Hickory dickory dock
My past is starting to squawk
Longtime readers know that I am alternately alarmed and amused by the way in which Conservative Public Person Andrew Sullivan has created a very profitable little media empire for himself by first spending years and years slashing and slandering Liberals, and then, as Conservatism shed its Cher wig and fake nose to reveal itself to be every bit the raving, neofascist freakshow those slashed and slandered Liberals had been warning about all along, by quietly expropriating Liberal intellectual property by the job-lot and reselling it at a considerable markup as "True Conservatism".
Because, as one long-forgotten wag once put it:
Well praise be to Allah (and h/t to Alert Reader "mh" for bringing it to my attention) that the enterprising Eric Alterman of The Nation has taken it upon himself to flesh the public record out even further with a trip down memory lane to those thrilling days of yesteryear when Mr. Sullivan was the young, Conservative editor of The New Republic:...in Mr. Sullivan's world, "Liberal" does not refer to a political ideology, but to an impoverishing political ghetto from which no amount of "being right about everything" will permit you to achieve escape velocity. In Mr. Sullivan's world, "Liberal" is a terrible disease that afflicts losers who do not get invited to spout their views on teevee.Mr. Sullivan regularly receives such largess, therefore he must not be a Liberal.He instead must be the lone member be of some rare and singular new species; some miraculous form of haploid political minotaur.Because if he is not something spontaneously-generated and utterly sui generis, then he is just another Lefty-Come-Very-Lately, showing up at our door at 3:00 A.M., 20 years late and trailing toxic baggage behind him like a Halley Comet.And who in the world would pay him to do his little dance then?
His five-year reign was characterized by so many disastrous decisions, it would take every word in this magazine, and then some, simply to enumerate them. But here’s a partial list: under Sullivan’s guidance, TNR championed, among others, Ruth Shalit, Stephen Glass, Steven Emerson, Charles Murray and Elizabeth McCaughey. It’s no easy matter to determine which of these charlatans did the most damage to the magazine’s reputation. (Indeed, it’s a measure of just how abysmally TNR’s editorial filter functioned under Sullivan that Camille Paglia calling the then–first lady “Hillary the man-woman and bitch goddess” doesn’t even make the top five.) This was a period of casual plagiarism, fabulism, racist pseudoscience, and deliberate lies aimed at the heart of liberal principle in general and the Clinton administration in particular by what was still considered liberalism’s flagship publication.Mr. Alterman notes that since Mr. Sullivan does virtually no actual reporting, the only remaining metric left to measure his performance is the quality of his judgement, which has been rather spectacularly bad:
And notes that Mr, Sullivan has coped with being horribly wrong about everything by:The fact that few individuals can be shown to have demonstrated worse judgment over the course of the past two decades, and risen higher as a result, is yet another example of the changes that Sullivan-style “journalism” has helped to bring about.
And how does Mr. Sullivan reconcile his terrible track record, bad ideas and myriad reversals?...slowly revers[ing] himself to the point where he now embraces many of the positions he once termed treasonous. Sorry to be personal about this, but, again, I once wrote a column pointing out that most pundits were far more sympathetic to Israel than to the Palestinians. Sullivan compared it to, I kid you not, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Not so long afterward, however, Sullivan switched sides and became an extremely caustic critic not only of Israel, but also of its neoconservative supporters (like his former self).
He was just being provocative!
...if one reads the breathless coverage of his decision to launch an independent blog—to say nothing of the promotional copy from the publications that have hired him over the past two decades—one will find precious little discussion of the accuracy of the information in which he traffics. In this sense, Sullivan resembles his fellow British performance artist and celebrity scribe, Christopher Hitchens. Though a far more stylish writer than Sullivan, Hitchens, too, repudiated the balance of his life’s work without ever admitting having done so, much less explaining how he had come to be one of the people he’d spent a career eviscerating. Both of these charming British imports put their talent in the service of a journalism of “provocation,” as Sullivan terms it, untethered to traditional conceptions of evidence or even honesty.
The clock struck two
And with a magic "UnDo"
I now resell Liberal stock