Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Sullivan’s Sophomoric Simplicity

Andrew Sullivan continues to “lay off” the New York Times this week, though in today’s set of particularly uninteresting posts, Sullivan reveals an embarrassing lack of understanding of journalism, specifically, how to write a newspaper article.

Sullivan’s complaint is that the Times is using news stories as part of an orchestrated campaign to prevent the U.S. from launching an attack on Iraq, the prospect of which sends the pundit into orgasmic ecstasy.

Sullivan: “Here’s the classic editorial paragraph stuffed into a news non-story: ‘Already, the federal budget deficit is expanding, meaning that the bill for a war would lead either to more red ink or to cutbacks in domestic programs. If consumer and investor confidence remains fragile, military action could have substantial psychological effects on the financial markets, retail spending, business investment, travel and other key elements of the economy, officials and experts said.’ Could it get any more obvious?”

This is an obvious example of bias at the Times? The reporter speaks to government officials and they say a war could aggravate -- not solve -- the economic and budgetary problems we are already dealing with thanks to the reckless policies and tax cuts of Sullivan’s beloved President George W. Bush.

I suppose Sullivan wants the reporter to offset these remarks with a quote from an economist who will agree with the notion that all this economy needs is a nice war to get things back to normal. The problem is, it would be difficult to find a reputable economist who believes that.

Sullivan appears to be harkening back to the good old days -- when a perpetual war economy kept the U.S. growing quite reliable into the 1970s, when it was abandoned, only to resume its growth after a wrenching recession and return to a war-based economy under former President Ronald Reagan.

Having watched the economy expand under Democratic leadership, leadership that was marked by unprecedented fiscal restraint and again abandoning the war-economy strategy, Sullivan no doubt was confused. What to do next? Well, sporting Republican fella’ that he is, Sullivan opts for tax cuts for the rich and a return to Cold War-era military budgets. College sophomores make more nuanced arguments than this.
Candidate for Continuing Education

Andrew Sullivan: “One question: wouldn’t lots of military spending help the economy?”

Looks like someone could use a class in Economics 101.
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Sullivan’s Times Obsession Continues

John Leo’s ridiculous piece in U.S. News & World Report (still being published, apparently) includes this priceless quote: “The blogging revolution, says commentator Andrew Sullivan, the best-known blogger, ‘undermines media tyrants.’”

In the context of the article it is clear that Sullivan is referring to one of his former employers, the New York Times.

It’s an interesting accusation: The Times is a “media tyrant.” But as with nearly every Sullivan utterance regarding his many enemies, it’s an absurd characterization.

Let’s look up the word “tyrant,” shall we?

ty·rant n.

1. An absolute ruler who governs without restrictions. 2. A ruler who exercises power in a harsh, cruel manner. 3. An oppressive, harsh, arbitrary person.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Co.

Now the Times may be influential, it may even be powerful, but given the number of competing media voices, not only in its home city but nationwide, let alone worldwide, the use of the term “tyrant” is an extreme exaggeration.

Just because Sullivan is so painfully and obviously bitter about losing his job at the Times doesn’t mean the paper holds arbitrary or dictatorial power either within its own realm, i.e., the newspaper itself, its immediate environs (the New York metropolitan area), or the media writ large.

And a quick memo to Leo: Just because Sullivan is (perhaps) the “best-known blogger” doesn’t mean he is the most influential or the most respected. Sullivan’s gradual morph into an unquestioning cheerleader, mouthpiece and shill for George W. Bush and virtually every member of, and action taken by, the Bush administration has made him a laughingstock among a substantial portion of webloggers.
Friday, July 26, 2002
So Many Visitors With So Little To See

Over at Sullivan’s site:

THANKS: 41,000 visits yesterday. And it’s July.” (Posted Thursday, July 25, 4:04:00 p.m.)

Can Sullivan prove this?

How does Sullivan define visits?

How many different people does this figure imply?

Can Tapped audit his logs?
With Admirable Modesty

At mid-afternoon today, Andrew Sullivan posted this at his weblog:

FINALLY ON THE WEB: The New York Sun is now online. Here’s a column. [Posted: 3:05:41 p.m.]

Guess who wrote the column?
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Sullivan’s Diversified Vacations

Andrew Sullivan last week (July 16) wrote:

“PTOWN AND AZUREST: Am I a big, fat hypocrite for condemning Lynn Hendy’s comment that white people should vacation in other places than black-dominated Azurest when I’m sitting here in Ptown, a disproportionately gay resort? I would be if I argued that straights should not be a part of this community, as they are. One of the joys of Ptown has always been its actual diversity - straight, gay, bi, trans, families, couples, singles, etc.”

Does anyone believe Sullivan vacations in Provincetown, Mass., because of its “diversity,” let alone its “actual diversity”?

I sure don’t.

And isn’t diversity a word that it supposed to prompt reflexive derision and scorn among Sullivan’s crowd?
Friday, July 19, 2002
Sullivan: Accomplished Greek Scholar?

I can’t let this one pass by. Andrew Sullivan, apparently an accomplished scholar of Greek, mocks former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, Gary Hart, for his purported stance as a poseur.

Now, writing about Andrew Sullivan and Gary Hart in the same story does make me seem a bit behind the times, what with both of them having peaked some time back in the 1980s, but Sullivan’s remarks are so stupid they deserve scrutiny.

It all began when Vanity Fair published Hart’s responses to the magazine’s regular feature, the “Proust Questionnaire.”

Sullivan on July 16 seized on one of Hart’s responses:

VF: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

HART: Reading The Odyssey in classical Greek on board a three-masted schooner off the island of Chios.

[Sullivan: Cue laughter from the audience.]

Now, I don’t know about my readers, but the idea of reading the great literature, poetry, drama, philosophy, and history produced by the ancient Greeks and Romans, in the original language, sounds rather appealing to me, schooner or not. But my knowledge of Latin can only take me so far. As such, doing so is just a dream, one of the ways I can think of that would bring me great, if not perfect, happiness. (Champagne and caviar by my side would help, of course.)

Frankly, the image Hart conjures up sounds to me like the kind of dream many an intellectual has: escaping from his or her field of expertise to wander down the “road not taken.” In my case, it’s art history, in Hart’s case it is apparently the study of what at most colleges and universities in this country is called “The Classics.”

Indeed, I know of a woman, an accomplished economist, who ten years ago, while in her 40s, left one of the top positions for those in her profession who choose the “Wall Street” route specifically for the purpose of returning to graduate school to earn her Ph.D. in what is called, again, in the United States at least, “The Classics.”

As I read Hart’s response to the question from Vanity Fair I presumed that when he said “in classical Greek,” Hart was using the term “classical” rather generically, a choice perfectly acceptable when speaking to Vanity Fair’s audience and encouraged by the broad-based classification of Greek and Roman studies at American universities as “The Classics.”

Similarly, many Americans, possibly even many Britons, whether intellectuals and not, profess to enjoy “Classical music” when they actually mean to say “Baroque” or “Romantic” music. Such individuals, whom Sullivan would apparently regard with the utmost disdain, are, in civilized American society, not mocked for their use of the generic term “classical,” and quite rightly so.

Compounding his earlier foolishness, Sullivan gratefully published on July 18 what I presume is a portion of a letter from one of his readers (or a composite of several letters) in support of his gratuitous slap at Hart:

“ALL GREEK TO HART: Several of you emailed to let me know that Gary Hart is not only a poseur, he’s not even a reader of ‘classical Greek.’ Here’s the gist: Anyone who knows ancient Greek and its literature would not refer to Homer’s Greek as ‘classical’, [sic] which generally designates the normative Attic dialect of Athens circa the 4th Century B.C.: Plato, Thucydides, Xenophon, etc. It might be expanded to embrace the Ionic of Herodotus or the Doric of Pindar, but not the ‘Homeric’ dialect of Homer. There is no doubt however about the joy of reading the Odyssey in, er, Greek.”

Well, when exactly did Gary Hart say he can read classical Greek? The answer: Never. The question from Vanity Fair to which he responded was one that called for an imaginative response, a dream, or even a fantasy, if you will.

Now, I’m willing to bet that Sullivan knows at most a dozen words of ancient Greek, classical or otherwise. But by publishing these thoughtless attacks on Hart and twice laying on the charge of “poseur,” one wonders about whom Sullivan is really writing and whether Sullivan writes his tracts in a room lined with mirrors. I think “poseur” is the kindest description to apply to Sullivan at this moment.