A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Friday, September 16, 2005

There once was a time. . .

. . .when I was an avid reader of Andrew Sullivan's. While I disagreed with him roughly half the time, I always found his writing provocative and his thinking to be clear and well-reasoned. While I took issue with many of his positions (gay marriage, John Kerry, Rumsfeld), I made his blog a near-daily read for years. That ended with Hurricane Katrina.

When Katrina had finally passed, leaving so much destruction and suffering in her wake, the pictures of the aftermath flooded television screens around the world. The Europeans laced their coverage with schadenfreude, while the American media sought out every image of human tragedy it could find. It was only a matter of minutes before media figures started rending their garments, bewailing the misery of the people of New Orleans, and looking for someone to blame it on. In the case of Andrew Sullivan, there was only one man to blame, and it was the same man who seems to get blamed for just about everything else that doesn't look good on television.

It seems the excitable journalist was driven to apoplexy at the magnitude of the disaster and the apparent sloth of the President's reaction to it. Never stopping to question whether there was much that the President could have done in the early stages to have prevented the "as many as 10,000 deaths," Andrew immediately set about ticking off a list of complaints, using each as a demonstration of the supposed incompetence he's witnessed in the administration since roughly two hours after John Kerry clinched the Democratic nomination. While it was always a mystery to me just where he found any competence in John Kerry, I always assumed he was an honest broker of opinion, acting on principle, conscience and reason (however skewed).

I don't know whether Andrew's stance has changed with the falling death toll and the emergence of new facts from New Orleans, since I've been actively avoiding his blog since September 4. But, whether or not he has modified his position is of little importance. After all, if he has taken some of the edge off his unremitting criticism, it means he's demonstrated the excitability that others have noted in him by leaping at the first opportunity to lambaste the administration for the worst possible sin -- allowing thousands to die unnecessarily. If he hasn't moderated his tone, well, that's just an indication of intransigence -- something that was hinted at in his continued support for John Kerry and hostility toward the Swift Boat Vets despite all the evidence pointing toward the Swifties' veracity. (To date, Kerry has produced absolutely nothing that would indicate that they're lying.)

I'm not the sort of conservative who likes to go around calling for boycotts on anything that bears a whiff of liberalism or hostility toward the President and his administration. I can make up my own mind on whether or not to buy a Dixie Chicks CD without being organized, given a picket sign and told where to stand for maximum effect. Outward expressions of indignation have always struck me as pretty hollow at best, and duplicitous at worst, in cases where there's a completely different agenda afoot. I tend to prefer one-man boycotts, without all the fanfare and accessories. I simply say to myself, "You know, as much as I used to like the Dixie Chicks, I just can't see myself handing over my cash to them after they've insulted me." I wouldn't tip an insulting bartender, so why should I tip an insulting band?

So, I'm not going to try and make the case that conservatives who still read and support Andrew Sullivan's blog are somehow selling out the conservative cause. His opinions probably still hold some value with a lot of conservatives of good conscience, and not a few libertarians (to the extent that there are more than a few). It's just that I can't reconcile spending the time it takes each day to read opnions that are so obviously formed in seething contempt, and shaped by the emotion of the moment.

Of course, that's one of the hazards of blogging. In the urgency to provide content, sometimes deliberation gets prioritized downward. It's understandable, and perfectly human. But, when I hear and think of the division in our country, I can't help thinking that Andrew's Hurricane Katrina analysis was a fine example of just why that division is so stark and persistent. And, much like people who organize boycotts and demonstrate in the streets, there's not much reason to listen to Andrew when you know what he's going to say before you even click the link. Why does it seem that it's always the people creating the divisions who decry them most loudly?

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