While I have frequently been quite critical of Andrew Sullivan on this blog, twice this month (here and here), I noted how he, like me, had faulted HRC for its unwillingness to debate gay marriage. In each of those posts, I wanted to make my argument (that the gay groups are more eager to attack Republicans than debate gay marriage) as solid as I could. And by bringing in someone with whom I am (more often than not) at odds, I sought to strengthen (at least one part of) my case.
To be sure, by so doing, I show Andrew to be critical of people other than the president, his party and their supporters. And acknowleding those views, I paint a picture of a more complex the image that many in the conservative blogosphere have of him — entirely in the camp of the Bush-hating left. If my primary purpose were to delegitimize Andrew Sullivan, I would not have mentioned his criticism of HRC (nor would I have praised him on a recent column).
Similarly, when the MSM was all in a tizzy over the NSA’s surveillance program of the international communications of terrorist suspects, conservative defenders of the program, frequently cited one of the nation’s leading liberal constitutional scholars, Cass Sunstein, who found the program to be legal. We also referenced Clinton administration officials, including former Associate Attorney General John Schmidt, who held that “the President had the constitutional authority to authorize the NSA program.”
If our primary purpose were to discredit liberal constitutional scholars and that Democratic Administration, we would not have used these individuals’ opinions to buttress our own arguments.
In both cases, we conservatives cited the opinions of those with whom we might otherwise disagree in order to make the strongest argument possible. If, in so doing, we show certain liberals to be less one-sided in their views than our rhetoric might sometimes suggest, so be it. By honestly reporting their opinions, we’re presenting them accurately. More often than not, people aren’t as simple as their adversaries would have them be.
Which brings me back to the gay organizations’ failure to debate gay marriage — a significant point of which I have made much these past two weeks. If gay groups were interested in making the strongest possible argument against the Marriage Protection Act (MPA), they would have repeatedly pointed out that this is the one issue where, since taking office, the Vice President has publicly distanced himself from the president.