I think Andrew Sullivan is one of the best political bloggers around; and he’s most certainly one of the very most influential and important to ever work primarily in the medium. Part of what makes him such an interesting and consistently compelling read, however, is also what makes him, at times, aggravating in the extreme — his rather unvarnished humanity. The way he puts himself out there, ticks, neuroses, obsessions, flaws, warts, prejudices, biases and all, is admirable. For one, who among us can honestly say we’re better any better, right? For another, it takes a real bravery (alongside more than a little narcissism) to expose oneself so wholly and unabashedly in such a definitionally public forum. So, in total, I tip my hat to the guy — who has been kind enough to link to me a few times and, whenever I correspond with him via e-mail has always been extremely kind and gracious — and wish him no ill.
The fact is that he still can really get on a reader’s nerves, most especially when he’s defending himself (implicitly or explicitly) against criticism for his past sins. And most of those sins, or at least most of the ones anyone cares about, occurred during his tenure as editor of The New Republic. There were a few things he did in that period that I, personally, and in hindsight, would say were ill-advised; but I don’t think any of them remain as controversial and catalytic as his decision to give prominence and implicit approval to Charles Murray’s infamous The Bell Curve. On that front, Sullivan has recently found himself once again embroiled in a defense of his fascination with race-IQ “science” — and it’s going about as well this time as it does any other, i.e., poorly. To read a smart and fair criticism, check out this Ta-Nehisi Coates post.
If you want to simply laugh at some well executed (and, characteristically, less than fair) snark and ridicule, though, you can’t do better than this Gawker post, “A Reader’s Guide to Andrew Sullivan’s Defense of Race Science”:
Sullivan writes: “No, not ‘only for Africans’. The differential between Caucasians and Asians – or between Ashkenazi and Sephardim Jews – is also striking in the data.”
Translation: “How can I possibly be racist if I’m saying that Asians and Jews are more cunning than white people?”
That’s my favorite bit, but the whole thing is pretty good.