Andrew Sullivan is a turd.
Sorry, was that too vulgar? Let me try again: Andrew Sullivan is a pedantic turd.
In a recent Salon.com piece, Andrew Sullivan discovers bears. He gets almost every point wrong, but that’s beside the point here. It’s all good; everyone should know as much as possible. Education is a good thing.
These are tough, tough times for Andrew. His conservative president “comes out” as a social engineer after all, taking the worst of conservative politics and the worst of the liberal excesses and combining them into one mean-spirited, greedy push to piss in the pool of general good will. The President thinks this kind of education is a good thing.
Then the Pope in Rome “comes out” against homosexuals. Comes out? Andrew is learning this just now. Again, education: a good thing.
What makes Andrew as insufferable as the old man in the dress, and the tedious good-old-boy-asskisser in Washington is the large effective radius of his voice. Thousands read his daily attempts to find for himself a comfortable, less chafing position as he rides roman through life on the twin horses of who he is (gayboy in bondage) and what he is (Catholic in bondage—please forgive the redundancy).
However, rather than finding a way to let one of the horses go, or just stop altogether so he can see where he is, where he has been, he spends most of his time trying to coax his readers and the rest of the world into line, so that he has to steer less, so that he hurts less, so that he can talk more, unimpeded, the good of the readership and the resultant configuration of the world be damned.
I don’t think he does it intentionally. He seems to have to work very hard to be who he thinks he should be, a good catholic boy, a fiscally responsible man. A shepherd. I just think he has no mental bandwidth left over.
Andrew Sullivan, and the Old Man in the Dress, and Dubya, all suffer from the same trickle-down bullshit, a diarrhea of the ego that makes them cranky and makes them believe that, by simple extrapolation, what’s good for them is good for everyone.
Andrew enjoys being a Catholic with all its attendant pageantry and theater, that much is certain. He enjoys it in the ways my Catholic mother warned me against, what our parish priest growing up warned us against: Pride. The individualistic pride that comes with being a member of the longest running revue in Western Civilization. We were taught that God is an Absolute and that in the face of that, humility must be maintained. Nothing is equal to—much less greater than—the Infinite, right? Education. Lessons. Good stuff. Good math, at least.
Well, the hunchback cannot see his own hump, as the old wisdom goes. The Pope and the Prez don’t approve of Andrew’s Hump.
Education is a mirror and a lens. As a lens, it focuses on the past, the present, the future, to show you your place in time, your place in the world. As a mirror, it shows you what you are, who you are and who you have the potential to become.
Andrew wants to educate and sophisticate us non-cognoscenti. The Pope wants to remind us of the Old Lessons: nothing new under the sun when your patent & copyright portfolio is as huge as the Church’s. The Prez wants you to learn that his people are better than you and have earned their special status.
Look at Andrew’s description of himself: fiscally conservative, socially progressive.
Social progress comes from unlearning all of those things we “learned” too quickly, too soon or under duress. Xenophobia. Voting with the stomach. Fear. Self-loathing. “Nice” equals “Good”.
It’s a big syllabus, and even a much more modest education program would consume significant resources. All education efforts do. Always.
That’s where Andrew hides his lie. His big, fat, almost-objectivist lie. He wants people educated to the script of his Play for Today, but he doesn’t want those efforts to cost him. The hubris of objectivism and “I’ve got mine, you go get yours” weave through his words, choking off the truth of the matter.
Society emerges from us all, each and together and even when we’re at odds. We make it all happen. Society is, by and large, a self-sustaining organism which has evolved its evolvability, but it is steerable. Civil rights. Women’s rights. Emancipation. Miscegenation.
Mr. Sullivan wants us all to take our hands off the wheel, even as he guns the engine and tries to downshift.
And he’s doing it all by remote control, of course. He’s a smart fellow. Smart enough not to get in that car, anyway.