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January 29, 2005


Hei Lun Chan

My wild guess is that Kaus doesn't like Sully for stealing his "blogger who is liked by the other side more than his own" angle. Obviously there's a one-per-blogsphere limit.

Joe Mealyus

Didn't Kaus once list his preferences as "Lieberman, Dean, Clark or Bush, everyone in the phone book of every major US city, Kerry?" I am reciting from memory. It wasn't as if Kaus meant for his donation to the Kerry campaign to be interpreted as a slackening of his distaste for the man.

As a reader (and fan) of both, I think Kaus is right - "excitable" is the perfect word. That dispassionate quality is (unfortunately) elusive for a lot of us, though.

Cecil Turner

Sully went from being a rabid war supporter to a fifth-columnist. And when chided on inconstancy on the war, he immediately changes the subject. The non-sequiturs in his quiz for Mickey tell it all: war, Kerry, gay marriage.

Andrew is so consumed by the gay marriage issue that he has to oppose anything concerning the Bush Administration--which of course warps his judgment of the war. I guess it's understandable, but it's hard to see how a responsible person could weigh the two issues and evaluate the former as more critical--especially now. Mickey is spot-on, and I think the best descriptor for Sully is one of his own favorites: "unserious."


Response to Cecil:

Bang on, buddy. Sullivan turned on a dime over the gay marriage issue


"Lieberman, Dean, Clark or Bush, everyone in the phone book of every major US city, Kerry?"

I don't remember Bush being in the list, and I think the phone book was Boston. At some point someone will have to check.


P.P.S.: Some emailers--not many!--have asked about my preferences. Right now,they are, in order: Edwards / Dean / Gephardt / Lieberman / a Bush-Clark tossup / the complete telephone books of all major American cities / Kerry. ...I'm a character voter, not an "issues" voter. Candidates will change their current "issues" positions after the election. New issues will crop up. The best handle we have to predict how a candidate will actually perform in office is character. ...


Joe Mealyus

I disagree completely with Ramrod and Cecil Turner. AS is certainly invested in the gay marriage issue, but I think that his postings on Iraq have been influenced by the stuff he's been reading about the "deteriorating security situation." I think Kaus is spot on about his excitability - notice how (easily?) worked up AS gets about Kaus's comments....

Despite his excitability, I think Sullivan has a pretty sharp eye for well-expressed commentary - he links to more interesting (sometimes oddball) stuff than anyone else, at least for me. Like Linus bleeping over the long names in TBK, I think it helps to bleep over much of the stuff on certain issues - I confess to being homoissuephobic (or maybe just overlyearnestphobic - Dan Savage, on his game, especially when he's destroying Seattle Gay Left pieties, is only about a thousand times more interesting than AS).

Cecil Turner

"AS is certainly invested in the gay marriage issue, but I think that his postings on Iraq have been influenced by the stuff he's been reading about the 'deteriorating security situation.'"

Perhaps. But the shift was dramatic.

January 5, 2004:

TRANQUIL SOUTH: The Brits haven't lost a military life in months in Basra. In time, we may see the post-war violence in Iraq as a simple continuation of Sunni efforts to control the country. Entrenched elites take time to remove - and to become reconciled to their loss of privilege.
January 14, 2004:
SEAN PENN COMES AROUND [. . .]There is still, of course, immense danger and instability. But it is good to see the left regain some of its moral bearings and also see the good that we have done.
On January 21, Sully fisks the SOTU bit with the "Marriage Issue." Then, on January 22, 2004:
This time, I'm leaning toward Bush for those reasons but appalled by his fiscal recklessness, worried by his coziness with the religious far right, and concerned that he has no forward strategy in the war. I'm equally concerned about the obvious irresponsibility of the Democrats on national security (and spending) at a time of great peril. But at least they're not going to bait gays and nominate judges like Frank Pickering.
President expresses support for FMA on February 24. March 04, 2004:
My own disillusionment with the president is not, despite appearances, all to do with marriage. I first worried with the aircraft carrier stunt, the post-war mess in Iraq, then the fiscal insouciance, and the more general bossiness that this unlibertarian president was exhibiting. The message chaos of the least few months, capped by that dreadful Meet the Press interview, was unnerving, to say the least. The solution? We need to hear what our future strategy is in the war: who we're targeting next. [emphasis added]
Methinks he doth protest too much. Iraq didn't turn into a "mess" in those two months--but Sully certainly got disillusioned with the President. And while the flavor of his subsequent work may be partly due to reports on "deteriorating security" (most of which were obviously flawed, IMO), I can't believe the gay marriage issue isn't coloring his overall outlook--to the detriment of his war coverage.

Appalled Moderate

The problems with Sullivan at this point are numerous, if you look upon him as an opinion leader (and he was, with respect to the war), and Kaus nails him on the precise problem -- you should not listen to excitable, turn on a dime people when it comes to matters of war and peace.

The thing that a find puzzling about Sullivan, now. He believes Iraq was the right thing to do. But we didn't do it with enough troops. The question, then, is: "Was Iraq worth a draft?" "Would you have supported Bush if he decided not to go to war, because we did not have the ability to bring 300,000 troops to Iraq and keep them there?" "Did you believe the US had enough troops at the time to do this?" I looked at his pre-war postings, and I did not see anything about the issue of troops strength -- an omission suggesting he didn't consider the issue at the time, or was worried about it, but felt the need for war more important.

Whether gay marriage changed his mind...I do not know. But I don't think I'll be listening to him if he starts banging the drum for a new war.

Cecil Turner

"He believes Iraq was the right thing to do. But we didn't do it with enough troops."

If Andrew's opinion about the war isn't credible, how much less so is his opinion on how to fight it? We've beat this "not enough troops" meme to death (most recently in the comment thread here). More troops in the assault phase wasn't feasible due to logistics. More troops later is more debatable, but the commanders have consistently said it wasn't the answer.

Abizaid said it was a "false argument" to say more American troops were needed. "Is there a military threat there that I have to defeat with more force? The answer is no. There's not a company of infantry of the United States Army that can be defeated by any threat that I've seen there since May 1."
"The question, then, is: 'Was Iraq worth a draft?'"

Even assuming more troops was the right answer, that's not on. If we'd started a draft in October, 2002 (right after the Joint Resolution passed), we'd actually have had fewer troops available for the conflict. Those in the first wave of inductees would've been available to replace the most junior infantrymen about halfway through the conflict, and will never address the various logistics and Civil Affairs specialists (disproportionately reservists) that make up the bulk of the actual manpower shortage. Sec Rumsfeld was precisely right on this one: "you go to war with the Army you have."

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