'the bears', and when I figured out what the hell he was talking about...I'm just not interested in gay subcultures, especially something like that.

Posted by: Raymond at June 17, 2004 11:12 PM

I don't think Sullivan is a single issue guy. He's had plenty to say on both matters of fiscal rectitude and the competence of the Administration's effort in Iraq. Personally, I think he gives the Administration a hell of a lot of slack ... to the point of stretching credulity ... but it's not like he's blind to its failings.

And, anyway, there's nothing inherently wrong with placing a particular weight on an issue of personal significance. If you see a government that is prepared to behave callously with an issue you care about deeply, merely in order to score cheap political points, why aren't you entitled to take that as a fair indication of the values of that Administration and vote accordingly?

Posted by: Mork at June 17, 2004 11:16 PM

Matt Cline hints at an important point, Michael.

Political parties do tend to be the enemy of critical thought. Centrists are the very embodiment of critical thought. So, ask yourself, if all the centrists abandon the political parties...is that in the best interests of America? Inject critical thought into the political party of your choice. Don't just let them go all to hell because they'll bring the country down with them.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 17, 2004 11:16 PM

Raymond...

You say that the gay marriage issue is not comparable to the War on Terror. I happen to agree with you. But you and I might feel a little differently about that if we were gay.

Put yourself in Andrew Sullivan's shoes. The President of the United States is out there pushing an Amendment to the Constitution to single you out and restrict your rights: In essence, declaring a domestic War on Gays to accompany his foreign War on Terror. If you were Andrew Sullivan, you might not be so nonchalant.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 17, 2004 11:26 PM

Mork, Grant--

If gay marriage is his valence issue, that's fine for him (emotional and stupid, but fine). However, it makes him a marginal player from a political standpoint. He might still be interesting to read, but hard to take seriously.

I am with Raymond; I gave up on his blog about two months ago. If he wants to be the GAY conservative instead of a conservative who happens to be gay, he can find a new audience.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 17, 2004 11:48 PM

Nancy Pelosi is a centrist. CNN said so the day after the midterms.

You want more of those?

laughing Y'all have a fine weekend.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 17, 2004 11:51 PM

If he wants to be the GAY conservative instead of a conservative who happens to be gay, he can find a new audience.

Well, I'm not much of one for labels. But the fact that the tension between his own sexuality and the mainstream conservative attitudes towards it causes him to more strongly resist simply accepting any prevailing orthodoxy than most of us manage to do is precisely what makes him such a compelling writer.

Posted by: Mork at June 17, 2004 11:56 PM

Haaaaaaa...Nancy Pelosi, a Centrist?! Must have been one of those heat-of-the-moment-overly-kind reviews. You know, the type that have recently worshiped the personal warmth of Ronald Reagan all the while conviently forgetting about the cold-heartedness of his government's policies.

If I'm not mistaken, wasn't this period when Pelosi first became Minority Leader? Minority Leaders get honeymoons, too.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 18, 2004 12:02 AM

Fresh Air: he can find a new audience.

Well, I'm going to continue reading him even if you don't.

Look at the right-hand sidebar on my page. There is a permanently linked essay there, second down from the top, called "The Men Who Would be Orwell" by Ron Rosenbaum. It's about Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens. I know Orwell's work well, and these two men deserve the comparison. I suggest giving it a read.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 12:10 AM

Mork--

Sorry. I think that's a lot of hogwash. Sullivan is still interesting and thoughtful on a range of subjects. But if he is willing to toss away his vote in one of the most important presidential elections in the past 50 years over the still-nascent concept of gay marriage, he is not rejecting a "prevailing orthodoxy," he is being a fool.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 18, 2004 12:24 AM

I know Orwell's work well, and these two men deserve the comparison.

Hmmm ... I haven't read the piece, but I've read a lot of Orwell, Hitchens and Sullivan.

Hitchens and Sullivan both have their own strengths, but to my mind the Orwell mantle does not sit comfortably on either of them, much as they might wish otherwise.

For one thing, Orwell has a tremendous personal empathy with society's underdogs, which isn't present in either of Hitchens or Sullivan. It's impossible to imagine either of those gentlemen writing anything like "The Road to Wigan Pier" or "Down and Out in Paris and London", for example.

Also, Orwell had an extraordinary humility about hi,, which clearly cannot be said of either Sullivan or, particularly, Hitchens. Honesty is one thing, but honesty unfettered by ego is another thing altogether. Orwell had it, Hitchens and Sullivan do not.

Finally, Orwell was one of the rare people who saw the people he agreed with as clearly as those with whom he disagreed. I can't see how the same can be said of either Hitchens or Sullivan.

Posted by: Mork at June 18, 2004 12:29 AM

As one who thinks Mr. Sullivan has been disingenuous in his fence-sitting, I still defend his right to do so, for whatever reasons, just as I defend my right to think it was a bit too coy to be ignored.

But more importantly, I tell myself, the hateful comments made about him at Ms. Goldberg's site cannot rationally be attributed to the Republican party, or to conservatives in general.

It never occurred to me that Mr. Sullivan was some sort of hard-core Republican, or even a hard-core conservative. I don't know that he ever clearly made such a claim for himself. He's been hawkish on defense issues, but has gotten wobbly of late. That's unfortunate, because his wobbling might be taken as "the correct thing to do" by various of his readers, and I disagree with that stance.

If he wasn't such a fine writer, he'd not have the credibility to perhaps drag people in a what I think is the wrong direction. Such is the curse of his talent and track record. That doesn't make him worthy of the rude epithets, and the rude epithets don't make the polite majority among conservatives who happen to disagree with his present stance bad guys either.

It's not political parties that are cruel to people who think - it's the extremists within those parties (both of them), attempting to hijack the podium, who do so.

Posted by: Patton at June 18, 2004 12:35 AM

Sullivan was the first blog I ever started reading, and he's still the first blog I read every day when I come home from work. Been a loyal reader since just before Election 2000. There's still no one better, IMO.

As far as his gay marriage rants go, it's his blog. When I've had enough, I just skip to the other topics. He already convinced me, he'd be just preaching to the choir now if I continued to read.

He's certainly not a single-issue guy at this point. And he's made it clear: it's not so much the gay marriage issue itself as the intent to put a freakin' AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION forever codifying discrimination. If Bush merely opposed gay marriage, thus forcing Andrew to wait four more years, Sullivan would probably have let it slide. The War on Terror is more important. But to ban gay marriage forever? That's just to much to take.

BTW, Michael Totten is the second blog I was introduced to and I'm still an avid reader. I just wish you were as prolific as Sullivan. :)

Posted by: Adam Herman at June 18, 2004 12:35 AM

MJT--

Thanks for the link. I generally like Rosenbaum's take on things, and I assume you do, too. (Though I think his obsession about Skull & Bones is creepy. Did you see his expose of the crypt?)

I dunno about Sullivan as Orwell. Hitchens may yet prove more Orwellian in his staying power and the sheer force of his prose. Hitch packs more punch into a sentence than anyone writing today.

But I repeat: Sullivan must transcend his gayness to be an important political figure on the right. Its part of him and people accept that. But he refracts too much through that lens, IMHO.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 18, 2004 12:36 AM

Way Off Topic...

Anybody else hear about Tucker Carlson's getting a show on PBS? It's called "Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered" and it premieres this Friday, the 18th.

Added (HUGE) bonus: His "Plus 2" panel of guest commentators features Christopher Hitchens. I don't think 'ol Hitch is scheduled to be on this Friday, but as there are only 3 panelists on the Plus 2 panel, he'll probably be on next week.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 18, 2004 12:36 AM

Fresh - you don't need to apologise for finding anything I write to be hogwash. Many famous minds agree!

But you miss my point a little. Sometimes the handling of a particular issue that we pay particular attention to offers us an insight that is of wider applicability.

For example, if a politician lies about an issue that you care about, others might not notice, but you will ... and it will color your view of that politician's trustworthiness on other issues.

And in my view, that's fair enough.

So, to the extent that Sullivan gets a glimpse of what I think are this Administration's true colors with its handling of gay rights, why wouldn't he be entitled to conclude that it is likely to be as cheap, opportunistic and callous on any other issue, if it can get away with it?

Posted by: Mork at June 18, 2004 12:37 AM

Whoh, I guess it's not so off-topic afterall, since everyone's talking about Hitch. It's a small world.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 18, 2004 12:39 AM

Mork,

I agree with what you said about Orwell, Hitchens, and Sullivan. Read the Rosenbaum essay, though. They do both have something important in common with the man. You'll see what I mean...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 01:07 AM

I stopped reading Sullivan a few months ago (he used to be one of my daily stops), and yes, the reason was gay marriage. Not his position on the issue, since I read and enjoy a broad range of opinions, including some indistinguishable from Sullivan's, but his style, which was nothing short of vintage Drama Queen. Histrionic ranting, savaging friends and allies, emotional meltdowns--it was like watching a train wreck, and very unpleasant. So I left.

Now I hear noises to the effect that Sullivan was working on an elaborate bait-and-switch operation. This is a MAJOR accusation to level at a blogger, since all of us here in the blogosphere have only our reputations and what store of credibility we can build up over time. Trust is the coin of the realm.

Sullivan has a large audience, which represents a pretty big amount of trust. If he violated that, by selling one story to the Advocate while painting a significantly different picture on his blog, then he will probably lose a big chunk of his audience, along with their trust, and deservedly so.

If I was still one of Sullivan's readers, and I'd been hoodwinked like this, I would be pretty angry. Obviously, calling him names like some of the commenters over at Lucianne Goldberg's place did is out of bounds for anything like civil discourse. But I think some people may have good reason to be angry at Sullivan, so blanket endorsements of him combined with a broad-brush denouncement of the Republican Party are probably also uncalled for.

Posted by: Sam Barnes at June 18, 2004 01:10 AM

Sam,

Sullivan wrote this on Feb 29,2004: attacking civil rights and playing politics with the Constitution is a deal-breaker as far as Bush is concerned.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 01:34 AM

One more thing...

Sam: broad-brush denouncement of the Republican Party are probably also uncalled for.

I am denouncing the Republican Party not so much because it's Republican but because it's a party. It has the same built-in flaws that pushed me out of my old party.

In my state there are more people registered as Independent than either Democrat or Republican. "Independent" is the largest "party," period. Honestly, I often wonder what took me so long to get around to this. The Democrat/Republican dichotomy is false. There are other options, even if we're stuck voting for one of them on election day.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 01:41 AM

Please. Everyone knew Sullivan's chief issue is his homosexual identity, and everyone (including Sullivan) knew that Bush is not going to concede anything to gay marriage/gay rights. Everyone who knows who Sullivan is knew it was simply a matter of time before he abandoned Bush over the gay issue. His coyness was so transparent.

I began reading Sullivan because of his war coverage and his criticism of the NY Times and BBC. He's become less and less compelling to read as time goes on, and outright insufferable when he talks about gayness. I can't say I'm surprised or disappointed in him in anyway. He's voting on what's important to him.

Posted by: Moonbat_One at June 18, 2004 01:53 AM

Michael,

Yeah, and he's also said that reelecting Bush was essential to the WoT, and this was his first priority. A number of people who have been following Sullivan's site on a daily basis say that his current position is a conflicted one, torn between the two viewpoints. On the other hand, you have the article in the Advocate, and Sullivan's somewhat bizarre defense of it.

I don't think your quote is dispositive of this case, especially since a consistent reading of Sullivan would conclude that he now finds the establishment of a right to gay marriage to supercede the WoT in importance. Sullivan may actually think that--I don't know, although I would hope not.

Frankly, I'd like Sullivan to just decide which is more important to him, gay marriage or the WoT, and then stick with it. He's gone both ways on this issue while blogging. It now looks like he's been trying to have it both ways simultaneously in front of different audiences--and that is a cardinal sin for a blogger.

I still think your broad-brush denunciation of the Republican Party was uncalled for.

Posted by: Sam Barnes at June 18, 2004 02:06 AM

I'm getting more certain that I'll vote Bush: because his vision on the War on Terror is right.

Most of the rest is fluff. Interesting, even adrenaline pumping, but in many ways not that big a deal. Gay marriage / civil unions. I oppose the first, support the second (for gays AND uncertain straights), Sully has gotten boring on THAT, his favorite subject.

He has a fine mind, was a star debater (I read, heard?), and writes very well about a lot of things. On Bush's problems, too.

Let's say Kerry's Iraq position becomes the same, in words, as Bush; and he succeeds in ignoring Bush's huge success in the economy (from borrowing too much); then gay issues become important. As a surrogate for the "culture war" that MJT says is nothing for the 30 & under. Yet MJT says he might oppose Bush because he doesn't like the Christian dominated Rep side of unimportant secular vs belief culture war.

Let me call you on this, Michael, it IS important. Whether it's termed "culture war" or something else isn't, but the place of religion in public, in gov't, in business, in morals & ethics IS important.

Is abortion murder? (yes - on faith and most reasonable science. no - on opposite faith.) [What should the laws say? Whole other set of issues.] I call the difference in answer to the abortion murder question a culture war (have another?), yet even "abortion" is not quite as big as the question of the place of beliefs in politics. Much of the heat on gay-marriage is frustrated anti-abortion passion.

Is "marriage status" to support families and the raising of kids, or for individual self expression (of commitment to another)? Obviously, if for the latter, not granting that legal status to gays violates their individual rights. But if it's for the former, granting gays that status devalues it.

Party, schmarty, Rep or Dem (or Demopublican), both are Big Gov't parties, yechh. Kerry's solution to Bush's huge deficit -- higher taxes (on the rich! those greedy bastards; getting all that profit and expanding their greedy companies and hiring all those workers, just to make MORE profit and wealth.)

And Bush is a lousy orator, and his PR is terrible, but the standard of Implicit Perfection, to which his admin is held, is too high and silly. The Bush-hate noise needs to get real and accept that most of what Bush has done has been mostly good.

That Lucianne thread was terrible (first dozen or so), last 112 (? thread closed) included a couple acknowledging some of Sullivan's brilliance.

And I've LONG been more addicted to this site, and its comments, than the Dish.

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 18, 2004 02:29 AM

MJT,

It’s nothing but accusations of “fag,” “traitor,” liberal,” “anti-American,” and so on ad nauseum.

This is a gross mischaracterization of the discussion thread you linked to. In 115 posts, I found one occurance of "fag", one occurance of "traitor", and two occurances of "anti-American" of which only one was in reference to Sullivan. Of course, variations of "liberal" were used all over the place, but that indicates exactly nothing.

In contrast, there were 7 references to "homophobe" as people debated whether criticism of Sullivan was driven by homophobia. There was as much bashing of the "religious right" on that thread as there was of Sullivan.

Most of what I saw on that thread was a reasoned discussion of whether Sullivan was saying one thing in one forum, and another thing in another forum, and whether he was letting a single issue over-ride other perhaps larger concerns.

You criticism of that discussion was unfair. You picked a few outliers and resorted to the type of demonizing stereotype that the left has of the right in order to make a point. The discussion was not a "hate-fest."

Posted by: HA at June 18, 2004 04:01 AM

Michael, I have read you regularly for the last year or so, since I found you via Sullivan - or was it Reynolds? At any rate, a regular reader. I have been a Sullivan reader for better then three years after giving up on the NYT and WaPo.

My only problem with Sullivan is that he does seem to be an increasingly single-issue guy. I know, I became one in 1992 and voted against Bush the Elder because of his "Read my lips..." comment. I have regretted that vote ever since. On the other hand I have NEVER regretted my vote for Humphrey in '68.

Deciding to vote or not vote; support or not support; endorse or not endorse someone over a single issue is, to me, the height of folly (and I know - it has only been an acquired insight since '92 - well, actually 95 since it took me that long to figure out that I committed a major voting faux paux).

The issues this year are boiled down into a single rubric as far as I am concerned, the survival of civilization, or, if you will, civilization vs. Islamo-fascism.

Overall, one must ask oneself if Kerry is more competent to prosecute that struggle, or is Bush? I've not seen anything from Kerry or the Democrats that satisfies that question in the affirmative for the Democrats. I, also have many questions about Bush's ability to manage the day-to-day screw-ups that will always result during a war. But, decide not to support/endorse a candidate because of one "major" issue? Not in the cards for any thinking individual.

I am now thoroughly conservative, though I still have a few left of center beliefs (as a mental health professional, that seems only right). I see no one in the Democratic fold that I could support for any reason save Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman. That said, I strongly, violently disagree with Bush on FMA, for cogent and what are to me obvious reasons, not the least of which is that committed marriage is the BEST way to cut down on STDs.

Well, I will still read Sullivan daily, and you and Cooper, and Reynolds and Allah, but I am still supporting Bush, warts and all. The alternative is just too unpalatable.

Posted by: GMRoper at June 18, 2004 05:26 AM

Michael, I forgot to add that you took me to Marc Cooper and for that I am greatful. I disagree with most of what Marc has to say, but I love the way he says it.

Posted by: GMRoper at June 18, 2004 05:28 AM

I wrote Andrew Sullivan about five months ago asking a question concerning gay issues. I have a dear friend who is gay, 23 years of age and is having difficulties understanding his sexuality. He is not sure he is gay, he wonders what it would be like to be with a female and have children, he tries to speak with other gays about his situation yet is always bashed by gays, they tell him he is secretly a gay hater and are appalled that he would even question his sexuality. For most in the gay communitity everything is about perserving the gay party.

Meanwhile, my friend suffers in silence for fear of being labeled "a gay basher". He acts on the fantasies yet after that act he tells me he feels disgust towards himself. To the gay communitity my friend is gay, end of discussion. He is still confused about his sexuality but hides his confusion. I fear what the next ten years will do to his life and what will become of him. He is totality confused and my guess he is not alone in his confusion.

Andrew never responded to my email. My guess is that a discussion on the topic, simply assuming one is gay because one feels tendencies towards having gay sex does not necessarily imply one is gay, would disrupt the validity of the movement. If having same-sex tendencies were the case, then when I have fantasies about having sex with another women this implies I am lesbian. In the gay community, they would tell me I am a lesbian hiding my true self.

The gay movement insists homosexuals are born homosexuals despite the fact there is no hard evidence supporting this claim.

I do not believe the gay movement is center on anything when it concerns itself with gay issues.

I speak openly of this because I hear and see how confused and hurt my friend is and believe that sweeping this under the rug will ultimately hurt him and others having the same experience.

Still, to this day, I do not understand why Andrew or the gay community for that matter, does not address this issue. They won't because the Party is far more important.

So much for the stance of moderate politics.

Posted by: syn at June 18, 2004 06:39 AM

I still read Sullivan's blog. But I don't ascribe a great deal to his writing anymore--I go there more for his links than anything.

As others have pointed out above, he's gotten more one note, and it looks to me like he really always was a one issue guy.

Oh well.

Posted by: Eric Blair at June 18, 2004 06:49 AM

I agree with HA that that Michael has grossly mischaracterized the discussion thread at Lucienne. There are a few hateful remarks, but the thread is NOT ad nauseum anything. I've seen far worse at LGF, frankly.

This is about honesty. For Andrew Sullivan to say that he could not possibly vote for George Bush to one audience, and then that he could possibly vote for George Bush to another -- one of these is a bald faced lie. That's what this is about. That Andrew Sullivan has decided to play the homophobe card rather than own up to his actions shows just how fundamentally dishonest he is.

Posted by: Teluride at June 18, 2004 06:57 AM

In response to Sam, Michael wrote: "Sullivan wrote this on Feb 29,2004: attacking civil rights and playing politics with the Constitution is a deal-breaker as far as Bush is concerned." I know that his point was not directed to the substance of Sullivan's comment, but I think that part of the problem is that people approach this issue from different angles.

Many "conservatives" (including me), think this is ludicrous: gay marriage is not a civil right, hence trying to stop it is not an attack on civil rights; seeking a Constitutional amendment to stop it is not playing politics with the Constitution, it is an attempt to stop an unwarranted power grab by an overreaching judiciary. Admittedly, seeking an amendment is a bad solution, but it appears to be the only one since certain judges who "know" what is right refuse to allow this matter to be resolved in the political system where it belongs.

On the other hand, many "liberals" agree wholeheartedly with Sullivan. They think this is an attack on civil rights and an attempt to codify discrimination.

The overall point is that the two sides are talking past each other and are unlikely to reach consensus on how the issue should be framed, let alone the "answer" to the issue. Thus, people who view the matter from my perspective think Sullivan is living on a different planet when he bases a voting decision on gay marriage.

Posted by: Ben at June 18, 2004 07:15 AM

Syn,

I can't speak to why Andrew Sullivan might not respond to an email from an anonymous stranger, but I can also speculate that it might be for reasons other than your "guess."

Sullivan is a strong critic of the loony leftist fringe of the gay rights movement, and that fringe has no great love of him either. And the people who would attack your friend for an interest in women, or an interest in having children, is clearly the loony left fringe of gay politics. Anyone who reads Sullivan and understands him would know that.

Posted by: Browning at June 18, 2004 07:19 AM

HA -- I noticed this post on the lucienne discussion thread in question. You're right...It didn't use the word "fag", "traitor" or "anti-American". I don't have the time to compare it with every other post, but I can say that it certainly doesn't sound out of place:

"As for me I am sick to death of hearing
Gay this and Gay that.....Gay gags me.
Like a dry heave. It is making me wanna puke.
The reason I stopped watching regular tv years ago was I was sick to death of haveing Gay agendas shoved at me. It is worn out.
So Sullivan can take his Gay issues and go Gayly into the sunset. Toodle-oooo. Ta ta."

I'm just curious whether this is an example of the "reasoned discussion" that you claim was occuring there?

Posted by: Markus Rose at June 18, 2004 07:27 AM

Ben , your assertion is that Sullivan is criticizing Bush's prosecution of the WoT because of the President's endorsement for FMA is ludicrous.

It IS embarassing for American credibility that we were caught with our pants down on WMD intelligence, and caught making dirty movies of American soldiers pulling Iraqi prisoners' pants down. When you supported the war against Saddam -- as Sullivan and I did -- it is intellectually honest to admit this, and to call for accountability. Doing so is better for the cause in the long run.

On the other hand, it is intellectually dishonest to try to deflect such criticism by attributing it to other motives.

Posted by: Browning at June 18, 2004 07:34 AM

Great writing Michael. Lileks-esque.

It is a shame that the big tents seem to be coming down. But good that you had your own camping gear.

Posted by: DeanT at June 18, 2004 07:37 AM

Well Browning, Andrew could have responded to my question because from what I have read from Andrew's writings, I believe that he believes homosexually is determined by birth and not environment.

What you are saying does not jive with what I personally experience. Here in NYC, my gay friends will speak openly to me that they are, for example, against gay marriage, but will not speak openly about the issues at any of the gay centers around NYC. One of my friends did not like a portrayal of a recent gay art exhibition being show at a gay center and voiced his thoughts towards the work. He was chastised for his opinions. From my conversations with my friends, what they are saying to me is that they understand what it means to speak out against the Party so they keep their mouths shut. This is how it is in NYC, can't speak for the rest of the country.

If a homosexual speaks out against the status quo of gay politics one is chastised as a gay basher. Plain and simple.

Posted by: syn at June 18, 2004 07:56 AM

Michael, guess you did not read the comments I posted on that Lucianne thread (nickname Brain Death). I was disappointed with some of my fellow L-Dotters and said it.

However, I am also disappointed in Andrew. His thinking is clouded by being too close to the issue. Kerry claims to not support gay marriage, so there's no real difference between him and Bush on substance. Yeah, Bush gave his support to the concept of a constitutional amendment, but we've seen that's not going anywhere.

BTW, from what I've seen, you and Andrew have almost NOTHING in common. Read his mash note to Reagan sometime and you'll see that he's a solid conservative on most issues.

Posted by: Brainster at June 18, 2004 07:57 AM

Any party is a coalition. What you are saying is "to heel with the human race."

Posted by: Ash at June 18, 2004 08:05 AM

When Clinton was president, I hated the manner in which he pushed us females to the back of the bus and into the dark ages by treating us as no-name sluts existing on this planet for the purpose of simply sucking his dick.

He did it with that woman because he could!

Mr. Former President, "that women" her name is Monica and what "it" is that she did for you is she sucked your dick. No-name ungrateful dick, no wonder she did not swallow his cum, the taste must have been awful.

Despite his disgusting domestic social policies, I supported completely his efforts to stop the genocide in Kosovo.

Posted by: syn at June 18, 2004 08:31 AM

The Republicans lost me when they accepted the Wallace Democrats into the fold in their campaign to become the ruling party. It's been successful but IMO no tent is that big. I've been a registered Democrat all of my adult life.

Of course in my neighborhood here in Chicago the definition of a Democrat is "an independent who want his trash picked up."

Posted by: Dave Schuler at June 18, 2004 08:31 AM

Late to that part of the discussion, but comparing Sullivan to Orwell? Please. Sullivan is a conservative, Orwell was a socialist. They may both have vaguely similar views on the role of the state and the individual, but that's just one facet of political philosophy (although I do notice that it is focussed on a great deal in American politics, more than in most cultures). Hell, Sullivan and I probably have similar views on that.

But economic philosophy does play a significant role in one's political stance, and Sullivan and Orwell are at opposite ends of that one.

Orwell also detested the kind of slavish devotion to the type of nationalism that Sullivan has been displaying in his blog for the last three years.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 08:35 AM

Hey, class act syn. Way to elevate the level of discussion.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 08:36 AM

On balance, there is little to like of either candidate if you are someone from the middle, as am I. If you refine your decision criteria to a single issue then the choice becomes pretty obvious. Is Andrew just dodging a difficult decision or is he rationalizing his preferred choice by focusing exclusively on Gay Marriage and the FMA? Beats me.

I like Bush on the WOT, dislike him on fiscal matters (based on first term policy "successes"), and am ambivalent about abortion and gay marriage. I could make a similar list for Kerry.

Issues aside, I prefer Bush's style and instincts. I find Kerry to be aloof, wonkish, and haughty - which troubles me because I think this disconnects him from the real world and would poorly inform his ability to lead.

Posted by: steve at June 18, 2004 08:52 AM

Andrew has every right to change his mind; I think he's changing it in the wrong direction, and I've written about it a couple of times on my blog. I'm not bothered so much by the evolving opinions as I am bothered by the declining quality of the writing, the defensiveness in many of his posts, and his disingenuous claim that he may be "sitting this one out."

He can't. His is an opinion blog, for heaven's sake. He chooses what to highlight, what to link to, what to praise, and what to criticize. The only way for him to be neutral, with his readership and reputation, is to shut up.

I don't want him to shut up. I greatly admire his intellect and his courage. I just want his stuff to come back up to standard.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2004 09:24 AM

Browning,

You said: "It IS embarassing for American credibility that we were caught with our pants down on WMD intelligence, and caught making dirty movies of American soldiers pulling Iraqi prisoners' pants down. When you supported the war against Saddam -- as Sullivan and I did -- it is intellectually honest to admit this, and to call for accountability. Doing so is better for the cause in the long run."

I don't disagree that those issues are embarassing and do not advocate sweeping them under the rug or deflecting criticism. (I do, however, believe that we have engaged in quite enough self-flagellation w/r/t both, however). My impression of Sullivan's writing is that pre-FMA Bush could do no wrong, while post-FMA he can do no right. I am suggesting that it appears to me that some of Sullivan's recent criticisms of the Bush Admin. on issues unrelated to FMA stem from Sullivan's fanaticism on FMA. I see no other reasonable explanation for the abrupt change in tone of his blog.

Posted by: Ben at June 18, 2004 09:44 AM

Ben I am suggesting that it appears to me that some of Sullivan's recent criticisms of the Bush Admin. on issues unrelated to FMA stem from Sullivan's fanaticism on FMA. I see no other reasonable explanation for the abrupt change in tone of his blog.

Maybe he is withdrawing his support from a political administration that he has finally realized doesn't stand for the things that he does? Like a disregard for accountability, and a sickening tolerance for vicious human rights abuses, excused as justifiable punishment of bad guys, yet without due process of law.

Just a guess from reading his blog.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 10:01 AM

His bashing of the Bush Administration because of Abu Ghraib is astonishingly facile and callow. This sort of abuse has always occurred in every prison system -- and this is somehow Bush's fault?

We need to upgrade the safeguards for sure -- but Abu Ghraib happens every day in every country with citizens in prison.

He is also conflating interrogation techniques with the misbehavior of miscreants and sociopaths. We do need to have a real discussion about interrogation techniques -- Andrew has nothing to offer there with his fundamental unseriousness about what is required to get intelligence from hardcore terrorists.

I am fully in support of harsh treatment such as bright lights, sleep deprivation, etc. But not in favor of "terroristic" torture like breaking limbs, sawing off fingers, etc. But we need to get real about interrogation and what it means. And, no, terrorists should not get POW treatment, 3 hot meals, and a lawyer. That's for honorable soldiers, not folks who saw off heads.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 10:06 AM

D+UG: Sullivan is a conservative, Orwell was a socialist.

Yes. But many conservatives try to claim Orwell as one of the their own. And Ann Coulter thinks Sullivan is a leftist.

No, seriously though, read the Rosenbaum essay before scoffing. Please. It's good. And I think you'll see what they have in common despite their obvious differences.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 10:12 AM

Syn,

Don't take it personally or come up with a "theory" as to why Andrew Sullivan did not respond to your email. He gets 500 a day. I've written to him many times. He only writes back one time in three and he knows who I am.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 10:14 AM

As several others have noted, it appears that either
a) Goldberg has done some scrubbing in the comments section, or
b) MJT is going to be arrested by the Hyperbole Police.

First of all, it should be noted that in the 25+ years I have been a Republican, I have never heard it stated by anyone other than MJT that the posters at Goldberg's site set and articulate public policy positions for the party. Given the reality the Goldberg's site is one of a few in the blogosphere, and the posters there are speaking for themselves only, methinks MJT may be painting with too large a brush and using too dark a color when it comes to "Republicans". This strikes me as an overstated attempt to draw the Republican Party down to the level of the Democratic Party you cannot live with (and at times it seems, without). If you can't live with the contradictions inherent to either party, then don't...and start working to change this Republic to a parlimentary democracy.

Secondly, let us not forget that it was Andrew Sullivan himself who spent several years after 9/11 criticizing the Anti-Liberation Left for being fundamentally unserious about terrorism and the threat it represented to the U.S.. His criticism of the Cadres was perfectly appropriate in my eyes, but given that he feels he cannot vote for Bush over gay rights but is doubtful that Kerry will be as vigorous in fighting terrorism, isn't it reasonable to expect some people to express doubts over his own seriousness regarding the War on Terror? Sullivan has not stated or maintained that War has been won, and that constitutes the only condition I can see that would allow him to suddenly switch gears on the overriding issue of the election without getting a ton of very justified scepticism thrown his way.

Finally, I would note that for those of us, both Republican and Democrat, who feel the successful prosecution of the War on Terror and the building of a Democratic Iraq are the only issues that matter, they really are the only issues that matter. Those people like Sullivan and Hitchens who have spent a great deal of time proclaiming their own virtues in defending the WOT and the Iraq War are now abandoning both in pursuit of other issues...issues no doubt important to them, but other issues nonetheless. Those of us who remain consistent and resolute are, for the most part, unimpressed by the excuses they offer.

Until the Sullivans and the Hitchens' of the world come forth and articulate their rationale as to why, now, we need no longer view the War on Terror and democratizing Iraq as paramount, a lot of us goose-stepping, hate-mongering Republican types will suspect that for all their sound and fury, perhaps Sully and Hitch supported Bush more a product of a passing mood, as opposed to deeply held convictions.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at June 18, 2004 10:24 AM

Matthew And, no, terrorists should not get POW treatment, 3 hot meals, and a lawyer. That's for honorable soldiers, not folks who saw off heads.

Let me go out on a limb here, and take a morally questionable stand. Yes they should.

There is no evidence that the people being abused or interrogated in this manner are guilty of anything, especially sawing off heads, simply because there is no rule of law, no due process. I've read one account of a woman falsely informed on by an angry neighbour who was imprisoned and tortured. She witnessed the rape of a fifteen year old boy by a jailor while in Abu Ghraib. Do you suppose that he too was a terrorist? Maybe, but without legal processes, we can't say for sure, and neither can the jailors and interrogaters.

When a nation get into the frame of mind that they are all terrorists as a way of excusing inhumane treatment, then you are becoming the demon that you claim to be replacing. Saddam Hussein and his cronies, when gassing Kurds or destroying the habitate of the Marsh Arabs, weren't committing genocide in their own minds, they were justifiably defending their nation against traitors and terrorists. This mindset must be avoided at all costs, and is part of the reason that mechanisms of accountability, like the Geneva Conventions, should be extended to these people, even if they belong to an insurgency or are terrorists.

Next, for every person wrongly imprisoned or tortured, a host of Iraqis hear the tale, and the soldiers in their streets turn in their minds from liberators to thieves, rapists, and occupiers. Not good. At least if there was humane treatment while in custody, this effect would be blunted.

Lastly, I recently read an account of the battle of Iwo Jima, from the perspective of the Japanese troops on the island. The most moving accounts that I found were the kindness that was extended to the surrendering Japanese soldiers by the Americans, despite the ferocity and treachery of the Japanese defense. The Japanese were in shock that they were being fed, clothed, and treated by doctors after such ferocious warfare. That kindness toward a vanquished enemy, and the humaneness of the common American soldier has long been one of the hallmarks of the nation. It's sad to see that slip away.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 10:35 AM

Michael,

I've been following Sullivan for a very long time, and I've been disturbed by his change in attitude lately. A couple weeks ago, before any of the recent hullabaloo, I sent him a letter stating how disturbed I was that he seemed to be moving on a path to support Kerry, given Kerry's complete lack of suitability for the position of Commander in Chief.

He wrote back stating that he wasn't ready to endorse Kerry.

But I'm sorry, saying you don't endorse Kerry while trying to undermine Bush at every turn -- I think he's got a credibility problem here.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 10:38 AM

Grant-

I'm actually in favor of civil unions and in theory gay marriage. However, I'm uneasy about judicial activism and the possible backlash from the disenfranchised, hard-core christian right.

In a way I feel a sense of betrayal with him. AS has suddenly bought into these stupid, senseless criticisms of the war. I won't adress these issues in detail except to say that this war is being judged by a very different set of standards than any previous war.

The american military (especially the combat arms units) is primarily made up of christian, hetero, middle class types and I'm appalled at how easily the effete, affluent left has turned a brilliant victory into defeat.

I was apolitical prior to 9-11 and have totally supported the president in this war. I'll go down with the ship rather than bailing like AS.

Posted by: Raymond at June 18, 2004 10:45 AM

Double Plus,

I was not referring to the general mass of prisoners, but specifically those who are known to be terrorists.

I don't think we can win the WOT as a law enforcement action, or by giving terrorists the treatment honorable soldiers deserve.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 10:47 AM

I was not referring to the general mass of prisoners, but specifically those who are known to be terrorists.

See my first point.

Treat them all well, and let God sort 'em out.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 10:48 AM

Double-plus,

Yes we can be very kind to surrendering soldiers -- as we were to many of the Iraqi soldiers fought in the first weeks of the war.

You are also forgetting the gunning down of surrendering German soldiers without quarter that happened frequently by US soldiers who didn't want to be burdened with the headache of POWs.

Again, there is a vast difference between a soldier's honorable fighting, and a terrorist who stands in civvie clothing behind women and shoots.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 10:50 AM

Double plus,

How do you propose to collect intelligence from terrorists?

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 10:51 AM

Me thinks our Sulli is a tad confused. And why not? 'Tis a confusing world we spin around the sun on. Let's just hope he works it out.

Posted by: chris in st. louis at June 18, 2004 10:56 AM

MJT No, seriously though, read the Rosenbaum essay before scoffing. Please. It's good. And I think you'll see what they have in common despite their obvious differences.

Read it, and sorry, I think that it's a pretty tenious hook to hang a whole article from. There is one single point of comparison, and that's soley that Orwell stood out from his political group in opposition to Hitler as a fascist. Sullivan wasn't even taking a risk in demanding retribution for 9/11, he was in lockstep with the administration in power, and with his political affiliation.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 11:01 AM

Chris,

Wish I could say that I agree, but in this case I think Sully has decided to take down Bush after his crushing disappointment after the FMA announcement.

Just look at his savagery of the administration over Abu Ghraib. It's personal -- he hates Bush and he is going to make him pay.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 11:01 AM

Matthew: How do you propose to collect intelligence from terrorists?

Well, you didn't ask me but I'll answer anyway. Actually, I'll quote Hitchens.

Skill, in these matters, depends on taking pains and not on inflicting them. You make the chap go through his story several times, preferably on video, and then you ask his friends a huge number of tedious questions, and then you go through it all again to check for discrepancies, and then you watch the first (very boring and sexless) video all over once more, and then you make him answer all the same questions and perhaps a couple of new and clever ones. If you have got the wrong guy—and it does happen—you let him go and offer him a ride home and an apology. And you know what? It often works. Only a lazy and incompetent dirtbag looks for brutal shortcuts so that he can get off his shift early.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 11:06 AM

Michael,

So you would deny them tools like sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, etc. that are used by law enforcement organizations across the globe?

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 11:09 AM

There's also a very good article on interrogation in last October's Atlantic Magazine, by the same guy who wrote the excellent "Blackhawk Down".

But my personal view is that you don't torture, even if it works, and even if its easy. Because if you do, that's you standing beside Hitler, Hussein, Kim Il Jung, and all the other bad guys. Dark company indeed.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 11:11 AM

I'm surprised in took Sullivan so long to throw his hands up in disgust. Sully was willing to overlook Bush's stances about gay issues and his destruction of the federal budget as long as Bush was strong in the War on Terror. Since it's becoming increasingly apparent that Bush has royally bungled the War on Terror (Bush's five counter-terrorism chiefs each reached the same conclusion and quit in disgust, but it takes the media and public longer to figure things out), Sully has no reason left to support Bush.

Posted by: DPT at June 18, 2004 11:12 AM

Newsflash:

Paul Johnson got beheaded today.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 11:12 AM

++ug

I believe the correct quote is "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

I'm up for that.

The Japanese soldiers were immersed in the Bushido code, a warrior mindset that put honor above all else. These same Japanese routinely decapitated surrendering Americans for dishonoring the Bushido code. When we got hold of them after the war we hung them.

I'm up for that too.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at June 18, 2004 11:14 AM

Paul Johnson got beheaded today.

Shit. Those pricks didn't video it, did they? Bet they did, they're gluttons for sick publicity.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 11:15 AM

Yeah, they taped it.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at June 18, 2004 11:18 AM

Double-plus-ungood
Perhaps I should not have used Howard Stern's language when properly speaking on the matter of President Clinton receiving oral stimulation on his penis from a young women whom the President was too cowardly to even utter her name.

Your sarcastic remark in calling me a 'class act' is perplexing considering what is spoken on the public airwaves these days and what actions were taken in the past by a former president.

Next time I will be sure to properly keep my language clean when in the company of those who find that the topic of sex should be sterilized as not to offend anyone.

And, the next time I perform oral stimulation upon a penis I will remind the receiver of such pleasure to keep his intellectual level elevated as in order to prevent the spread of such intellectual discourse from further deterioration.

Pleae forgive me.

Posted by: syn at June 18, 2004 11:20 AM

Just look at his savagery of the administration over Abu Ghraib. It's personal -- he hates Bush and he is going to make him pay.

American soldiers tortured and murdered Iraqi prisoners in front of cameras. It was evil AND it severely damaged our efforts in Iraq and in the War on Terror.

And you think Mr. Sullivan is only pretending outrage because he supports gay marriage?

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 11:20 AM

The terrorists saw off the heads of civilians who go over there to help their fellow Muslims, but we can't keep them up late for interrogations.

Are we SERIOUS here?

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 11:23 AM

Oberon,

Name the sustained ground conflict where this kind of depravity did not happen.

Is it always the fault of the CiC? Then we can never fight another sustained ground war again (some would be happy about that).

I have no problem with outrage at the beasts who raped and killed in Abu Ghraib. I have a big problem for blaming that on Rumsfeld and Bush -- given that this behavior happens in every war and in every prison system in every first-world country.

The facts on this were known for months and reported to the media -- and nobody -- including Hitch and Sullivan -- gave a shit until they had some nasty pictures of it and until they decided to turn on Bush.

The big problem we face is not Abu Ghraib -- those soldiers will face long sentences or even the firing squad. The big problem is whether we are going to lose our moral bearings completely when the nuke goes off in Times Square, and we decide to fight total war.

Every bit of unseriousness we display now makes that day more likely and closer. If the country had rallied around Bush re: Iraq, we would have a good shot at rattling the Mullahs and even getting a popular, pro-American revolution going there. We might have the political capital to finally deal with North Korea. But our enemies know we are divided, it gives them resolve and backbone and multiplies our risks.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 11:34 AM

>>>"The terrorists saw off the heads of civilians who go over there to help their fellow Muslims, but we can't keep them up late for interrogations."

Michael Moore said these people were the equivalent of George Washington and the Founding Fathers. I wish so dearly they would get their murdering hands on that fat bastard.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 11:35 AM

MC: obviously you're the one who's not serious here, because NO ONE objects to keeping a suspect up late for interrogation.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 11:37 AM

The terrorists saw off the heads of civilians who go over there to help their fellow Muslims, but we can't keep them up late for interrogations.

This is demonstrates the large flaw in your reasoning. You don't have those guys in custody, so who are you referring to? Many of the people who have been "interrogated" haven't sawn anyone's head off, aren't terrorists, or even insurgents.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 11:44 AM

The big problem is whether we are going to lose our moral bearings completely when the nuke goes off in Times Square, and we decide to fight total war.

Actually, the big problem is how do we prevent our enemies from setting off a nuke in Times Square.

Since Bush is so completely unserious about defeating Al Qaeda and about dealing with actual nuclear threats (from North Korea, soon Iran, possibly Pakistan if the Islamic crazies topple Musharaff, and God-knows-who might get their hands on former USSR nukes) that he decided to get our military bogged down in occupying a country that was NOT in the top list of terrorist supporters AND that had no signifant nuclear program...

Oh why do I bother. You're probably just an Indymedia leftist having fun by coming up with the dumbest pseudo-neo-con arguments possible.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 11:46 AM

MC If the country had rallied around Bush re: Iraq, we would have a good shot at rattling the Mullahs and even getting a popular, pro-American revolution going there.

Where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, the early seventies.

Please explain the connection between exercising one of the noblest features of democracy, expressing political dissent with leadership, and failure to install democracy in another country. I didn't understand the argument thirty years ago, and I sure as hell don't understand it now.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 11:51 AM

Double,

the connection is obvious. When they sense disunity here in America, it gives comfort to the enemy and encourages them. This is so obvious that it's mindboggling that you couldn't figure that out yourself.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 11:55 AM

Matthew: The terrorists saw off the heads of civilians who go over there to help their fellow Muslims, but we can't keep them up late for interrogations.

Are we SERIOUS here?

Yes, I'm fucking serious. I'm not signing off on this crap. If this becomes the GOP position I'm voting for John Kerry. Period. End of story.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 12:00 PM

And no, Matthew, I'm not griping about keeping up late at night or putting them in solitary. You know what it is I'm objecting to.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 12:01 PM

Oberon,

Curious what you would do if you were president and had information that Iraq was about to launch waves of terrorist attacks against the US?

You'd better revise your talking points, cause Putin just blew a huge hole in your antiwar arguments.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 12:01 PM

Michael,

Please spell out what you are objecting to.

Because some people call sleep deprivation and solitary confinement torture.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 12:10 PM

Michael, don't be ridiculous. If dunking terrorists and making them pull all-nighters is going to save lives, you object to that? What nonsense.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 12:12 PM

never mind

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 12:13 PM

Matthew and David, you are being willfully obtuse. Maybe you should re-read Hitchens latest column that I linked a few days ago.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 12:15 PM

David, I missed your "nevermind."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 12:15 PM

Yeah, like George Bush invaded Iraq because President Pootie-Poot told him to.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 12:16 PM

I think Dershowitz is right.

If we are going to be coercive, we need to decide how coercive we are going to be.

Sleep deprivation is coercive. I know, I have had young children. Solitary confinement with sensory deprivation is coercive.

Are we going to use these techniques, or give these folks normal POW treatment with regular visits with an attorney, red cross, 3 hots, and 8 hours quiet sleep?

I'm not going to softpedal sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation. It will acheive results by screwing up your brain temporarily. Basically the natural equivalent of some very powerful drugs.

Are we going to do these things? What is the limit of what we will do? Do we add "dunking"?

Let's spell it out, explicitly, honestly. Let's not leave it to individual discretion any more. It's unpleasant, but this is where we find ourselves, and we ought to decide what we are willing to do and what is out of bounds.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 12:22 PM

I'd advise reading that Atlantic article that I posted before.

To summarize:

The anti-torture camp - it's not worth losing your soul by questionable interrogation techniques when it will have to be applied to a lot of innocents, and even when its use is profitable, in terms of intel.

The pro-interrogation camp - this is war, and war includes things like hurting and killing people. If information that saves lives can be extracted using these means, then that can be morally justified given the extreme circumstances.

syn - some really wierd off-topic stuff invoving organs and bodily fluids of a past president <shudder>

The Atlantic article does a pretty fair job of covering all cases discussed, along with the moral implications and techniques, and includes a real ticking-bomb-like scenario where it was crucial to extract information from someone quickly.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 12:23 PM

Curious what you would do if you were president and had information that Iraq was about to launch waves of terrorist attacks against the US?

I'd probably bomb Iraqi military installations and presidential palaces, while informing the leadership of Iraq that next step would be bombing them personally, and the step after that might be invading and toppling the regime. Why do you ask?

Or I might do what Bill Clinton did when had information that Iran was about to launch waves of terrorist attacks against US interests. (Go read Against All Enemies if you want find out what happened. I know, if the head of anti-terrorism quits and criticizes Bush's handling of terrorism, it's because he's just a partisan hack who wants to sell books. But read it anyway.)

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 12:24 PM

Michael,

I read the article.

He doesn't spell out what is acceptable, and what is not.

Clearly, he feels that naked pyramids, electrodes on genitals, etc. are degrading and inappropriate. I agree.

Reading between the lines, I don't see him opposing sleep deprivation and solitary confinement, but it's not clear.

I want a clear statement -- what's allowed, what is not.

I say: yes sleep deprivation and solitary (sensory deprivation) is acceptable for questioning terrorists. I say no to mock executions, electrodes on genitals, etc. I would say no to dunking, as it's easy enough to kill someone that way, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 12:28 PM

Addendum to previous post: assumes the info was reliable.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 12:28 PM

Oberon,

"Why I ask" is because of Putin's press conference today.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 12:30 PM

I think using fear would be appropriate too. Have you seen that show Fear Factor? That kind of stuff. Scare the shit out of them.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 12:31 PM

Yes, I read about Putin's comments on CNN. And I really hope you don't think that we ought to invade a country because the Russian intelligence service tell us they're planning bad things -- we have Chalabhi for that role.

I expect the stories must have pretty friggin' weak if Bush didn't mentioned them.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 12:39 PM

the connection is obvious. When they sense disunity here in America, it gives comfort to the enemy and encourages them. This is so obvious that it's mindboggling that you couldn't figure that out yourself.

What is mindboggling is that you think that the terrorists and insurgents are sitting down every morning with a cup of coffee and the paper, judging American disunity, and basing the day's activities on it. "No, Amhed, put down the rocket launcher. The infidels in the great satan seem united today. Tomorrow, maybe."

Sheesh. I'd think that possibly the security conditions and economy might have something to do with the chaos, as well as several dozen militia, religious and ethnic tensions, and a nationalist resentment of being occupied by a foreign power, wouldn't you? A bit?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 12:40 PM

Oberon:

Since Bush is so completely unserious about defeating Al Qaeda and about dealing with actual nuclear threats (from North Korea, soon Iran, possibly Pakistan if the Islamic crazies topple Musharaff, and God-knows-who might get their hands on former USSR nukes) that he decided to get our military bogged down in occupying a country that was NOT in the top list of terrorist supporters AND that had no significant nuclear program...

What leads me to despair is the combination of a willful misunderstanding of why we invaded Iraq combined with the laundry list of other "more important" objectives combined with a total lack of believable tactics and/or strategies to achieve any of those objectives.

Willful misunderstanding: Iraq was an avowed enemy of the United States. She had been in a state of war with us since 1991. The Bush Doctrine (as I understand it) states that the United States will act preemptively against identified threats, and it's hard to get more identified than Iraq was prior to the war. In other words, we're opting to risk false positives (overestimating our enemies) than false negatives (underestimating our enemies).

Shorter version: yank our chain and you will be smacked down.

The Laundry List: Sure, there exist a number of threats out there. But the assumption that we're standing still on them while we sort out Iraq is asinine. Pakistan just took out another key Al-Q figure today on the Afghan border. North Korea's Precious Leader took a semi-secret trip to China, which included a spectacular explosion at a train depot that he had just happened to travel through. What do you want to bet that wasn't part of a full "carrot and stick" treatment from the PRC?

As to Iraq not being part of the global terror threat, global terrorists seem to move awfully comfortably through there. Note to y'all: Terror organizations and the states they work with don't sign treaties and hold press conferences. You judge the linkage between the NGTs (non-governmental terrorists) and their potential collaborators by who prosecutes terrorists and who doesn't, and how effectively they do it.

Or does the track record of the CIA et. al. give you a high degree of confidence that we have a good grip on all the possibilities out there?

And, of course, being in Iraq, and being allied with Pakistan, puts us in a position to credibly threaten Iran. But that would mean thinking ahead, and the Left, which used to be about looking to the future instead of the past, no longer seems to be good at that.

From what I see, we are making broad progress everywhere in reducing the threat of direct attack. After two decades of letting things in the Middle East go to hell, we're finally doing something real about it. Which brings me to...

Total lack of believable alternatives: If I hear one more kvetcher say we should have worked through the UN, I'm going to scream. Genocide is happening in Africa right now, this minute. What is the mighty UN's response to this? Nothing. France, Russia, and China aren't busy in Iraq right now, and as I understand it they have militaries. I say to them, stop pretending to a moral high ground and do something. I am 100% behind regime change and occupation in any country conducting genocide. I'm pretty sure the US would say hey, more power to you, and do you want some air support and satellite intelligence? But we all know that nothing will happen, because we all know the history of the United Nations.

The blindness of anyone who compares the UN favorably to the United States disturbs me. Either those people aren't paying attention, or they're engaging in some really evil double-think.

Conclusion: I am more than willing to call this Administration out on bad policies, and I do so on a frequent basis. The slippery slope of aggressive interrogation was an extremely bad idea. We all see where it came from, and we can all see now what the practical effects were, but if the legal brief had leaked in September of last year you might have gotten a majority of US citizens say "yeah, that makes sense." It might have been a big majority. Hindsight, yada yada.

My wishlist is short. Dems recapture congress (or at least the House) and Bush wins re-election. Because while the current team has made mistakes, they're at least taking the WoT seriously.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2004 12:40 PM

MC - I'd think that Putin's obvious meddling in the US election should be treated with a bit of skeptisism. If such information had been passed the US intelligence, I think they would have probably been made public by now. I also think that Russia might have been a little more on-side during the Iraq invasion if they had that kind of intel.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 12:43 PM

Matthew's point is a good one--there is a wide range of interrogation methods between "pretty please" and "ok, the foot's coming OFF."

There are two lines to be drawn. The first defines what is and is not torture. The second defines what is and is not ok. I suggest that the lines should be in the same place, but you could make arguments for them being distinct.

The point of the line-drawing is useful public policy. Does sleep-deprivation constitute torture? Is it ok? Does solitary confinement constitute torture? Is it ok? Does simulated drowning constitute torture? Is it ok? (If the lines are in the same place, the second follows naturally from the first, but if the lines are distinct, so could the answers to the questions.)

In summary, there are NOT two camps, one pro-torture and one anti-torture. There may be (broadly speaking) two camps that operate under different definitions of torture, but that is not AT ALL the same thing.

Posted by: Sam Barnes at June 18, 2004 12:44 PM

http://www.homelandsecurityus.com/t14d.asp

Paul Johnson, R.I.P.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 12:44 PM

Just look at his savagery of the administration over Abu Ghraib. It's personal -- he hates Bush and he is going to make him pay.

Quite an interesting use of the word "savagery".

Posted by: Kurt at June 18, 2004 12:46 PM

Wow, what an awsome comment thread. Michael, all you have to do to generate one of these is slightly lean the right or left in a post, and then hordes of people show up to battle it out.

Great stuff. I don't even remember what we were originally talking about.

Oh yeah, Sully.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 12:48 PM

the connection is obvious. When they sense disunity here in America, it gives comfort to the enemy and encourages them. This is so obvious that it's mindboggling that you couldn't figure that out yourself.

If Kerry becomes president, should we expect that you will not express any disunity?

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 12:54 PM

>>>""No, Amhed, put down the rocket launcher. The infidels in the great satan seem united today. Tomorrow, maybe."

Oberon,

no, they probably don't carry on as you mockingly portray them, sitting around drinking coffee; but you'd be delusional to believe they don't monitor our media. And what are they looking for when they monitor our media? The funny pages? Sports headlines? celebrity dirt?

Use your head. They're looking for the effects their actions have on us, our politician's statements, polls, etc.

Stop living in denial and try to be intellectually honest for just two minutes.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 12:55 PM

>>>"If Kerry becomes president, should we expect that you will not express any disunity?"

In a war against an external enemy we should be united, not tear each other down to gain the whitehouse.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 12:57 PM

Oberon,

Russia had very good assets in place in Iraq, and they told us Iraq was planning imminent attacks. And you call it "weak intelligence. Why, because you don't agree with it? Obviously we were told by Putin not to "out" this info, and Bush being a loyal person didn't do so. You will look back and remember how differently we treated Russian vs. Franco-Russian opposition to operation Iraqi Freedom -- now we know exactly why.

Read Stephen Hayes The Connection and tell me what you think. I honestly think after you read that book you will have a very different idea about Saddam's relationship with Al Qaeda than the Democrat / MSM talking points are pushing.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 12:59 PM

Mark,

I agree with a lot of your points. In fact, before the invasion, I agreed with them a lot more. It's just that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was based on mostly-incorrect premises (that Saddam had signficant WMDs, and that Saddam was an ally of Al Qaeda), and that carefully-laid plans for securing the peace and rebuilding the country were chucked out the window.

I know Bush is making progress in many ways, but that fact is that we took our focus off more important threats.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 12:59 PM

Watch for Sullivan to weave back to the right now that another American has been beheaded.

Posted by: Eric Blair at June 18, 2004 01:01 PM

David,

The "Ahmed" line was D-p-U's sarcasm, not mine. He's a lot better at it than I am.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 01:04 PM

David is exactly right.

Personally I have a lot of problems with Bush. The FMA, the WoSD, the idiotic medicare benefit increase, and lack of fiscal restraint. If a credible, serious Democrat had been nominated (such as Leiberman) I would be willing to consider the Democrats. But given how the Democratic campaign seems to be based on making sure we lose the war on terror in Iraq, I am utterly disgusted and appalled.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 01:04 PM

david Use your head. They're looking for the effects their actions have on us, our politician's statements, polls, etc.

First of all, those bon mots were mine, not Oberon's.

And they are not either. You use your head. Why would they give a damn about public opinion. Would you? Do you?

Stop living in denial and try to be intellectually honest for just two minutes.

No, you stop living in denial. No, you be intellectually honest for two minutes.

I'm pretty sure I already had this discussion in grade 2, but it was about a rule dispute in a game of tag.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 01:06 PM

Oberon,

I don't think it is clear that Saddam did not have WMDs. We have found several of them used against our troops, and apparently a huge amount of WMD was found in Jordan as part of a terror plot there.

There are also substantial indications that Iraqi WMD made its way to Syria.

As for the terrorism connection, that is very clearly true -- and Putin's announcement today is further confirmation.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 01:07 PM

The "Ahmed" line was D-p-U's sarcasm, not mine.

Yeah, okay, I'm getting sarcastic and not taking the discussion seriously anymore. I'll stop now, it's impeding proper discussion of an important topic.

Same time tomorrow, all?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 01:09 PM

Cromer,

And I am utterly disgusted that you would write that "the Democratic campaign seems to be based on making sure we lose the war on terror in Iraq."

You have just proven yourself a fringe nutcase.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 01:12 PM

>>>"You use your head. Why would they give a damn about public opinion. Would you? Do you?"

If I was a terrorist? YES. That's the sole purpose of being a terrorist, to scare the shit out of people like you to force your government to turn tail and run. Is this too obvious to register on your advanced intellect? Is it too 2nd grade for you?

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 01:18 PM

< psst - david - not here anymore, see you tomorrow ... >

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 18, 2004 01:23 PM

"The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush?

--Michael Moore

Oh, that doesn't comfort our enemies? It doesn't encourage them? It's not TRAITOROUS?

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 01:30 PM

Well, my 2 cents...

I think that much of the savaging of Sully is not so much over his lost soul, but for the underlying equation that he uses - one tha seriously undermines the thrust of the republican/conservative line in this election.

As many have pointed out here, Bush supporters seem united in viewing the WoT as the paramount issue. But to say that is not enough, of course. One needs to go further to say that a Kerry administration would be so different, and so bad, that the future of the nation and that of western civilization itself would be imperiled. One needs to make such arguments, so that the WoT can trump all the other major issues - issues that would probably break Kerry's way in the minds of most in the middle.

So when Sully uses one of those issues (in his case, gay stuff, but it could be anything), it sends the message that he views the DIFFERENCE between the Bush and Kerry apporach to the WoT as not nearly so great as the partisans want to, or need to make it.

Of course there are many who feel that Kerry would do a BETTER job on the WoT. But leaving aside that 40+% of the population, there seems to be an ever-growing number of very serious people who seem to think that Kerry can and will do at least as well.

Of course, if the democrats are successful in November, John Kerry will be president - not Dennis Kucinich. Richard Holbrooke, or maybe Joe Biden will be Sec. of State - not Noam Chomsky. Maybe Sam Nunn, or Carl Levin or even John McCain might be SecDef - not Al Sharpton. And the National Security Advisor will most likely be Rand Beers - the guy Bush appointed as counter-terrorism czar when Richard Clarke left - not that dude who was on the stage at the last A.N.S.W.E.R rally. In short, a democratic administration will be made up of grown ups - and most likely more competent, less ideological grownups than the crew we have there now.

Thoughtful people understand this. Even strong Bush supporters understand this, once they start thinking seriously about what might happen in November. And then suddenly, once one realizes that the security of the nation will be in as good hands, if not better, in a Kerry administration, one loses completely the willingness to sacrifice every other issue for the sake of being protected by George Bush.

And of course, this is a dagger into the heart of the republican electoral strategy. And anyone who seems to operate on that basis must be thoroughly delegitimized.

Posted by: Tano at June 18, 2004 01:33 PM

Oberon, sad to see that ad-hominim stuff coming out of your mouth.

Perhaps these quotes from the luminaries in the Democratic party are news to you:

"Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management." -- Ted Kennedy

"He betrayed this country! He played on our fears. He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place." -- Albert Gore, Jr.

"The emperor has no clothes,"
"The situation in Iraq and the reckless economic policies in the United States speak to one issue for me, and that is the competence of our leader," "These policies are not working. But speaking specifically to Iraq, we have a situation where -- without adequate evidence -- we put our young people in harm's way." -- Nancy Pelosi

Yes, the democratic leadership and their friends in the media will attack Bush and the war effort in their effort to get Kerry elected.

Honestly, anyone who hears and reads these quotes knows the kind of effect on morale this has on our troops and our enemies. As well as the "Vietnam" meme that has been pushed so hard by both.

So I'm calling it like I see it. The democrats as a whole are quite willing to trade victory in Iraq for victory in November.

And Oberon, I would hope you have the decency to apologize for your "nutcase" remark. Because if not, I'm finished talking to you.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 01:37 PM

"Yes, I'm fucking serious. I'm not signing off on this crap. If this becomes the GOP position I'm voting for John Kerry. Period. End of story."

Please......spare us the obvious disingenuousness.
You were always inclined to do that in any case.

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2004 01:46 PM

Michael .......your use of gratuitous profanity is, at the least, setting a bad example and unbecoming of someone with your obvious writing acumen.

Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2004 01:51 PM

Thank goodness someone finally said it, Michael!

You're quite right-- no one who "thinks" can be part of a poltical party. Even if a party actually tracks our own politics pretty well --some of us are just that fortunate -- we immediately become "non-thinkers" because we support an organization which, fortunately, represents our basic political beliefs.

You and your fellow free-thinking independents are the brave, the wise, the brilliant. You sit around all day thinking scary-smart thoughts while the rest of us cows just chew the cud.

I'm glad that a free-thinking liberalish independent finally had the guts to pat himself firmly on the back for being such an intellectual and moral paragon.

I mean, it's so infrequently that you guys do it. I can go five, six seconds without a liberal or independent patting himself on the back for his courage.

Not enough for me. Just. Not. Enough.

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 01:52 PM

Craig,

nah, cut him some slack. He's on the fence and being mean to him will push him back into the Lib camp, just like Sullivan. Be nice.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 01:52 PM

lol, that was funny ace.

Posted by: David at June 18, 2004 01:53 PM

Tano,

If you were talking about Gebhart or Lieberman, you might have a point.

Instead you are talking about a man who volunteered to go Vietnam as a war opponent, left early, then joined forced with anti-war types to defeat the US effort there, slandering with lies every veteran of that war.

You are talking about a man every one of whose superiors in Vietnam signed a document declaring him unfit for the office of Commander in Cheif.

You are talking about a man whose picture is on display in the Vietnam war museum with a plaque that praises him as an ally of the North Vietnamese Army.

You are talking about a man who has fought defense and espionage funding tooth and nail for decades.

You have a man who was for the 87 billion before he was against it, a man who says the War on Terror is mostly law enforcement, a man who wants the french government (corrupted by payoffs from third-world killers) to have a veto on our foreign policy.

No, I don't trust Kerry to the job of Commander in Chief, any more than any of his superiors in Vietnam do. I think he is untrustworthy, a man with no core, whose main goal in life is being called "Mr. President" who will say and do anything to get there. I'm not thrilled with Bush in many ways, but he is willing to deal with the root cause of global terrorism which is the undemocratic cesspool of middle eastern states.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 01:56 PM

I think you need to cut Michael some slack.

He's clearly very angry and grieved over what happened in Abu Ghraib with those guardsmen, as should we all be. It's terrible that some of our soldiers (apparently) committed rapes and murders.

I hope those responsible rot in prison the rest of their lives, or get the firing squad.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 01:58 PM

Dave,

I'm just saying what everyone's thinking.

We all know that liberal-leaning independents like Mr. Michael J. Totten are smarter and braver than the rest of us.

But why do we have to go for such lengthy periods of time between them saying so?

Personally, I've had enough of this, and I'm calling them out. It's high-time liberal-leaning independents stopped being so damned mealy-mouthed about proclaiming their superiority over me.

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 02:08 PM

Tano:

In short, a democratic administration will be made up of grown ups - and most likely more competent, less ideological grownups than the crew we have there now.

The Best and the Brightest, right? A return to the same philosophies that guided our State Department for the last, oh, forty years. Stability trumps everything. Yeah, they're sons of bitches, but they're our sons of bitches. Respect for international institutions, regardless of the respect they have for us, or humanity in general.

Sam Nunn was the only name you threw out for whom I have much respect. (Except for McCain. Why does every democrat get tumescent when they think about Kerry and McCain working together?)

Frankly, if the presumptive Democratic nominee were capable of demonstrating an ideology, I would consider him.

The war we are in is a clash of civilizations. If we give up respecting ideology, we'll eventually lose. That's why I'm pissed about Abu Ghraib. But it's also why I can't vote for someone who stands for nothing but his own ambition.

I'll fight for civilization. You keep on fighting for Kerry.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2004 02:32 PM

And Oberon, I would hope you have the decency to apologize for your "nutcase" remark. Because if not, I'm finished talking to you.

Okay, I'm sorry you're such a nutcase.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 02:37 PM

Matthew,
I would like to trust that your comments about Gephardt and Lieberman are evidence of a rational approach to the various candidates. But then you repeat, almost word for word, the most extreme spin against Kerry. So that doesnt add up for me.

As I see it, Kerry has the proper balance that I would look for in a leader. He accpets his reponsibilities as a citizen, which includes thinking critically about his government's policies. But when called to serve, even if he is troubled by the policies, he went, and served bravely and with true leadership skills. When the bullets started flying, he showed that he has the character to respond appropriately.

On return, he took up his duties as a thoughtful citizen - and once again proved himself an articulate and courageous leader. He did not slime all his fellow veterans - he was quite explicit that he and his comrades were doing their best to carry out their orders, but that their orders were in some instances criminal. Sorry if this is harsh, but ordering policies of free-fire zones, where everyone or thing that moves is to be shot, when such a zone encompasses areas of peasant villages, is a crime.

His superiors were unanimous in their praise of his courage and leadership skills. None of them at the time were asked their opinion of whether he would be a good CiC - not that such an opinion of a 27 year old would be worth much. Only now, this year, a group of people, none of whom actually were in the field with him, or witnessed him in combat, try to trade in on vague connections (they too were on similar boats, they were somewhere above him in the chain of command etc.) to claim that he would not be a good CiC. They are entitled to thier opinion, of course, but it counts for no more than your opinion or mine. They base their opinion not on anything he ever did in Vietnam - and yet being in Vietnam is their only claim to any special insight into him.
Just another bunch of republicans stating their opposition.

He has not fought tooth and nail against all defense spending. THat too is obvious spin. One could just as easily charge Dick Cheney with being the man who oversaw the greatest takedown of our military forces since the end of WWII. Which would be true. John Kerry was a legislator, and every legislator needs to critically assess every budget request - especially the Pentagons - since it is obviously standard practice for all departments to ask for more than they expect to get. And no one plays that game better than the Penatgon. So every legislator will obviously run up a long list of "anti-defense" votes that could be exploited later by opponents.

Same is obviously true with the 87 billion. No serious person, I would hope, reallly believes that any senator would work to insure that 135K soldiers in the field would end up one fine day with no budgetary support. Even a cursory study of the events around that issue would make it obvious that Kerry et.al. used the vote (their only real weapon) to force the administration to specify a detailed plan for how they would spend the money. Obviously if the bill had been defeated, a new bill would have been written within days - one that would have addressed the issues raised by those who voted against it. I suspect that you, and everyone who follows politics understands that this is how legislatures work. But of course, it leaves one open to all these later political attacks...
Clearly one of the reasons that legislators have such a difficult time being elected to the presidency!

The comments about the french are just silly of course. Especially in a week when Bush is crowing about getting a UN resolution for Iraq. Doing diplomacy, and actually leading the free world, is part of the job - that does not, and Kerry certainly would not - mean that any nation has any veto power over us.

You seem to have bought into, completely, the themes of the 80 million dollar anti-Kerry campaign that has just been run. Here is just hoping that you give the guy a chance to introduce himself to you and the rest of the country, on his own terms. And then do what you will.....

Posted by: Tano at June 18, 2004 02:40 PM

Oberon, I guess you were expecting things to go better than they have in Iraq. The nasty surprise of Abu Ghraib notwithstanding, they've gone better than I expected. I figured that some of the worst case scenarios would pan out, and they haven't. The only concern I have is the "man on the street" opinion of the US occupation in Iraq, but I'm taking all polls with serious salt. We're not even to the first intermission in this production.

I have zero, zip, zilch military experience, but I have a lot of experience as a software trainer and technical writer working on project rollouts. On much smaller scales in much less hostile environments, projects still go awry more often than not. The old saw about no battle plan surviving contact with the enemy applies at pretty much all scales.

So I'm cutting the Bushies large-scale slack while ripping them a new one on the interrogation policies. And I'm shouting out to the Democrats that if they could put a hawkish plan to move forward on the table I'd be willing to listen.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 18, 2004 02:50 PM

We all know that liberal-leaning independents like Mr. Michael J. Totten are smarter and braver than the rest of us.
But why do we have to go for such lengthy periods of time between them saying so?

Oh, and you don't think your political position is any better or smarter than anyone elses? What are you then, Ace, a political relativist?

When the major political parties are both capable of such stupiditiy, then, yeah, you feel a little smarter -- or a little more principled -- and a lot lonelier -- when you refuse drink the big party kool-aid because you know you'd never be able to stomach the crap that gets stirred into it.

But you know that most of us independents will hold our noses and pull one lever or another. But we don't have to pretend to be happy about it. And if you're asking us to keep quiet about it, then I think you can guess where you can stick that sideways.

Posted by: Browning at June 18, 2004 02:52 PM

Ace: You're quite right-- no one who "thinks" can be part of a poltical party. Even if a party actually tracks our own politics pretty well --some of us are just that fortunate -- we immediately become "non-thinkers" because we support an organization which, fortunately, represents our basic political beliefs.

That's not what I said.

Go on. Dissent from the party line in public. Oppose the Iraq war. Argue that the tax cuts are irresponsible. Come out in favor of universal health coverage. Call Kenneth Starr a puritan prig on a fishing expedition. Say that Kerry would do a better job handling a torture scandal than Bush. Kick a few sacred cows around for about five minutes and watch what happens. Then tell me if you still think enforcers of Party Lines are thoughtful intelletuals who are comfortable with disagreement.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 03:14 PM

Ummm... let me see... this "comfort" with dissent. Does it require that someone not argue against the dissenting opinion?

Apparently you believe because Republicans argue against those who disagree with them, they're somehow trampelling the rights of the dissenters.

This is a typical fallacy.

But you know, you missed the whole point here anyway. And I think you missed the whole point both deliberately and dishonesty.

No one was criticizing Sullivan for being a "dissenter." No one was criticizing him for being "undecided." No one was criticizing him for abandoning Bush.

He was being criticized for having abandoned Bush several months ago and thrown his support behind Kerry, but concealing this fact from his audience, whom he continued to minister to while wearing the cloak of an "undecided, independent" voter who had not yet "made up his mind already" and was still trying to "figure things out between two candidates."

He made that claim in March. Those quotes, paraphrased, he made in March when KJL of the NRO said, "Andrew, just declare for Kerry already and get it over with." He specifically denied being already decided for Kerry.

And then he went on to shill for him, lying about his current political affiliation.

THIS, my friend, was the point of the criticism directed at Sullivan. Not that he was a free-thinking maverick independent who frightened us lockstep Republicans with his defiance of the party line. But that he wasn't a free-thinking maverick independent, but rather was a declared Kerry partisan (declared in a poorly-read magazine which, oddly enough, he didn't link) while continuing to deceive his readers into thinking he was still "figuring things out."

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 03:25 PM

Hey doubleplus

You missed the point made in my argument that I supported President Clinton when he took our country to war to end genocide in Kosovo despite my hatred towards his domestic social policies.

I believe my statement applies to this current topic of discussion.

That being said, I would like restate my premise that Clinton sterilized his affair with Monica.

Posted by: syn at June 18, 2004 03:27 PM

Let me be more pithy:

I'm not criticizing him because he was an independent.

I'm criticizing him because he was Not and independent -- not an independent, but a partisan simply concealing his partisanship -- all through these past long months of expressing his just-spied-a-mouse horror at Abu Ghraib.

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 03:28 PM

Michael,

No, this is what you said.

"Political parties are cruel to people who think. The more partisan members are bigots. They hate people in the other political party, and they hate you if you don't follow orders...."

I'll just say that the above is self-evidently untrue, for both parties. I could go on, but I believe ace made the point sufficiently well.

Posted by: Sam Barnes at June 18, 2004 03:30 PM

If you don't believe me, I can put you in touch with JeffB., a frequent contributor at my site, and a man who always defended Sullivan from my constant harrassments.

JeffB. says that Sullivan specifically promised to inform him the moment he "made up his mind."

And yet Sullivan did not. Having made up his mind, he continued posing as an independent, neutral honest-broker torn between the two candidates.

JeffB. was so pissed off by this he even donated to me for the first time when Sullivan "betrayed" him (his word, not mine). When you put money behind your annoyance, it's real.

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 03:33 PM

Browning,

No, dear, I can assure you I feel superior to everyone here, pretty much, except those agreeing with me, whom I accept as worthy equals. Well, almost-equals.

The point I'm making is that a certain crowd feels, ohhh, how do I put this?, a little more comfortable about periodically proclaiming their intellectual and moral superiority, every hour, on the hour.

It's human to think that one's personal beliefs make one superior to his fellows.

It's a liberal-leaning independent thing to share this belief with the world at large every six fucking minutes.

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 03:36 PM

As I so patiently explain on my blog, there's nothing wrong with a carny-barker encouraging you to play his game. You know his interests may be in conflict with your own. He's honestly making a pitch, making no bones about the fact that he's looking to profit from your play.

The shill, on the other hand, poses as an independent stranger unaffiliated with the carny game and encourages you to play. He's dishonest. He's hoping to be in a better position to persuade you due to the fact he's dishonestly concealing his affiliation with the carny game.

Andrew Sullivan is a shill. By definition. He was attempting to persuade and cajole his readers for months under the guise of being undecided between either candidate when in fact he had long ago -- just when I predicted it, actually -- decided in favor of Kerry.

The argument was never over whether Sullivan had a right to attempt to persuade. The argument was whether he had a right to do so under a false flag.

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 03:46 PM

allright ace, we get your point. You are wrong of course, but repeating a few more times wont make it right.

Sullivan has still not endorsed Kerry. He wrote his Advocate piece in mid-May, and posted on his blog this month. Same message both times. He cannot support Bush. Thats as far as he has gone.
Just becuase K-Lo sensed him drifting away in March doesnt mean anything - except that, I think we can take him at his word here, he was thinking it over in realization of what a big step it would be for him.

You can play the uber-cynicism, demonization game all you want. It speaks more to your character than to his. Anyone unable to imagine a real human being wrestling with, what is for him, very large issues, is probably someone who doesnt do that very much himself.

Posted by: Tano at June 18, 2004 04:33 PM

Sullivan has still not endorsed Kerry

Riiiiight. His choice is between endorsing Kerry or sitting the election out, as he himself says.

I find it rather hard to believe that someone paid and read for his opinions will choose to not offer one in the most important election in at least 24 years.

But in any event, he has chosen something -- to not endorse Bush. And yet this man -- paid and read for his opinions -- withheld that decision from his readers.

He didn't mention that decision. DIdn't link the article in which he stated that decision.

Why?

Seems awfully strange behavior from someone paid and read for his opinions.

Can you explain this surprising choice, dear?

to Michael Totten (and everyone else),

Michael Totten says he's reluctantly supporting Bush at the moment. Suppose he changes his mind in the next month-- to strongly supporting Kerry, or strongly supporting Bush.

Would you think it deceptive for him to withhold that decision and continue posting his opinions under the guise of a man torn between two candidates?

Although I don't think they should be, "independents" are afforded some degree of extra credibility. Totten is the beneficiary of that bump-up in credibility.

If he becomes a partisan, would you hold it against him for dishonestly maintaining he hadn't made up his mind while all the while his opinions were actually being colored by his concealed decision?

Is that the new right you claim on behalf of your blog-heroes? To lie to you when they find it convenient?

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 05:35 PM

> But in any event, he has chosen something --
> to not endorse Bush. And yet this man -- paid
> and read for his opinions -- withheld that
> decision from his readers.

Uh, Sullivan is not a policy-maker. He was not elected to forward an agenda or a platform. He has no requirement to be consistent. (In fact, as a blog writer, he has an unprecedented medium in which to be inconsistent. As we say in software, inconsistency is not a bug, it's a feature!) As far as I'm concerned, Sullivan's job is to make people think. I don't really care what his position winds up being in November; who he votes for is his own business, and his own responsibility -- just as my vote is my responsibility.

Critiquing Sullivan as a "shill" is an ad hominem attack. His recent posts about the Bush Administration's handling of Iraq raise uncomfortable questions for me, and I've supported the WoT since the beginning. If I'm going to vote for Bush in good conscience, I need to think about Sullivan's critiques, and decide for myself how much they impact my willingness to vote for Bush (or Kerry).

The consistency (or lack thereof) of Sullivan's ideology has no bearing on whether or not his critiques are thought-provoking.

Posted by: Matt Cline at June 18, 2004 05:51 PM

Ace - it's just a fricken blog, dude. None of these people owe you anything. And only a fool just accepts what they read at face value ... including this comment!

Posted by: Mork at June 18, 2004 05:53 PM

No, dear, I can assure you I feel superior to everyone here, pretty much, except those agreeing with me, whom I accept as worthy equals.

Well, snookums, then I think we have something in common. Let's cuddle.

He was being criticized for having abandoned Bush several months ago and thrown his support behind Kerry, but concealing this fact from his audience.

This is demonstrably false. Still, you are so cute when you are wrong. But then you must know that.

Posted by: Browning Porter at June 18, 2004 05:54 PM

I must be becoming less analytical as time goes on.
To me the Andrew Sullivan tempest in a teapot is a very small affair indeed.I gave up on the guy when it became clear that his sexual preferences came way ahead of ANYTHING else.
On the one hand we have a new horror from the land of the clueless (SA) wherein some other poor innocent is butchered without mercy and then displayed for all the world to gawk at,and on the other we have Mr.Sullivan whose every second thought appears to about how his 'rights' as a fun loving gay man are being abridged.When did these issues become equivalent?
I really can't see that he is a serious player no matter what party he intends to support or not.
I personally only trust ONE guy to see this fight through to the finish but that is just one man's opinion.Any party that has Dean,Kennedy,Polosi,and Byrd is not qualified to wage winning war on ANYBODY, and certainly not on terrorists.

Posted by: dougf at June 18, 2004 06:03 PM

Ace: Michael Totten says he's reluctantly supporting Bush at the moment.

Wrong. I'm back in the undecided column. And I said so in the main post today.

Sullivan also said back in February ON HIS BLOG that couldn't support Bush.

I think you need to read more carefully before jumping on someone's case for "not saying" what you think they should say. Just because you missed something written on a blog doesn't mean it wasn't actually written somewhere.

Many months ago I said I was reluctantly pro-Bush until further notice. Well, I gave notice and you missed it even though I gave it this very day as well as previously. (That's okay by itself. I don't expect anyone to read every word I write. Even my wife doesn't do that.)

Anyway, I said some time ago that if Bush doesn't get deal with this torture scandal to my satisfaction I would vote against him. So far I'm not happy with the results. We keep getting more bad information about his lawyers saying he doesn't have to follow the rules, etc. ad nauseum. Maybe he'll handle it well in the end. I don't know. So I'm on hold for now. Clear? I don't want to read some rant later on about how I "concealed" my position from the public.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 06:35 PM

When viewed from afar, the population of the United States is in a single party.

We are united by the constitution. Call it a binding platform. There are some things that we all must hold in common in order to function as a society.

I don't feel particularly blinkered or intellectually lazy just because the ground rules of the largest group (citizens) I happen to be a member of is written down somewhere. There's even penalties provided for violating them - criminal and civil.

The Democrats have a platform that at bests bumps against the enumerated responsibilities of government. The Republican platform, less abortion, is an amplification of the limits and duties of government laid out by the founders.

Independents? Moderates? Centrists?

Please. We are involved in World War IV here. The worldwide economy and workplace have been evolving at a geometric pace since the early nineties. We have USSC/Federal judgeship appointments, energy policy, entitlements reform, tort reform, fixing our education system, reforming EPA, immigration and border controls...all sorts of must-do things, on top of a complicated and breathtakingly dangerous war to win.

Not fight. Win. That's an important distinction. I want it to be clear I believe that if elected, John Kerry would gladly fight the war but not feel particularly bad about it not ending any time soon, especially if the pace were media manageable to his benefit. Looking down at the TmjUtah Sandtable of World Conflict, I think the opposition would really appreciate a nice rest for the next three or four years. Bush and his Best of the Best and Brightest (the ones that can point at experience and success both in and out of government service/activist ticket punching [yes, that's all of them]) know that initiative is our best weapon against Islamofascist terror; allowing the U.N. or any other non-effective agency to weaken or misdirect pressure against al Qaeda et al just enhances their capabilities. Whatever Bush and his cabinet have done or not done this last three years has no bearing on my satisfaction with the strategy, discipline, and will behind their prosecution of the war.

We aren't arguing about art here. We aren't standing in front of a statue debating proportion, scale or composition. It's a dynamic situation with about five more variables than an Oklahoma twister spooling northeast toward the city...when we cast our vote and walk away we will change history for generations to come.

I'll take the non-waffler, thanks, regardless of the party tag.

It might be nice to vote for a calming, moderate voice. Problem is that when I look back across history I don't see a lot of Who's Who entries for Roderick the Unoffensive or Dame Priscilla Empathy.

These are cusp times. There's nothing past, current, or on the horizon that could change my vote from Bush at this time, especially when looking at the alternative.

The Dems are in trouble because they cannot achieve national power with their platform. The Republicans won running on theirs and have since seemed to have climbed into the cookie jar and pulled the lid on after them. Neither PARTY has impressed much this last administration. I'm just grateful that there are a few individuals that stand far enough above the pack to be worth voting for this time around.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 18, 2004 07:17 PM

Wrong. I'm back in the undecided column...

You keep missing the point. I don't know what you are and I don't care what you are. It doesn't matter. So long as you are honestly reporting whatever it is you are to your readers, it's fine by me.

Sullivan didn't.

That's okay by itself. I don't expect anyone to read every word I write

I know you're kidding, and I don't mean to be contentious, but this is the first time I've read you, ever.

I saw Allah say you were reluctantly supporting Bush. I followed his link. That is the extent of my political dossier on you.

As I say above, it doesn't matter. I don't care what you are. Not the point.

Sullivan also said back in February ON HIS BLOG that couldn't support Bush.

Oh? Well in MARCH, also ON HIS BLOG (ON HIS BLOG, I SAY!!!), he SAID this TOO:

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.

Which is it, Michael? That he'd decided against Bush or was "actually trying to figure out who's the better candidate for the next four years"?

Did he announce against Bush, or "ha[dn't he] made up his mind[] already"?

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 07:19 PM

Ace - it's just a fricken blog, dude. None of these people owe you anything.

Asinine.

A stranger on the street doesn't owe me anything, including an honest answer. But if he lies to me, does the fact that he didn't "owe" me the truth change the fact that he lied?

Sullivan lied. He didn't owe me anything. I didn't even read him often. And I attacked him mercilessly the few times I did read him.

He still lied. A lie is defined by whether the statement is true or not. Not whether the liar had a special obligation to you to be truthful.

Posted by: ace at June 18, 2004 07:24 PM

If I may pull the discussion back a ways ...

Tom Grey said, "Is 'marriage status' to support families and the raising of kids, or for individual self expression (of commitment to another)? Obviously, if for the latter, not granting that legal status to gays violates their individual rights. But if it's for the former, granting gays that status devalues it."

Now, there's another question to be asked, if 'marriage status' is to support self-expression: why exactly does the legal status exist at all, and have benefits attached to it? I can stand up in front of an audience and announce my eternal commitment to strawberry ice cream, but I don't expect the state to take any notice of me, nor should I. What's the difference, to the state, between Joe and Bob expressing a commitment to each other, and Jim expressing a commitment to strawberry ice cream?

In a word, to define marriage as an institution that gay men have a right to enter, one must define it as an institution that the state has no reason to support. Which brings me back to Sullivan: his position is, if I understand him correctly, that marriage's legal status and moral influence will continue, and have good effects on gay men, even when the arguments for marriage's legal status have become indefensible. To me, with no personal stake in the matter, this is not very plausible.

Posted by: Michael Brazier at June 18, 2004 07:36 PM

A lie is defined by whether the statement is true or not.

Ace is obviously just another left-wing "Bush lied / people died" nut. Ignore him.

Posted by: Oberon at June 18, 2004 07:37 PM

Sullivan has never been a doctrinaire conservative. He is obviously libertarian on social issues, an old fashioned Eisenhower fiscal conservative and an absolute hawk on national security issues. The guy he seems to like the most (maybe physically as well, who knows) is Schwarzenegger. His disenchantment with the Bush administration began with the lack of fiscal discipline, not the gay marriage thing.

Posted by: Doug at June 18, 2004 07:44 PM

TmjUtah -- "We have USSC/Federal judgeship appointments, energy policy, entitlements reform, tort reform, fixing our education system, reforming EPA, immigration and border controls...[all]sorts of must-do things, on top of a complicated and breathtakingly dangerous war to win."

I read your stuff, TmjUtah, and I think you're an articulate and decent spokesman for a political philosophy that I respect but am fundamentally opposed to. And we need some unity on the war that you speak of...BUT, as to the other items on your agenda, as you know, it'll take 60 votes in the Senate (67 with a Dem. in the White House) to get that agenda passed into law. If you think we (liberals and, yes, "moderates") are not going to fight you every step of the way, as a matter of principle, think again. And I could be wrong, but I really think you delude yourself if you think the USA as a whole is realistically going to embrace en masse such a purely conservative agenda.

Posted by: Markus Rose at June 18, 2004 08:00 PM

Tano,

You seem to believe that it is no big deal that Kerry had dealings with the leadership of the North Vietnamese while we were at war with them. You seem to think it is no big deal that political assassinations were discussed in VVAW meetings with Kerry present.

You seem to think that getting to know him better will make me like him more. This is a man whose constituents dislike him. A man with a singularly undistinguished record in congress. A man best known for demanding to cut in line in restaurants and businesses with his nickname "Do You Know Who I Am?". A man who cursed and blamed his "clumsy" secret service agent for his fall while snowboarding.

No, it is not a surprise to me that the vast majority of his former comrades and all of his supervisors from Vietnam despise him. This is, after all the man who demanded a purple heart for a tiny scratch, who bailed out early on his men in Vietnam on a technicality, who slandered them in false testimony and who consorted with Hanoi Jane and worked with the leadership of the NVA to ensure American defeat and who has a photo shrine in the Vietnam war museum thanking him for his assistance in assisting the North Vietnamese in the victory of communism in Southeast asia, a victory that led to the deaths of millions, the enslavement of tens of millions more under communist tyrannies, and the desperate flight of millions more "boat people" and other refugees from the horrific communist regimes which took over Cambodia and Vietnam.

So if you are proud of his record, the kind of leadership he represents, and the kind of person he is, by all means vote for him. There is no way in hell I would vote for such a man.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 08:06 PM

Matthew - posting crap like that just reveals you to be a person who has no regard for truth or fairness and who will say anything that he thinks might help his side.

On a generally honestly and fairly argued thread, you stand out like a sore thumb.

Posted by: Mork at June 18, 2004 08:38 PM

> Sullivan lied.

Changing your mind is not lying.

Posted by: Matt Cline at June 18, 2004 08:58 PM

Ace,

Since you only discovered my existence today, please don't rant about what I supposedly do "every six fucking minutes." Thanks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2004 09:02 PM

Mork,

Perhaps you can state what was untruthful in my post instead of just engaging in ad-hominim attacks on me.

Look, Clinton was a lying lech, people said it before he was elected, and we all know that now. They were right and the apologists for him were wrong. Now it's all well and good to say you don't care about his sexual escapades, but it's very clear now that was a deep and fundamental part of his character. But if you'd cared to examine the facts in 1992, you would have known back then that an intern scandal or the like would very likely show up during his presidency.

The facts are out there about Kerry if you care to know them -- mostly courtesy of fellow Democrats who can't stand the man. If you choose the path of wilful blindness, don't be surprised when the "Monica Lewinski" moment arrives.

Kerry is a disaster because of Kerry -- if a decent candidate had been selected this problem would have been avoided -- say Lieberman or Edwards or Gephart.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 09:05 PM

Matthew - it's not worth the effort. I know your type well. You would have found some basis to conclude that the Democratic candidate was evil, no matter who it was. The fact that you don't currently believe that Lieberman, Gephardt or Edwards is evil is an accident of the Democratic primaries, and will no doubt be reversed if any of them becomes the VP nominee. And no facts could ever shake your belief that President Bush is a hero for our times.

There's no point arguing facts with a person who is motivated by faith. I learned that long ago.

Posted by: Mork at June 18, 2004 09:31 PM

Mork,

I don't think Kerry is evil. I think he was profoundly foolish getting involved with the NVA during the war, but I think he did it for reasons he thought were appropriate. I do think his VVAW, pacifist instincts, and inappropriate internationalism disqualify him from CiC. I never claimed he advocated assassinations -- but his involvement with that crowd showed an extraordinary measure of poor judgement that he has never admitted to nor apologised for. The fact that he is despised by huge segments of the military, far more than Clinton, is beyond dispute. And in a time of ongoing warfare, that's something we cannot afford.

I'm not a cheerleader for Bush. I find his Medicare prescription drug benefit absurd, and the general lack of fiscal self control deeply troubling. His FMA proposal is ludicrous and fortunately stillborn, and the moronic War on Drugs is a distraction we cannot afford. His periodic temporary lurches towards protectionism are just bad news.

Would I vote for Lieberman or Gephart or Edwards? Probably not. They don't seem to understand the key importance of lower taxes, free trade, and reduced regulation as well as Bush, imperfect as he is on these issues. But I can respect them as candidates. I rooted for Edwards to win the primary fight -- he is my senator -- but such was not to be. Your team is stuck with Kerry.

I'm through with discussion with you and your personal attacks on me -- you don't know jack about me, your assumptions about me are dead wrong, and, as you put it, it's "not worth the effort" to deal with someone like you who throws vituperation in my face.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 18, 2004 09:55 PM

What I know about you, Matthew, is what you write here. I guess it's just my lying eyes, then.

Posted by: Mork at June 18, 2004 10:20 PM

Wow...

I'm away for a day and Michael has made an enemy. Not just a political enemy, mind you, but a personal one. Then something occured to me. When was the last time Michael ever made a PERSONAL enemy on here? I can't remember it ever happening, before. Maybe that says something.

I've always prided myself on being a pretty likable guy, the kind of guy everyone can get along with no matter who they are or where they come from. But, with some of the things I've said, even I've managed to assemble a handful of people around here who PERSONALLY hate my guts...and I'm just a guest! Michael runs the damn place and he just got his first.

Yep. I think that says something.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 19, 2004 12:42 AM

I think some people took personal offense to the thread title. They personally identify with the Republican party and for Michael to post "To hell with the Republican party" made them feel attacked. Personally I don't get it. I have a lot of empathy for Michael's statement -- I'm not a fan of the Republican party (although I am even less a fan of the Democrat party). I will from time to time vote for a member of these parties for elected office, but not because I have warm feelings for a party platform or for actual party behavior (which typically veers far from the platform, often in a bad (IMO) direction).

However it is clear that some people personally identify with their political party enough to feel attacked when someone bashes their chosen affiliation.

The Abu Ghraib issue raised lot of hackles as well, as did my mention of some facts about Kerry that people didn't want to hear.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 19, 2004 07:39 AM

Markus -

I don't have any time at all to reply at length (the crowd rumbles THANK GOODNESS) but I don't think I said anything about an agenda in my post.

The issues that I referenced above have to be addressed within the next term. Some of them, principally entitlements and education, MUST be effectively addressed or we will find ourselves either broke and illiterate as a community within a generation.

I believe the middle class has grown sufficiently as a fraction of the electorate and has become politically active enough to prevent a return to the populist income redistribution shell game of the seventies (yes, that's "Make the Rich Pay Their Fair Share!!!" strategy) that was basically robbing a demographic on the basis that it couldn't defend itself at the ballot box, with the aim of subsidizing a voter base.

If you go back as far as early post-world war II, the model for stagnation and deficit has been punitive taxation and government involvement in big-ticket social programs.

The Dems haven't changed since '68....same playbook. Problem is that the world has changed. There are still more than enough voters that remember the seventies. I'm not sure where the Republicans are going but if they don't hold the line somewhere on staying to conservatism, they can take a hike, too.

I don't demand a Republican solution. I want workable solutions. It's my opinion that the current crop of establishment politicians are uniformly lacking in 'big picture' thinking, and that that myopia is reflected in the Left's holy committment on the ad hominem vendetta against Bush the person and the Right's departure from their conservative creed. It's also my opinion that what works best for the most is limited government and minimal government interference with individuals' investment and market choices.

And I doubt I will ever vote for a president who uses fear and class envy as stump tactics. We are all in the same boat; everybody has an oar whether they be green, purple, poor, or rich.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 19, 2004 09:13 AM

Dave Schuler

The Republicans lost me when they accepted the Wallace Democrats into the fold in their campaign to become the ruling party. It's been successful but IMO no tent is that big. I've been a registered Democrat all of my adult life.

Has it ever occured to you how much of the Jim Crow Democrat mess the Republican Party has cleaned up? You should at least thank them for that. Or do you still buy the recent Democratic lines about "Burning Churches and Crosses across the South" if Republicans are elected? In truth most of those cross burnings were done by Democrats and not Republicans. Even more true is the South has become more moderate and less dangerous the more Republican it has become. Keep living in stereotype if it makes you feel better.

Posted by: TheGuy at June 19, 2004 11:02 AM

Grant,

Oh, I've made personal enemies from this blog. Believe me. Some people take politics REALLY personally. I've gotten some pretty nasty emails. The worst are the ones that call me a "Jew" who will be killed off along with the rest of them. Some thug from Germany bragged about his grandfather getting a medal for shooting at my grandfather sixty years ago. (He did this in my comments section) Some twit (whom I don't link to) has for over a year now been asserting on his blog and in other people's comments sections that I'm a cheerleader for Joseph McCarthy even though I've never said any such thing and have repeatedly said quite the opposite. Some other asshole said I'm a Communist and he's going to come visit my family.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 19, 2004 11:08 AM

Anyone who is offended by the title of my post should note that it says to hell with the Republican party, not to hell with Republicans. There is a world of difference between those two statements. No one should take it personally. A party is not a person, it is an institution.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 19, 2004 11:33 AM

And saying "to hell with America" is a world away from "to hell with Americans."

Er, right.

Posted by: fallacy detector at June 19, 2004 04:21 PM

America is not an institution. For a better analogy to what I said, try saying "to hell with the two-party system" or "to hell with the government." People say that all the time and it's no big deal.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 19, 2004 05:11 PM

I'm a default Republican, I guess, but I've never voted a straight ticket. Toward Bush, I'm like Lincoln was with Grant. I can't spare this man; he fights.

Sullivan seems to be obsessed with gay marriage, as if by being given a marriage license all of his pain and feeling of rejection would suddenly be healed. I don't think he's right. If gays win the marriage fight, they'll find that it doesn't make them feel as happy as they thought it would and they'll start looking for something else that will take them to the promised land. Good luck.

I still voting for Bush.

Posted by: AST at June 19, 2004 06:06 PM

I disagree. In the strongest possible terms.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oi=defmore&q=define:institution

First entry on that link. The danger inherent in a robust and inspired system of governance is that it sometimes fails of appreciation. When the number of citizens that participate falls below some critical point (no, I don't have a number) the system will fail - because it isn't a static structure that just happens.

My above reference to education applies.

Posted by: TmjUtah at June 19, 2004 09:42 PM

Ummm, Michael, America is an institution. It's an 8000 pound gorilla of an institution, but nonetheless.

Not being one, I can still see that people who care strongly about the Republican Party are still people. Votes for sanity are seldom votes cast in vain. So I would posit that telling sane people who believe in their parties to opt out is a very, very, very bad thing to do.

Independence is bliss. Wake up, get involved, and move the electorate. It ain't bliss, but it's a good thing to do.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 19, 2004 10:14 PM

Mark Poling: Independence is bliss.

Actually, it sucks. I take it from both sides and have very few people who will reliably get my back no matter what I say. If I were a partisan there would be people who would always be on my side.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 20, 2004 12:56 AM

Mark,

It's also annoying how, being an independent, people pigeonhole me into their own little box and then attack me for being in the wrong box they just put me in. I don't mean to sound whiny about it. Just commenting on the "independence is bliss" thing you said above. I find it liberating, but also uncomfortable.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 20, 2004 01:13 AM

Michael, I'm not a party person myself. I correspond with a woman who's deeply involved in the Republican movement here in NYC, but I just can't see myself working to get out the vote for Nurse Bloomberg. Karol on the other hand is intelligent, considerate, and libertarian in outlook, so I'm very glad she's in the party; it's a better institution with her in it.

To each his or her own.

As to people who try to tar you with a pigeonhole, consider it a badge of honor. Hitchens, Sullivan, Reynolds, Simon, etc. are much better company than the Atrioses and the Limbaughs.

In case it isn't obvious, I think your work is great. Good luck in your upcoming trip.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 20, 2004 11:32 AM

This sounds very healthy. Why should one be beholden to a party? Party's nowadys look more like cults than anything else. Just do a tour of the blogosphere of the political blogs. There is REAL hatred between left and right. It's sick. I'm a Reagan Democrat and a Clinton Republican. They don't like it? Who cares!

Bill Clinton book signing tour schedule and TV appearances

Posted by: Tarzan at June 20, 2004 11:38 AM
Don't take it personally or come up with a "theory" as to why Andrew Sullivan did not respond to your email. He gets 500 a day. I've written to him many times. He only writes back one time in three and he knows who I am.

I emailed him recently twice, and got him to respond twice. :) Neat, huh?

This is what I told Andrew:

The only reason why I continue to read your blog until now was because I thought you still had an open-mind about Bush. Now we found out that you're just pretending all along and is not going to vote for Bush after all no matter what.
As a regular reader of your blog, I'm a little disgusted at the lack of honesty and I felt a little used. I guess everybody lies and misleads after all, huh? Bush has credibility gaps, Kerry continues to mislead voters on what his position really is -- you're no different from them.

I also noticed that Michael Totten wrote this:

Sullivan wrote this on Feb 29,2004: attacking civil rights and playing politics with the Constitution is a deal-breaker as far as Bush is concerned.

I don't know Michael, if you remember this Sullivan comment on March this year.

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."

So, he already made up his mind in February, but pretended that he was still "open-minded" for Bush? I can't blame Sam Barnes for being a little angry. I myself am pretty disappointed with all of this.

I don't think Sullivan's sexual orientation is the issue. I know he's gay but I still continue to read his blog until now.

And although I'm not a strong and vocal advocate for gay marriage, I am FOR IT. But I will still vote for Bush this november because the Iraq and the War on terror is the top issue for me and I believe in what Bush is doing.

Andrew says Bush's position on gay marriage is a "deal-breaker".

Me, Kerry's character and shifting position (for political expediency) are the REAL "deal breaker" IMO.

Posted by: john marzan at June 20, 2004 11:04 PM

Continuation...

Sullivan in March, 2004:

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.

Interesting comment attacking NRO at that time, in light of the recent revelations. A more "independent approach" huh?

Posted by: john marzan at June 21, 2004 12:52 AM

Michael B, this prolly isn't the right thread for gay marriage, despite its importance for Sully.

It seems that Kerry, too, is against gay marriage, so where's the big difference? This is the dishonesty of the Bush-haters on the gay marriage issue. As Sully notes later, the Christians are taking over parts of the Republican Party; and it is these (frustrated anti-abortionist) folk who are pushing the amendment. Which nobody expects to do much. But they ARE making the Rep Party uncomfortable for open gays.

I expect MJT to come out against Bush, in November, because of "religion in public". The activist Christians in the structures of the Rep Party are, possibly, starting to mirror the radical feminist (anti-abortion) takeover of the Dem Party of 30 years ago.

Interesting how MJT's title about the Rep Party is based increasingly on how it is becoming more explicitly anti-evil. With MJT implicitly disagreeing over what is evil.

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 21, 2004 02:47 AM

I see a lot of commentary talking about how wrong it is to vote against Bush based on some subset of things he is promoting... simply because not voting Bush in would send a bad message to the terrorists...

Here's my message to the terrorists:

"No matter how hard you try, no matter how many of us you kill, no matter how many buildings you bomb, or planes you hijack, you will not destroy my right and freedom to participate in the democratic process. I will not change my vote to send you a message, because I do not believe you deserve even the courtesy of consideration. I will vote for the cannidate that I choose, not the one that will send you a message. You will not marginalize my Vote!"

If you vote for Bush, just to show solidarity against the terrorist... then the terrorists gain a smal victory. Its their goal to destroy who we are, not just destroy us. If they kill 10,000 Americans, it means they are good at killing. If they can destroy the American Life as it existed pre-2001, then they will show the world that Democracy and the largest experiment in Democracy that the world has ever seen is nothing more than words, documents and platitudes.

I am an American, I will not vote Democrat or Republican, I will vote American.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 21, 2004 06:45 AM

Nice speech 'Tosk, but we are not dealing with people who will see it that way. We are dealing with people who want either to convert us or to exterminate us and who are prepared to keep attacking until they accomplish their goal or are killed. I think they will see a Bush defeat as a weakening of American resolve and a great victory for them.

Posted by: Ben at June 21, 2004 08:18 AM

Ben,

I think you missed the point. I don't give a damn how the terrorists interpert anything. Supporting any American who votes their preference is more important to me than voting to support a 'message' to a bunch of radicals.

It is the right of every American to vote Bush, Kerry, Jerry, Pat, Nader, or the Neo-Nazi Anti-Semite Party. If we denigrate those who vote differently than we think they should... then we denigrate the democratic process that we're so lovingly bestowing upon the Iraqi people.

Democracy isn't about everyone voting the same, it about everyone voting.

I think four more years under the current administration would be unhealthy for this country. Yet, I will be happy when you tell me you voted Bush come Nov. 2. I hope you will be as happy to hear I voted... no matter which name I voted for.

Democracy isn't easy, it isn't always going to have the best government and its just as prone to failure as anything else. However, to attempt to scare people into voting one way "or the terrorists will win', is more dangerous to democracy than any number of Terrorist organizations.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 21, 2004 09:02 AM

I think you're putting WOT in the same basket with other issues. This election is about WOT. I hope Sullivan and you won't forget it. It would be sad. Don't forget what you've written in this blog in two years.

Bye.

Posted by: e.r. at June 21, 2004 09:05 AM

'Tosk --

To the contrary, you missed the point. It's not about whether you give a damn about anything in particular; it's about whether the people trying to kill us can be stopped. The reality is that a Kerry win will embolden them because it will look like we are losing the will to fight, regardless of the actual reasons behind his election. This may be unfair to Kerry, but he put himself in that position by not standing unequivocally against our enemies.

Posted by: Ben at June 21, 2004 09:49 AM

I'm gonna support Bush, about 99% certain.

But I'm NOT that worried about terrorists and Kerry. Because even if Kerry wimps out, and lets Iran get nukes, and Iran lets terrorists get nukes, Israel and newly democratic Iraq will be unlikely to put up with it; or else will be truly devastating on retaliation.

And I can't be certain it won't happen under Bush. About 10% under Bush (nukes or pre-emptive war against Iran); 30% under Kerry.

Clinton was not that terrible for Reps; Bush is not that bad for Dems. The polarization is juvenile.

Posted by: Tom Grey at June 21, 2004 09:56 AM

Ben,

I don't miss your point. I disagree with your point. There is a difference. Your point is that by not supporting Bush we will not send a strong message to Terrorists "We don't have the stomach to fight". My point is that by not supporting every citizens right to vote as they wish, you will send an equally strong message to our enemies... "Democracy works, until its threatened".

Personally, I prefer to support democracy.

Tom
A well stated post.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 21, 2004 10:26 AM

'Tosk --

I don't disagree that we must support democracy. I am saying that Kerry has made his bed, now he must sleep in it: He must face the consequences of his failure to state unequivocally, as often as necessary to leave no doubt in the minds of anyone, that he will prosecute this war to the ends of the earth. He has not done so because he apparently believed that it was more important to pander to that portion of his base that opposed the war. So be it. The consequence of this, however, is that his victory will be seen by every islamofascist as America's defeat.

Posted by: Ben at June 21, 2004 11:49 AM

Ben,

The point of my comments was not how Kerry will prosecute the War on Terror, but that supporting Kerry is just as much a valid democratic choice, as supporting Bush. Those who are insisting on the 'Vote for Bush or You Are Evil' bandstand, are attacking democracy, just as surely as Bin Laden was attacking the US on Sept 11.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 21, 2004 01:02 PM

'Tosk --

I have never said that anyone is evil because he/she intends to vote for Kerry. I said that if Kerry wins, the Islamofascists will view it as a win. I further said that we should take that into account when deciding for whom to vote. Also, I said that I regret that fact very much because I believe in democracy but that Kerry made it so by continuing to flirt with the hard core Leftist crowd. Much as we might regret it, reality is what it is -- a Kerry win is a US defeat in the WoT.

Posted by: Ben at June 21, 2004 02:32 PM

Ben,

We're just going to have to disagree on this one. I do not think that anything other than the qualifications of the cannidate and the personal views of the citizen should be determining factors in any election. Allowing the terrorists to impact our system of government, seems to me to be a very dangerous/bad thing... after all, isn't that what happened in Spain?

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 22, 2004 08:46 AM

The Democrats will no longer have me.

Dude, you need to get over yourself. I doubt "the Democrats" even know who you are.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at June 22, 2004 01:34 PM

'Tosk --

Agreed that we can agree to disagree. Agreed also that we should not let the terrorists impact our system, but that does not mean we can afford to ignore reality. Regardless of what any voter thinks or does not think on election day, a Bush loss will be viewed in the ME and around the world as a repudiation of the WoT. As I said, I regret this, but it seems to me to be inescapably true (although perhaps reversible, if Kerry says and does the right things between now & 11/2).

In any event, good debating with you.

Posted by: Ben at June 22, 2004 07:04 PM

Michael, you don't have to hait yourself in the morning..JUST DON'T VOTE. i don't think i will be voting, unless one of the candidates manages to convince me that they're worth my vote (which neither of them show any signs of doing).

Posted by: Glenn at June 23, 2004 08:14 AM
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Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

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