Thursday, March 13, 2003

More Sullivan, Because I am Bored With Bad News And Like To Mock Fools

"The difference between now and the 1930s, of course, is that we may now have Churchill in office - but before the world has become convinced of his rectitude..."

I would like someone to come along and explain to me that of course Sullivan isn't saying that Bush is a modern day Churchill, but we all know that he is, and that he's been doing it for quite a while now.

I'm not British, but, if my taking extreme offense at Republican comparisons between Bush and FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln is any indication, there should be quite a few Brits out there who would like to have a few quiet words with Sullivan in a pub somewhere. Saying that George W. Bush is similar to a respected historical figure does not raise him up, but rather demeans those he is compared to. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, with our tendency to mildly worship some of the historic leaders of the free world, this can be appropriately termed blasphemy.

Please, anyone who thinks I'm wrong, explain to me why Bush is such a great President, deserving of a place among our most honored figures. Because he passed a whopping big tax cut? Because he has demonstrably lied to us over and over again? Because he has united most of the world against us? Because he happened to be the guy in office when 9/11 happened? Because he has "moral clarity"? Because he hates him some liberals?

The reason that this kind of thing angers me so much is that it is the embodiment of an appeal to authority, one of the classical logical fallacies. In likening Bush to Churchill (or any other respected figure), Sullivan counts on our assuming that Churchill was right about everything regarding war (which is itself fallacious, because no one is right about everything, even in a specific, limited topic- but since Churchill is a tremendously popular figure, and was right about war often enough to win the Big One, for argument's sake, we will assume that he was right about everything regarding war). Then, through the simple math of Bush = Churchill, we should logically assume that Bush is right about everything regarding war as well. And since Bush is right about everything regarding war, he must be right about everything regarding this war. It also has the nice (and perhaps equally important) side effect of equating people who disagree with Bush with people who disagreed with Churchill. Since history has proven Churchill's opponents wrong, that would make Bush's opponents wrong as well.

There's also a splash of appeal to emotion, yet another logical fallacy, in comparisons between Bush and beloved historical figures. Favorable emotions are associated with these historical figures, and so, again, by the simple logic of Bush = Historical Figure, favorable emotions (in the case of Churchill, pride, comfort, safety, victory, etc.) should be associated with Bush.

Beyond all that, I am so extremely tired of the comparisons between Iraq and 1930's Germany, and that every time a liberal points out the excruciatingly obvious fact that the two situations are so different that they might as well have occurred on different planets, they need to then hastily add that of course Hussein is a bad bad man, as if that point were in dispute by anyone to the Right of Fidel Castro. I place the blame for this directly on Sullivan's head - his and that of every other pundit and "journalist" who has contributed, through blatant misrepresentations and vicious attacks, to an atmosphere that is actively hostile to dissent in general and liberalism in particular.

Andrew is not stupid. He is actually a pretty decent writer. I admire his ability to churn out good-sounding opinion pieces at a fairly high rate and to articulate his positions with relatively high precision. But he is obviously a liar -- or at least capable of fooling himself to an extraordinary degree -- and that, combined with his masquerading as a respectable journalist, makes him completely and utterly useless to anyone who wants to actually use discourse to improve policy and ideas, and not simply beat their opponents for personal gain.

Andrew Sullivan is a joke.

So why am I not laughing?

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