Friday, May 10, 2013

Silly Shit Andrew Sullivan Says, Ctd.

Once again, it has only taken 20 years for America's Second Greatest Conservative Public Intellectual to catch up with where Liberals were 20 years ago.

From Andrew Sullivan, May 10, 2013:
All of this is a grotesque over-reaction – for transparently political purposes. The GOP does not know any more how to propose constructive policies that actually might improve the lives of Americans. But they sure know how to construct a “scandal” into a mountain when it is only a bump in the tarmac.

It all reminds me of Whitewater.

At its core, there really was nothing of anything there. God knows we tried to find something – and as editor of a pro-Clinton magazine, I probably went too far in proving our independence. But it is also true – as we discovered in the 1990s – that the Clintons cannot resist giving their enemies a slim reed of fact upon which to build their demonization machine. In the end, all perspective is lost altogether – and you end up impeaching a president. I think this is the context in which to understand this. The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free. Former Secretary of State and possible presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is now Fox News’ path to even more money, and GOP’s path to appearing relevant and destructive to an Obama second term. An opposition legitimately exists to find venial sins like Nuland’s, but when they are then transformed by a massive media campaign into something that is worse than Watergate and Iran-Contra combined, it becomes a farce...
First, for those of you who are new to this bar or who may have spelt through the last 20 years of political and cultural history, here a quick primer on the sort of wingnut slander-mongering which Mr. Sullivan now casually dismisses as his attempt to prove his "independence" back in his salad days when he was building a profession and an international reputation out of trashing people like me:
Time for the media to fess up

Journalists like Evan Thomas now admit the Clinton scandals were bogus. When will they admit they played along?


Finally there is Andrew Sullivan, whose disservices to journalism as editor of the New Republic were many and varied in the Clinton years, vicious in personal tone and ersatz in journalistic content. In April 1994, for instance, he published a highbrow version of “The Clinton Chronicles” titled “The Name of Rose,” which portrayed Arkansas government as a third-world-style criminal enterprise directed by the Clintons with the connivance of the Rose Law Firm, Stephens Inc. and a supporting cast of shadowy, sinister Pakistanis and Indonesians. It was all nonsense but it played well in Washington’s scandal culture — and it gave respectable license to the Republican right’s crusade to vilify the Clintons.
For Sullivan the high point of Clinton-bashing came with the publication of “No Exit,” McCaughey’s takedown of the new administration’s healthcare reform proposals. Lately McCaughey has popped up again as the source of the fraudulent “death panel” allegations against President Obama’s healthcare reform plan — and that in turn has revived scrutiny of the myriad inaccuracies and blatant falsehoods in her 1994 New Republic article (which the magazine’s editors have disowned).
Having boasted proudly that by publishing McCaughey he helped to destroy the Clinton plan, and having accepted a National Magazine Award for doing so, Sullivan now says he is sorry about all that. He professes to take “full responsibility” for publishing an article that he knew to be false in its particulars and its broader argument — but, in fact, smarmily seeks to blame someone higher up (in addition to McCaughey herself) who supposedly forced him to run the piece. That would have to be Martin Peretz, who then owned the New Republic and advertised himself as “editor in chief.”
If what Sullivan says is true, then the least he and Peretz should do is return the National Magazine Award, for the sake of the journalists and editors who have honestly earned that prize. That gesture might restore a semblance of sanity to the debate over healthcare.

Here us Mr. Sullivan in 1998 still going flat-out with the "Clinton is a degenerate monster" thing:
The Lewinsky saga, in this sense, is a distillation of everything we already knew about Clinton, the purest proof yet of the moral nihilism that drives him forward. From the beginning, Clinton has lied with indiscriminate abandon. He has lied about genocide and he has lied about his golf scores. Every label he has attached to himself, every public position he has taken, has smacked of opportunism, not conviction, self-interested deceit, not public-interested candor. Very little of it can be taken at face value. He claims to be a feminist and yet treats the women around him as fools, tokens, or sexual objects. He claimed to be a New Democrat and yet embarked first and foremost on instituting semi-socialized medicine. He claimed to be a social liberal, and yet he signed the Defense of Marriage Act and boasted about it on Christian talk radio. He claimed to be in favor of making abortion "safe, legal, and rare," and yet he vetoed a measure to outlaw the most violent of late-term procedures. He claimed he wanted to end welfare as we know it and to balance the budget, and yet he failed to do either until forced to on Republican terms. Like a Visa card, he is everywhere you want him to be, which is to say he is nowhere reliable, nowhere dependable, and nowhere in the slightest bit honest.

And, more important, he has never taken responsibility for any of this. In Clinton's moral universe, the truth is whatever he can get away with, and a lie is always somebody else's fault. He therefore hardly struggles with the truth, because, where there is no responsibility, there can be no struggle. He can analogize the Bosnian conflict as another Holocaust, take a poll to see whether he should intervene, stand by while tens of thousands of civilians are murdered, and then take credit for world peace when he sends American soldiers to police the aggressor's gains. He can publicly weep for people with AIDS, and empathize with homosexuals, and then sign a bill that would have thrown every HIV-positive person out of the military and almost double the rate of gay discharges from the service. He can advocate women's rights, and then expose himself to a stranger, and molest a distraught staffer in the Oval Office. (Yes, I believe Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey.) And then he can go to gay fund-raisers, and NOW rallies, and Bosnia itself, and pretend he is still a crusader for morality, civil rights, and peace, all the while corrupting anyone who comes into contact with him along the way.

Mr.  Sullivan in 1999. still bitching that Bill Clinton exists in the world, and taking some sort of gloaty pleasure that Clinton was at least wounded and that his moral stank did not "debase the currency of impeachment".

By Andrew Sullivan

I suppose I could best describe my view of the impeachment of Bill Clinton this way: a constitutional error that couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Impeachment clearly shouldn't have gone forward. The president's crimes never approached a serious attack on the nation itself; he never constituted a grave danger to the Republic. Nothing about him--let alone his crimes and misdemeanors--is high in any sense of the word.

But it is also true that he behaved with a reckless disregard for the law, the presidency, and the country. Even those of us who supported Dole over Clinton in 1996 because of Clinton's moral unfitness for the presidency were surprised at how low he sank. He should have resigned last fall. But, short of resignation, he was right to resist impeachment. It is something of a relief that, having debased the currency of the presidency, Bill Clinton did not, in the end, debase the currency of impeachment. Removal from office, I'm relieved to see proved, was too good for him...
Mr. Sullivan, again in 1999, still pretending that a failed Republican coup d'etat was, somehow, a moral victory, and still deluding himself that the "The Kulturkampf of the far right" did not, in fact, wholly own the Movement into which he had poured his skill and energy, and to which he owed his entire career:
For in retrospect, Congress's pragmatic decision to impeach Bill Clinton, while not convict him, was an inspired solution. The rule of law was not undermined, as it would have been if impeachment had been abandoned. Clinton's historical reputation is deservedly darkened. The Kulturkampf of the far right was mercifully foiled.
And then, as always happens, America's Second Most Oblivious Conservative Public Intellectual started to notice that he had gotten way out over his skis and sloooooowly began Moonwalking away from his staunch position:

Mr. Sullivan in 2003:
Now an extraordinary thing has happened. Journalists from across the political spectrum are finally acknowledging that impeachment was mostly a partisan crusade on trumped-up charges to bring down a popular president. “From the viewpoint of history,” the conservative Andrew Sullivan wrote recently in the New York Observer, “it’s going to seem deranged.” They have conceded that numerous allegations noisily leveled against Clinton and repeated endlessly in the news media of which they are a part have turned out to be bogus.
And now, Mr. Sullivan in the Year of Our Lord 2013:
It all reminds me of Whitewater.

At its core, there really was nothing of anything there...
And America's Second Greatest Conservative Public Intellectual did it all without missing a beat, a meal or a Newsweek cover story.

Meanwhile, America's Greatest Conservative Public Intellectual -- who has been every bit as horribly wrong for every bit as long as America's Second Greatest Conservative Public Intellectual -- will be on "Meet the Press" this weekend, no doubt reading aloud from his own New York Times column to the satisfied thrum of his fellow panelists.

Have I mentioned lately that there is a Club?
Have I mentioned lately that you are not in it?


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

No way was I wearing a hat like that 20 years ago.

D. said...

Thanks for the reminders. I stopped reading The New Republic in the early '90s (the subscription lapsed and I refused to renew it), so I'm not as familiar with Mr. Sullivan's earlier work.

It really is amazing that the punditti manage to figure things out twenty years later.

marindenver said...

It did just occur to me while reading this that if the Repugs had managed to convict Clinton would he not have been replaced by Al Gore? Who quite possibly, as a sitting president, pooooooooooooooooooooooooo0iju could have gone on to beat Dubya convincingly with no "hanging chads" to worry about and we would (hopefully) never have had 9/11 or the Afghanistan war or the Iraq war. Kind of mind blowing.

steeve said...

With Clinton and Gore, it was always worse than anyone remembers. The media hated democrats with just as much intensity, and far more uniformity, as it does now.

Back then, centrism didn't exist. There was no "both sides are being irresponsible". There was nothing but white hot rage against the democrat from even the most Serious, "neutral" pundit.

And, just like today, the hatred had everything to do with party affiliation and nothing to do with skin color.

Neo Tuxedo said...

marindenver skrew:

if the Repugs had managed to convict Clinton would he not have been replaced by Al Gore? Who quite possibly, as a sitting president

I think Bartcop refuted that comforting notion preemptively in real time:

The GOFP would have you believe if Bill Clinton would
just confess to every charge ever leveled against him, and resign and commit suicide, all would be lovely and we'd have a nice, friendly nation once again.

They are lying.

If Bill Clinton were to spontaneously combust, the GOFP would just get out their Windows 98 and search their documents for the word "Clinton" and hit "File," then "Replace" then write "Gore" in the box, hit "Enter" and fire up the GOFP hate machine and start the entire cycle of hate all over again against President Al Gore.

chrome agnomen said...

the club? i wish it were in my hand.
sully? i wish he were within reach.

Tim M. said...

I love this line from his Friday column: "In the end, all perspective is lost altogether- and you end up impeaching a president." Like it's a bildungsroman from Bret Easton Ellis, or something. 'Hey, man, we didn't CHOOSE to indulge in self-indulgent and destructive behavior, it's just that there're so MANY forces at work, before we even realize what's happening, boom: someone gets impeached. It's the most natural thing, really.'

Anonymous said...

"But it is also true – as we discovered in the 1990s – that the Clintons cannot resist giving their enemies a slim reed of fact upon which to build their demonization machine."

Of course! It's the fault of the Clintons. They made us do it.

Horace Feathers