Andrew Sullivan seems increasingly unhinged these days. The creepy, Torquemada-like obsession with Sarah Palin continues as he rummages through her book in a deranged act of explication de texte, functions as a one man birther movement laying out loony speculations about the owners of the canals out of which Trig and Tripp emerged, and continues to worship the sleazy dudeitude of Levi Johnson.
Meanwhile, Sullivan slavishly justifies Obama on every count, including his administration’s sneaky efforts to smuggle “progressives” into policy-making positions under the radar of Congressional scrutiny. Recently it was support for his appointment of Hannah Rosenthal as head of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti Semitism. Because she seems to share some part of his own fanged venom for Israel, Sullivan sees her as a Promethean truth-teller being shut down by what his soul mate Pat Buchanan once called “the amen corner.” After my old friend Ron Radosh rightly criticized her for attacking Israel’s U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren as a result of critical remarks he made about the egregious organization J Street, Sullivan hit him as a “neo con likudnik.” But when Sullivan tuned in to his own esteemed Atlantic colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for an opinion, Goldberg instead confirmed Radosh’s position, indicating that he was absolutely baffled that Rosenthal should make someone like Oren the first target of what is supposed to be a campaign against anti Semitism. (Doesn’t she find a crusade worth undertaking in the way that the new addiction to Jew hatred has migrated from the Middle East to Europe and is presently getting established in our own country, where people like Sullivan can experiment with Walt-Mearshemerism as a no fault gateway drug?)
Even when Sullivan is good he’s bad. Today he gives good coverage to cell phone images of the bloody street action in Teheran. (And indeed, he has been good on Iran in all the months since the election was stolen.) But even here, his pro-Obama contextualizing of events neutralizes his support of the protesters. What moral does he draw from their incredible bravery in defying the regime’s street thug murderers? That the world is lucky to have “Obama’s reticence” at this critical moment because by not criticizing the obscene Iranian regime, our President “removes from Ahmadinejad the convenient weapon of demonizing the protests as pawns of the Great Satan.”
Take a moment to get this straight: it’s a good thing we have a president who, to keep himself pure for that ultimate negotiation on nukes that will never come, refrains from using some of that synthetic eloquence of his to put us on the side of people who are getting cut down in the streets. By such scurvy logic, it was wrong of Ronald Reagan to go to Moscow and speak to and about the dissidents and their heroic struggle against totalitarianism because it might have given ammunition to wardens of the gulag. And wrong to have been unequivocally on the side of Solidarity and so on.
Word smuggled out of Tehran has told us that the protesters themselves would like a little U.S. affirmation so they won’t feel they are dying in the dark. And the citizens of our own country could certainly use the reassurance about the values we stand for, via a word or two in behalf of the demonstrators, especially after being subjected to a punishing year- long Presidential apology tour bringing American exceptionalism down and then kicking it. But from Obama we only get beseeching admonitions that are far too little and always too late and always undermined by the reluctance with which they are delivered.
This has become a vain, small-minded and morally anemic presidency that only someone like Andrew Sullivan could love.