Lay down his hand
Like he was giving up the holy game of poker.
So Andrew "I didn't choose the blog life, the blog life chose me" Sullivan
is calling it quits.
Except he's not.
He's really, really not.
I know, because I'm a blogger. Been blogging pretty much every day for the last ten years, with no interns, no six weeks off in the summer on the beach and no profitable adoption by a media company that would allow me some down-time and some real, folding-money income. Back when I had a full time job that had me working more than 100 hours a week, I was blogging. When Steven Gilliard passed away and a dozen of us vowed not to let his spirit die with him, I was blogging, When they all stopped and faded away and forgot, I was blogging. When I found myself laid off, middle-aged, unemployable and losing everything I owned in the depths of the Great Recession, I was blogging. When I said good-bye to the Big City and Castle Driftglass forever, I was blogging. And now that I have a family and have a very tenuous patchwork of paper routes that very nearly keep us from having to live under a bridge, I am still blogging.
Because blogging is just writing using a particular platform where the barrier to entry and guarantees of success are both very low. Free to all comers, who -- believe me -- come and go and come and go like the women talking of Michelangelo
I know I am a curious and experimental blogger because about five years ago -- amid much bitching and rending of garments from high atop Blogger Olympus about what a brutal, ass-numbing grind it was to have to aggregate stuff other people into one "One guy on my on my Usual Suspects link list said something and another guy on that list said something else" post after another -- I decided to give that line of work a try for a few weeks.
Turns out, basically a monkey can do it -- pound-for-pound, it is beer and skittles and a foot massage compared to my regular routine.
I know I'm a reasonably well-known blogger because (among other reasons) Mr. Sullivan and I were among the last two recipients of the once-prestigious and now utterly-forgotten "Weblog" awards -- he for "Best Blog" and I for "Best Individual Blogger".
I know I'm a Liberal blogger because even though over the intervening years as Mr. Sullivan and his elves and guest writers and "numerous bloodthirsty tyrants named Conor" have cranked out board-feet of often trivial content every day, not once were any of my hundreds of in-depth critiques of his methods and ideas ever mentioned or engaged.
I'm sure part of this is because -- damn it! -- there were just too many beards, too much pot and too much hot Alec Baldwin action to fit me in :-) Or, as I always say, if you beat a better path, the world will build a mousetrap at your door.
So I know Andrew Sullivan is not quitting blogging (unless his health is really shot) because Andrew Sullivan is not really a blogger. Andrew Sullivan is a brand which has been aggressively and successfully managed by it's owner for nigh on 30 years. And while one of the main sources of brand reinforcement has been a blog, Brand Sullivan has grown into a million dollar enterprise because of the brand owner's cultivation of many other brand partnerships along the way.
The Sullivan brand began to take shape when Mr. Sullivan was fresh out of Harvard and in the throes of a gooey, full-throated ideological crush on Brand Reagan. Thanks to Brand Reagan and the American Conservative Movement's brilliant program of locating and promoting the hell out of useful idiots of all shapes and sizes, Mr. Sullivan was given the means to transpose his narrow, parochial, Anglophilic political opinions onto America -- onto people he has never understood, with a political, cultural and brutal racial heritage he never bothered to learn.
Instead...Reagan was...just like Margaret Thatcher! Which meant that American Conservatives...were just like the Tories (yay!) and ergo propter hoc, American Liberals were obviously the kissing cousins of the Hated Labour Party (boo)!
And just like *that*, the American Conservative Movement bought itself a twofer: intellectual cover from a Harvard-educated Brit who now ran a prestigious "liberal" America journal, and a gay man willing to act as the apologist beard for a political movement which by then had become openly dependent on a Neo-Confederate popskull rocket fuel of racism, homophobia, kicking the poor, hating women, slandering Liberals, gutting unions all covered with a thick sheer of paranoia and Fake Christianity.
To resolve this irreconcilable diametric opposition between the Imaginary Conservatism in his head and the Actual Conservatism which he served, in true Conservative fashion, Mr. Sullivan simply, blissfully ignored the facts, covering up the glaring flaws in the basic molecular structure of his quaint political and cultural theories with a schmear of Burke here and a dab of Oakeshott there. And on this leaky mess did he sail into the pantheon of Deep Conservative Thinkers, where the Sullivan brand spend many years cultivating relationships with many other notable brands such as Huffington, Matthews, Maher, Brown, Rumsfeld and Cheney.
From the NYT:
...A series of publications — Time magazine, The Atlantic and The Daily Beast — hosted his blog before he again struck out on his own in early 2013, charging readers for unlimited access to his site. The move was part of a trend in journalism. In two years, Mr. Sullivan wrote, he had 30,000 subscribers and a million dollars in revenue....
And so, for whatever reason, Mr. Sullivan has chosen to extend his annual six weeks of not-blogging from Provincetown to not-blogging year-round from his home.
Well, he's had a good run. And a very profitable one. Because even though (as one wag once put it) "virtually all of Mr. Sullivan's hard-won epiphanies amount to little more than the well-thumbed history and plainsong lore of our Fucked Up Modern Age" it turns out that while it is apparently against the laws of God and Man for Liberals to make a nickle off of being right, Conservative Movement apostate's like Mr. Sullivan can make a handsome living (as the same wag put it) "borrowing the entire Liberal critique of the Right, filing off the serial numbers and re-marketing it all as "Real Conservatism".
But while the professional punditing biz has been very good for Brand Sullivan, now is probably a good time for Andrew to pack it in for however long the Quitting of the Blogging lasts this time.
Because of all the natural resources mankind as been depleted to the point of ecological collapse, one of the most deplete-iest is "Stuff To Get Angry At Liberals About".
Sure, places like Fox News and Hate Radio will never run out of wholly fictional bullshit to keep the Pig People up on their hind legs and howling about the Great Liberal/Negro/Commie Conspiracy to take their guns and golfs away and gay up their kids, but that kind of direct batshit catering is not Mr. Sullivan's stock-in-trade.
Like David Brooks, Mr. Sullivan's basic product is the same, old, vinegary "Both Siderist" wine poured into the new skin of "True Conservatism" and without and ample and steady supply of "Stuff To Get Angry At Liberals About" the whole "Both Siderism" quickly starts to fall apart.
Allow me to explain.
During those long-ago, high-cotton days between the Miraculous Virgin Birth of Saint Reagan and the Fall of the House of Bush, the bashing of Liberal Fifth Columnists was a seemingly inexhaustible, Diamond as Big as the Ritz profit center for Brand Sullivan. Then the Bush Administration spectacularly imploded in a giant cloud of "Holy Shit! The Liberals were right all along!" And in the noise and confusion, fleet-footed and morally flexible professional Conservative pundits like Andrew Sullivan, David Brooks quickly sidestepped almost overnight into the Beltway's new, seemingly inexhaustible Sierra Madre profit center for pundits in need of a soft place to land: The Both Sides Are To Blame Game.
In which, very simply, Both Sides are to blame.
But as David Brooks demonstrates every week on radio, on teevee and in print, while Both Siderism is an extremely profitable grift for the semi-retired Liberal-basher hiding out from his own past, it is also a relentless taskmaster. Because the whole scam operates like an internal combustion engine: to keep firing on all cylinders, Both Siderism must hit the right admixture of outrage Conservative and Liberal atrocities every single time. And for a long time now it has been clear that Mr. Sullivan has just plain run out of "Stuff To Get Angry At Liberals About".
Sure, Mr. Sullivan squeezed some extra mileage out of running around and keening like Fox News banshee about Alec Baldwin. But the lasting net effect his childish public tantrum was that it caused a few, disreputable losers on the Left to root around in Mr. Sullivan's archives just long enough to document for the umpteenth time what a pissy hypocrite he is:
If you are a normal person living a normal life, you would not know that a guy named Andrew Sullivan is in the middle of another of his periodic tantrums about the McCarthyism of Liberals.The left is turning really, really ugly again.Between you and me (because no one else reads this stuff :-) Mr. Sullivan's periodic Holier Than Thou outbursts of hysterical histrionics about the horrors of the Lefty Liberal Left are getting to be a bit of a bore, but I guess he needs something to fizz up his Pot-'n-Popes-'n-Stuff blog's otherwise mostly trivial parade of aggregated-other-people's-stuff and pop-culture filler.Part of his problem stems from the fact that, even after +30 years spent Opining Very Loudly About America, it is glaringly obvious that Mr. Sullivan knows shit-all about some of the most basic roots and branches of this country's politics and culture. He is, for example, perpetually flummoxed by the fact that American Conservatism as it is practiced in the real word bears no relationship to the academic, dorm-room-bong-a-thon Conservatism of his imagination. He also still cannot wrap his head round the fact that, here in these United State, bible-sanctioned white male supremacy and all of it's various, mutant offspring remain a really big deal (a rough equivalent of Mr. Sullivan's cluelessness would be me moving to Ireland 30 years ago, growing famous by punditing about Irish politics and society and yet, after 30 years, still being unable to grasp why the Irish continue to insist on making a big deal about the English.)
During his most recent, hilarious foray into Histrionically Whitesplaining Race To The Coloured Peoples of His Majesty's North American Colonies (by way of rear-guard defending his indefensible tenure at The New Republic), he got his ass carved off, whittled into aspic and handed back to him in more way that I could count. This was the nuke that blew him to atoms.
And now, finally, speech codes. No. Seriously. That last, desperate refuge of the decadent Centrist, imported from from 1988. Fucking speech codes.
An argument which has already taken such a comprehensive beat-down from so many quarters
Welcome to the Internet: Jonathan Chait and the Death of False Consensus
There’s something deeply ironic in complaining about the Internet PC Police on the Internet, then telling PC people to shut up because their anti-free speech PC orthodoxy isn’t wanted.
that further boots to the head would be ungentlemanly:
Give all of that and more...given the sheer, pulverizing weight of his long history of so being wrong about so much...at least one reason I can see for a Conservative blogger -- the Conservative blogger -- to give up the holy game of poker is the simple that his side won.
They got what they wanted. They got the the Bush Administration they wanted, the war the wanted, the tax structure they wanted, and the Supreme Court they wanted. And now the have the Congress they wanted: a nihilistic, anti-government madhouse dominated by Conservative bigots, Conservative theocrats, Conservative oligarch, Conservative uterus fetishists and a witchbag of other Conservative True Believers. They got the statehouses they wanted and the governors they wanted. They got their very own, private, fact-free media tree fort that carries nothing but Conservative propaganda 24/7/365.
The America Conservative Movement has gotten pretty much everything it every dreamed of back the those golden days when Young Andrew Sullivan marched proudly in the vanguard of Ronald Reagan's Anti-Government, Anti-Gay, Anti-Black, Anti-Woman, Anti-Poor, Anti-Education, Anti-Union, Anti-Accountability, Anti-Liberal jihad.
And in getting everything they ever wanted, Conservatives like Andrew Sullivan have very nearly destroyed the country they claim to love so very much.
And in that moment, Andrew Sullivan saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more Liberals to scapegoat.
And in that moment, Andrew Sullivan saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more Liberals to scapegoat.
So enjoy your retirement, Mr Sullivan.
You have done enough.
You have done more than enough.