The Moral Thing to Do Is To Go Into Combat Unarmed

And now here is Sullivan making no damned sense again:

Nyhan goes after the Democrats for baseless attacks against the US Chamber of Commerce. It is very depressing to see them descend to this kind of stuff. What they need are not tactics and resentment, which is what we’re seeing. What we need is a narrative of recovery and reform from Obama. He has the record, and he has made a couple of great speeches. But this distracts.

The Chamber of Commerce is spending 100 million dollars this election, who knows how much of it from foreign funding because they refuse to say, all of it to attack Democrats. And in Sully’s world, it is the Democrats to blame for pointing this out. “Ignore those attacks, Obama! Be above it all!”

Richar Cohen, is that you? Way to elevate concern trolling to an art form, Andrew.

Why is it that Democrats aren’t “allowed” to fight back? Why do our media elites like Andrew think this way?

Fox News spews lies non-stop for years, and the press corps gets the vapors when Gibbs points it out. The Chamber of Commerce is spending millions lying and fear-mongering, but if the Democrats point it out, Andrew gets a sad face. It is just baffling how the rules are different for the Democrats, and it is just ingrained for these guys.

*** Update ***

BTW- Rachel Maddow dropped the hammer on Andrew’s conventional wisdom on this issue tonight. Video when it is available.

62 replies
  1. 1

    Andrew has been doing penances at Our Lady of High Broderism, apparently.

  2. 2
    Bullsmith says:

    Democrats who attack are discredited, much like Republicans who don’t attack. Our media masters tell us it must be so.

  3. 3
    El Cid says:

    Attacks on the Chamber of Commerce aren’t “baseless”, unless you’re a lazy over-emoting shit like Sullivan who not only doesn’t know if there is a factual record of the history of its lobbying and propagandizing and particular legislative and political involvement, he doesn’t even conceive that there might be one.

    After all, if at every single moment we don’t know what the Business Roundtable (or in its day, say, the Tobacco Institute) was doing, any argument about their detrimental role in politics and governance is obviously baseless and conspiracy-minded.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    General Stuck says:

    We keep telling you Andrew is a wingnut, but you won’t listen.

    And I am so glad that Obama and his kapos are taking this to the plutocrats without apology, though I am sure some precious libtards will get cold feets for being unpresidential. Ram Citizens United down the pieholes of these creeps and don’t let up til the flopping around stops.

  6. 6
    Napoleon says:

    Sullivan is a joke.

  7. 7
    danimal says:

    The media elites don’t understand the problem (that the truth is obscured by the GOP-just pick an issue), so they think the solution of presenting issues through the lens of Truth favors Democrats. Since the consider themselves non-partisan, they don’t tell the truth. Bastards.

  8. 8
    bozack says:

    The Chamber of Commerce is truly a force for evil– not at all a force for business, just simply a force for evil.

    Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has a well-developed talent for self-promotion. He makes a point of being the last person on any stage, and he leaves no detail to chance. The Chamber’s event staff is famously fastidious: one of Donohue’s parties involved corralling a Clydesdale horse into the Chamber’s lobby. Such grandiosity is of a piece with how Donohue treats his station. He travels in a chauffeured Lincoln and a leased jet, and his salary, $3.7 million last year, makes him the sixth highest paid lobbyist in the country.
    This requires funding, which Donohue secures with exceptional skill. Among his office decorations is a desk plaque that reads, “SHOW ME THE MONEY.” “He used to pound his fist on the desk and say, ‘Show me the money!’” a former Chamber lobbyist recalls. “He got his rocks off on it.”
    He leads fund-raising seminars. The same lobbyist recounted what he learned. “Donohue said, first, you walk into the room with the CEO and you hit the key issues,” said the lobbyist. “Then you sit in closer to them. And you make ‘the ask.’ You look right into their eyes and say, ‘As a result of what the Chamber is doing for your industry, I need a hundred thousand dollars.’ Or, ‘I need a million dollars.’ And then you smile and you shut your mouth. Your instinct is to start talking because you’re nervous. Don’t. Just smile and stare. And wait.” The lobbyist, who’d been trained well by Donohue, leaned forward and stared at me as I sat listening. I became nervous. I shifted in my chair. I started laughing, then stopped. He just stared. After a long pause he leaned back and said, “I tell you, there were people in that room who pissed in their pants.”
    The ask works. In 2009 the Chamber doled out somewhere in the area of $120 million on lobbying alone, five times what its nearest cohort, Exxon Mobil, spent. Much of that money went to an advertising and grassroots blitz attacking the congressional health care legislation, making the Chamber very likely the biggest spender in the debate. In the weeks leading up to health care’s passage in March, it was spending $800,000 a day trying to defeat the Democratic legislation. Livid that the law went through, the Chamber has now pledged to funnel $50 million—more than twice as much as the entire cash holdings of the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee put together (as of late May)—into an estimated forty House races and ten Senate races this fall. About eight of every ten dollars of Chamber political donations go to Republicans.”

  9. 9
    Napoleon says:

    PS, the only thing I respect the Reps for is their understanding how completely clueless the pundits are and how they ignore them because of it. It has really benefited them.

  10. 10
    jl says:

    I do recall what was supposed to be a significant scandal over the Democratic Party accepting donations that may have been laundered, from Chinese contributers. This was back in the Clinton years, and during Algorisfat’s campaign.

    Anyone remember that?

    Now that, my friends, was a serious scandal. Might be very big trouble for the Democrats with patriotic US citizens.

    I heard the meritricious (but courtly and gracious) Schieffer ask a Democrat this Sunday about this year’s Republican version with “I mean, is that all you got?”

    Well, times change, don’t they?

    Wonder what the difference is? I guess Gulf Oil Sheiks are honorary US citizens. Or our politcal, coporate and media overlords feel more empathy with them, or just more comfy?

  11. 11
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:


    Anyone remember that?

    God, yes. Tim Russert thought it was the greatest national crisis since Nullification, or at least since Fellation.

  12. 12
    Michael says:

    Annoying as it is to defend Sully, he’s right in this case. Voters don’t care about and don’t want to hear whining about funding sources for political attack ads. Half of them don’t even know what the Chamber of Commerce is, or think for one second about who pays for the political ads they see on TV.

    Republicans are nailing Dems to the wall over the economy (irony of ironies, because they crashed it).

    And we’re trying to complain that the hammer and nails are foreign made.

    It absolutely sucks. Failure to pass DISCLOSE this year, while we have big majorities, was the single worst legislative defeat this cycle.

  13. 13
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    Democrats are only worthwhile if they stay above the fray and remain true to their ideals. Of course, then they are spineless, elitists who don’t care about you. As long as the pundit class is happy…

  14. 14
    Ailuridae says:

    There is a separate issue here which is that “there is only one pile” of money for the Chamber of Commerce, and nearly any business or any individual. Pretending you have a US donations pile that you use to influence House and Senate elections and then a separate pile from foreign companies that you use on political issues like passing CAFTA is, simply, irrational.

  15. 15
    Cat Lady says:


    Was that the scandal where Al Gore used the wrong phone? The Wrong Phone. If he’d dressed like a Nazi he would’ve been a two term president.

  16. 16

    Sullivan and his Atlantic bosses certainly made a wise choice when they decided his blog should not be open for comments.

  17. 17
    jl says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Of course, the supposed (and I think in one or two cases confirmed) Chinese contributers were relatively grubby middling rich businesspeople.

    This Arab Money! Which has international finance, mega wealth and pizazz about it. This is a better class of foreign subversion.

    Fancy Oil Sheiks? Gulf Coast tea! Oil, that is.

  18. 18
    jl says:

    @Cat Lady: I don’t think so. That was the use of official public office to grub for money Algorisfat scandal.

  19. 19
    Barb (formerly gex) says:

    IOKIYAR. I didn’t even think this was notable anymore.

  20. 20
    Bender says:

    The Chamber of Commerce is spending 100 million dollars this election, who knows how much of it from foreign funding because they refuse to say, all of it to attack Democrats.

    Of course, that is not true. The CoC nonsensically donates to several pro-ObamaCare, pro-Cap-n-Tax Democrats (like Frank Kratovil, D/MD-1, who’s up against doctor/Navy vet/free-market GOP candidate Andy Harris).

    They’ve just recently pumped in $2M for Democrat ads (for Georgia’s Jim Marshall, Virginia’s Glenn Nye, Kratovil, Mississippi’s Travis W. Childers and Alabama’s Bobby Bright and others) to defeat Republicans.

    WITH FOREIGN MONEY! Well, prove it’s NOT foreign!

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:


    Voters don’t care about and don’t want to hear whining about funding sources for political attack ads.

    No? Then why do right-wingers whine about (alleged) Chinese donations to Bill Clinton to this day, 12 years later?

    It was an extremely successful meme for them and hurt Gore quite a bit in 2000. I’m not sure why we’re not supposed to point out the hypocrisy of the Republicans on this issue, except maybe that it’s not polite.

  22. 22
    Mnemosyne says:


    Who else thinks Bender spent at least six months spluttering about Chinese! Donations! Gore! Phone calls! Buddhist temples!

    But, suddenly, when it’s his side being flooded with foreign money, having the Chinese buy your candidates doesn’t look so bad, does it?

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    Fuck Sullivan.

    What about this do you not understand?

  24. 24
    Bender says:

    But, suddenly, when it’s his side being flooded with foreign money,

    Look, even CBS, CNN and the NYT find this “flooded with foreign money” meme laughable. As the exasperated longtime lefty Bob Scheiffer put it, “Is this the best you’ve got?”

  25. 25
    Restrung says:

    Occasionally, a Todd Rundgren tune says it all. It even has Nazis.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:


    Gosh, the right-wing media finds the meme laughable? Well, that sure proves … something.

  27. 27
    Alwhite says:

    why does anyone read this moron? seriously, there is no reason to view his work as much more than an educated kornfederate wankee.

  28. 28
    El Cid says:

    Longtime lefty Bob Schieffer? Did he used to be part of the Weather Underground too?

  29. 29
    Mike in NC says:

    longtime lefty Bob Scheiffer

    Ah, yes. Would that be the same Bob Scheiffer, lifelong Republican from Texas, who was cozy golfing buddy with George W. Bush, and whose brother got business favors from the Bush White House? The guy who almost cried on TV whenever people failed to show enough love for John McCain?

    Or maybe that’s a different Bob Scheiffer?

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bender: And that is the best you’ve got? Sad, really.

  31. 31
    Lolis says:

    Hear, hear.

  32. 32


    Look, even CBS, CNN and the NYT find this “flooded with foreign money” meme laughable.

    Even CBS, CNN and the NYT?

    You’re not from around here, are ya?

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mike in NC:

    To be fair, Bender thinks that everyone who appears on teevee is a flaming lie-bural. So there’s that.

  34. 34
    joe from Lowell says:

    exasperated longtime lefty Bob Scheiffer


    No…really? Cuz that’s just funny.

  35. 35
    tbogg says:

    As a rule, citing Brendan Nyhan is the equivalent of paraphrasing Liberal Fascism. Nyhan is every bit as willfully obtuse as Jonah Goldberg and has been from his Spinsanity days.

  36. 36
    joe from Lowell says:

    Why is it that Democrats aren’t “allowed” to fight back? Why do our media elites like Andrew think this way?

    Because they’re criticizing the legitimacy of people paying enormous amounts of money to media outlets in an effort to influence politics.

    What do you think the people who run the General Dynamics and Fidelity ads during breaks in their political chat shows are going to think about that basic proposition?

  37. 37
    cleek says:


  38. 38
    Gregory says:


    I do recall what was supposed to be a significant scandal over the Democratic Party accepting donations that may have been laundered, from Chinese contributers.

    I remember when Nixon having a slush fund of secret cash contributions was part of the Watergate scandal.

  39. 39
    morzer says:

    Andrew Sullivan is a manic-depressive schizophrenic with alarming obsessive tendencies and increasingly infrequent lucid intervals. As for the slobberfest by carefully selected “old comrades” over his ten years of self-promoting delusionality… let’s just say that even Glenn Beck might have found it a little de trop.

  40. 40
    kindness says:

    I was listening to NPR on my way home this afternoon & they brought the guy from Politifact on asking him if Obama’s statement that the Chamber of Commerce is using foreign funds to pay for attack ads against Democrats.
    Well the guy goes on about it being ‘half truth’ and NPR did grill the guy but he kept to politifacts ‘ruling’ and I just didn’t get it. He admitted the Chamber takes their foreign funds and puts it in the same account as all their other money. He admit this is the same fund the Chamber pays for their attack ads with but when NPR asks how he can say the Chamber isn’t mixing the money, he said the Chamber claims to have ‘a system’ in place where the money won’t mix. NPR got him to say the Chamber won’t tell anyone their ‘system’ but based on the Chamber’s statement, Politifact has decreed it’s Obama that is telling a lie and the Chamber is OK.

    OK, so the Chamber is a lobbying organization, lobbying organizations lie for a living & yet this ‘neutral fact checking organization’ gives the Chamber a pass.

    Like I said, I just don’t get it.

  41. 41
    El Cid says:

    Remember, to conservatives, the notion of journalism itself is liberal, because in its basic philosophy it’s supposed to involve observing and finding actual facts and then writing about those things sanely.

    Journalism in the conservative view is PR for the conservative cause, and this is why Colbert joked that ‘facts have a liberal bias’ and when he tore the hell out of Emperor Bush Jr. to his face and the press corps simultaneously…

    But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down.
    Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @kindness: Sounds like commingling of funds.

  43. 43
    El Cid says:

    @kindness: Look, just because I get funds deposited into my bank account by the mob doesn’t mean that when I use that account to pay my bills that I’m using mob funds to pay my bills.

  44. 44
    John O says:


    I might disagree with the specific diagnosis, and agree that Andrew is a little more crazy than most, but he’s a damn good writer and I can’t help but visit his damn blog daily.

    It is an excellent version of civil discourse; personal, passionate, intelligent, thoughtful and respectful. Interesting and fun more often than not, too. He’s unafraid, having faced death a little bit more personally than most of us, and persuadable. This one is probably the only blog I visit more consistently.

    Andrew makes me hopeless and furious from time to time for being so fundamentally dysfunctional (my definition being partly made up of voluntarily belonging to Clubs that don’t want you) yet famous and rich, and I disagree with him much as John described yesterday or so, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think he’s good.

    And an OK human, too.

  45. 45
    Steve says:

    He just called Bob Schieffer a lefty? Seriously? What a fool.

  46. 46

    @Napoleon: The pundits aren’t clueless. They are like well trained dogs. They know what to do for their corporate overlords(ie. support the Pukes).

  47. 47
    morzer says:

    @John O:

    I disagree. Sullivan is a decent writer, but as a human being he is not to be trusted. One day he’ll talk about civility, the next day he’ll stick the rhetorical shiv in as deep as he can.

  48. 48
    Barb (formerly gex) says:

    I know the true reason many keep reading Andrew. For all the rationalizations we have, it’s just intermittent positive reinforcement. The frequency with which he blogs is like the loosest slot machine on the planet.

  49. 49
    John O says:


    Fair enough. I don’t consider “rhetorical” shivs to be any big deal except in terms of hurt fee-fees, about which I don’t give a crap. In fact, I like them.

    At least he posts dissent.

  50. 50
    piratedan says:

    well naturally this comes down to morals and ethics right?

    After all, we can trust the right to take the moral high ground after the examples that were made for them by McCarthy, Nixon, Ensign, Coburn, Sandford, Vitter et al…

    To be honest, I understand that people are sometimes less than truthful, faithful, ethical from time to time depending upon personal needs and demons, I really wish the tha Republicans weren’t so damn sanctimonious about it and simply come out and say…. “we’re backing the rich guys, we’re sellouts, come onboard, maybe there’s room for you on the party boat”.

    Everyday it seems like it all comes back to Meatballs, we’re Camp Northstar and they’re Camp Mohawk.

  51. 51
    Barb (formerly gex) says:

    @morzer: You’re just a Fifth Columnist.

  52. 52
    kindness says:

    @El Cid: It just seems like they are saying they are only a little bit pregnant, that’s all.

  53. 53
    Lesley says:

    If Sullivan is encouraging Obama to be the Jesus and turn the other cheek, I can only assume he thinks the Republican smear/hate campaign is Satan.

  54. 54
    ronathan richardson says:

    How naive. Yes, some lovely “narrative of recovery and reform” will convince people to vote democrat…bs. People are mad right now, and want to hear negative, angry rhetoric. I mean seriously, barely 45% of the country supported a FinReg bill that was full of no-brainers just because it felt better to yell about the government endlessly bailing out it’s wall street cronies. People want angry, people want negative.

  55. 55
    Sly says:

    Because they have a “system,” Republican money is magically non-fungible.

  56. 56
    daveNYC says:

    @El Cid: Yep, and my tax dollars only go towards education and unicorns.

  57. 57
    rikyrah says:

    Maddow has been on the money

  58. 58
    Emma says:

    I keep telling you people. Sullivan is an overeducated, monstrously self-centered professional prig with religious issues. To paraphrase TNH, just because you’re on his side it doesn’t mean he is on your side. Capisce?

  59. 59
    Joe Buck says:

    The right will keep doing this as long as Democrats keep falling for it. If Republicans tell Democrats that the same tactics that Republicans have long used are unethical if Democrats are tempted to try them, Democrats will agree, because many of them care about looking good and about the process than delivering actual results.

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    Consider this a vote for letting the other side have Sullivan back.

    He’s too smarmy too often, especially for someone who’s been really wrong about a lot of things (The Bell Curve, “the fifth column,” Iraq, Afghanistan; his Saletan-esque misogyny on abortion and indifference to personal sexual responsibility would be part 2 of the shit-list) and right about two main things (torture, gay marriage), one of which didn’t even require him to imagine what it’s like to be someone else.

    To paraphrase a Seinfeld reference, I’m still suspicious he converted to continue taking potshots at us.

  61. 61
    snarkypsice says:


    I absolutely agree with you. Sullivan isn’t concern trolling – he’s expressing a valid concern that the Demos look like a bunch of whiners when people want them to look like leaders.

    I disagree with his conclusion that Obama should come out and talk about deficits – how the hell will that help create jobs? But I do think people are way past hearing complaints about the political process and just want to hear someone in Washington talking to them about their real concerns.

  62. 62
    gil mann says:

    Brendan Nyhan? The guy with all the keen political instincts of Howard Fineman but none of the take-no-prisoners pugnacity?

Comments are closed.