It seems that the only times I now read Andrew Sullivan’s blog are when conservative blogs link him to wonder at his excesses (as Hugh Hewitt did yesterday). Andrew’s was once the first blog I read (indeed, oftentimes the only blog I read everyday). I knew him when I lived in D.C. and even gave money to his site.
His fall is a sad one. He was the first gay writer/speaker (with a national platform) to challenge the left-wing orthodoxy that pervades the gay community. And now he seems to have become a spokesman for that orthodoxy.
I acknowledge that it is easier for me to speak out as a gay conservative because of the hits Andrew took when he first came out as a gay conservative in the late 1980s.
But, now his overblown rhetoric is appalling. Hugh cites a recent post which Andrew concludes “it’s people like Dick Durbin who prove that some can actually stand up against this stain on American honor and call it what it is. Good for him. Thank God for him.”
Andrew would be right if he merely called torture a “stain on American honor,” would be right to condemn torture when it occurs, but, he’s wrong to praise Senate’s Number Two Democrat for his latest comments. When Andrew (and others like him) so praise Mr. Durbin, Hugh writes, they are “buying into the Nazi/Stalinist/Pol Pot comparison, which simply takes them off the field of serious argument.”
It’s one thing to fault the administration for its policy on detainees and other prisoners in the War on Terror; it’s quite another to compare its policies to those of the worst regimes of the last century. It’s unfortunate that Andrew no longer seems able to recognize the distinction between serious criticism and the Illinois Democrat’s overblown rhetoric.
As I have noted recently, when one compares the alleged abuses our military to those of past tyrants, one takes those actions out of context. We need to be able to make distinctions between the alleged wrongs committed by military officials in a free country, where the government investigates such actions and acts to correct them, where a free press exists to report on (& criticize) government policies, and a regime where such abuses are a matter of policy.
To be sure, Andrew notes today that “Durbin focused on one very credible account of inhumane treatment and abuse of detainees.” And had Durbin done that without comparing that incident it to murderous tyrants, he would have made his case more credible. But, comparing this one incident to those tyrants, he linked his own government to those thugs. He thus suggested torture is a matter of policy to our military (as it was to those regimes) and not the exceptional case.
It’s unfortunate that Andrew refuses to take Durbin to task for his ridiculous comparison. When I first read Andrew’s blog, he regularly faulted the excesses of left-wing Bush-bashers. In this case, he’s defending one. This one-time courageous iconoclast seems increasingly to be becoming a mouthpiece for left-wing ideology (at least on this issue).
I will always be grateful to Andrew for his courage in speaking out as a gay conservative when most of us were in the closet about our political beliefs (or our sexuality). I guess that’s what makes his latest statements all the more disappointing.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Durbin apologizes. Hat tip: Polipundit. Yet, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, holds “that the Durbin statement simply does not do what needs to be done.”
UPDATE #2: A reader wrote in to share his experiences with Andrew Sullivan and I reprint his e-mail with permission:
My experience with AS was very similar to yours.
He was the first conservative blogger I ran into that was conservative, thoughtful and not doctrinaire. I also gave him money.
And then he seemed to go off of the tracks in a serious way around the middle of the Presidential campaign. I think he got so wrapped up in the Gay marriage issue and everything else became subordinate. He started to hang around with Bill Maher and his friends.
His position changed from being a critic of conservative thought to being critical.
Now I never read him. Occasionally I link onto him and find he is still essential writing about liberal concepts.
I am disappointed because he had a distinct voice that I found useful.
Well said, reader. He did once have a distinct voice and perhaps he will again speak in that voice. One can at least hope.