October 29, 2004

Sully's Endorsement

FYI, I hope to throw my two cents in and post reaction to his endorsement tonight [Don't you have better things to do on a Friday night? Er, not from my present island-bound, undisclosed location folks.] So...check back tonight if able. Oh, I should add--if any of you have strong views why Sullivan got it wrong (or right!) feel free to comment below. While I've already formed some pretty strong views re: the substance of his endorsement (and just need some time to write them up)--your comments could make my job easier or, even better, provide insights I hadn't thought of before. So comments welcome.

UPDATE: UBL and a deadline on another matter kept me from getting this done last night. Today, unfortunately, I board a series of marathon flights getting me from the Carribbean to Yerevan, Armenia-- where I'll be for a week working on behalf of a philanthropic concern I'm involved with. That means the electoral going-ons will be followed by B.D. from a rather distant vantage point. Still, I'll have late night Internet access and CNN. Blogging will continue--if at odd hours. I sincerely hope we'll have a clear winner by my Weds noonish (I'll be 9 hours ahead). Back soon.

Posted by Gregory at October 29, 2004 02:06 PM


Sully is a one-trick pony. His falling out came over the proposed gay marriage amendment and spills out into all other matters of lesser import to him.

I seriously question whether or not Sully has ever been a Bush or Rep proponent, given his predisposition on essential values issues. His leap of faith about Kerry and national security is incredible. A quick review of records, Bush vis-a-vis Kerry, on national security is both readily assessible and conclusive.

Posted by: Captain America at October 29, 2004 04:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'd place Sullivan as "classical liberal" (i.e. NOT what is usually meant by liberal in the US these days).
I think he has grounds to be upset at Bush on that basis, over policy: protectionism, deficits, subsidies, spending, disregard of church/state separation, etc.
And execution in Iraq run-up diplomacy and occupation.

Fair enough.

But lets face it, Sullivan's ire has mainly been stoked by the FMA business; and never mind it was never going to pass.
It seems he is more rationalising a passionate desire to vote against Bush than making a convincing case for Kerry.

If it were CERTAIN that Kerry (and key elements of his support in a Kerry executive, congress, media, party) were to act as Sullivan hopes, this would be fine. I'd support it myself.
But it seems to me a bet at too long odds and far too high stakes for me not to balk.

If Kerry wins, I'll be wearing out the worry beads praying that events will let Sullivan, and those who think likewise, mock my folly and timorousness.

Posted by: John F at October 29, 2004 04:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sullivan's reasoning that electing Kerry will be therapeutic for the Democratic Party marks the crest of a wave that's been building since Vietnam: that America is all-powerful, endlessly rich, capable of ruling the world with a perfect balance of might and compassion, and that if we falter in any small way, "deserves" what we get.

In 1972 less than 20% of the electorate bought McGovern's pacifist stance, now at least half the country enthusiastically embraces a man who has consistently sided with our enemies (but that was because those wars were imperfect!) and promises surrender in Iraq. We can just modify a few internals, and voila, it's back to the '90s! We're better than all this antedeluvian war stuff! The narcissism is staggering.

If Sullivan's man wins, I hope the blood and pain that will accompany the Dems' internal intellectual struggle will be worth it.

Posted by: Patricia at October 29, 2004 04:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm prepared to take Sullivan at his word, that he finds Bush to be militarily and and fiscally inept. I have the same problems with Bush's handling of the war, and his loose handling of the budget.

What I find most striking about his "endorsement" of Kerry (perhaps better described as a call for Bush's impeachment), is that he makes the case for Bush quite nicely. He compliments his tax cuts and strength in the face of terror, and contrasts this to Kerry, whose Senate record "is undistinguished, and where it stands out, mainly regrettable."

I personally think the election comes down to this: Does one believe it's more important to put the US above the UN, and treat terrorism as a warlike threat, or more important to punish Bush for his errors, assuming anyone in office would naturally do everything possible to effectively protect the American people, no matter what precise approach they preferred.

Given my understanding of Jimmy Carter's four years in office, and my clear understanding of John Kerry's worldview, I'm more fearful of an era of American abnegation than one of American recklessness.

But not much. Perhaps it is the lesser of two evils we're choosing. The best we can hope for is that Bush will correct his errors in fiscal and military judgment during his second term.

Posted by: Hovig at October 29, 2004 05:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, I'd point to my rants posted below to give my insight (for what it's worth) into Andrew Sullivan's shock endorsement. In essence, he and the Economist editors and Dan Drezner and the others who clamored for the Iraq invasion in 2003 put a lot on the line: they run in left liberal circles, and when the occupation didn't immediately create the milk and honey they expected and predicted, they were embarrassed and thrashed about for someone else to blame. (Ironic, isn't it, that these guys were in part responsible for persuading so many people -- like myself -- to sign up for the Iraq adventure, and now that it's become hard work, they say it's all BUSH's fault and disclaim any personal responsibility. And they think Bush doesn't admit mistakes?)

The war planners got a lot right and they got a lot wrong. That's not a bug surprise: It's a WAR, after all, and things always go FUBAR in war. It simply amazes me, however, that Sullivan and The Economist's faith in Bush can be "shattered" because they've opted to now focus simply on the things the Bush people got wrong.

I'm sorry I joined Andrew Sullivan in his foxhole. He's betrayed me by endorsing a man who (even Sullivan admits) history clearly shows has no appetite for using American hard power to solve problems. (Along these lines, The Economist's concession that it's "unfortunate" that Commander in Chief Kerry doesn't support the Iraq War is a shameful admission.)

I'd add to this, of course, the genuine feeling of betrayal Andrew Sullivan hilself feels with respect to the FMA, as well as the uncertainty we all feel as the two major American political parties realign and -- I predict -- the Republicans settle into their role as the national majority party. Above all else, however, is the fact that Sullivan's liberal friends have mocked him over Iraq for a year now. His solution to dump Bush and risk allowing Kerry to cut-and-run says more about Andrew Sullivan's character than anything else, I'm afraid.

Posted by: D.J. at October 29, 2004 05:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sullivan is delusional if he thinks that victory will somehow "reform" Kerry and the Democrats. They will take victory as confirmation of their policy choices not as a mandate to change, it's basic human psychology. And yes, the FMA is a good thing because it takes gay marriage out of the hands of judges and puts it in the hands of the legislature where major social changes should be debated and a compromise reached.

Posted by: Paul at October 29, 2004 06:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry to post again, but another thought occurred to me: What happens when a war spans administrations?

The War of 1812 was Madison's, The War Between the States Lincoln's, WWI Wilson's, and WWII Roosevelt's, with a buzzer-beater from Truman coming off the bench, but Vietnam was overseen by two or even four separate administrations, culminating with Nixon's, each with its own vision, and different definition of success.

So my question is, what might happen if the Iraq occupation, not to mention the greater global War on Terror (a.k.a. World War IV) transfers from Bush to Kerry? Is such a circumstance even generalizable?

P.S. For those who say GW Bush "flip-flopped" on his promise to avoid nation-building and international military excursions, can anyone find a better historical pair of figures to emulate in this respect than Wilson and Roosevelt?

Posted by: Hovig at October 29, 2004 06:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lileks posted a pretty good response to Sullivan's complaints here: http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/1004/102704.html

Or use this if the link is mangled: http://tinyurl.com/6gb72

Sullivan: "This is not, should not be, and one day cannot be, Bush's war. And the more it is, the more America loses, and our enemies gain."

Lileks: "...This is like saying vote McClellan, lest the war against secession and slavery be seen as Lincon’s war. "

Posted by: Matt at October 29, 2004 06:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, I am surprised that Andrew has bolted from the president's in-your-face approach to our enemies. I have no idea how he thinks Kerry will save Iraq, or fight the Islamisists. If ever there was a hollow man, it's Kerry. I'm bewildered that this doesn't give Andrew pause. It does give his writing, which I've always found sharp, the overeager huffing Kerry supporters need to make their case that the republic will fall if Bush is reelected. I agree with Hitchens that Bush has an "excruciating" personality. But Kerry is vain and intellectually dishonest. I can't help believing that Zarqawi et al are seeing daylight at the prospect of someone so irresolute wielding the only power they really have to fear.

Posted by: walter owen at October 29, 2004 06:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I should add that I don't read Andrew Sullivan firsthand, and I never have. Everyone cites him, though, so he's inescapable. After 9/11, his popularity seemed mainly due to his brand of bloody-minded sentimentality - here was a fight we could feel good about, and as long as we all feel good enough about it, it's therefore worth fighting.

After so many embarrasing mistakes by the administration, the Iraq war no longer feels good to Sullivan, and he's looking for a leader in whom he has not invested the same emotional and rhetorical capital that he has in Bush. I think he wants to start afresh with Kerry, of whom he is supposedly so suspicious, so that he doesn't get burned again.

Posted by: Matt at October 29, 2004 06:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry - one more nugget of psychobabble:

Those of us who continue to support the war have to reckon with the fact that we do not get to say "I told you so" yet. (If the threat of WMD was your main reason for supporting the war, you will never get to say it.) For many, this disappointment - not being proven right promptly enough - is too much to bear, and we're seeing the results.

But the smarter proponents like Lee Smith and Michael Young, who recognize the strategic significance of the war, know that it's a long-term transformational effort that will ultimately avert much more bloodshed and danger.

Posted by: Matt at October 29, 2004 06:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here's a copy of the letter I sent to Andrew Sullivan (also up on the highly readable G-Scobe blog):
I’m a big fan of your blog and am sympathetic to your position re: Bush v. Kerry. But I think you’re wrong in your endorsement. Here goes:

First, the stakes. It’s not the wars to come, it’s the war we’re in. In Iraq. I think you would acknowledge that defeat in Iraq would be catastrophic and hence, intolerable. Defeat looks like this: the Americans withdraw tens of thousands of troops while the country is still suffering a significant degree of jihadist violence and the government’s legitimacy is still disputed, despite an election. Zarqawi is alive – and claiming victory. This is defeat. This is the boon that militant Islam did not get in Afghanistan. So we agree that this cannot happen.

But defeat is also another authoritarian Sunni strongman who brings “calm” with a massive bloodletting. After all, you above all, have correctly recognized the link between Arab autocracy and Islamic terrorism. An Arab strongman in Iraq after five years is unacceptable and antithetical to rolling back the root causes of militant Islam.

Kerry has publicly stated that if his plans are followed, we can begin drawing down our troops within six months with significant withdrawals throughout his first term. Let’s concede that his plan is not a fantasy, that the French and the Germans pour in resources and that he speeds up the training of Iraqi forces. What if that does not work and the insurgency decides that it can indeed blow up French and Germans fighting under Kofi’s flag just as simply as it can execute Iraqi recruits? This influx of outside money and soldiers would not endure a harsh insurgency (it will not be there in the first place, but this is besides the point) and – if the entry of foreign forces was simultaneously accompanied by Kerry’s promised draw-down of U.S. troops as Kerry promises – these foreign soldiers and their leaders would have little incentive to bother sticking it out. They would find the nearest Sunni strongman that has the blessing of neighboring Arab autocrats and quickly head for the exit.

Kerry does not “own the war” and will not “own the war” if he is elected. If anything, his stump rhetoric has given him the perfect out: I inherited a mess, and the best I could do was walk away. Do you think his party – and the press – would not legitimate this withdrawal in a heartbeat? Sure, there will be pro-forma regret over the lives of innocent Iraqis, but their blood’s on Bush’s hands, not Kerry’s. A Kerry election explicitly makes this “Bush’s war” or “Bush’s mess” and a Kerry victory the repudiation of Bush’s war. A Kerry win authorizes Kerry to bug-out. And bug-out he will, once his plan of summits and hand-shakes brings not one extra rifle to the field.

Here’s the necessary corollary – a Bush win does not ensure victory, but it ensures that the architects of this war, those who do “own it” follow through completely if only to protect the legacies they so assiduously cultivate.

Posted by: Gregory Scoblete at October 29, 2004 07:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory Scoblete wrote"

"Kerry does not “own the war” and will not “own the war” if he is elected. If anything, his stump rhetoric has given him the perfect out:..... A Kerry win authorizes Kerry to bug-out. And bug-out he will, once his plan of summits and hand-shakes brings not one extra rifle to the field."

One thing is certain. Kerry's plan to get allies to contribute to Iraq is a non-starter.

I am a Canadian. Our Prime Minister has already made it perfectly clear that we will not send troops or any other kind of assistance to Iraq,no matter who wins the American election. He did this during an official visit to France ,under the watchful eye of President Chirac. Germany has also made it clear that it will do little to help the US out in Iraq.

So Kerry's plan has already failed.

Sullivan and Dan Drezner and other hawks who are late converts to Kerry's cause have argued that even though Kerry's plan will fail, he will continue on in Iraq,because once he is President he will have no other choice but to stay the course.

I fail to see how they can be so sure of their convictions in this matter,when Kerry has said little that would convince anybody that they are right.


Posted by: Steve Albert at October 29, 2004 08:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ok, first im sympathize with Sully on the war. Like him i supported it, and persuaded others to support it. Like him I expected to be executed with all the seriousness and competence such an undertaking deserved and required. Like him i fear that UNNECESSARY mistakes have endangered the good name of a necessary project, the transformation of the middle east. And not just unnecessary mistakes in execution, but a stubborn partisanship and extremism that has consistently alienated people who could have been won over. Kerry is no Kennedy, but Bush is no Lincoln.

And like Sully, I HOPE that power would force responsibility on Kerry, Biden, Holbrooke et al. I dont say on the Democrats. Some Democrats will never learn responsibility. And some, like Joe Lieberman, never lacked it.

But hope is not a strategy. Or not a good one. There IS a chance that Kerry will blame it all and Bush, and cut and run. OTOH theres also a chance Bush will do something more or less equvalent to that. I dont trust either, deep down.

Im glad i dont live in a swing state. Or have an influential blog.

Posted by: liberalhawk at October 29, 2004 09:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

pardon - i expected IT to be executed. :)

Posted by: liberalhawk at October 29, 2004 09:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CNN has just aired a video tape of Osama Bin Laden,which previously aired on Al Jazeera. It seems to be quite possible that person on the tape is Bin Laden.

In it Bin Laden makes a Michael Moore like comment about Bush reading a story to school children while the Twin Towers were under attack,intimating that had he not done so fewer people would have died.

This tape is obviously an attempt to influence the election.

Now ,of course,people should not vote in this election in reaction to Bin Laden's statements

I also think that this statement will probably strengthen the resolve of all Americans to win the war on terror.

However, it will be interesting to see how the candidates and their campaigns react to this tape.


Posted by: Steve Albert at October 29, 2004 10:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The problem is not that mistakes were made in the planning for post-war Iraq. No one is gifted with the ability to anticipate every eventuality. The awful thing, as Sullivan points out is the sort of basic errors of judgment that occurred from the troop level to the related point of failing to secure many sites across the country, the junking of the reconstruction plans initially drawn up by the state department..really the litany is endless. It seems reasonable to argue that someone who could preside over such a mess, without causing heads to roll, or appearing the least bit chastened, should not be rewarded with a second term. In the final analysis there is a burgeoning insurgency in Iraq which the US appears unable to get a grip on, Bin Laden is at large and owing to the mess in Iraq there are too few forces available to do anything in North Korea or Iran, should the need arise. I can't see how Kerry could be any worse than that

Posted by: Dominic Owen-Williams at October 29, 2004 10:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sully - who?

Posted by: J D Macallan at October 29, 2004 10:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here are Sullivan's blog postings and op-eds about Bush and Kerry since March:

Sullivan on treating terrorism merely as a law enforcement Issue
The Clinton administration's feckless attempts to get Osama are, to my mind, a huge neon warning about what might happen if John Kerry becomes president.

It's high time the front-runner was sat down and peppered with serious questions about what his policy now is. The Washington Post yesterday ran an excellent editorial dissecting Kerry's record of dizzying, shall we say, nuance:

To say the least. I'd say his vote against the $87 billion is a huge liability in the coming campaign. Kerry needs a serious proposal on Iraq that isn't designed purely to attack the Bush record. So far, I haven't seen one.

We were all told that fighting the Iraq war would destroy global alliances, wreck our ability to work with allies and generally render the U.S. a pariah. So how are France and the U.S. cooperating so easily in Haiti? Hmmm.

KERRY'S SPEECH: It struck me as a strong one on domestic issues. On energy independence, and protecting the Constitution, it was a winner. He looks like a potential president. But it was deeply worrying in one respect. The war on terror was barely mentioned. This on a day of appalling carnage in Iraq. I fear this man simply doesn't get it. No one should support him for the highest office in the land until he proves he understands our enemy; and demonstrates that he will get up every day in the Oval Office to see how he can take the fight to the Islamists. I don't see that fire right now. In fact, I don't even see a flicker. It's a deal-breaker for me. (Just as attacking civil rights and playing politics with the Constitution is a deal-breaker as far as Bush is concerned.) Kerry has several months to prove otherwise. But it wasn't an auspicious start.

Sullivan Quoting Kerry on Bosnia:

"It is important to remember that this resolution does not authorize the use of American ground troops in Bosnia, nor does it specifically authorize the use of air or naval power. It simply associates the U.S. Senate with the current policies of this administration and of the Security Council." - John Kerry, as quoted by David Brooks. The good senator from Massachusetts is not complicated; he's someone unable to tell the difference between complexity and inanity.

Sullivan comparing Tony Blair's "perspicacity" to John Kerry

Sullivan comments on a Kerry foreign policy discussion and how distressing it is:

Sullivan trying to rationalize that Kerry would have to be tough in foreign policy:

Sullivan posts to an article why Bush will prevail in the WOT

But it is to fight back boldly with the military, create a democratic space in the Muslim Midle East, and work to foil terror quietly, subtly and powerfully behind the scenes. It's war, democratization and law enforcement. And Joe Nye is right (stopped clocks sometimes are). Soft power and hard power need not be self-canceling. They can aid each other. The strongest argument for Kerry is that we have already gained as much as we can for the time being with hard power and war; he won't pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan; he won't be able to duck a serious response to another terror attack; but he might help ease some of the hatred of the United States that this president has - undeservedly, in my view, but still undeniably - ratcheted to unseen levels. The strongest argument against him is that he will not take the war seriously enough to allow law enforcement to play its vital but complementary part, and would prematurely pull out of Iraq. I'm waiting to hear more from him and his advisers. Yeah: don't rush me. It's March. Is this a rationalization for considering Kerry? Or a reason? I blog. You decide.

Sullivan responds to Kathryn Lopez who asks him just come out and endorse Kerry:

Sullivan on staying the course in Iraq:

Sullivan on Kerry's View of promoting Demcrocacy

"Senator, I will say this. I think that politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs, and you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship. As long as those needs are satisfied, that structure will exist." - John F. Kerry, Congressional Testimony, April 22, 1971.

"I have always said from day one that the goal here . . . is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that's a full democracy. I can't tell you what it's going to be, but a stable Iraq. And that stability can take several different forms." - John F. Kerry, April 14, 2004.

Sullivan wanting Democrats to make the case for Iraq and WOT

Sullivan comments on a Kerry op-ed piece in the Washington Post

Sullivan criticizing about not enough troops:

That's why I'm waiting to see what John Kerry has to say. Forget every campaign ad. How he reacts to this current crisis is the single thing to keep in mind in considering him as the next president. Is he going to play partisan games? Or is he going to rise to the occasion, present himself as an alternative war leader and not someone who will find a way to delude Americans that they are not at war?

Sullivan commenting on Abu Ghraib

Sullivan on the reasons for going to war

Sullivan commenting on Bush speech about Iraq:

Sullivan comments more about another Bush speech:

Sullivan comments on Kerry speech at DNC
No mention of democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan. No mention of the terrorist forces that are amassed there. No reference to the elections scheduled for January. No mention of Iran. And the whole point is about process - about how to wage a war, not whether it should be waged. This is a man who clearly wants the U.S. out of the region where our future is at stake, and who believes that simply by taking office, other powers can somehow pick up the slack. Memo to Kerry: no other powers can pick up the slack. They don't have the troops or the technology or the will. His strategy is pure defense. This sentence is his strongest threat: "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." So let's wait, shall we?

Sullivan on giving the Democrats a chance to lead in the WOT:

Sullivan comments on Bush speech at RNC

Sullivan on Kerry's deadline on troop withdrawl from Iraq

Sullivan advises Kerry to hit Bush on Iraq

Sullivan on Jim Fallows and Greg Easterbrook critque of Iraq

I'm going to wait till after next week's national security debate to make a final assessment of John Kerry on the war

Sullivan responding Jonah Goldberg article on Iraq

Sullivan more thoughts on Kerry

Sullivan comments on Presidential debates:
It was, as I hoped, an enlightening debate. No, it didn't include any real logical breakthrough and on the issues, I found myself agreeing more with Bush than Kerry.

An Interview with Sullivan:
TP: You have been a strong supporter of the president when it came to his handling of the war. Lately there have been several setbacks that are causing concerns. Candidate Kerry has suggested that he considers the war to be more of a "law enforcement" issue than a war. My opinion is that this policy was tried and failed, and therefore a flawed view of the current position we are in. What do you feel is the best course of action and how would the major differences be in how the two candidates acted in the next four years?

AS: I'm with you. But I'm encouraged by some of the things Kerry has been saying recently, and I am worried by the lack of international legitimacy our noble effort in Iraq lacks. Not because international legitimacy is in itself indispensable or a good thing; but because it helps us achieve our goal. That's why I favored the UN approach to begin with. In general I trust Bush more than Kerry in this war - far more. But I'm open to persuasion and don't think of myself as blindly in support of a person. If another person can better achieve our goals, the beauty of a democracy, unlike a dictatorship, is that we can change leaders quite easily.

TP: There are some in the media that believe you are going to end up supporting Kerry this fall. Posts of late suggest that you do have major concerns with the president on policy. What are the issues that would make you pick Kerry over Bush and what would he do differently in regards to policy that would win your vote?

AS: If he were to commit fully to the war long term in Iraq and beyond; if he were able to articulate a coherent strategy in the war against terror, I'd be open to supporting Kerry. Certainly, I think his positions on social issues are more congenial than Bush; and his fiscal policy is one I prefer to Bush's. I really am a deficit hawk and find Bush's complete insouciance on the matter deeply worrying. I also worry about the kind of judges Bush might nominate. He's a captive of the far right in these matters. We were told otherwise in 2000; but now we know where he stands. He really is indistinguishable from John Ashcroft on social policy. I didn't believe that before; I do now. And obviously that's worrying.

Articles by Sullivan:

Reality Check

Why He's Sinking
Kerry's Problem: Kerry

Talk Down

The Churchill Paradox
Why Bush Could Lose

The Human Anti-Histamine
Kerry Bores Upward

Andrew Sullivan Fisking Kerry
This is pathetic. Everyone knew that the congressional vote allowed the president to wage war if necessary. Kerry's weaseling out of this obvious fact is in itself--finally!--an answer to the question. Kerry will not take responsibility for a vote whose meaning was crystal clear at the time.

Kerry's Second Vietnam:

Can Kerry say such a thing? Well, history shows he can say almost anything if it's to his political advantage. Last week, he junked his entire primary season promises and pledged to enact steep spending controls in office on the old Gingrich-Clinton formula. He has kept his options open on the future in Iraq, while being lacerating about how we got where we are. A neo-hawkish ouflanking of Bush is therefore a perfect electoral gambit. After all, what lies ahead in Iraq is not, in fact, a very Republican project. It's classic nation-building - the kind of thing Clinton and Gore once favored and George W. Bush once resolutely opposed. Were Kerry to take this tack, it would, of course, be a turning point rich in irony, especially when viewed through the prism of Vietnam. Whereas Richard Nixon inherited a Democratic war, Kerry, the man who found his first fame in anti-Vietnam protests, would inherit a Republican war. Whereas Nixon was doing all he could to find a way out with honor, Kerry would be doing all he could to find a way to win for the sake of democracy. Yes, we may be seeing a strange replay of Vietnam. But in reverse. And, quite possibly, with an entirely different ending.Kerry the Pandescdender article:


People who have been in public life a long time are allowed, of course, to change their minds, to move when new facts emerge or new arguments persuade them. And it is one of George W. Bush's weaknesses that he doesn't seem able to adjust his convictions in the face of empirical evidence that they might need adjusting, changing or fixing. But Kerry goes further than most. And almost all of his adjustments have been in order to serve his immediate political interests rather than to stand up for principle.

Hope For Iraq
Reasons to be Cheerful


Bush's Strength ...
... Is Also A Weakness

Posted by: farris at October 29, 2004 11:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sully is an extremist on Gay marriage (2/3+ of Americans think one way, he thinks the other. He doesn't care. He wants it, and therefore thinks he should get his way, no matter what. That makes him an extremist). The only way he's going to get his way is via "judicial" dictat.

Kerry's more likely to appoint "judges" willing to do that than is Bush. Therefore Sully supports Kerry.

Realizing this is a sleazy position, Sully makes up reasons as to why Bush is so horrible he must be defeated.

It's too bad, because Sully used to be worth listening to, even when I disagreed with him. Not any more. His dishonesty makes him worthless

Posted by: Greg D at October 30, 2004 12:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As others have stated, Sullivan's endorsement of Kerry has nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do Bush's support of the FMA. Prior to this point, it looks as if he had been wishfully thinking that Bush was a "moderate" who would somehow downplay the FMA. Sullivan's endorsement of Kerry is constipated and tortuously strained. I believe that in his heart of hearts, he believes that Bush will do better on the GWOT but simply can't get over his support of the FMA.

Posted by: kgowen at October 30, 2004 01:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Andrew is right. Bush has been both inept and arrogant in his handling of the war in Iraq. He's spent billions of dollars on this project; thousands of lives have been lost; moral capital that the United States has accumulated over decades has been squandered - but he hasn't actually got a result.

He's simply not up to the job and doesn't deserve another term. It's high time he was fired!

Andrew admires conservatives like Reagan and Thatcher. These leaders were true national security hawks but without Bush's absurd posturing. Bush is all hat and no cattle.

And why are so many readers questioning Andrew's motives, suggesting his endorsement of Kerry is only because of the gay marriage issue? Andrew openly admits this is a significant factor in his decision. And why shouldn't it be? But he argues his case on many other issues too: Bush has been fiscally irresponsible; Abu Ghraib was/is the biggest stain on America's moral standing for decades, and it will do lasting damage; Bush is under the thumb of religious right; and so on.

Andrew has argued these points, and others, coherently. Anyone is free to disagree with him, but his critics would be more persuasive if they dealt with his arguments, rather than merely challenging his motives with these cheap shots about the FMA question.

Posted by: Mark at October 30, 2004 03:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

With respect, Mark, the posturing is all yours. "[Bush has] spent billions of dollars on this project; thousands of lives have been lost; moral capital that the United States has accumulated over decades has been squandered - but he hasn't actually got a result." I'll give you the first, second, and, for the sake of argument, the third. The conclusion is false.

Fact: We went into Iraq to overthrow the Saddam government. Mission accomplished: Saddam's in jail. Fact: We went into Iraq to put a stop to a rogue country's weapons programs and make sure it doesn't threaten its neighbors or us again. Mission accomplished: The WMD programs are kaput. We went into Iraq to simply shake up the stale inertia of the kletocractic Arab middle east and help create a democratic state. Too early to see if the mission's accomplished here, but elections will be in January.

People question Andrew's motives because folks like you, Mark, have wildly overstated the troubles in Iraq. Since your conclusions are false, I have to wonder what YOUR ulterior motives are...

Posted by: D.J. at October 30, 2004 03:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sullivan has been unreadable for years. His blog is a prime example of how the instant gratification of blogging can fuel the fire of narcissism that more traditional outlets dampen in their authors by publishing on a schedule, being broke, or going out of business. It seems to me that bloggers who are not primarily "writers" are better able to avoid the narcissism and solipsism that afflicts guys like Sullivan or Joshua Marshall, perhaps because their words reflect their experience rather than being their experience.

Sullivan is a good writer. I enjoyed the New Republic when he was running it. But he's not a great writer or a strong thinker, he's an argument flinger who's in it for the response. His methods are identical to Michael Kinsley, and his results aren't usually as amusing.

But it has been pretty amusing to watch Mr. Sullivan's id & ego work their magic since one decided the other needed a White Wedding in the middle of a war zone.

Posted by: rzs at October 30, 2004 09:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Many who have endorsed Kerry, from Sullivan to Drezner to The Economist, are simply asking us to trust their prophecy of what is going to happen, in spite of Kerry´s record and pronouncements, if he wins. "He will HAVE to get tough! Congress will restrain spending! We´ll get some sort of international support!"

They are also doing exactly what they claim the Bush administration did: promise a cakewalk. They ask us to trust them that Kerry will not make mistakes, he will also apologize for his mistakes, and unlike Bush he will learn from his mistakes. I believe that argument when Kerry apologizes for any mistake he has already made. For starters, to the allies he insulted during this campaign and to the soldiers he insulted in the 70s.

Posted by: werner at October 30, 2004 01:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Andrew Sullivan claims that voting the Democrats and Kerry into power will force them to "get real" in Iraq.

I disagree with Andrew. He got it backwards, IMO.

The best way for these unserious democrats to "get real" with Iraq (and national security) is for the voters to punish the Democrats on Nov. 2. The bigger the loss -- the better it is for the Democratic party. And it would force them to do some "soul searching" of their own if they want to be taken seriously on National Defense in the future.

But more importantly, a Kerry defeat will also serve as rebuke towards the ridiculously biased and defeatist MSM (NYT, CBS, BBC).

A Kerry victory OTOH, would send the wrong signal. It would mean that their defeatist tactics like calling the Iraq campaign "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" or a "grand diversion" to undermine our resolve does work. It would mean the tactic of damaging US-Australian relations (weeks before the Aussie election) with Sister Kerry's comments or calling Allawi a puppet are acceptable behavior and Republicans might do well in 2008 by copying Democrats' defeatist tactics.

A victory for Kerry will not necessarily make the democrats more serious on National Security. It is more likely and easier for them to spend most of their time blaming the previous administration on Iraq and leaving the job half done -- than perservering in a war a significant majority of Democrats (9 out of 10 in their convention) don't believe in.

And trusting the anti-war Kerry on the GWOT, who's previous statements and voting record on National security are weak -- is a "leap of faith" I'd rather not take.

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