February 27, 2006
— Harry Callahan In case you missed it, Ramesh Ponnuru and Andrew Sullivan have had an increasingly (at least on Sullivan's part) bitchy series of exchanges today. Just reading Ramesh Ponnuru's side of things (at NRO's Corner is increasingly hilarious. Just start there and scroll down.)
In the interests of reading them in their proper chronology, let me quote them in their increasingly annoyed order:
ANDREW SULLIVAN CAN'T READ, CH. 815 [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Sullivan says that I did not "point to a single inaccuracy or example of unfairness" in my post on him yesterday. Indeed, I'm now supposedly "smear[ing]" our poor martyr Sullivan. Inaccuracy: Sullivan claimed that Robert P. George "sees no moral difference" between abortion and the murder of an adult. That's not true, and I provided evidence that it's not true.
Unfairness: First, misstating George's views is itself unfair.
Second, Sullivan insinuated, though with a plausible deniability that he is now attempting to exploit, that George has no objection to killing abortionists. This deniability is, however, growing more implausible. I quoted a speech in which George said that pro-lifers should love and pray, ungrudgingly and without cease, for abortionists. Sullivan, absurdly, refuses to acknowledge that these comments amounted to a disavowal of violence against abortionists. Sullivan is holding on to his cheap insinuation for dear life.
Third: Sullivan suggests that it's frightening for the president to associate with someone who holds George's allegedly extreme views on abortion. The views to which Sullivan points are George's alleged inability to see any differences between abortion and the murder of an adult, and his alleged nonchalance toward the murder of abortionists. Since both views are not in truth George's, suggesting that it is not respectable to associate with George because of them is unfair.
It is altogether typical of Sullivan's debating style to attempt to change the subject to an irrelevancy: George's views about masturbation, of all things. What George is getting at is that we do not need to posit a "right" to masturbation to have good reasons for the government not to concern itself with it: not that you'd have any idea of that from Sullivan's description.
I'm not totally sure whether Sullivan's habitual inability to present his opponents' views correctly is a result of malicious lying, indifference to the truth, incompetence in figuring out the truth, or some combination of these things. Readers need not know the answer to that question to conclude that he is untrustworthy. Posted at 12:26 PM
HAT TIP [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I neglected to say that I found Sullivan's comment via a post on The American Interest's blog. (I don't agree with everything in that post: the bit about Sullivan's not living up to his "usual intellectual caliber" strikes me as misdirected charity. I used to make that kind of mistake about Sullivan myself.)
Posted at 01:05 PM
SULLIVAN AGAIN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
His latest bit of bad faith can be found here. For the record: (1) The First Things essay to which I linked yesterday goes through several moral distinctions that separate abortion from the murder of an adult, as any fair-minded reader will see. (2) I have never said (and do not believe) "that the government has in principle an obligation and right to police the private sexual lives of all its citizens to prevent them from sliding into 'immorality'"--that's pure invention on Sullivan's part. (3) I have already come out against the South Dakota bill, which is the latest irrelevancy Sullivan is using to distract attention from his record of misrepresentation.
Posted at 03:55 PM
SO NOW [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Andrew Sullivan is maintaining that I favor laws against masturbation. It doesnt matter that I have never said a word in favor of such laws. (I havent heard this much about masturbation since that Seinfeld episode.) It doesnt matter that I say Im against them: I must be lying, he says. And he calls me hysterical. Sullivan is justly fond of Oakeshotts metaphor of conversation as the essence of conservatism. But this sort of thing is why conversation with him is pointless. (Also: Sullivan has a second-hand report that one of Robert Georges colleagues once looked at him sideways! Call out the Guard!) I have another writing project to work on tonight. Tomorrow Ill try to elaborate on one or two actually interesting points raised during this discussion, with as little attention to Sullivans accumulating lies and misunderstandings as possible.
Posted at 08:52 PM
Remember when we actually thought of Sullivan as a political writer worth listening to? I'm filled with gob-smacking heartache at the overwrought hack he hath become, although I think I'd recover if I could roll in enough crazy blog-money from Time Inc. (or at least from a good bandwith fundraiser).
Posted by: El Ricko at February 27, 2006 06:08 PM (Wyzm3)
The Udolpho blogger guy thinks Sullivan's unstable emotions stems from his use of steroids.
Posted by: Moonbat_One at February 27, 2006 06:17 PM (K8mdh)
There is no music more beautiful than that which arrives at agreeable ears.
Now that he's tuned his songs for a different set of sensibilities he's become a "hack". Perhaps he always was?
Posted by: Enas Yorl at February 27, 2006 06:28 PM (5wPX8)
If I find myself with a bunch of free time, maybe I'll try reading through his archives. I'm curious whether it's just that he's on the wrong side now, or whether he really did change. I suspect the latter, though.
Posted by: sandy burger at February 27, 2006 06:33 PM (NA4RK)
Sometimes Bush makes it easy for Sullivan to take shots... other times Sullivan has to work harder (you think Sullivan, prior to Bush coming out against gay marriage, would have cared if we were beating up on a few terrorists?).
So I'm not sure that Sullivan really has an axe to grind with Robert George and isn't just looking for something else to manufacture into an axe to wield against Bush.
Posted by: steve sturm at February 27, 2006 06:34 PM (XBWtm)
Posted by: DDG at February 27, 2006 06:44 PM (/3kwi)
Posted by: Gordo at February 27, 2006 06:50 PM (7c1Se)
This is true, but the thing is, did Sullivan honestly think that there was a possibility that Bush was going to come out in favor of homosexual marriage? I mean, come on, what kind of rosypants la-la land does he live in if he is going to think that? Even back then we knew enough about George W. Bush to know that for him to come out in favor would be a big load of wishful thinking. I think Sullivan just stuck his fingers in his ears while screaming "la la la I can't hear you" and basically deluded himself.
Posted by: OregonMuse at February 27, 2006 08:42 PM (we8HZ)
Posted by: geoff at February 27, 2006 11:32 PM (vpYuK)
Friend, you are a bright guy with a wife and some butiful (filter made me spell it funny) kids, what the fuck are you doing at this site at all hours of the night. Leave this shit to me and the rest of the alcoholic loners/losers. I say this with all repsect, go make love to your wife, have an intense make out session. The fools here are insignificant compared to the important stuff in your life.
Posted by: steve_in_h at February 28, 2006 01:45 AM (spTw1)
I forget. Is St. Andrew still on his break or not? Can we hold a fundraiser to help him take a permanent break.
Posted by: Steve L. at February 28, 2006 02:55 AM (hpZf2)
HE'S THE PONNURU, BITCH!
Dave at Garfield Ridge
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