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Andrew Sullivan
Born August 10, 1963 (1963-08-10) (age 46)
South Godstone, Surrey, England
Occupation author, activist
Spouse(s) Aaron Tone (m. 2007–present) «start: (2007)»"Marriage: Aaron Tone to Andrew Sullivan" Location: (linkback:

Andrew Michael Sullivan (born August 10, 1963) is an English author and political commentator, best known for his Daily Dish blog at The Atlantic.

Sullivan is a speaker at universities, colleges, and civic organizations in the United States. He is a guest on national news and political commentary television shows in the United States and Europe. Born and raised in England, he has lived in the United States since 1984 and currently resides in Washington, D.C. and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Sullivan is known for his distinctive personal-political identity. He is gay and a Roman Catholic,[1] and a non-U.S. citizen who focuses on American political life. He identifies himself as a political conservative.[citation needed]

Sullivan is sometimes considered a pioneer in political weblog journalism, since he was one of the first prominent political journalists in the United States to start his own personal blog. Sullivan wrote his blog for a year at Time Magazine, shifting on 1 February 2007 to The Atlantic, where it received approximately 40 million page views in the first year.[2][3] He is the former editor of The New Republic and the author of five books.



Sullivan was born in South Godstone, Surrey, England, to a Roman Catholic family of Irish descent,[4] and was brought up in the nearby town of East Grinstead, West Sussex. He was educated at Reigate Grammar School,[5] and then studied at Magdalen College, Oxford where he took a first class degree (B.A.) in modern history and modern languages.[6] In his second year he was elected president of the Oxford Union.

He went on to earn a Master in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, as well as a Ph.D. in government from Harvard, where he wrote his dissertation on the conservative British philosopher Michael Oakeshott. His adviser at Harvard University was the political philosopher Harvey Mansfield.

He was married on August 27, 2007 to his partner Aaron Tone in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Sullivan has often expressed his desire to become a U.S. cititzen, but was barred for many years from applying for citizenship on account of his HIV-positive status.[7][8] However, following the statutory and administrative repeals of the HIV immigration ban in 2008 and 2009, respectively, Sullivan announced his intention to begin the process of becoming a permanent U.S. resident and citizen.[9][10]

Sullivan's non-political interests include bicycling,[11] beagles,[12] South Park,[13] and the Pet Shop Boys.[14]


Sullivan describes himself as a libertarian conservative who has argued that the Republican Party has abandoned true conservative principles.[15] He views true conservatism as classical libertarian conservative, where economic control of a citizen's daily life by the government is very limited. However, this style of conservatism differs from classic libertarianism in that some governmental control or regulation is acceptable in order to preserve a functional society as it currently exists. Stances on social or cultural issues, under this style of conservatism, resemble the stances of classical libertarianism or modern U.S. liberalism. While stances on foreign policy are more hawkish than classic libertarianism, this style of conservatism differs from current neo-conservatism and arguably more closely resembles U.S. liberalism from the early 1930s up until the late 1960s. In the foreign policy sphere, Sullivan's views have become somewhat less hawkish following the difficulties of the Iraq War.[citation needed]

Sullivan supported G.W. Bush in the 2000 election, calling Dick Cheney "sexy" on Real Time with Bill Maher.[16] In 2004, he gave a rather late endorsment to John Kerry, primarily as a vote against what he saw as severe problems with the Bush administration. In 2006, he supported the Democratic Party's takeover of Congress. His political philosophy includes a broad range of traditional conservative positions: He favors a flat tax, limited government, privatization of social security, and a strong military, and he opposes welfare state programs such as publicly-funded health care. However, on a number of controversial public issues, including same-sex marriage and capital punishment, he takes a position typically shared by those on the left of the U.S. political spectrum. His position on abortion is more mixed; saying that he personally finds it immoral and favors overturning Roe v. Wade, but he can accept legalized abortions in the first trimester. Sullivan endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic Nomination in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, and Rep. Ron Paul for the Republican nomination. On his blog, Sullivan has been highly favorable toward Obama, and has denounced McCain for running misleading campaign advertisements, and endorsed Obama for President on the eve of the election.[17]

In January 2009, Forbes magazine ranked Sullivan #19 on a list of "The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The U.S. Media." The magazine said that "he clings unconvincingly to the 'conservative' label even after his fervent endorsement of Obama. His advocacy for gay marriage rights … puts him at odds with many on the right." It stated that Sullivan tends to see issues through an ideological lens based on his homosexuality, and that determines his writing.[18] Sullivan rejected the label and responded that he did not fit the article's own criteria for a liberal, such as support for progressive taxation, universal healthcare, and support for the "war on terror." He concluded that Forbes considered him a liberal because he does not subscribe to the view of conservatism as a religious movement and because "the real truth is that many on the Republican right just read everything I write through an anti-gay prism, because their homophobia — benign or not-so-benign, conscious or unconscious — is so overwhelming it occludes any genuine assessment of a person's thoughts outside this fact. See how Forbes cannot even keep the word gay out of quote marks. Just imagine the same sentence with the word "Jewish" replacing the word gay. It tells you everything you need to know about the moral core of conservatism today. It's sad and will one day be seen as embarrassing."[19]

Professional work

In 1986, he began his career with The New Republic magazine, serving as its editor from 1991 to 1996.[6] In that position, he expanded the magazine from its traditional roots in political coverage to cultural politics and the issues around them. During this time, the magazine produced some groundbreaking journalism but courted several high-profile controversies.

In 1994, Sullivan decided to publish excerpts on race and intelligence from Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's controversial The Bell Curve, which argued that some of the measured difference in IQ scores between racially defined groups was the result of genetic inheritance. Almost the entire editorial staff of the magazine threatened to resign if material that they considered racist was published.[20] In order to appease them, Sullivan included lengthy rebuttals from 19 writers and contributors. Sullivan has continued to speak approvingly of the research and arguments presented in The Bell Curve: "the book... still holds up as one of the most insightful and careful of the last decade. The fact of human inequality and the subtle and complex differences between various manifestations of being human - gay, straight, male, female, black, Asian - is a subject worth exploring, period."[21]

Under Sullivan, the magazine hired Ruth Shalit and Stephen Glass. Shalit, hired in 1993, wrote articles which were later found to contain numerous instances of plagiarism, extensive factual inaccuracies and misleading/falsified quotations. Glass, hired in 1995 as an assistant to Sullivan, was later revealed to have engaged in widespread fabrication in his articles for the magazine (though he didn't write his first full story until after Sullivan's departure). Both writers were later fired from the magazine.

Sullivan wrote for The New York Times Magazine briefly. He left the magazine in 2002.[citation needed]

A self-identified member of the gay "bear community," in 2003 Sullivan wrote a whimsical and oft-cited Salon essay on the subject.[22]


Sullivan identifies himself as a faithful Catholic while disagreeing with some aspects of the Vatican's position. In Virtually Normal (ISBN 0-679-42382-6), he argues that the Bible forbids same-sex sexual activity only when it is linked to prostitution or pagan ritual. As of 2008, he has made joking remarks about his conversion to "Obamaism". During an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on September 19, 2008, Sullivan described himself as a "religious secularist", and challenged Maher on criticisms of religion and people of faith, saying, "To dismiss all religious people based on the actions of the most literalist dumb ones, I think is bigotry."

His views led him to have concerns about the election of Pope Benedict XVI. In Time Magazine for April 24, 2005 in an article entitled, "The Vicar of Orthodoxy,"[23] Sullivan stated his criticisms of the new pope. He expressed his view that the current pope is opposed to the modern world and women's rights, and deems gays and lesbians to be innately disposed to evil. He has, however, agreed with Benedict's assertion that reason is an integral element of faith.

Sullivan takes a moderate approach to religion; as such he vocally rejects fundamentalism of any kind, including both fundamentalist Christianity and Islam, and describes himself as a "dogged defender of pluralism and secularism". He defended religious moderates in a series of exchanges with atheist Sam Harris in which Harris maintained that religious moderates provide cover for fundamentalists and make it impossible for anyone to effectively oppose them.[24]

In a blog entry on 12 March 2009,[25] Sullivan summarised his faith journey to date in this way:

"Perhaps the institution dearest to me, the Catholic church, greeted the emergence of gay people in a way that never truly reflected the compassion of Jesus or the good faith arguments many of us offered as a way forward. This was sad to me, but not life-changing. I know the Holy Spirit takes time, as James Allison reminds us. But then came the sex abuse crisis. Like many others, the truth about the evil in the heart of the church, and the cooptation and enabling of that evil, and the refusal to take real responsibility for the evil, simply left me gasping for air. I realize now that my Catholic identity never recovered, even if my faith endures in a far more modest and difficult way."


In late 2000, Sullivan began his blog, The Daily Dish. In the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks, it became one of the most popular political blogs on the Internet. By the middle of 2003, it was receiving about 300,000 unique visits per month. Between starting his blog and ending his New Republic editorship, Sullivan wrote two works on homosexuality, arguing for its social acceptance on libertarian grounds. His writing appears in a number of widely-read publications. He currently serves as a columnist for The Sunday Times of London.

The core principles of Sullivan's blog have been the style of conservatism he views as traditional. This includes fiscal conservatism, limited government, and classic libertarianism on social issues. Sullivan opposes government involvement with respect to sexual and consensual matters between adults, such as the use of marijuana and prostitution. Sullivan believes recognition of same-sex marriage is a civil-rights issue but is willing to promote it on a state-by-state legislative federalism basis, rather than trying to judicially impose the change.[26] Most of Sullivan's disputes with other conservatives have been over social issues, such as these, and the handling of postwar Iraq.

Sullivan reluctantly decided to support John Kerry's presidential campaign, due to his dissatisfaction with the handling of the postwar situation in Iraq by the Bush administration, their views on gay rights, and their fiscal policy. Sullivan is a supporter of Arnold Schwarzenegger[27] and other like-minded Republicans. Sullivan has blogged sympathetically about Republican candidate Ron Paul, endorsing him for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.[28]

Sullivan gives out "awards" each year on various public statements that parody those of people the awards are named after. Throughout the year, "nominees" for these awards are mentioned in various blog posts. The readers of his blog vote the "winner" at the end of the year. These awards include:[29]

  • the Hugh Hewitt Award, introduced in June 2008 and named after a man Sullivan describes as an 'absurd partisan fanatic', is for the most egregious attempts to label 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as un-American, alien, treasonous, and far out of the mainstream of American life and politics.
  • the John Derbyshire Award is for egregious and outlandish comments on gays, women, and minorities.
  • the Paul Begala Award is for extreme liberal hyperbole.
  • the Michelle Malkin Award is named after blogger Michelle Malkin. It is for shrill, hyperbolic, divisive and intemperate right-wing rhetoric. (Ann Coulter is ineligible for this award so that, in Sullivan's own words, "Other people will have a chance.")
  • the Michael Moore Award is named after film-maker Michael Moore. It is for divisive, bitter and intemperate left-wing rhetoric.
  • the Matt Yglesias Award is for writers, politicians, columnists or pundits who actually criticize their own side, make enemies among political allies, and generally risk something for the sake of saying what they believe.
  • the "Poseur Alert" is awarded for passages of prose that stand out for pretension, vanity and really bad writing designed to look like profundity.
  • the "Von Hoffman Award" is for stunningly wrong cultural, political and social predictions.

In February 2005, Sullivan decided to go on "hiatus for a few months" after nearly five years of continuous blogging.[30] By this time his blog was receiving over 50,000 visitors a day and was among the most linked-to blogs in the world. Sullivan planned to work on a book, do some traveling, and focus on other projects. His plan was to return to blogging "full steam" in roughly nine months. In response to readers who asked whether his continuing blogging meant that he had given up on his "hiatus," he wrote:

In deference to my relationship (and my sanity), I'm not blogging in the early hours any more… I blog when I feel like it… The pressure to promise something every day first thing no longer haunts me… But I'm making progress on the book and writing longer stuff. It's all about balance, no?[31]

He attributes his ability to "blog, write my usual columns and work on my book" simultaneously to an increase in energy after being fitted with a CPAP machine to help him sleep.[32] This has allowed him to return to blogging full time. His blog has remained very popular since then.

In February 2007, Sullivan took his blog from Time to the Atlantic Monthly magazine, where he had accepted an editorial post. Since then, his presence has increased traffic by 30% for Atlantic's website.[33]

In 2009, The Daily Dish won The 2008 Weblog Award for Best Blog.[34]

Same-sex marriage

In the late 1980s, apparently prior to his coming out, Sullivan wrote an article in the New Republic criticizing mainstream advertising for becoming "infected" with "homosexual erotica" and, in an obvious AIDS reference stated that this, "AIDS virus once restricted to high risk now breaking out into the general circulation" [After The Ball. 1990. pg. 25 - 26]. In spite of these comments, Sullivan has largely supported a classical liberal definition of LGBT rights, which he articulated in his book Virtually Normal.

In the book, Sullivan examines and proceeds to criticize mainstream liberal, conservative, as well the "prohibitionist" (far right) and "liberationist" (far left) political views on homosexuality. He argues for a policy that supports privacy rights and equal government treatment, but does not support private sector anti-discrimination laws. While Sullivan does not identify it as such, it is very similar to the Libertarian perspectives on LGBT rights.[citation needed]

The classical liberal, possible conservative-libertarian, tone of the book, prompted Michael Warner, a Yale University English professor to write The Trouble With Normal, which argued that Sullivan's desire to normalize gay men and lesbians through marriage was a dangerous move that would leave those individuals—straight, gay, or otherwise—who did not want to marry without appropriate governmental and societal respect or protection.

Sullivan has been very critical of civil unions, which he has dubbed "marriage lite." He has argued that civil unions will only serve to weaken the unique status of marriage, both for gays and lesbians and heterosexuals.

In the 2004 election, Sullivan criticized the Republican Party for what he saw as political exploitation of a despised minority:

I've been trying to think of what to say about what appears to be the enormous success the Republicans had in using gay couples' rights to gain critical votes in key states. In eight more states now, gay couples have no relationship rights at all. Their legal ability to visit a spouse in hospital, to pass on property, to have legal protections for their children has been gutted. If you are a gay couple living in Alabama, you know one thing: your family has no standing under the law; and it can and will be violated by strangers. I'm not surprised by this. When you put a tiny and despised minority up for a popular vote, the minority usually loses.[35]

While he has long advocated same-sex marriage, Sullivan has drawn criticism for his 2006 dismissal of monogamy[36][37][38]

For me the interesting point came when Dan and I agreed that moderate hypocrisy—especially in marriages—is often the best policy. Momogamy (sic) is very hard for men, straight or gay, and if one partner falters occasionally (and I don't mean regularly), sometimes discretion is perfectly acceptable. You could see Jong bridle at the thought of such dishonesty. But I think the post-seventies generation—those of us who grew up while our parents were having a sexual revolution—both appreciate the gains for sexual and emotional freedom, while being a little more aware of their potential hazards.[39]

On 27 August 2007, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Sullivan married Aaron Tone (born 1975),[1] an artist and actor whom he had been dating for three years.[40][41][42]

On other LGBT rights issues he has opposed all hate crime laws, arguing that they undermine freedom of speech and equal protection.[43] He has opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, arguing that it will, "not make much of a difference" and stated that the "gay rights establishment" was wrong to oppose a version of the bill that did not include gender identity.[44]

War on terror

Sullivan strongly supported the decision to go to war in Iraq, and was initially hawkish in the war on terror, arguing that weakness would embolden terrorists. In an October 14, 2001, posting Sullivan announced that recent anthrax attacks had sealed his support for war on Iraq, including the possible use of nuclear weaponry by the United States.

However, Sullivan harshly criticized the Bush administration for its prosecution of the wars, especially regarding the numbers of troops, protection of munitions, and treatment of prisoners. Sullivan strongly opposes the use of torture against detainees in U.S. custody and has had heated disputes with Heather MacDonald[45] and fellow British-American John Derbyshire, among others, on that issue. Though Sullivan believes that enemy combatants in the war on terror should not be given status as prisoners of war because "terrorists are not soldiers,"[46] he believes that the U.S. government must abide by the rules of war—in particular, Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions—when dealing with such detainees.[47]

In recent times, Andrew Sullivan has changed his position on the Iraq war and described it as a mistake. On the October 27, 2006 edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, he described conservatives and Republicans who refused to admit they had been wrong to support the Iraq War as "cowards." On February 26, 2008 he wrote on his blog: "After 9/11, I was clearly blinded by fear of al Qaeda and deluded by the overwhelming military superiority of the US and the ease of democratic transitions in Eastern Europe into thinking we could simply fight our way to victory against Islamist terror. I wasn't alone. But I was surely wrong."[48]

Sullivan authored an opinion piece featured as the cover article of the October 2009 edition of The Atlantic magazine ("Dear President Bush"). This piece called upon former President Bush to take personal responsibility for the incidents and practices of torture that occurred during his administration as part of the "War on Terror".

On Israel and "Neoconservatism"

In February 2009, Sullivan wrote that he could no longer take neoconservatism seriously:[49]

The closer you examine it, the clearer it is that neoconservatism, in large part, is simply about enabling the most irredentist elements in Israel and sustaining a permanent war against anyone or any country who disagrees with the Israeli right. That's the conclusion I've been forced to these last few years. And to insist that America adopt exactly the same constant-war-as-survival that Israelis have been slowly forced into... But America is not Israel. And once that distinction is made, much of the neoconservative ideology collapses.

In January 2010, Sullivan blogged that he is "moving toward" the idea that the U.S. should use its military and NATO to impose a two state solution. He commented, "I’m sick of having a great power like the US being dictated to".[50] His post was criticized by Noah Pollak of Commentary, who referred to it as "crazy", "heady stuff" based on "hubris".[51]

Disputes with conservatives and media figures

Sullivan has caused controversy for his views and his strident attacks against conservatives. He did not support the re-election of George W. Bush and has repeatedly suggested that much of the Republican Party has abandoned its conservative principles and has stated that much of the party has been co-opted either by those he refers to as Christianists or, at other times, by a "Cult of Bush." In one recent post he described the ideology of many Republicans as "Christianist socialism".[52]

In three days, he wrote in three different places that "[c]onservatism is a philosophy without a party in America any more. It has been hijacked by zealots and statists",[53] that "[w]e're getting to the point when conservatism has become a political philosophy that believes that government—at the most distant level—has the right to intervene in almost anything to achieve the right solution. Today's conservatism is becoming yesterday's liberalism",[54] and that "the only real difference between the Democrats and Republicans at this point is that the Democrats believe in big, solvent government and the Republicans believe in an even bigger, insolvent government."[55]

He has been particularly critical of some conservatives' defense of the administration's actions involved in the Abu Ghraib and other prison scandals. Sullivan criticized Glenn Reynolds, NRO, Ramesh Ponnuru, and other conservative groups for not speaking out on the issue more quickly and more forcefully. Sullivan was especially critical of Power Line, Michelle Malkin, Jeff Goldstein, and John Derbyshire—whom he has accused of active support of such tactics. Sullivan accuses Power Line and Hugh Hewitt of completely partisan and unconditional support for the Republican Party (which has hurt conservative principles). Sullivan frequently chides Slate blogger Mickey Kaus for his perceived anti-homosexual bias.[citation needed]

In 2006 Sullivan expressed interest (at the suggestion of a reader) in creating a new award "honoring" Nancy Grace.[56] The Nancy Grace Award would be bestowed on those evincing "lack of grace and empathy," a "misplaced self-regard," "unflappable self-assurance that [the nominee's] outrage represents the true moral high ground on any issue," and a "nauseating level of absolutist self-righteousness on the part of the Nominee." Kaus suggested[57] that this description perfectly fit Sullivan himself; Sullivan hasn't mentioned the Grace Award since.

Though Sullivan was very strong in his praise of George W. Bush immediately after 9/11, he has recently called such views "stupid and premature" in retrospect. He has similarly since characterized the president as a "shallow, monstrous, weak, and petty man."[58] In response to suggestions by Sullivan that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld may have intentionally refused to support the Iraq War effort (during occupation), conservative blog Ace of Spades did a parody of Sullivan's Daily Dish site.[59]

Andrew Sullivan is especially critical of Mel Gibson, considering the actor to be a misogynist, homophobe, and anti-Semite. Sullivan was outspoken against The Passion of the Christ, believing it to be an anti-Semitic work that would inflame such prejudices, especially in the Arab world. Sullivan is critical of Gibson's conservative pre-Vatican II Catholic beliefs. Sullivan has argued that Gibson's statements during his July 2006 DUI arrest only confirm what he has been saying all along. Sullivan has been outspoken in attacking commentators on the right whom he contends are apologists for supporting Gibson after his arrest[60] and those whom he believes have not been forceful enough in condemning Gibson.[61]

War on Drugs

Sullivan has written blog entries criticizing the excesses of the War on Drugs. He argued that studies showed alcohol is more dangerous than cannabis, yet the former is legal and the latter is illegal.[62][63] He gave examples purporting to show that the government has used torture in the War on Drugs.[64] Regarding the cannabis prohibition, he wrote,

For my part, I find the attempt to ban any naturally growing plant to be an attack on reality, and a denial of some of the most basic freedoms. I guess that's why today's GOP is so in favor of it.[65]

On July 13, 2009, Sullivan was arrested within the Cape Cod National Seashore for possession of marijuana, but the case was dismissed the following month.[66] This has led to accusations of preferential treatment.[67]


One of the most common charges Sullivan addresses is that he is inconsistent, that his views on certain policies (such as the desirability of invading Iraq) and people (such as George W. Bush) change considerably over time. Sullivan defended, in 2005, his changing views as follows:

If you want to read a blog that will always take the position of the Bush administration on the war, there are plenty out there. Ditto if you want to read a relentlessly anti-Bush blog, like Kos. But this blog is a little different. It's an attempt to think out loud, which means there will be shifts over time in argument and emphasis. It may appear wishy-washy or excitable or whatever. But it's my best attempt to figure things out as I go along. If you don't like it, read someone else.... I try and read as much criticism of my fallible work as I can.[68]

Criticism over his consistency continued, and may even have become more pronounced, in 2008. Peers of his at The Atlantic took issue with his recent postings. Jeffrey Goldberg stated, "I wish Andrew would go back to bashing the Jew-baiters, rather than reveling in their smears."[69] Ross Douthat criticized Sullivan's relative positions on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and Sarah Palin's selection as the Republican nominee for vice-president, noting that Sullivan invoked feminism while discussing Clinton but avoided the topic when attacking Palin.[70]


Sullivan devoted a significant amount of blog space to covering the allegations of fraud and related protests after the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Francis Wilkinson of The Week stated that Sullivan’s “coverage—and that journalism term takes on new meaning here—of the uprising in Iran was nothing short of extraordinary. ‘Revolutionary’ might be a better word.”[71]

Sullivan was inspired by the Iranian people’s reactions to the election results and used his blog as a hub of information. He repeatedly spoke of the significance of the moment in history. Among them:

“This is an immense story of human freedom in a critical part of the world. After Obama's election, it is the biggest event in world history this year. And letting these courageous protestors know that we are with them is vital. Telling the world of their integrity and bravery against the thuggery of these theocratic despots is God's work. The blogosphere can lead the way, but the MSM is catching on.”[72]

Because of the media blackout in Iran, Iranian Twitter accounts were a large source of information. Sullivan frequently quoted and linked to Nico Pitney of The Huffington Post.[73]

Sarah Palin

Sullivan has been a vocal critic of former Alaska governor and possible 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin since John McCain named her as his running mate in 2008. During an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on September 18, 2008, Sullivan called Palin's nomination "a joke and a farce" and "something that should be dismissed out of hand as the most irresponsible act any candidate has ever made in the history of this country." He frequently referred to her candidacy as a farce and accused John McCain of poor judgment in his selection and his campaign of inadequate vetting of her.[74][75]

Sullivan contends that Palin is a habitual liar, which he has chronicled in a series entitled “The Odd Lies of Sarah Palin”. As of June 30, 2009, Sullivan’s claimed that his blog had refuted 29 public statements made by Palin. Of Sullivan’s perceived “odd lies” of Palin, he states on his blog:

“But I did learn of several new odd lies - in the same classic pattern of categorically denying things that are categorically and patently and verifiably true. This is not, as this blog noted in the campaign, the typical political lie, the Clintonian parsing of truth or lying when the truth cannot easily be discovered. It is the statement that it is night when it is clearly, by universal aggreement[sic], three o'clock in the afternoon.”[75]


Advertisements soliciting unprotected sex

In May 2001, Village Voice columnist Michael Musto said that Sullivan had anonymously posted advertisements for bareback sex (anal sex without a condom) on America Online and the now-defunct website, despite being HIV positive.[76] Subsequently, the American journalist and activist Michelangelo Signorile wrote about the advertisement in a front-page article in the New York gay magazine LGNY, igniting a storm of controversy.[77] Later, in a defiant blog post titled Sexual McCarthyism: An article no-one should have to write, Sullivan confirmed the allegations, admitting he had posted the adverts, while nonetheless arguing that the matters covered by the controversy were private and should not have been put into the public domain by his critics.[78]

Sullivan's critics[77] argued that it was hypocritical of Sullivan to engage in this kind of sexual activity while arguing for greater monogamy among gay men. They claimed that the vision of gay sexuality presented in Sullivan's writing was at odds with his alleged activities. They charged that because Sullivan is HIV-positive, it was unsafe for him to engage in sex without a condom. Sullivan's critics[79] contended that it was unfair for Sullivan to criticize Bill Clinton's sexual indiscretions as "reckless" while engaging in unprotected sex.

Sullivan responded that his advertisement stated that he was HIV-positive and he intended to have bareback sex only with consenting adults who were HIV-positive. According to Sullivan, limiting unprotected sex to other HIV-positive men reduces the risk inherent in the behavior. Moreover, he criticized what he called a "thin reed of evidence" of the existence of "reinfection" which, according to some medical professionals, heightens the destruction caused by the virus.[80] Sullivan's supporters argued that it was a violation of his privacy to publish information about his sex life.[81] Sullivan argued that those who revealed the details about his sex life were motivated by a desire for payback because they disagreed with his pro-marriage politics .[78] In Sullivan's book Love Undetectable (pub. 1999), he wrote:

"Although I never publicly defended promiscuity, I never publicly attacked it. I attempted to avoid the subject, in part because I felt, and often still feel, unable to live up to the ideals I really hold."[82]

Palin pregnancy rumor

On August 31, 2008, Sullivan posted on his "Daily Dish" blog about a wide-spread rumor circulating on the Internet that Palin faked her fifth pregnancy, the baby was actually her daughter's, and that this was done for political gain.[83] Eventually, a photograph surfaced in which she appeared to be pregnant in the appropriate time period, though other photographs in the same time period show her as not visibly pregnant. After the photo became publicized, Sullivan admitted that she was most likely pregnant, but "not in the last year" (31 Aug/2008, the same day he cited his theory that various medical personnel conspired to hide the real mother of the child[citation needed]), and has continued with questions about whether she actually gave birth to Trig.[84]

Palin criticized Sullvian's theory that the pregnancy was faked in her book Going Rogue, referring to the idea as "loony". Sullivan then began repeatedly posting defenses of the theory on his blog.[citation needed] The Politico has called him "a man possessed" in his support for the theory, noting that over a two-day span, he made more than two dozen Palin-related posts on his blog.[85]

In a post on February 3, 2010, Sullivan referred to Trig Palin as "the child of miraculous provenance" and rhetorically asked whether it was not "perfectly possible" that Sarah Palin had him "Trig" to mock his medical condition, Down Syndrome, "Tri-g" being common medical slang for Trisomy G, another name for Down Syndrome.[86] According to New York Daily News, the name "Trig" "is Norse for 'true' or 'strength'".[87]

Bias accusations

On February 8, 2010, Leon Wieseltier wrote an article in The New Republic, where he suggested that his former friend and colleague Sullivan has a "venomous hostility toward Israel and Jews." He wrote that Sullivan is a "Buchanan of the left", whose thinking is "repugnant," and that "about the Jews" Sullivan is "either a bigot, or just moronically insensitive."[88] A number of commentators and bloggers voiced on the issue, including Jonathan Chait, Brad DeLong, David Frum, Glenn Greenwald, Ron Kampeas, Glenn Reynolds, and Matt Yglesias.[89] While many defended Sullivan, some at least partly supported the allegations. On the opposite sides of the spectrum, Joe Klein wrote that "[Wieseltier] owes Andrew an apology",[90] while Sullivan's colleague at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, wrote, "I agree with Andrew that he's not anti-Semitic," while going on to add that Sullivan's "analysis of the Middle East crisis is consistently and rather wildly one-sided."[91] In a "reply to Andrew Sullivan’s reply," Wieseltier writes that "I did not propose that [Sullivan] is an anti-Semite," and further expands on his accusations.[92]


Sullivan makes reference to his presidential endorsements. They are:

In the case of Kerry, he stated that his endorsement was primarily against Bush.

The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign considered Sullivan to be anti-Clinton. The Clinton campaign, according to Sullivan, went so far as to request that Sullivan's perspective be 'balanced' with pro-Clinton pundits on talk shows.[97]

"Obama is the future...the question for this country is if he is going to be the future in a couple of months or after a longer period of time."


  • Sullivan, Andrew (1995). Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-42382-6.
  • Sullivan, Andrew (1998). Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex and Survival. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-45119-6.
  • Sullivan, Andrew (2004). Same-Sex Marriage Pro & Con: A Reader. Vintage. ISBN 1400078660
  • Sullivan, Andrew (2006). The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-018877-4.
  • Sullivan, Andrew (2007). Intimations Pursued: The Voice of Practice in the Conversation of Michael Oakeshott. Imprint Academic. ISBN 978-0907845287

See also


  1. ^ Homosexuality in a Catholic Context, with Andrew Sullivan and David Morrison at Boston College, WGBH Forum.
  2. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, Andrew (1 February 2008). "The Dish At The Atlantic". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  4. ^ Raban, Jonathan (2007-04-12). "Cracks in the House of Rove: The Conservative Soul by Andrew Sullivan". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  5. ^ "Notable Past Pupils". The Old Reigatian Association, Foundation and Alumni Office, Reigate Grammar School. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  6. ^ a b "Andrew's Bio". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  7. ^ "Q&A with Andrew Sullivan (see 45:44 to 46:27)". 4, 2006. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  8. ^ Retrieved on 2009-05-25.
  9. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  10. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  11. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  12. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  13. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  14. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  15. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  16. ^ "Who's Getting Your Vote?". Reason. 2004-11. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  17. ^ "The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (November 03, 2008) - Barack Obama For President". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  18. ^ Varadarajan, Tunku; Elisabeth Eaves and Hana R. Alberts (2009-01-22). "The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The U.S. Media". Forbes. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Andrew Sullivan: Thinking. Out. Loud.". More Intelligent Spring 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  21. ^ "The Bell Curve revisited.". October 17, 2005. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  22. ^ " | I am bear, hear me roar!". 2003-08-01. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  23. ^ Andrew Sullivan (2005-04-24). "The Vicar of Orthodoxy - TIME Magazine". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  24. ^ "Is Religion 'Built Upon Lies'?". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  25. ^ Sullivan, Andrew (March 12, 2009). "Clinging To The Wreckage". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  26. ^ "The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper". 2004-06-24. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  27. ^ "Saturday, October 11, 2003". Archived from the original on 2003-10-15. 
  28. ^ "The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  29. ^ "The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan". 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ A Venerable Magazine Energizes Its Web Site - New York Times
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Monday, November 01, 2004". Archived from the original on 2004-11-01. 
  36. ^ Freedom's orphans By David Lewis Tubbs, pg 83
  37. ^ Stanley Kurtz on gay marriage
  38. ^ The New Gay Conservatives "Sullivan himself has been criticized by the neo-conservative William Bennett for advocating 'gay adultery'"
  39. ^ "The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  40. ^ "Independent Gay Forum - The Poltroon and the Groom". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  41. ^ My small gay wedding is finally here - help! | Andrew Sullivan - Times Online
  42. ^
  43. ^ "The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (May 03, 2007) - Hate Crimes and Double Standards". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  44. ^ "Andrew Sullivan Supports Barney Frank / Queerty". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  45. ^
  46. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2005-07-17. 
  47. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  48. ^ "The Daily Dish". 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  49. ^ Andrew Sullivan,"A False Premise", Sullivan's Daily Dish, February 5, 2009.
  50. ^ "Sick". January 6, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  51. ^ Noah Pollak (January 6, 2010). "Andrew Sullivan: It’s Time to Invade Israel". Commentary. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  52. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  53. ^ "THE CONSERVATIVE CRACK-UP II:". Archived from the original on 2005-03-24. 
  54. ^ "Tuesday, March 15, 2005". Archived from the original on 2005-03-16. 
  55. ^ "Comment: Andrew Sullivan: Bush's triumph conceals the great conservative crack-up - Sunday Times - Times Online". London:,,2088-1533089,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  56. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  57. ^ Kaus, Mickey (2006-09-16). "Move over, Lonelygirl ... - By Mickey Kaus - Slate Magazine". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  58. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  59. ^ "Ace of Spades HQ". 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  60. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  61. ^ "The Daily Dish". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  62. ^ Drugs and Toxicity Andrew Sullivan
  63. ^ Dangers of Drugs Andrew Sullivan
  64. ^ Torture and the War on Drugs
  65. ^ The Trouble With Pot Andrew Sullivan
  66. ^ Shea, Christopher (September 11, 2009). "Sullivan avoids pot charge; judge objects". The Boston Globe ( Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  67. ^ Salzman, Jonathan (September 12, 2009). "Dismissed marijuana charge raises judge’s ire". The Boston Globe ( Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
  68. ^ "RESPONDING TO CRITICS II:". July 9, 2005. Archived from the original on 2005-07-17. 
  69. ^ "Andrew and the Jew-Baiters - Jeffrey Goldberg". 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  70. ^ "All Class - Ross Douthat". 2008-08-30. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^ a b
  76. ^ "Andrew Sullivan, Overexposed". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  77. ^ a b " Politics | My story was ethical". 2001-06-05. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  78. ^ a b
  79. ^ " News | Andrew Sullivan's jihad". 2001-10-20. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  80. ^ "Beliefs About HIV Reinfection (Superinfection) and Sexual Behavior Among a Diverse Sample of HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex With Men". 2004-08-01. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  81. ^ " News | In defense of Andrew Sullivan". 2001-06-02. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  82. ^ Love Undectectable; Essay One: When Plagues End, page 53
  83. ^ When Palin was pregnant
  84. ^ "The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (September 01, 2008) - She Looks Pregnant Here". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  85. ^
  86. ^
  87. ^ Schapiro, Rich (August 31st 2008). "What's in the Palin children's names? Fish, for one". The New York Daily News. 
  88. ^ Leon Wieseltier, Something Much Darker. Andrew Sullivan has a serious problem, The New Republic, February 8, 2010.
  89. ^ 19 Pundits on the Sullivan-Wieseltier Debate, The Atlantic, February 11, 2010.
  90. ^ Joe Klein, Anti-Semitism, Again, Time Magazine, February 10, 2010.
  91. ^ Jeffrey Goldberg, Andrew Sullivan's Response, The Atlantic, February 10, 2010.
  92. ^ Leon Wieseltier, The Trouble with South Park, The New Republic, February 11, 2010.
  93. ^ Dear President Bush | By Andrew Sullivan
  94. ^ Ron Paul For The Republican Nomination | By Andrew Sullivan
  95. ^ Green, Joshua (2007-11-06). "Goodbye to All That: Why Obama Matters | By Andrew Sullivan". Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  96. ^ Barack Obama for President | By Andrew Sullivan
  97. ^ Post-Stephanopoulos Clinton Nugget

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

What modernity requires is not that you cease living according to your faith, but that you accept that others may differ and that therefore politics requires a form of discourse that is reasonable and accessible to believer and non-believer alike. This religious restraint in politics is critical to the maintenance of liberal democracy.

Andrew Michael Sullivan (born 1963-08-10) is a libertarian conservative author and political commentator. He is a former editor of The New Republic, author of three books and a pioneer in the field of blog journalism. Born and raised in England, he has resided in the United States since 1984.


  • Monsters remain human beings. In fact, to reduce them to a subhuman level is to exonerate them of their acts of terrorism and mass murder — just as animals are not deemed morally responsible for killing. Insisting on the humanity of terrorists is, in fact, critical to maintaining their profound responsibility for the evil they commit.
    And, if they are human, then they must necessarily not be treated in an inhuman fashion. You cannot lower the moral baseline of a terrorist to the subhuman without betraying a fundamental value. That is why the Geneva Conventions have a very basic ban on "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" — even when dealing with illegal combatants like terrorists. That is why the Declaration of Independence did not restrict its endorsement of freedom merely to those lucky enough to find themselves on U.S. soil — but extended it to all human beings, wherever they are in the world, simply because they are human.
  • Today's age of politicized and intolerant Christianism seems to me to be one of those moments when Christianity has estranged itself most thoroughly from the priorities and spirit of its founder. But this will pass. Christianity will survive Christianism. Some true followers of Jesus will recover their faith from Caesar's grip at some point.
  • First silence. Then denial. Then support of the insupportable. Then vilification of the dissenters. The pattern is as old as time.
  • Torture was necessary to maintain slavery. It was integral to slavery. You cannot have slavery without some torture or the threat of torture; and you cannot have torture without slavery. You cannot imprison a free man for ever unless you have broken him; and you can only forcibly break a man's soul by torturing it out of him. Slavery dehumanizes; torture dehumanizes in exactly the same way. The torture of human beings who have no freedom and no recourse to the courts is slavery.
  • In thinking about the costs of this war, and thinking about renewing it, we have to reconsider what it has done to America. It has turned the U.S. military into a force at ease with abuse of captives and civilians, occupying a Muslim nation. Some of this is surely due to the sheer hell of fighting an enemy you cannot see, surrounded by people you do not understand or trust, and being killed randomly in urban or desert insurgency conditions where friend and foe are close to indistinguishable, and where your buddies are killed on a regular basis by faceless cowards. You can certainly understand how soldiers grow completely numb in the face of abuse in those circumstances. Every "hajji" can seem like the enemy after a while. It requires men and women of almost saintly capabilities to keep their moral bearings among terrorists who massacre scores of innocents as a religious duty, among people whose differences are impossible for young troops to figure out in split-seconds. In such conditions, and as a consequences of grotesque under-manning, the breakdown in ethical discipline is no big surprise. But that doesn't make it any the less of a big deal.
  • At home, the public has come to accept torture as a legitimate instrument of government, something that the Founding Fathers would have been aghast at. We have come to accept that the president is not bound by habeas corpus, if he decides he isn't. He can sign laws and say they don't apply to him. We know that an American citizen can be detained for years without charges and tortured and abused — and then critical evidence of his torture will be "lost." We have come to accept our phones being tapped without a warrant and without our even knowing about it. These huge surrenders of liberty have occurred without much public outcry. When the next major terrorist attack comes, the question will simply be how much liberty Americans have left. That is a victory al Qaeda could not have achieved by force of arms. It is something they have achieved with our witting and conscious help.
    • "Re-Thinking The War II," The Daily Dish (2007-05-08)
  • There is no state more abject than the man broken on the waterboarding rack, or frozen to near death, or forced to stand for days on end, or hooded and strapped to shackles in a ceiling, or having his legs pulpified by repeated beating, or forced to eat pork and drink alcohol against religious strictures. Everything I have just described has been done by US forces under the command and direction of George W. Bush. They are all acts of absolute tyranny, conducted by people who at that moment are absolute tyrants.
  • A constitutional republic dedicated before everything to the protection of liberty cannot legalize torture and remain a constitutional republic. It imports into itself a tumor of pure tyranny. That tumor, we know from history, always always spreads, as it has spread in the US military these past shameful years. The fact that hefty proportions of US soldiers now support its use as a routine matter reveals how deep the rot has already gone. The fact that now a majority of Republican candidates proudly support such torture has rendered the GOP the party most inimical to liberty in America. When you combine torture's evil with the claims of the hard right that a president can ignore all laws and all treaties in wartime, and that "wartime" is now permanent, you have laid the ground for the abolition of the American experiment in self-government.
    • "Torture, Moral Vanity and Freedom", The Daily Dish (2007-05-17)
  • What al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein did was an extreme form of sadistic torture, the kind that psychopaths enjoy and inflict. But that does not make, say, freezing someone to near-death, reviving him, re-freezing him again any less torture. Yes, we did that, carefully monitored by Rumsfeld. It does not make the Khmer Rouge waterboarding technique any less torture. It does not make contorting a prisoner into an excruciating stress position and then smashing his head against the wall any less torture. We should not forget that there have been more than a hundred deaths in U.S.-run torture chambers under George W. Bush either.
    So I really don't get the point. Unless it is the following: If we are not as evil as al Qaeda, we are not torturing. This is logically and legally and morally a complete non-sequitur. And it is truly mind-boggling to believe that the arbiters of our moral compass are now the men who murdered 3000 innocents on 9/11. I don't know about you, but that's not the standard against which I believe America should judge herself. Or ever, ever has.
  • Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture — "enhanced interrogation techniques" — is a term originally coined enhanced interrogation techniques by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.
  • The decent people in this administration — mainly career military brass and Condi's circle — are finally pushing back against the war crimes of Cheney and Rumsfeld. But the Bush mojo is the same. They don't actually care about the effectiveness of their policies, just how they can be used as wedge issues. Last summer, Karl Rove was determined to use torture and Gitmo as his electoral path to retaining the Congress. He thought he could portray the Democrats as weak on terror. Of course, only cowards and failures use torture. And how many Democrats or Republicans could have made us more vulnerable to more terror than Bush has these past five years?
  • The occupation of Iraq is completely self-perpetuating: The worse things get the more we are obliged to stay. And the longer we stay the worse things get. Wonderful, no? Being trapped in Iraq, moreover, has clearly prevented us from tackling Iran with any traction. One argument commonly made for staying in Iraq makes no sense to me at all. It's McCain's "if we leave, they will follow us home." But if we stay, they can follow us home as well. And by staying, we have clearly created more of them to follow us. The second argument that fails to convince is that by leaving, we give al Qaeda a propaganda coup. Yes, we would, and it would be intellectually dishonest to deny that. Any argument for withdrawal needs to take that into account. But by staying and losing, we also give al Qaeda a propaganda coup. And by constantly giving al Qaeda an anti-imperial narrative, we also prevent Muslims and Arabs from recognizing them for what they are: not anti-imperial liberators but theo-fascists.
    It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that if we want to win this long war, we have to leave Iraq. Sooner rather than later.
  • We can and must deter terror; we can and must conduct surveillance; we can and must find terror cells and plotters; and we need to fight them aggressively in the battlefield abroad and prosecute them carefully under the law if they are citizens at home. But the zeal and arrogance of Bush and Cheney have done this at the expense of the heart and soul of Western jurisprudence and constitutional liberty. They must not get away with it. Our inheritance is too precious to squander in a fit of panic, sadism and hubris.
  • Previous war-presidents have gathered opponents into their cabinets, reached out to estranged former allies, engaged in aggressive diplomacy to maximize effectiveness and rallied the whole country for the fight. What does this one do? Gets a bunch of right-wing "journalists" into the White House to spread some partisan talking points. What a fucking disgrace this man and his journalistic lackeys are.
    Excuse my language. But I can't take this any longer. We're at war; and he's still playing Rove's game.
  • Any president can start a war, and use the chaos of disorder that such a war creates as an indefinite argument for prolonging it. It's a war that keeps on giving. Failure means it's even more necessary to keep failing.
  • The one thing we know about torture is that it was never designed in the first place to get at the actual truth of anything; it was designed in the darkest days of human history to produce false confessions in order to annihilate political and religious dissidents. And that is how it always works: it gets confessions regardless of their accuracy.
  • Torture gives false information. And the worst scenarios that tortured detainees coughed up — many of them completely innocent, remember — may well have come to fuel US national security policy. And of course they also fueled more torture. Because once you hear of the existential plots confessed by one tortured prisoner, you need to torture more prisoners to get at the real truth. We do not know what actual intelligence they were getting, and Cheney has ensured that we will never know. But it is perfectly conceivable that the torture regime — combined with panic and paranoia — created an imaginationland of untruth and half-truth that has guided US policy for this entire war. It may well have led to the president being informed of any number of plots that never existed, and any number of threats that are pure imagination. And once torture has entered the system, you can never find out the real truth. You are lost in a vortex of lies and fears. In this vortex, the actual threats that we face may well be overlooked or ignored, as we chase false leads and pursue non-existent WMDs.
    • "Imaginationland," The Daily Dish (2007-10-25)
  • That's what torture does: it creates a miasma of unknowing, about as dangerous a situation in wartime as one can imagine. This hideous fate was made possible by an inexperienced president with a fundamentalist psyche and a paranoid and power-hungry vice-president who decided to embrace "the dark side" almost as soon as the second tower fell, and who is still trying to avenge Nixon. Until they are both gone from office, we are in grave danger — the kind of danger that only torturers and fantasists and a security strategy based on coerced evidence can conjure up.
    • "Imaginationland," The Daily Dish (2007-10-25)
  • The United States has managed to go to war for two centuries without the president authorizing and monitoring the torture of prisoners. The Bush administration's legalization of torture and withdrawal from Geneva is unique in American history. Yes, wars will lead to individuals committing war crimes in the heat of battle. Yes, it carries a horrifying logic. But an advance, pre-meditated decision by the president to engage in war crimes is new and unprecedented. Bush really is uniquely awful as a president in this respect: an indefensible war criminal, who has permanently stained the country he represents and betrayed the soldiers who expect decency and lawfulness in their commander-in-chief.
  • If you suspend the Geneva Conventions, give the green light to anything that will get intelligence, round up thousands all over the globe with reckless disregard for guilt or innocence, you are effectively and knowingly issuing orders to seize innocent people and torture them. Any president who decides to do that and then says it was not his intention to do that is a fraud or a fool.
  • Is it not a rather fantastic historical irony that the torture techniques that the North Vietnamese used against McCain that forced him to offer a videotaped false confession... are now the techniques the Bush administration is using to gain "intelligence" about terror networks.
    How is it possible to know that everything John McCain once said on videotape for the enemy was false, because it was coerced, and yet assert that everything we torture out of terror suspects using exactly the same techniques, is true?
  • If the enemy tortures, it defines their moral evil and all intelligence gleaned from such coercion is self-evidently false propaganda. If we do it, it isn't wrong, and it leads to good intelligence.
    Got that? And these people have the gall to describe their ideological opponents as moral relativists.
    • "Bush, McCain, Torture," The Daily Dish (2008-07-02)
  • In the last few years, we have seen the executive branch declare itself outside the law — in prosecuting a war on terror. The law against torture has been suspended. The balance between the executive and legislative branch has been dismissed by signing statements and the theory of the unitary executive. The executive has declared its right to suspend habeas corpus indefinitely, to tap anyone's phones without court warrants and to detain and torture anyone it decides is an "enemy combatant." In that sense, we have already left the realm of constitutional government in favor of a protectorate outside the law promising to keep us safe (but never from itself).
    But this new move to create a de facto dictator for the financial markets, to invest a Treasury secretary with unprecedented powers to buy and sell at close to a trillion dollar level — with no oversight or accountability: this is a new collapse in democratic life and constitutional norms.
  • What modernity requires is not that you cease living according to your faith, but that you accept that others may differ and that therefore politics requires a form of discourse that is reasonable and accessible to believer and non-believer alike. This religious restraint in politics is critical to the maintenance of liberal democracy.
  • I like the pluralism of modernity; it doesn't threaten me or my faith. And if one's faith is dependent on being reinforced in every aspect of other people's lives, then it is a rather insecure faith, don't you think?
    • "Of Modern Faith," The Daily Dish (2008-12-14)

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