Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sully World

Andrew Sullivan is perhaps the most interesting blogger I regularly read. Not the best, and certainly not the most insightful; rather, he is interesting because he is the human embodiment of Forrest Gump's box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get. Rational, insightful critique of Administration nonsense? Unhinged ad hominems aimed at Noam Chomsky or Michael Moore? Utterly incoherent attempts to harmonize Christianity with reason? All of the above? Maybe "read" is the wrong verb for what I do there -- "rubberneck" might be a better characterization.

Today Sully gives us a perfect 10 on the Sullyness scale. First he ably mocks some utter nonsense from BoBo in the Times:

After four years of mounting, centrifugal chaos in a country he invaded on false pretenses, with no plan for victory, Bush is still "empowered" by a sense of religious mission and the aphrodisiac of the appearance of power. If you need any more convincing that Bush isn't merely not a conservative, but a tragi-comic version of what conservatism has long opposed, then read David's column ...

As a very abstract theological principle, it's hard for a fellow Christian to disagree. But, of course, as a political or historical principle, this is dangerous, delusional hogwash. There is a dstinction between theology and politics, a distinction between theory and practice: a distinction at the core of the very meaning of conservatism. The notion that free will or even human freedom is destined to be humanity's future, and that this destiny can be achieved by a Supreme Leader, is a function not of conservatism in any sense, but of a messianic, eschatological ideology. It's the most naive form of Whiggery on half-baked evangelical steroids. It is all the more disturbing to be allied with what can only be called Bush's attachment to the Fuhrerprinzip - the fascistic notion that all human affairs can be commanded and determined by a Great Decider. Our dumb luck, alas, is that our supreme leader is a trust-fund kid with a chip on his shoulder and zero understanding of history or war.

Amazingly, David appears to be taken in by this lunacy. He says that "only the whispering voice of Leo Tolstoy holds one back." Er: how about Burke? Or Aron? Or Tocqueville? Or Constant? Or Gibbon? Or any serious thinker about politics and history not infatuated with some ideology or eschatology? How about every conservative thinker who ever wrote a sentence?

Excellent work. Grounded in reality. Cogent. Etc.

But he closes with this:

This is not the work of a conservative statesman; it's the mark of a delusional fanatic. If you define liberalism broadly as the belief that human society is perfectible, that heaven can be created on earth by force of will, then Bush is one of the most recklesss enemies of conservatism who has ever held high office in America.

Huh? I have never heard anyone, friend or foe, define liberalism as the belief that society is perfectible. Here is how Wikipedia defines liberalism:

Liberalism refers to a broad array of related ideas and theories of government which advocate individual liberty.[1] Liberalism has its roots in the Western Age of Enlightenment.

Broadly speaking, liberalism emphasizes individual rights and equality of opportunity. A liberal society is characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy, free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of all citizens are protected.[2] In the 21st century, this usually means liberal democracy with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law.[3]

Liberalism rejected many foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, and established religion. Social progressivism, the belief that traditions do not carry any inherent value and social practices ought to be continuously adjusted for the greater benefit of humanity, is a common component of liberal ideology. Fundamental human rights that all liberals support include the right to life, liberty, and property.

So what is going on here? You may well recall that Sully was once a cheerleader for our First Cheerleader. He was for the war. He has things to answer for. And though he often sounds today like a man bounded by reason, he also seeks to call himself a True Conservative. So what is really going on here, methinks, is that his absurd definition of liberal is part of the broader attempt by conservatives to leave Bush on our doorstep.

Nuh-uh, Sully. Na ga happen. You guys like to define anything undisciplined and expensive as liberal (you gonna push Saint Ronnie the Profligate on us, too?), but King George is yours, and the oft-delayed and much anticipated release of Jonah Goldberg's oxymoronic tome "Liberal Fascism" is likely to only affirm the absurdity of the attempt to rebrand your problem child as ours.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping up on the context. In an otherwise empty diary Sully's great essay would be taken at face value.

What would Sully do with us as loyal fans?

5:43 AM  

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