Thursday, June 05, 2003

It's Over, Go Home; Andrew Has Slain His Dragon

I really didn't want to write three posts about Sullivan in one week; it feels distastefully Luskin-esque. But as soon as I heard on the radio today that Howell Raines had resigned, I knew that Andrew would inevitably have a self-congratulatory orgasm in public, and that I, just as inevitably, would be compelled to say unkind things about him because of it.

For as long as I have been reading his work, Andrew Sullivan has been a dutiful little soldier in the Right's campaign to bend public opinion to its will by discrediting any source at odds with the Talking Points for any given week.

Of the many columnists, talkshow hosts, and think-tank hacks that have been waging this campaign, Sullivan has not been the most dishonest; nor has he been the most vicious.

He has, however, been the bitchiest, and that is saying quite a lot.

When a person is drummed out of their job, particularly if the reason for the drumming-out is their constant public belittling of the people in charge, they are expected to say horrid things about their ex-employer to their friends. It is also reasonable to expect them to constantly complain about said employer to their family on a regular basis, possibly for years - although that depends on the general tolerance of the family in question.

Disgruntlement is a perfectly normal reaction to events one perceives to be unfair.

However, a reasonable adult with some sense of propriety does not constantly stand in front of their former workplace with a large sign saying "My ex-boss sucks!"

This is essentially what Sullivan has been doing on his website for quite some time now, and it is tacky, juvenile, and annoying as hell.

From the Raines Watches to the Times Watches to the jihad against an editorial page he thinks he deserves to have a spot in, Andrew has made war on the New York Times in general and its now-former editor-in-chief in specific, magnifying not only minor errors but any facts which do not agree with Sully's worldview into indications of fraud, bias, and general maliciousness on the part of the Times.

In an increasingly partisan atmosphere where large portions of a major Party regarded the Washington Times and Fox News as "fair and balanced" while dismissing CNN, major network news, and the Washington Post as Left-wing propaganda machines, Andrew kept jousting away at the news organization for which he was not good enough, and used his increasing voice on the web to rally the troops against his nemesis.

As he accused Democrats of wanting America to lose a war, so he himself fervently waited for a journalistic scandal to befall the Times; the difference being, of course, that those supposed Democratic desires were a Right-wing hallucination.

Jayson Blair, then, was the answer to his very-public prayers. To Andrew, Blair was not a liar and a crooked reporter; he was Monica Lewinski with alternate genitalia and a darker skin tone, the perceived perfect weapon to use against the man he so hated yet was so unable to affect.

Now, with the ripple-effects of the Blair scandal finally having brought Raines down, just as the ripple effects of the Lewinski scandal led to Bill Clinton's impeachment, Sullivan is dancing with joy and claiming a personal victory over his foe, whom he thinks he knocked out through his own efforts, mano-y-mano, a hero in his own eyes. Newt Gingrich and his crew felt much the same way, and, just as with Sullivan now, their inflated perception of their own Cojones & Righteousness kept them from realizing the simple truth that, despite their best efforts, what actually led to their victory was a foolish mistake on the part of their enemy, without which their impotence would have continued unabated.

Andrew Sullivan did not bring Howell Raines down; Howell Raines did. He may have booed him until he was knocked from his pedestal, but I booed the Lakers until they were knocked off of theirs, and I am not vain enough to think that my efforts meant anything to anyone but me.

So, in the end, I am not angry at Andrew. Let him have his little cheers for himself and his enabling audience. There are more important things in the world than who runs the Times, as long as it isn't Roger Ailes.

I do not hate Sullivan; at least, not in the sense that I want him to be unhappy and despise himself as a failure. If it makes him happy, let him believe what he wants to believe. Besides, it gives us all a chance to laugh at his foolish self-importance, which makes me happy as well.

Andrew Sullivan has slain his dragon, and I am a happy man because of it.

Who would have guessed?

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