Andrew Sullivan — yes, I know, and I’ll get back to that in a moment — is live blogging the RNC for New York Magazine. His reaction on Day 2 to the Christie-led witch trial “lock her up” frenzy was as it should have been: it was vile and the mark of a neo-fascist campaign. That evoked a response from a reader Sullivan then posted to the blog, which argued, reasonably enough, that errors in office are not criminal offences. For example, that reader wrote and Sullivan published:
Politicians and presidents make serious ethical mistakes. Reagan/Bush 41 on Iran-Contra, Bush 43 on WMD intelligence/torture, Bill Clinton on perjury.
Iran -Contra: trading with a reviled adversary to fund an illegal covert war that killed thousands of the most vulnerable, least powerful people in our hemisphere.
WMD intelligence/torture: launch a war on false pretexts that left thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, many more wounded, millions displaced, an ongoing conflict that has spawned attacks on innocents all over the world, and that has led the United States government at its highest level to countenance war crimes.
Perjury: lying about a blow job.
That one could write that sentence without a hint of irony is a measure of the damage done to US politics by the Republican party made as far back as 1968 to put power at all costs before all else. That Andrew Sullivan could disseminate it without comment reminds us of his own Clinton Derangement Syndrome, and his unreliability as any kind of moral arbiter.
Sullivan is a clever man, a fast and fluid writer, and does get some things right; certainly, for all his CDS, he’s got no illusions about Trump as anything more than a Mussolini wannabe.
But for all that, he’s a terrible thinker. Through the live blog (I’ve gotten through day 1 and most of day 2 so far) he talks repeatedly about the GOP’s focus on feeling at the expense of facts and reason — and he’s right of course. But when the issue strikes one or another of his standing emotional chords, he’s no better. I hope tomorrow to have the time to write up his stuff on Black Lives Matter. It is everything you’d expect, and the current debacle turns on his unwillingness to do the intellectual work needed to test his own assumptions.
OK — it’s over to you, and back to the problem of figuring out 17th century share prices from one end of a coffee shop to another for me.
Images: Fra Angelico, The Massacre of the Innocents, 1450.
James Sowerby, Coloured Figures of English Fungi or Mushrooms, plate 43, 1798.
Ito Jakuchu, Elephant and Whale Screens, 1797.