Sullivan Lets Loose

Two scathing pieces from Sully today. The first notes the stab-in-the-back rhetoric from the President:

To place all the troops into the position of favoring one strategy ahead of us rather than another, and to accuse political opponents of trying to “pull the rug out from under them,” is a, yes, fascistic tactic designed to corral political debate into only one possible patriotic course. It’s beneath a president to adopt this role, beneath him to coopt the armed services for partisan purposes. It should be possible for a president to make an impassioned case for continuing his own policy in Iraq, without accusing his critics of wanting to attack and betray the troops. But that would require class and confidence. The president has neither.

The second takes Kristol to task:

This is pure toxin. The truth, of course, is that this might conceivably apply to a fringe on the extreme left – but they never supported the war in the first place. Those of us who did and who have watched as the effort has been bungled morally, strategically and diplomatically to almost comic degrees, are guilty of a few things. We are guilty of accepting that there is no good, medium term end to this catastrophe; we are guilty of sticking to the basic premises of counter-insurgency warfare when judging how far the surge can go; we are guilty of tending to the very political benchmarks that Petraeus and every other sane observer has called the essential metric for judging the surge’s progress; we are guilty, unlike Kristol, of taking some moral responsibility for the carnage and evil our previous positions have helped unleash and, in the case of torture, actually imposed.

Maybe we’re wrong (we have been before).

Maybe a miracle is about to occur and ancient Shia-Sunni rifts are about to melt away. Maybe Maliki is a great man on the verge of a triumph. But we do not wish to hurt the troops; we do not want America to fail; we do not want terror to win. And we know that under this president, terrorists have won many victories, America has endured a profound, moral tarnishing, the military has been stressed beyond measure, thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, billions have been wasted, and Iraq is further away from some kind of normalcy than it was three years ago. In fact, Bush has presided over the creation of two new terror sanctuaries in five years: Iraq and Pakistan. And yet those who faced up to this these past few years are now the ones being called to account. Go figure.

The vileness and chutzpah of the current neocon right on the war are still somewhat staggering to me. I thought better of them. I really did. But this Weimar crapola is really depressing. I guess they have nowhere else to go.

I am firmly convinced it is only going to get worse from this administration and the nutjobs at the Weekly Standard. That is, unfortunately, a given, as we know how low they will go- as low as they possibly can. The only interesting question for me is how far will the lunatic fringe 28% crowd in the blogosphere go? How outrageous will the rhetoric have to get before the Malkins, the Hewitts, and all the rest of them say “Wait a minute- that crosses the line?”

I am betting they will never find a line they will not cross- this is not about Iraq or domestic politics anymore. This isn’t about the soldiers and it isn’t about the prospect of Democracy in Iraq. This is about being “right” in the face of evil leftists. This is about “winning.” This is not about what these policies and this vile rhetoric are doing to this nation and our standing- this is about saving face and their own personal stake in what they have attached themselves to in the course of achieving “victory.” My guess is Bush and his speechwriters and Kristol and those mutants at the Weekly Standard and other rags feel comfortable saying this stuff because they know that out there in the blogosphere and the world there are ample knuckledraggers willing and happy to cover for them.

Sadly, they are probably right. It doesn’t matter what type of filth you churn out- The Powerline will have your back. Remember- the Democrats are worse.






33 replies
  1. 1
    norbizness says:

    Hell hath no fury like an authoritarian (and author of “The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead — and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column”) scorned.

    But he’s right; it’s gone well beyond throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks… it’s now throwing shit for the hell of it.

  2. 2
    TenguPhule says:

    I am betting they will never find a line they will not cross- this is not about Iraq or domestic politics anymore.

    And you only figured this out now?

    Hell, most of us have long known or suspected that the 28% will only be satisfied when they have the ovens on and the ‘libs’ burning in them.

    And even then, that will only last until they start fighting over which of them will be tossed in next.

    Mark my words, they’ll be bloodshed before its all over.

  3. 3
    RandyH says:

    Of course the Right-blogosphere will support all of the rhetoric. That is their JOB. They are whores who are PAID money to catapult the propaganda. That is what they do. If any of them develop a conscience along the way and say “Enough!” they will be tossed aside, ridiculed by their peers and the checks will stop landing in their bank accounts. As long as the money keeps flowing from corporate-funded “foundations” the rhetoric will continue to be amplified and repeated. Period.

  4. 4
    Face says:

    This isn’t about the soldiers and it isn’t about the prospect of Democracy in Iraq. This is about being “right” in the face of evil leftists. This is about “winning.”

    It’s gone WAY past what’s “best for the country” and deep, deep into “what’s worst for the Democrats?”. On every policy. Of course, now, it’s become “what’s best to keep us out of jail?”

  5. 5
    Tim F. says:

    it’s now throwing shit for the hell of it.

    Not for the hell of it. They’re recapitulating the Weimar strategy to a T. Lose a war, demonize the opposition with stab-in-the-back nationalist propagandizing and abuse minority powers to destabilize the state and make it ungovernable by the majority party.

    My guess, the farther the GOP sinks in the minority the more strident it will get in fighting every conceivable act of government. The consent of the minority will disappear entirely, nothing will get done and the GOP will present themselves as the party that gets things done. All they need is a crippling depression, national insecurity (say, a broken military and resurgent terrorism) and a megalomaniacal, amoral leader to bring it from a loose analogy to something more like copyright infringement.

  6. 6
    Paul L. says:

    Same Sully who does not know the definition of civilian.

    Unreliable Narrator: Andrew Sullivan hosts a British video report that he says shows

    U.S soldiers watching as their Iraqi Army colleagues – Shia – brutally beat Sunni civilians to near-death, as U.S. soldiers hoop and holler in support.

    The video shows Iraqi troops beating three men who’d been caught with a bag full of mortars in their car. I don’t defend the beatings, which at least one American tries fecklessly to stop, but calling people captured with mortars “civilians” is a bit of a distortion, no? Nor do they appear to be beaten “to near death”–that’s just a Sullivanian embellishment.** Does he even watch the videos he hosts? …

    **–Nor can the Iraqi soldiers hear the Americans hooping and hollering in their vehicle many yards away–a non-trivial distinction, when you think about it. When I first read Sullivan’s description I thought the American’s were actually spurring the Iraqis on (as opposed to keeping their distance, doing nothing, and hooping amongst themselves, which may be bad enough). The one American who we’re told actually has contact with the Iraqis appears to be the one who tries to get them to stop.

    Update 1/27: Sullivan’s response–Civilians, insurgents. Unarmed, mortars. Minor details! (“The insurgents are civilians inasumuch as they are not in the Iraqi Army …” Huh?) I’ve missed the point:

    The whole point of the video and the posting, however, was that it illustrated how almost exclusively Shiite forces are … clearing Sunni neighborhoods, with tacit U.S. support.”

    or fabulist.

    But the argument I’m making would be the same even if Sullivan were right in his critique of what Hanson said years ago. Offering opinions and advice about the propriety of military policy, or suggestions as to how things might be improved — that is opinion.

    Far from offering opinion or advice, what Scott Beauchamp did was to give chilling and heinous factual accounts. It has become quite clear that the accounts were false. Hence the “fabulist” title has been bestowed on Beauchamp.

    To make it painfully clear, a “fabulist” is someone who makes things up! If I say that Hillary Clinton will beat Barack Obama and she does not (or offer a candidate advice that turns out to be ill-advised), I do not become a fabulist. However, if I said that during my drive to New Jersey today, I was pulled over and beaten by the police when I wasn’t, then I become a fabulist.

    I don’t think it should be necessary to spell this out in such exquisitely obvious detail.

  7. 7
    Dreggas says:

    My guess, the farther the GOP sinks in the minority the more strident it will get in fighting every conceivable act of government. The consent of the minority will disappear entirely, nothing will get done and the GOP will present themselves as the party that gets things done. All they need is a crippling depression, national insecurity (say, a broken military and resurgent terrorism) and a megalomaniacal, amoral leader to bring it from a loose analogy to something more like copyright infringement.

    And the bombing of capitol hill but of course there are enough loonies out there who’d do that if they could anyway.

  8. 8
    Jake says:

    Another excellent post John.

    this is not about Iraq or domestic politics anymore.

    And it never was. There’s a reason the pro-war/anti-everything else rhetoric has a familiar ring. Authoritarians have been saying the same thing since time immemorial and it is always, only, to get their way, or at least to support the biggest bully (so they can vicariously get their way).

    I’ll give the 28% enough credit to say they know, deep in their hearts, they have a better chance of being wiped out by a meteorite while their sitting in a bathtub whistling “Like a Virgin,” than ever comming with in 500 miles of a terrorist attack. Sure, maybe they bought the BS about WMDs in Iraq, but why are they silent on the fact that bin Laden is still at large? Why do they worry that “They Want 2 Kill Us?”

    Could it be they don’t care what is and isn’t true as long as they get to stand behind the guys who do whatever they want and smirk about it?

    Bush must be a near-fatal overdose of ego for the shmoe who has never had anything go his way. Here’s a guy, can’t get from one end of a sentence to another without mishap, and he tells the whole world what to do, especially those nasty libruls. So they will continue to support him because he makes them feel good about themselves (no matter how miserable their lives may be) and they’ll miss that when he’s gone.

  9. 9
    gex says:

    There will be no losing the 28%ers. These are people with an authoritarian psyche. The are the ones who WILL drink the Kool-Aid if asked.

  10. 10
    myiq2xu says:

    The Nazi propaganda machine was predicting victory right up until the bloody end.

  11. 11
    rawshark says:

    It ain’t about facts and never was. Its about restoring economic policies from before the New Deal. the 28% won’t ever stop supporting them because the right will aleways frame the issue in a way that ensures they support the right. Look at the republican primaries, the candidates are talking to the results of polling questions not the people.

  12. 12
    Tsulagi says:

    I am betting they will never find a line they will not cross- this is not about Iraq or domestic politics anymore. This isn’t about the soldiers and it isn’t about the prospect of Democracy in Iraq. This is about being “right” in the face of evil leftists. This is about “winning.”

    Exactly. Iraq is just a prop for them. A photo op stage to help their campaigns and stay in power. All it ever was.

  13. 13
    Davebo says:

    Shorter Paul L..

    Bbbbbbbbut look what I found. Look what he wrote in the past…..

    Yep, just tossing shit. Unable to refute a single point, he falls back on the tried and true exploit.

    Ironically, if I went by The Paul L rule I never would have read his comment.

  14. 14
    demimondian says:

    Paul L. quote…

    but calling people captured with mortars “civilians” is a bit of a distortion, no

    Well, actually, they might be. We honestly don’t know. That’s why we have this thing called “the rule of law”. It includes this quaint notion of bothering to find out things like that *before* you punish someone, rather than afterward.

    But, of course, the truth is that the Iraqis weren’t actually beating the insurgents. They were merely engaging in enhanced interrogation. Enhanced interrogation, torture, abuse…what’s the difference when -your diaper needs changing- you’re at war?

  15. 15
    myiq2xu says:

    Questions for Paul:

    If Scott Beauchamp claims to have seen things others truthfully tell him about but that he didn’t personally see, is he still a “fabulist?”

    What if he changes minor details but the stories are essentially true?

    BTW – Commenting is more fun when you express your own ideas, and don’t just block quote what others have already said.

  16. 16
    Tax Analyst says:

    BTW – Commenting is more fun when you express your own ideas, and don’t just block quote what others have already said.

    Wait…wouldn’t that require weighing and considering the ideas and then developing your own take on them? And then actually formulating a way to articulate them.

    I don’t think parrot evolution has reached that stage of development yet.

    BAAAAWWWKKK!

  17. 17
    Halffasthero says:

    myiq2xu Says:

    The Nazi propaganda machine was predicting victory right up until the bloody end.

    Touche’

    There will never be a concession of anything unless the US has fallen completely apart. And at that point, what difference will it make?

  18. 18
    sglover says:

    I’m with norbizness. Sullivan’s his usual slow-on-the-uptake self.

    Honestly, why the fuck do people quote Sullivan at all? There are lots of people who saw how Iraq was going to turn out from the start, who are better writers, and who aren’t hysterical, narcissistic assholes.

  19. 19
    Jimmmmm says:

    “Swuwwy” wanted the war. He branded its critics “fifth columnists.” He personally attacked me in an email, charging that, like many leftists, I preferrred Osama to Bush.

    This is his war as much as anybody elses. Reputation rehab efforts aside, Sully is a deeply unserious person. I think his accent is the only reason that some continue to listen to him.

  20. 20
    cleek says:

    Ironically, if I went by The Paul L rule I never would have read his comment.

    for that very reason, i didn’t read his comment. i saw “Paul L” at the top and said to myself “well, that’s gonna be a bunch of worm-ridden bullshit. let’s not bother.”

    so, i raise a glass to B.J.’s layout that puts the author’s name at the top of the comment.

  21. 21
    Brachiator says:

    Two scathing pieces from Sully today.

    Not too long ago Bush held an off-the-record meeting with various conservative commentators and talk radio hosts, supposedly to “share pro-Administration ideas.” I get the feeling that this recent … surge … in speechifying and commentary from Bush and his gaggle of volunteer political whores like Kristol, Victor David Hanson and others is part of a co-ordinated attempt to pre-empt any negative assessment in Petraeus’ upcoming report on Iraq by declaring right now that anything less than total support of Administration policy is the same thing as betrayal of the troops and the country.

    Honestly, why the fuck do people quote Sullivan at all? There are lots of people who saw how Iraq was going to turn out from the start, who are better writers, and who aren’t hysterical, narcissistic assholes.

    Does it really matter who might win an ideological Cassandra Award for earliest opposition to the war? This reminds me of those who obsess over Hillary Clinton’s refusal to apologize for her earlier support of the war, but whose implicit definition of being anti-war means “get America out and tough luck for whatever happens to Iraq and the rest of the region afterwards.” These people falsely parade their sensitivity and their pacifism, which is really little more than an infantile solipsism. Those who have had a change of heart about the war, no matter how craven their earlier support for Bush might have been, are necessary to any change from the current insane policy to something better.

  22. 22
    Dave says:

    I think some of this also has to do with the wingnuts and religious kooks not getting everything they were promised. They worked to get the fringe right elected, they did and they’ve had years unencumbered to push their agenda. However abortion is still legal, the bible is not the law of the land, etc and now they’ve lost the “permanent” majority they thought they had.

  23. 23
    DougJ says:

    The only interesting question for me is how far will the lunatic fringe 28% crowd in the blogosphere go?

    That’s an interesting question. But I also think the rightie bloggers get a bad rap: they’re only slightly, at most, more crazy than the Weekly Standard and portions of the New Republic (okay, I’m really just talking about Marty Peretz). I find it odd that when rightie bloggers advocate killing all the Sunnis in Iraq, we all get upset, but when Kristol or Podheretz does the same, we all shrug.

    Visibly unhinged rightie bloggers are now being held to higher standards than people who appear on tv regularly and have columns in Time and the Wall Street Journal.

    I’m not saying that’s wrong — most visibly unhinged rightie bloggers do seem less preternaturally murderous and fascistic than Kristol, Pertetz, et al. — but it does say a lot about our current media landscape.

  24. 24
    DougJ says:

    Speaking of the Weimar Republic, stab in the back stuff, George Will of all people writes about this today:

    Come September, America might slip closer toward a Weimar moment. It would be milder than the original but significantly disagreeable.

    After the First World War, politics in Germany’s new Weimar Republic were poisoned by the belief that the army had been poised for victory in 1918 and that one more surge could have turned the tide. Many Germans bitterly concluded that the political class, having lost its nerve and will to win, capitulated. The fact that fanciful analysis fed this rancor did not diminish its power.

    The Weimar Republic was fragile; America’s domestic tranquility is not. Still, remember the bitterness stirred by the accusatory question “Who lost China?” and corrosive suspicions that the fruits of victory in Europe had been squandered by Americans of bad character or bad motives at Yalta.

    Here’s another strange fact about our media landscape: “liberal” columnists never say things like this.

  25. 25
    sglover says:

    Does it really matter who might win an ideological Cassandra Award for earliest opposition to the war? This reminds me of those who obsess over Hillary Clinton’s refusal to apologize for her earlier support of the war, but whose implicit definition of being anti-war means “get America out and tough luck for whatever happens to Iraq and the rest of the region afterwards.” These people falsely parade their sensitivity and their pacifism, which is really little more than an infantile solipsism. Those who have had a change of heart about the war, no matter how craven their earlier support for Bush might have been, are necessary to any change from the current insane policy to something better.

    First, gotta love the “infantile solipsism” bit. There are some folks who fit your description, but you’re slurring many more. I’ll agree that, yes, on the whole it’s good when a war advocates notices external reality and comes around. But in general, sorry, for most people, favoring the war at any time reflects a serious cognitive flaw. I’d expect to see a little humility from such people.

    For Democratic politicians like Hillary (and Biden, and Kerry, etc.), it’s even worse, because it’s pretty clear that they voted for the war for no better reason than expedience. They don’t deserve a free pass for that. They seem to think they do, but they don’t.

    Finally, in the particular case of Sullivan, I think he’s an odious human being. As an earlier comment pointed out, he had the effrontery to call war opponents traitors — in a country where he’s a fucking guest. And for all his talk about having “learned” from his Iraq war enthusiasm, the last time I bothered looking at his site he was still pumping up hysteria about Iran. This is an exceedingly odd demonstration of “learning”.

  26. 26
    TR says:

    i didn’t read his comment. i saw “Paul L” at the top and said to myself “well, that’s gonna be a bunch of worm-ridden bullshit. let’s not bother.”

    Yep. Arguing with him is like arguing with a dog. A very retarded dog.

  27. 27
    Richard Bottoms says:

    >Remember- the Democrats are worse.

    Well, that’s what you used to believe. I am glad you’ve seen the light, but you already did the damage voting these assholes into the White House.

    Twice.

  28. 28
    John Rohan says:

    This is ridiculous. Sullivan is guilty of writing faster than he can think, and now he’s piling on the Hitler references thick. Bush never said we are being “stabbed in the back”.

    So now we can’t even have a legitimate debate about how the powerful political pressure to pull out of Iraq is affecting the war?

    Incidentally, the anti-war movement was a openly admitted cornerstone of North Vietnam’s strategy, so the comparison needs to be examined, and it is a real issue for this and for any future war. I discuss this and Sullivan’s article on my blog here.

  29. 29
    TenguPhule says:

    So now we can’t even have a legitimate debate about how the powerful political pressure to pull out of Iraq is affecting the war?

    Irony of the Day.

    Bush never said we are being “stabbed in the back”.

    Semantics. Bush has repeatedly implied the same thing by hiding like a little pussy behind ‘the troops’ every time ‘teh plan’ is questioned and any criticism is made.

    ‘It helps the enemy’ means the same thing using different words. Please stop trying to get into ‘what does “is” mean’ stupidity.

  30. 30
    TenguPhule says:

    Incidentally, the anti-war movement was a openly admitted cornerstone of North Vietnam’s strategy, so the comparison needs to be examined, and it is a real issue for this and for any future war.

    In that spirit, can we examine how the pro-war movement is a splinter arm of Al Queda and extract the confessions via extraordinary interrogation methods?

  31. 31
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    Why, yes, Mr. Rohan — Bush never said that war opponents are trying to “stab our troops in the back”; merely that they are trying to “pull the rug out from under our troops”. Clearly a major difference.

    And of course a debate over whether pressure to give up on a war prematurely can be destructive is valid — provided, of course, you also recognize the fact that the evidence was overwhelming in both Vietnam and Iraq that we were going to either lose, or achieve a disastrously Pyrrhic victory, even if we refused to withdraw.

  32. 32
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    By the way, Mr. Rohan: when you can find the time, I’m still waiting for any response from you to my latest comment in our exchange in Cole’s Aug. 20 “Screw ‘The War As We Saw it’ ” thread. (I’m especially interested because, at the time you broke off, you had just finished indicating that you actually agreed with my two central points.)

  33. 33

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