Saturday, July 22, 2017

Silly Shit Andrew Sullivan Says

This week we learned that America's most famous non-blogging gay Catholic Conservative blogger actually has been listening to us all this time.

To wit:
This was a great week for conservatism.

I know, I know. That word — as it has been reverse engineered by the modern GOP — no longer means in America what it once meant across the West, and I should probably stop pretending otherwise. I’m told repeatedly, and understandably, that my support for the long Anglo-American tradition of conservative political thought is quixotic, perverse, and largely counterproductive. Pragmatism, moderation, incrementalism, reform: These might be conservative virtues in principle, but in practice, the American right junked them years ago. I’m told I should admit that, in the current American context, I’m a de facto, Obama-loving leftist. To cheer the collapse of the brutal repeal of Obamacare has not an inkling of conservatism about it.
OK, enhance 224 to 176...
That word — as it has been reverse engineered by the modern GOP — no longer means in America what it once meant across the West, and I should probably stop pretending otherwise.
Goodness gracious, Andrew, we've been over this and over this, for years now.  Yes, we all know perfectly well that continuing to call yourself a "Conservative" decades after "Conservative" came to mean "Honorary Confederate Colonel" was a ludicrous affectation, just as well all know perfectly well why you keep that particular word front-and-center on your resume.

From me, eight long years ago:
But then again, if Mr. Sullivan simply outed himself as a Liberal, he would instantly lose his place in the food-chain, wouldn’t he? Because like that microscopic number of self-loathing black Conservatives who make their daily bread by serving the interests of the Southern Bigot Party, more than any other single factor, it was always the sheer gawking, oddballness of the brazen self-delusion inherent in being the gay champion of the Christopath Homophobe Party that put Mr. Sullivan in the spotlight.

That was what gave him his unique and lucrative cache.

After all, Liberal gay political writers are a dime a dozen, and so in a strange way we find Andrew Sullivan locked in the same kind of mortal combat over labels -- and for exactly the same reasons -- as Roy Cohn's character in "Angels In America" as he adamantly insisted -- even as he was dying of AIDS -- that he was not a "ho-mo-sex-shall".

(Not Safe For Work)

Because, Cohn reasoned, homosexuals were nobodies; losers who had zero clout and “in 15 years cannot pass a pissant anti-discrimination bill from City Council.” And since Roy Cohn could get the President of the United States (or his wife) on the phone -- could take the man he was fucking to the White House and make Ronald Reagan smile at him and shakes his hand -- it therefore followed that Roy Cohn could not possibly be a homosexual.

That unlike every other person in his position on Earth, Roy Cohn was a heterosexual man, who fucked around with guys.

Likewise, even though Mr. Sullivan now, belatedly comes to believe much of what Liberals believe and finally deigns to notice a horde of grotesque truths about his Conservative Movement about which Liberals have been sounding the alarm for 30 years, Andrew Sullivan nonetheless looks us all straight in that eye and argues that he could not possibly be some mere Liberal.

Because 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?
Mr. Sullivan then opts to cover his tracks with a quick round of Pineapple Ice Cream Conservatism -- a concept I explained back in 2012 as...
Mr. Sullivan's Conservatism is identical to Mr. [David] Brooks' Moderation in that their respective ideological systems amount to little more than what is convenient and enjoyable for each man to believe at any given moment.

If Mr. Sullivan suddenly developed a taste for pineapple ice cream, within a week he would be penning columns about how "Liking Pineapple Ice Cream" is a cardinal Conservative value because of something something Edmund Burke.  If he got sick on bad Thai food, we would suddenly see a spate of columns discussing bad Thai food and how it is something that only extreme Christianists or Left Liberal would ever put in their mouths.

He is, at best, a flighty dilettante with a wealth patron and does not have the slightest fucking clue about how his adopted country works...
To be clear, while there cannot be one single, agreed-upon definition of "Conservatism" because (Wikipedia)--
There is no single set of policies that are universally regarded as conservative, because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time.
-- there is a consensus across multiple authoritative sources that, broadly speaking it kinda sorta means something like this:
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization.
Which is why, in this week's bout of Pineapple Ice Cream Conservatism, it was so hilariously predictable to see Mr. Sullivan rather drastically redefining "Conservatism" into the Reasonable Middle Ground which stands between, yes, you guessed it, The Extremes on Both Sides!

Everybody take a drink!

Between those Crazed Leftist Utopians (that would be you and me) and Reactionaries (by which Mr. Sullivan apparently means "the entire Republican Party and the American Conservative Movement except for Andrew Sullivan"):
So let me explain a little why I found this past week so encouraging. It represented, in my view, the triumph of reality over ideology. And conservatism — from Burke and Hume to Hayek and Oakeshott — has always been, at its core, a critique of ideology in favor of reality. The world is as it is, the conservative argues. Any attempt to drastically overhaul it, to impose a utopian vision onto a messy, evolving human landscape will not just fail, it will likely make things worse. To pretend that the present exists for no good reason — and can be repealed or transformed in an instant — is a formula for ruin. The leftist vision of perfect “social justice” is therefore as illusory and as pernicious as the reactionary’s dream of restoring a mythical past.
Except that this is most emphatically not what is happening in this country.  

In this country, Mr. Sullivan, the terrible sin against "reality" that we Crazed Leftist Utopians committed was trying to drag the United States into some kind of health care parity with every other civilized nation on the face of the Earth.  This was the hill that most of the Democratic party was willing to die on-- that cost many elected Democrats their seats in Congress.  Pursuing the crazed, Leftist fantasy that every American should have decent, affordable health care even if we had to get there one, agonizing half-measure at a time 

And the traditional social institutions the Republican Party went to war to restore was not some fairy tale dredged up out of the "mythical past".  It was the raw and ruinous capitalism of the private insurance markets as it existed in the real world just eight short years ago.  That world of perpetually skyrocketing premiums, routine denial of coverage over a cough or a parent with imperfect genes, people dying in the street of treatable illnesses and tens of millions of Americans living one broken leg or bad diagnosis away from financial catastrophe?  That world, to the Republican Party, is a  traditional social institutions -- one they are willing to wreck the country in order to defend.  

In other words. "Conservatism" operating exactly as advertised.  

Which by now even a fellow as professionally gullible as Andrew Sullivan should stop pretending he does not understand.  


bowtiejack said...

". . . decades after "Conservative" came to mean "Honorary Confederate Colonel" . . . "

Nailed it!

bowtiejack said...

Oh yeah, Roy Cohn was the AIDS-afflicted disbarred lawyer who died in disgrace.

In case, you want a little precis of how things might work out for his White House mentee.

wanttoknow said...

"That was what gave him his unique and lucrative cache."

Shouldn't that be cachet? In fact I think that's been bugging me since I first read it 8 years ago :D

Caoimhin Laochdha said...

I had an uncle. We all thought he had liver cancer. Turned out he was a Republican.

Anonymous said...

Labels, Andrew, that we give ourselves...should tell a little story. I like drifty's stories. They're, well, honest, if you know what I mean. Speaking of honesty--where in the world is Mark Stein these days, Andrew?
Me, I call myself a liberating liberal who loves it! I am also a Pro-Indigenous, Anti-Fascist, Anti-Capitalist Happy Warrior. Kind of says it all, eh?
My Grandad was in Europe for five years fighting Fascists and honour those men and women by making damn sure it doesn't happen again.

Habitat Vic said...

Caoimhin: Your comment reminds me (IIRC) of a throwaway sub-plot joke in the Woody Allen movie, Crimes & Misdemeanors:

A wealthy, elite liberal power couple in Manhattan have a rebellious teenage son. Rather than typical criticism of his parents the teenage boy is, much to their consternation, a conservative Republican and a Rush Limbaugh devotee. One day, in the middle of a conservative rant, the teenage boy collapses and is rushed to the hospital. He has a large brain tumor, which is successfully removed.

Upon awakening, he is no longer a conservative but instead a normal happy liberal teenager. Sure its an easy joke, but I liked it.

trgahan said...

I assume by "modern conservatism" Sullivan is referring to the people who held this country hostage when it was a bankrupt, divided, smoldering heap of a failed Randite Libertarian confederacy teetering on the brink for foreign take over insisting "All Men Are Created Equal" wasn't going to actually mean "All Men Are Created Equal" because money and power.

Jimbo said...

"The leftist vision of perfect “social justice” is therefore as illusory and as pernicious as the reactionary’s dream of restoring a mythical past." Contrast Sully's line with this : "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,...", etc. Almost a total contrast in sentiment and actual words. So our Scottish immigrant apparently doesn't know that the Founding Fathers, as flawed as they may have been, were pretty much liberals by his own definition. Awkward!

Neo Tuxedo said...

the terrible sin against "reality" that we Crazed Leftist Utopians committed was trying to drag the United States into some kind of health care parity with every actually civilized nation on the face of the Earth.

FTFY, chief.

Lit3Bolt said...

Sullivan's "conservatism" just so happens to coincide with the rapacious greed of our social betters and the whitey-white-white-lily-whiteness version of Christianity.

How conveeeeeeeenient...

Lawrence said...

The leftist vision of perfect “social justice”

I'm pretty tired of this strawman. I don't know what perfect looks like. I think even Marx was light on the details around this. I have some pretty detailed models of what better looks like. And yes, one percenters, better always means worse for some.

Tom Shefchik said...

Let poor Sully have his unique meanings for words. The rest of us will carry on. But he is just your typical GOPer. Dems don't insist on perfection, we just want to help improve things in our nation. But GOPers have no policies, either foreign or domestic, to actually help. They only know how to do damage.

Once again, I thank you for reading and analyzing Sully so I don't have to.