Shortly after I first discovered Andrew Sullivan’s writing in the New Republic in 1989, i started reading his work with great alacrity. As I was then struggling with coming out, I appreciated his unique perspective on the gay world. He did not subscribe to the orthodoxy which was making it difficult for me to believe I had anything in common with other outspoken men with whom I shared an attraction to our own gender.
When I started law school in 1991, I found it difficult to keep up with outside reading, such that I didn’t read Andrew’s stuff as regularly as I would have liked. When I had more time after I graduated in 1994, I found he had lost some of the acuity he had had when I first discovered him. He seemed to be trying to appeal to the gay ideology which in so eloquently and effectively opposing, he had helped secure his own standing in the world of political punditry.
Tired of the increasing mushiness of his writing, I stopped reading his stuff, only to resume again in 1998 when I picked up his book Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex, and Survival in a Washington, D.C-bookstore and started reading. Unable to put it down, I bought it. That very month, I read his piece Sex, lies, and â€¦ us – criticism of gay and lesbian support for Bill Clinton in the Advocate, delighted to discover a gay writer taking issue with the prevailing gay political orthodoxy in our nation’s capital, that the then-incubment president was a hero to our community.
I would read Andrew regularly for the next five-and-one-half years, even donating to his blog when it became, in 2003, the first I checked daily. But, by the 2004 campaign, he had become so emotional when discussing the president, I no longer paid him much heed, only reading his posts when other bloggers linked him, usually to mock him for his hyperventilations.
Perhaps, he still had some sensible things to say. I just didn’t see them all that regularly, for, as with Glenn Greenwald, I tended only to see his blog in those moments of excess. On Friday, when searching his blog as part of the research for my post on gay marriage advocates and monogamy, I chanced upon two posts which showed he had retained some sense. In one, he acknowledged he was wrong when he predicted the failure of the surge. In another, he expressed concerns about the “soak-the-successful” aspect of Obama’s tax proposals.” He he has normally been an overenthusiastic cheerleader for the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Today, he even noted that global warming is not just a terrestrial problem, a finding which calls into question the assumption that this environmental phenomenon is caused by men. Not just that, in reviewing his blog today for this post, I found him largely level-headed with little of his (since 02/24/04) trademark anti-Bush bile. To be sure, he still does seem a little mushy on Obama.
Maybe we’re seeing, what we once saw (or at least what I begin discerning) in 1998, a new stage in Andrew Sulilvan’s writings. If this were so, this could herald a new era of eloquence and insight as his last such shift, began (at least in my mind) the period of greatest fecundity and understanding.
UPDATE: I wonder if I spoke too soon. I saw that he was still giving his still awards with a “Hewitt” award to some really juvenile cartoon (an insult to Hugh?). And noticed one piece where he all but “outed” a leading Republican official, and this the man who so eloquently decried outing in the early 1990s and even more recently.