Newsweek, a once-important news magazine now owned by a liberal blogging site, has a cover this week offering me the opportunity to let Andrew Sullivan, a once-independent blogger, explain to me why I am “dumb.”Â Grateful though I am for Newsweek‘s efforts to improve the tenor of our national discourse, I’m going to pass.
I am, however, enough of a blogosphere junkie to be interested in how Sullivan’s six-person “personal” blog responds to the firestorm of criticism the cover has rightly received.Â I also know from my own long-ago journalism days that authors almost never write their own headlines, and Sullivan confirms that’s true in this case.Â Sullivan professes to be perplexed by the criticism:
None of these critics shows any sign of having read the actual article. Is it too much to ask that they rip me apart after thinking rather than before? It’s not a book, for Pete’s sake. It’s less than 3,000 words, and has strong criticism of the left in it. Maybe the headline, which I didn’t write, set them off.
Gee, ya think?
Sullivan, a former conservative, has a talent for outraging people with whom he once made common cause.Â Nevertheless, he’s an extremely talented writer, and certainly is capable of thoughtful and nuanced argumentation.Â He has to understand how offensive the cover headline is.Â The headline of his own blog post announcing the cover — a headline that he did write, or at least controlled — is “Why Obama Should Be Reelected.”Â The article itself, once you get past the disgraceful cover, is headlined “How Obama’s Long Game Will Outsmart His Critics.” I’m inclined to disagree with the premise, but if the article were positioned that way, I might actually want to read it.
Even though this is a case of an author being wronged by a headline writer, I’m not inclined to let Sullivan off the hook entirely.Â Sullivan, a true pioneer of blogging as an independent medium, now appears so beholden to Tina Brown & Co. that he can’t even manage the mildest of complaints about the utterly inappropriate headline.
How do I know this?Â His minions publish a “Daily Wrap” post each day cataloging the three dozen blog posts Sullivan writes or signs off on in an average day.Â Here’s the overview of Sully’s posts about what the blog carefully calls “his Obama defense”:
Today on the Dish, Andrew called out Fox News for making him persona non grata – which potentially producedÂ an on-air debate over the blockbuster Newsweek piece with Megyn Kelly – and defended his Obama defense here, here, and here.
Feel free to follow the links if you wish — Sullivan gave my humble blog an exciting traffic spike once back in the day, so I won’t begrudge him the traffic from my vast audience (hi Mom!) But I can tell you that I read all of the posts, and while he carefully avoids echoing the incendiary headline, there’s no hint of any criticism of it.
After years of snotty elite references to stupid right-wingers versus “the reality based community,” can’t Sullivan understand why conservatives might boycott an article that calls them “dumb” as an opening gambit?
But but but… the dumb people are not just conservatives!
Just browsing at a few of the right-wing blogs, I see that they have attacked it without actually, you know, reading it…Â Half the article is devoted to liberals and Democrats!
In a previous incarnation at the Atlantic magazine, Sullivan’s blog proudly proclaimed that it was “of no party or clique.”Â But he has become so indoctrinated into the cult of Obama that he defends The One against all comers, from the right or the left.
Yes, Mr. Sullivan, I’m criticizing your article without reading it.Â I’m pretty comfortable with that decision. If some ink-stained clown put a gratuitous racial slur in a headline over my criticism of presidential policies, I wouldn’t expect to win many converts with that post.
Dumb? Some. Racist clowns? Often. Just flustered and full of dissonace? Bingo. Sullivan knows you all. That’s what people hate traitors–they know all of your embarrassing secrets.
Kirk, I have read Sullivan’s “Long Game” article, and I can tell you that his defense of Obama is full of more than holes.
Sullivan is highly selective with facts. Not just on taxes, as Joel Pollack pointed out in his own article, but on unemployment. Obama has created more jobs than Bush? For one, unemployment stayed low under Bush. There was no need to add jobs when unemployment stayed under 5%, unless you want to put the welfare cheats to work. (And only mean ol’ right-wing extremists like myself want to do that.)
For another, engineers taking part-time jobs in grocery stores for less than 1/3rd of their pre-Obama income does not count as job recovery. Or maybe that’s just me. Neither do temporary census workers, which I suspect may be included in the “jobs gained” defense of Obama. The U-6 unemployment rate is still over 16%, average wages are still at post-Reagan record lows, and food stamp enrollment is at a record high and still climbing. If that is Sullivan’s idea of Obama succeeding, then I would not want to see his idea of a failure.
Considering Obama’s idea of a “budget cut” (cutting $30B here while spending $5T more there) though, it’s not entirely surprising.
Sullivan also credits Obama for the death of Osama bin Laden, but neglects to mention that the “treasure trove of real intelligence” gained from the raid was made worthless before it could be used, because Obama had to immediately announce (steal credit for) ObL’s death. A death which was ironically made possible by Bush’s policies which he previously criticized (but continued).
It would stand to reason that a leader who coordinates and is responsible for such an operation would also have the wisdom to preserve intelligence that could save the lives of American troops and bring yet more success to the Iraq operation as a whole. But Sullivan is too busy defending Obama to be bothered with reason.
Sullivan claims that the auto industry bailout was “amazingly” successful. Only in confiscating private property and handing it to labor unions, which will funnel money back to Democrat campaign coffers. Say, has Sullivan bought a Volt? Just wondering if he’ll put HIS money where his mouth is, instead of using somebody else’s, like most Democrats.
Sullivan also credits Obama for New York making same-sex marriage legal. How exactly Obama made this happen is not explained, of course. Same for the increase in support for the legalization of marijuana. Hey, under Obama, a friend gave me a subscription to Road & Track, so Sullivan missed one.
He also brags about how “vast government money has been poured into noncarbon energy investments, via the stimulus.” Mr. Sullivan? That’s not exactly a good thing. I’ll explain in the last paragraph.
Sullivan offers a flat-out lie with “What matters to him is what he can get done, not what he can immediately take credit for.” Is he talking about the same Obama that held a press conference a few days before BP was to attempt was supposed to be a successful sealing of the gulf oil leak, claiming that his administration had “been in total control of the situation from day one”? That same Obama who, a few days after the sealing attempt failed, was “looking for whose ass to kick”? This, of course, after several weeks of back-and-forth bickering between his administration and BP, each trying to blame the other and avoid accountability for the spill. And there’s Osama bin Laden. The only thing Obama seems to leave the golf course for is to claim credit for something someone else planned.
From an outright lie, Sullivan goes delusional. Not just in claiming that Obama never pledged a liberal revolution (he’s almost right though, as Obama promised a Leftist revolution, er, transformation), but in claiming that re-electing Obama in 2012 would be a mandate away from reckless deficit spending. Really. But it doesn’t stop there. He then claims that “Obama has steadfastly refrained from waging the culture war”, and that Obama “as yet has not had a single significant scandal to his name”. Other than Solyndra, I guess (the vast investment I mentioned earlier). And “Fast and Furious”. And the stimulus cronyism. And going to Libya without Congress. And non-recess recess appointments. Sullivan is not just delusional about Obama, either. In referring to himself, he claims that he is “biased toward the actual record, not the spin”.
I wonder if Sullivan will now claim that he never wrote that as well.
Once again my b-i-l steps in to support my commitment to full-service blogging (“We read Andrew Sullivan so that you don’t have to!”)
But b-i-l, I part company with you over Osama bin Laden. It was a politically risky operation, there was a less-risky alternative (Predator strike) that would have led to a less-satisfactory outcome, and Obama deserves his share of credit for taking the risk. It was a triumph for America and a triumph for the Obama Administration.
Thanks for reminding me that I’m a part of Obama’s job-creation success… I used to be a highly paid PR guy, now I work for a church! http://blog.kirkpetersen.net/2010/02/honest-labor-from-mach-2-to-muenster-to-madison.html (I love my job, but if this income is going to be the new normal for my career, the Web Goddess and I eventually will have to move to a cheaper town.)
ChrisC, I guess I asked for that, by mentioning the racial issue in a context where it’s irrelevant.
Kirk, glad I could take one for the team. 😉 If you hear from Mr. Sullivan, you can tell him that one of his critics did indeed read his article.
A Predator strike would have had the same results (ObL dead, potential intelligence rendered moot), and I suspect that if Obama’s military advisers had known he was going to run for the microphone before they could put the intel to good use, they would have pushed for the Predator option. On the other hand, the cameras mounted on the SEALs revealed ObL for the coward he was. The terrorist leader, the man who spoke so defiantly and dared to attack America when he though nobody could find him, ran to hide behind one of his wives when the SEALs came for him
Hey, if you love your job, you’re ahead of many people. Other than the physical toll, I rather like the deli. It’s not stressful, and the commute is short. The most frustrating thing about it is seeing how well the “food stamp lifers” live in comparison to those of us who work. And it’s true, you do have to cut roast beef thicker than turkey to get the same cut.
But it doesn’t pay what I need, so I will find something else eventually, provided the economy is ever given a chance to recover. Or maybe my internet business will take off and I’ll make a living selling outdoor gear. That’s the kind of hope I prefer, instead of promises of “fairness” by a Marxist golfer.
I hope y’all don’t have to move. Maplewood is a nice place.
Chris, a Predator strike would have wiped out all the thumb drives and hard drives and storage media that the Seals took with them. You can argue it would have been even better to take him alive and interrogate him, and clearly they had no intention of that. But imagine what operations al Qaeda might take to gain his release.
I don’t have a problem with Obama’s quick announcement of the kill. al Qaeda quickly confirmed the death — why let them be the ones to announce it? The operation was too big and too public to keep it a secret.
Everyone has an opinion but the question is if Obama’s “long game” doesn’t pan out and he looses . …will anyone even remember this headline? I put my money on “I doubt it”.