Andrew Sullivan’s Metamorphosis

It’s official — Andrew Sullivan, formerly the snarling attack dog for Bush and the neocons, is now an outspoken and unforgiving critic of his former idol. Today he “fisks” (in his own words) President Bush’s interview on Meet the Press, and in so doing reveals just how much contempt he has for our swaggering leader

As he goes through the transcript, Suillivan adds commentary, such as, “OK, let me put this gently here. Is he out of his mind?” While he tosses in the obligatory praise of the president’s “niceness” and his national security record, Sullivan is clearly disillusioned, bewildered and infinitely disappointed. It’s as though he’d been jilted on the night of the prom.

But it was in the second part of the interview that things, to my mind, unraveled. Bush offered no compelling rationale for reelecting him. He offered excuses on the economy; and, on the critical matter of the country’s fiscal health, he seemed scarily out of touch.

After catching Bush in a shockingly irresponsible liepromise about the federal deficit (Bush says he can cut it in half in 5 years), with no supporting data, just a vacuous pie-in-the-sky wishful-thinking platitude-laden remark — after hoisting the president on his onwn petard, Sullivan lets it all hang out.

So, in one response, we have a one-word answer that means the opposite of what it should; we have an irrelevance; and we have a pipe dream. And the president expects the people to trust him with their money? If your financial adviser came up with such an answer, after a huge drop in your personal savings and massive loans coming due in a few years, you’d fire him.

This is only a small sample of Sullivan’s wrath. To see him turn the art of fisking on President Bush should be a cause for great hope among us all: The president is at risk of losing his most loyal base. The near-fanatical support some have exhibited for him since 2001 has generally faded. There really is hope to turn Bush out of office. When his most loyal evangelist calls him a bumbling obfuscating jackass who cannot be trusted with the people’s money — well, what can I say? What further proof do we need before acknowledging there is trouble in River City?

Despite the kernels of praise thrown in for a bit of balance, Sullivan makes it clear in the closing lines what he wants his readers to come away with:

I still believe he did a great and important thing in liberating Iraq (although we have much, much more to do). But, if this is the level of coherence, grasp of reality, and honesty that is really at work in his understanding of domestic fiscal policy, then we are in even worse trouble than we thought. We have a captain on the fiscal Titanic who thinks he’s in the Caribbean.

When Andrew Sullivan writes that President Bush is about to steer the country into an iceberg, strongly implying that he must be stopped, we all know the tide has turned. President Bush can be defeated. For all of John Kerry’s faults, I intend to support him, even if doing so demands some nose-holding. One has to ask not which is the better man, but which man is least likely to destroy America’s future? Do we really want to keep heading for the iceberg?

The Discussion: 8 Comments

Bush is the perfect example of a leader, who because he is the leader, believes he deserves re-election and therefore won’t broach the subject for further discussion, thereby unveiling his ensuing demise.

February 10, 2004 @ 12:11 pm | Comment

Kerry is unreliable on matters of defense and I see no evidence whatsoever that he intends to decrease government spending. Kerry’s claim that the deficit is the result of tax cuts is as demonstrably silly as Bush’s claim that he has decreased discretionary spending.

The only candidate acceptible on defense matters and likely to be fiscally prudent — Joe Lieberman — the Dems wanted nothing to do with.

That leaves a bleak choice, but one in which Bush is, to my thinking, the lesser of two evils.

February 10, 2004 @ 12:38 pm | Comment

So, Conrad, what do you think of his efforts to allow an instant tax refund to people applying for universal health care?

February 10, 2004 @ 12:57 pm | Comment

Is Bush so reliable in terms of defense, Conrad? I think this is a subject where we will just have to respectfully agree to disagree. It is going to be the key element of the Republican campaign, that the Dems don’t have the will or the fortitude to stand up against terror. I don’t see the war on terror as a spectacular success so far, especially in terms of return on investment (lives and dollars). I admit, I had high hopes for Bush in the post-911 days and admired the way he handled it at first. But I have no reason to think Kerry, a real war hero, wouldn’t have done an equal if not better job. And I know all about Kerry’s “character flaws” that the right is working overtime to broadcast. Compared to Bush, he smells like a rose in terms of character, and I see him as a welcome and badly needed change. Not perfect, as beholden to $$ as every other politician is, but head and shoulders above the current leadership. I intend to do everything I can to support him. Even Andrew Sullivan has said he finds a Kerry-Edwards ticket to be attractive! I do too. (And I know you’ve said that can’t work, Conrad, but allow me my naive hopes — you just may end up surprised.)

February 10, 2004 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

I really don’t think it matters that Kerry doesn’t intend to decrease government spending. He can make all the promises he wants to and he will be able to follow through with very little. Divided government itself will put the breaks on spending. What we have now is a united Republican run government that knows no limit. Put a Democrat in the White House and Congress won’t be so willing to give the president what he wants.
As far as security is concerned, there is no doubt in my mind that a Democratic president will be a pro security president, especially with a Republican congress barking at his heels. Clinton walked into a completely different environment in 1993 than will be the case in 2005. Re-election in 2008 will require being successful in security matters.
Even if you disagree the Democratic candidate’s positions, pull the lever for the Democrat and call him Gridlock.

February 10, 2004 @ 2:35 pm | Comment


Why do you say Kerry is unreliable on security? Evidence? One assumes that Bush has done very well on national security by launching his Iraqi misadventure; one can never be more misguided than this. Let’s put the legality of war aside, but look at the way he plans for the occupation of Iraq. It is clear that he has no idea of how to deal with the situation because he never had proper plans in mind. All he and his war mongering aides know was to push the missile buttons but know nuts about a proper exit strategy. If he continues to be president, we will all be in peril, especially the lives of our army boys, who find themselves at the command of an extraordinarily naive Commander-in-chief and a trigger-happy Defense Secretary. We don’t want cowboys who run amok but competent statesmen who can protect us in the right sensible way to run America.

What makes you think that tax cuts are not the culprit of the historical high Federal deficit? In case you do not know, the corporate and income taxes that our dear president cuts form the main tax base of the Federal govt that no other duties and taxes can replace unless they are raised radically (which Thatcher tried to overcome by selling Britain’s family silver and invoking economically repressive Poll taxes) . In fact, O’Neill resigned simply because the Treasury has conducted an estimate that his tax cuts would cause deficits that nobody can overcome in decades unless they are watered-down. Bush tax cuts must be reversed or modified because they are the passports to widening income gap between the haves and have-nots. We do not want the return of unrestrained capitalism and rugged individualism that conservative dogmatism had brought us. I never trusted the GOP to run the country because of their track record in economic management (Great Depression, stock crash in 1987) which is as good as Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

Cheers to Kerry, the Savior who would deliver us from bad war planning and the fanatic guardians of conservative doctrinal purity with their garbage policies!

February 10, 2004 @ 6:28 pm | Comment

SP, I have neither the time nor the inclination to teach you basic economics, besides when you compare the US Depression to Mao’s Great Leap Foward, you prove yourself to be both an idiot and a moral gargolye.

February 11, 2004 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

In case you are too tired to read, i did not compare the Depression to Mao’s GLF and the people’s sufferings in them per se (see the point? too eager in labelling others without a cool head). If you are able to read between the lines, i am comparing the Republican’s record of economic management to be as garbage as that of the die-hard devotees of Marxism-Leninism beacause they are all too ideologically driven without reality in their mind. The Republicans have simplistic monetarist dogma and the fatalistic rugged individualism while the Maoists of course had their lethal utopian Maoism in mind. In both cases, their fanatical obssession of ideology brought their people disasters: Coolidge, Harding and Hoover with the Great Depression and “soup kitchens” while Mao that of millions of lives just that the former did not kill a significant number of people. But a similarity runs through for both the Republicans and the Maoists: they know nuts about economics and are dangerous rigid ideologues.

By the way, one does not need economics lesson from you because you did not prove yourself to be capable. If not, one’s arrogance would have generated an intelligent alternative to explain why we will have over $500b in red just right after the surplus years from Clinton rather than engaging in childish name calling which may be self-satisfying for some but definitely not for me.

February 12, 2004 @ 10:45 am | Comment

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