Necessary Roughness

James Lileks lays a MOAB of a Fisking on Andrew Sullivan’s endorsement of Kerry today. A brief sample:

[Sullivan] He knows that if he lets his guard down and if terrorists strike or succeed anywhere, he runs the risk of discrediting the Democrats as a party of national security for a generation

[Lileks] Is it instructive to note which side Sen. Kerry instinctively inhabited in the 80s? Apparently not. Because now he knows that if terrorists strike, he runs the risk of discrediting his party. Got that? Runs the risk. Of discrediting his party. Of all that the theats he might face, apparently that’s the one that seals the deal. Look: The guy voted against the first Gulf War. What else do you need to know? UN thumbs up, global test, allies coming out the wazoo, and he voted no. Because that


38 Responses to “Necessary Roughness”

  1. PDS Says:

    Not only is it hullabaloo, it’s tedious hullabaloo about a boring topic. If character studies during a time of war are your thing, far more interesting is Hitchens’ migration away from the left than Sullivan’s move vice versa.

  2. Cletus_1n3 Says:

    You’re right; the surprising thing isn’t that he ended up endorsing(?) (it reads more like an excuse to not vote for Bush than an endorsement of Kerry) Kerry, but that he supported Bush for as long as he did. I wonder if he’ll have a change of heart now that Bush has come out in favor of civil unions for gays?

  3. Lexington Green Says:

    It is important because Sullivan was perceived as a man of the Left who had nonethless grasped the importance of the war on terror and who understood that President Bush was trying to wage that war aggressively and that he was right to do so. Moreover, he was a person who seemed to be willing to put aside very strong interest in a Left social issue, gay marriage, in the larger interest of prosecuting the war. Moreover, Sullivan was eloquent and passionate in his defense of an aggressive strategy in the war against Islamic terrorism and it was heartening to have that voice on “our” side. His re-defection is a major sign that there has been no long-term post-9/11 realignment, that there are no “war liberals” (Hitchens being tne lone significant exception) and that the cultural Left and the political Left is now monolithically also the “anti-War” Left.

    This assumes that no one believes any of the belligerent things Kerry occasionally says for politial reasons. I assume, as I trust most of his supporters do, that Kerry is going to pull out of Iraq quickly and basically abandon the project there. My leftist in-laws think this, and are working hard for Kerry, and they will be very bitter if anything other than an early pull-out happens. In other words, Kerry is a baldfaced liar and his supporters not only know that but concur with him telling outright lies to get elected. As that snake Rahm Emmanuel said “we are the Vince Lombardi party: Winning is everything.” The little putz even misquoted Vince Lombardi, but his point is clear: Say anything, tell any lie, to win.

    Sullivan is a bellwether. That’s why his “re-defection” is important.

  4. Lockjaw the Ogre Says:

    10 Insert knife
    20 Twist
    30 Push knife deeper
    40 Go to 2

  5. Ted B. Says:

    Is Hitchen’s support of Kerry a defection or just a critique of GWB’s performance? Read here;

  6. pianoman Says:


    Of course Sully won’t support Bush. He’s said all along that gay marriage must be absolutely equal to hetero marriage. Otherwise, he’s not satisfied, and will redeploy lurid conspiracies theories involving the Evil Right Wing Christians (TM) and how They Control Bush’s Mind.

    Civil Unions aren’t enough because they “aren’t marriage”. End of subject for Sully.

    (Never mind that Kerry doesn’t support gay marriage either. That doesn’t matter, I guess.)

  7. Laurence Simon Says:

    I question the timing of Andrew Sullivan.

    Not anything in particular or specific. Just him.

  8. PDS Says:

    If Sullivan’s blog traffic were in the range of 99% of the startup blogs, I doubt anybody would care what he thinks. Therein lies the source of the hullabaloo factor from the Blogosphere–a combination of page view envy, along with genuine interest in his “re-defection.”

    Once again, this is an indicator that W is a victim of his own success. If on the midmorning of September 11, your neighbor had told you there would be no further terrorist attacks on US soil for at least 3 years, and that we would topple the Taliban and Saddam with a loss of American lives less than the # of drunk driving deaths in California in 2003 alone, almost everybody would have taken that scenario, and would have been relieved to do so.

    Instead, here we are 3 years later, and we have people like Sullivan “gravely” endorsing W’s opponent based on a platform that can (charitably)only be called Monday Morning Quarterbacking.

    Query: if we had been by another terrorist attack on US soil, would anybody really care about Andrew Sullivan’s “change of heart?”

  9. Joseph Weisenthal Says:

    I don’t think Sullivan is a lefty at all. What amazes me is the dismay that people have for a gay man who won’t support a president who seeks discriminate against him using the constitution. Sure you may agree with Sullivan’s viewpoint on Gay marriage, but you can’t feel it as acutely as he–not at all.

    I too am a Republican (righty) who is supporting Kerry this time for a host of Reasons like, um Poor War Planning, an Abysmal Spending Record, and the Patriot Act. I resent when I get called a lefty by my conservative friends who have been hoodwinked into big-government conservatism. I don’t have much love for Kerry, but if Bush goes down this election, I beleive we will see a return to Old Right values, which I support.

    Great Blog, my friend

  10. Sandy P Says:

    Mr. Weisenthal, you do know Kerry wants a tougher Patriot Act, via Bros Judd 10/21 posting?

    As John Kerry barnstorms swing states in the election’s final days, he has harsh words for President Bush on the Patriot Act: It doesn’t go far enough.

    Kerry and other Democrats who once called the law, which gives the federal government sweeping powers to fight terrorism in the U.S., a threat to the Constitution are now praising it.

    The shift is likely because the act remains popular. A Gallup poll earlier this year found 64% said the act was “about right” or “didn’t go far enough.”

    And considering the pubbies got their asses handed to them on a platter partially because of the mid-90s gov shutdown, what makes you think they’ll hold the line now? W has a better chance.

    Megan McArdle covered this earlier this week at Instapundit.

    And war screwups, yup, good thing we didn’t have one at Bunker Hill, invading Canada during the War of 1812, and weren’t Monte Casino -it was an Italian battle, that I remember, (sp) and the Battle of the Bulge a little messed up?

  11. alex Says:

    Joseph Wiesenthal = Moby
    Bush=Kerry on gay marriage

  12. JPS Says:

    PDS: Very nicely put.

    Joseph W.: I agree with your objection that Sullivan is not a lefty. This man was pro-Reagan, pro-Thatcher, and hates the British left.

    I think your support of Kerry, if you truly support “Old Right” values, is short-sighted and counterproductive. Unless by “Old Right” you mean a foreign policy that values stability for its own sake, in which case you’ll get exactly what you want.

    But I want to question this notion of poor war-planning. This may be a stupid argument, but we planned for all kinds of disasters that we successfully avoided. The Taliban fell in six weeks, Afghanistan in three.

    Now, the troubles we have now–and they are serious–are not the ones we planned to avoid. (We avoided most of those.) Should we have anticipated them? Arguably. Are they worse than what we successfully headed off? Questionably.

    I’m happy to criticize our management of “postwar” Iraq, but I always bear in mind that (a) I don’t have all the facts; (b) I don’t really know what I’m talking about; and (c) it is very easy to hang a target around an embedded arrow and shout, “Bulls-eye!”

    Criticism’s fine, but unconstructive recriminations get tiresome/

  13. JPS Says:

    [Grr. Read, “Iraq in three.”]

  14. erp Says:

    Difference between Sullivan and Matthews?

    Sullivan is intelligent and well educated.

    Matthews isn’t.

    What about Hitchens? Has he endorsed Kerry? I haveb’t seen that anywhere.

  15. megan Says:

    Where Sullivan falls off the cliff is that Bush needs to be punished for mistakes made, but the Dems need to be ‘rewarded’ into taking responsibility for a war they also signed on for????!!!! What John Kerry is going to ‘have to’ do is pay attention to the huge numbers of his constituency that never wanted us in Iraq in the first place, and will be in full court press mode to get us out.

  16. jeff Says:

    Sullivan calls himself an Authentic Conservative™, but his cause celebre is arguing that gays will never feel equal or accepted until big govt bestows upon us the sanctity of marriage.

    This is boilerplate liberalism, & insulting to me as a homo. Sully’s bizarre paranoia isn’t surprising, as he’s never shown much psychological awareness. At this point he’s just angling for his old job back at the Times, so he can feel impt churning out dreck alongside Dowd & Krugman. Be my guest.

  17. rod Says:

    Andrew Sullivan is being Andrew Sullivan, which is to say, a freelance writer posessing a finely tuned sense of what’s best for Andrew Sullivan.

    He”s not a lefty but he’s way too naive of the major components of Kerry’s support.

    A Kerry presidency is going to owe the hard left very, very big time. The deaniacs and the academic, Not in my name set are swallowing hard in pulling the tab for JK. They will want some sugar for the bitter pills they took, no?

    If he thinks that translates into an aggressive conduct of the WoT….

  18. denise Says:

    Kerry has been so intentionally vague about what his position and intentions are with Iraq/GWOT that the people who support him (to the extent they “support” him and don’t just hate Bush) are very much in disagreement about how/whether he would prosecute the GWOT.

    If he is elected, he will find himself seriously disappointing a large number of his voters in a very short time period.

  19. Sigivald Says:

    I question the timing of Laurence’s timing questioning. With time, and questions. Using the time to question the timing that I’m questioning with the time and the questions and the glaven.

  20. Randy McGregor Says:

    Sullivan is a fair weather eagle. Bush has done precisely what Sullivan claimed needed to be done (and what Kerry never would have done). Bush made it clear it would be hard, and that there would be casualties (both in Iraq and at home).

    Sullivan has gotten squeamish at the first site of real, genuine difficulty – the sort of difficulty he was naively hoping could be avoided indefinitely, and which has been engineered by Islamofascists to bring about precisely the reaction Sullivan has had.

    The idea that Kerry would fight this war better than Bush – cleaner, nicer, stronger, and with German and French troops patrolling Bagdad is simply silly.

    Sullivan should admit he made a mistake in supporting a war that has turned out rougher than he anticipated. That would be more honest.

  21. Greg D Says:

    Well, a good part of the “noise” I’ve seen is people making fun of Sully for pretending that his endorsement of Kerry was anything other than a foregone conclusion driven by Sully’s genitalia.

    As many others have pointed out, if Sully had been honest, and simply said “I believe in gay marriage uber alles. I know the American people are against me. Therefore I’m supporting the candidate who will appoint judges who will create a right to gay marriage and force it on the American people”, then everyone would have shrugged their shoulders, and moved on.

    The fact that Sully is lying about it, and prostituting the respect he earned for his early clear-headedness on the WoT to service his genitalia, is why he’s getting whacked.

    He deserves it.

  22. PacRim Jim Says:

    Lockjaw, your code won’t compile. Read the old BASIC book again.

  23. Bait n switch Says:

    Hitchens has endorsed Bush in the new Nation. If you read the slate paragraph closely, you realize that he is not making any sort of endorsement on his own. An editor must have placed him in the Kerry column herself.

  24. KM Says:

    Read Sullivan’s blog every day, and I will continue to do so. I sure wish, however, he’d quit trying to rationalize why he went back to mama left. He can rant all he wants that its because he feels the Pres has not done well against the enemies of our nation, but ol Sully fools no one. It’s about the sexuality issue. He’s a one issue guy this year. That’s ok, except, its the wrong issue.

  25. KM Says:

    Herr Joseph Weisenthal: What “values” are you talking about? If you vote for Kerry, you are a lefty. Quit rationalizing.
    By “values” do you mean those exhibited by marrying two rich women? C’mon, you feel bad because you know in your gut that Kerry is a dirtball. Your friends are just calling you on it, and it is driving you crazy.

  26. Britton Says:

    It sounds from these comments that none of you actually read the endorsement. Gay marriage is scantily mentioned in passing and had little to do with why Sullivan was not endorsing Bush. Sullivan also praised Bush and is in NO way Monday Morning Quarterbacking as a reason to endorse Kerry. He simply said that while Bush was the man for the job post 9/11, he does not have the characteristics we need in a leader for the next four years which will be completely different than the last four. He just says that the two men are very different and for now, we need Kerry to get us back to some stability, which Bush will never do. He gives ample (and in my opinion way too much) credit to Bush for his performance the last four years in dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. I think you’re all just pissed that a man you’ve used off and on the last four years to lift up your candidate is now saying your candidate, while doing what needed to be done the last four years, is off course for the next four. I frankly agree with him that an elected Kerry will be a remarkably NON-liberal Kerry because we are not in a situation where liberal spending is an option. I certainly don’t think John Kerry owes the far left a damn thing since they have yet to really support him. So far I think Sullivan, who by the way is absolutely not a Lefty and is in no way similar to Chris Matthews, and who frankly I have never really like, is right on the money with his assessment of why Kerry has the characteristics we will need to continue an intelligent war on terror and a reconstruction of Iraq. I am voting for Kerry and do not expect nor do I want him in any way to cut and run in Iraq. I just want something to get done there and this quagmire of violence to end. I don’t see that happening under Bush’s leadership. It’s all opinion in the end and no one can predict the future. But I do think many of you are completely misinterpreting Sullivan’s endorsement.

  27. Says:

    Collier on Sullivan

    Over at VodkaPundit, Will Collier quotes extensively from James Lilek’s devestating critique of Andrew Sullivan’s endorsement of John Kerry, which is itself a must read, before concluding that:I don’t really get all the Blogosphere hullabaloo over Sull…

  28. Sandy P Says:

    –now, we need Kerry to get us back to some stability,—

    Ahhh, stability, the reason “the world” left Saddam in place. How “Old Europe.” Put a man in place who believes in the failed policies and ideologies of the 70s. Sorry, already lived thru it once, it’s bad enough the clothes and hair are back. I enjoy the 21st century.

    My life has been pretty stable. My husband’s business is doing better than it’s ever been.
    Who would have thought so 3 years later on.

  29. old maltese Says:

    Bait — it may hinge on the meaning of ‘endorsement’, but Mr. Hitchens ends his Slate piece with:

    ‘I do think that Bush deserves praise for his implacability, and that Kerry should get his worst private nightmare and have to report for duty.’

  30. Will Allen Says:

    Anybody who thinks “stability” is the desired quality at this juncture is too obtuse for words, and just about the perfect Kerry supporter.

  31. wildmteacher Says:

    The many Bush shortcomings that Sullivan mentions are shortcomings I have also noted. And with more than a little discomfort. But if Sullivan believes that Kerry will eschew Bush missteps because he will have to in order to keep his party together, he must know something about Kerry that I, and many others, do not.

    Kerry’s conduct throughout the campaign has relied heavily on telling people what he thinks they want to hear rather than arguing for any deeply held conviction. He panders rather than leads, which is why he avoids one-on-one interviews with the media. When he speaks to a union group, he knows what he must say to pander. In a media interview, he doesn’t know the audience so he is at a loss about what to say. David Brooks said it very well last Sunday: “If the Jewish vote were in play, Kerry would have been Bar Mitzvah’d by now.”

    Sullivan is pinning his hopes on a person who really isn’t sure of what he believes.

  32. charles austin Says:

    “… not unlike Chris Matthews …,” or Tim Russert.

  33. Britton Says:


    Rather than use Karl Rove talking points about Kerry, why not back it up…where is he pandering? To whom? What makes you think he doesn’t say what he means? I’d respect that argument if it was more than conjecture and opinion. You can and it has usually always been said about a challenger to an incumbent. I’ll take an unsure stand to one that I just flat out disagree with. I think Bush does plenty of pandering. And speaking of one on one interviews, how many has Bush done? In fact how many interviews has he ever given? Particularly to the press and his constituency?

  34. Sandy P Says:

    — What makes you think he doesn’t say what he means?–

    30 years of word and deed?

    Let’s start w/February, 1970:

    “I’m an internationalist,” Kerry told The Crimson in 1970. “I’d like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.”

    I really don’t want to highlight the 1994 quote.

  35. Lexington Green Says:

    “…Gay marriage is scantily mentioned in passing and had little to do with why Sullivan was not endorsing Bush. …”

    Britton, that’s the point. I, and many others, don’t believe him.

  36. Karl Says:

    Sullivan is not a Lefty when you look at the broad range of public policy. But in the Spring, he wrote in The Advocate that Bush’s support of the FMA was a “deal breaker” for him. He chose not to publicize that view in his blog, or even mention it until others started calling him on the carpet about it. He’s been tap dancing ever since.

    Ironically, it seemingly has not occurred to him that if America had followed health policies reflecting Kerry’s pharmaco bashing, the medicines that saved his life may never have been discovered or marketed.

  37. Dennis Says:

    The deal with Andrew is very simple. He loved W like a daddy. When W didn’t come along for the gay marriage ride, it was like beign rejected – again – by his father. Andrew has taken a completely personal and emotional reaction to it all.

    Very sad.

  38. John Farren Says:

    I wouldn’t have placed Sullivan as a lefty, now or in the past.
    “Classical liberal” is more like it.

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