After Jonah Goldberg first wondered on National Review Online’s the Corner about a quote that Andrew Sullivan featured as the “quote of the day” on his blog, he and Ramesh Ponnuru have had an interesting exchange on Andrew’s political identity and attitude. The quote from Glenn Greenwald includes this line:
Now, in order to be considered a “liberal,” only one thing is required – a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a “liberal,” regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based.
Jonah defies either of them (Greenwald or Sullivan) “to attempt to demonstrate this assertion factually.” By this standard, I’m a liberal since I think the president was wrong to back the FMA, has not done enough to hold the line on federal spending and has failed to follow the Gipper’s vision of federalism. This quote is thus a silly assertion. Every conservative blogs and editorial page I read regularly has criticized the president at least once, most having done so on numerous occasions.
Despite such criticisms, Jonah observes that no one of “any substance or prominence on the Right” has labeled such conservative voices liberal. Indeed, Jonah finds that the opposite to Greenwald’s claim is “far closer to the truth. So long as you hate Bush or attack him, you’re basically ok in the eyes of liberals.” Jonah offers more thoughts here while Ramesh questions Andrew’s conservative credentials in the 1990s. Jonah then notes “the perplexing drift of [Andrew’s] rhetoric and his thinking over the last few years, at least as evidenced in his blog.” Ramesh contends Andrews “tries to have it every which way” and offers additional thoughts here. Finally, Ramesh notes that Andrew took issue with him, with the latter claiming to have “risked something for my conservative ideals–friends and some colleagues, estrangement from the gay establishment, and even my job. . ..”
Andrew does raise a valid point. We gay conservatives know all too well the consequences of coming out politically to our gay peers. We have lost dates, not been invited to parties and often insulted to our faces. Perhaps Andrew grew tired of the “shunning” that occurs when a gay man identifies himself as conservative. And given what he experienced in the 1990s, he would have good reason. Just search the gay media from the early 1990s until 2004 for references to Andrew Sullivan and you’ll find an extremely large number to be negative, with some screeds anticipating the kind of unhinged rhetoric the angry left today spews forth regularly (and which Michelle Malkin highlights in her book). That’s just what he’s endured in print. I’ve heard stories of things he experienced in person, the least of which is having drinks thrown on him.
It seems, however, that since 02/24/04 (the day the president announced his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment) Andrew has been bending over backwards to appease those who once reviled him. Even though I agree with Andrew that the president was wrong to support that bill, I resumed supporting him (after writing in Rudy Giuliani for President in the California primary) because John Kerry never impressed me as being capable of leading the War on Terror — while straying even farther than President Bush from the vision of Ronald Reagan.
Were Andrew to have held true to conservative ideals in 2004, he would have, as did many conservatives not entirely happy with President Bush, recognized that one cannot support a presidential candidate’s ever policy and likely backed the incumbent (despite his differences with him on a number of issues). Given the angry attitude of many gays, particularly the gay establishment, toward President Bush, Andrew’s support for this “demon” of the gay left would have been a sign of conservative integrity.
His perplexing politics in 2004, however, do not show much commitment to conservative principles. While claiming to be a fan of Ronald Reagan, Andrew endorsed for president that year a man who had called the Gipper’s administration an era of “moral darkness.”
Jonah was right to question Andrew’s use of the Greenwald quotation. It shows how eager this one-time conservative is to label Bush-supporters as blind followers of the president. At the same time, it seems that Andrew has become ever eager to join a crowd which finds fault with the president’s every action. He accuses us of being blind followers; he is increasingly becoming a blind opponent. As I’ve written before, I once enjoyed Andrew’s blog because (at least when I read it) he offered both praise and criticism of the president. Now he’s short on the praise and long on the criticism.
Now, whenever I check out Andrew’s blog, he seems to be, albeit with greater eloquence and wit than most, parroting the latest talking points of the DailyKos. It’s too bad because as perhaps the first gay conservative to gain prominence, he was a pioneer who made the path easier for many, including your humble bloggers here. He once showed great courage in articulating his beliefs in environments hostile to his ideas. He offered a unique point of view, often with profound insight into the issues of the day. And he endured unwarranted slights from those unwilling to argue with his positions.
It’s too bad that his latest rhetoric increasingly resembles that of those who once slighted him so unfairly.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com