Andrew Sullivan is a liberal.
“The key thing to remember about Bush's nominees: they are all completely craven with respect to the executive's powers in wartime. And wartime is now defined as: for ever.”
Liberal blogs really like bashing him these days because they think he likes to kill brown people, and any opinion shared with him must immediately be searched out for conservative influence. He also says really mean things about Michael Moore and George Galloway and acts like it’s an indictment of the Democratic party. I would like to make it clear that anyone who could say that above quote will always be on the liberal side, and frankly most Democratic politicians couldn’t afford to say anything that questioning of the war and its current director.
He’s also a gigantic pain in the ass. Not even “our” gigantic pain in the ass. Just mean-spirited, reflexively using arguments and simplifications that dumb down American discourse, and taking for granted many of the anti-Enlightenment beliefs that form the foundation of fundamentalist conservatism. But he always seems to come to liberal conclusions, in a contradiction that I think is immensely appealing to suburban and rural America.
For instance, he is a devout Catholic that is happy to question the morality of atheists or other religions. He takes the Bible as God’s word. He believes these things so strongly that he’s comfortable saying the Church’s stance on the Pope’s power, gays, women clergy, birth control, abortion, the death penalty, economic redistribution, and war are very wrong. There isn’t an issue the Church has a political stance on that I think he agrees with. And yet by claiming an illogical fundamentalist attachment to the Church, he makes otherwise sane people think of him as a theocon.
Liberals are really upset that he continues to say the war was a good idea, no, a great idea. He just happens to have withering criticisms of its leaders, is one of the best sources of information of the issues surrounding torture, and wants us to get the hell out of there in as seemly a manner as possible.
If Democrats really wanted to win 2008 it’d be easy. Just nominate someone, a pretty Southern face, like Mark Warner and make Andrew Sullivan his campaign director. He knows how to speak to middle America – namely in a very illiberal fashion.
Everytime a liberal pundit is saying how liberals need to talk in order to win, I just think “then why don’t you talk that way!?”. If you put together all these pieces of advice from the most cynical and calculating pundits, you’d probably get Sullivan.
But this is the subtle point: the things that make him a great fighter for liberal causes because he’ll cross lines the rest of us won’t, is what made him believe that a war to free Iraq would be a good idea and that post 9-11 Bush was a strong leader.
So really, that’s the choice Democrats have to make. Not about whether to be moderate or to be extreme. Or whether to focus on social issues or economic ones. But whether to be war-mongers in the political arena, or hold on to their values even with regards to the methods of electioneering.