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October 08, 2008

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Can Townhall hold a columnist who so brazenly refuses to right-wing talking points? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wait, Kathleen Parker is complaining about racist undertones? The woman who wrote about how Obama isn't a "full-blooded American"?

KC:

It's in part because of Parker's past works that I found this piece so remarkable. It was also kind of endearing to see her explaining to her readers what dog whistle politics was, as if she herself had just discovered the concept.

Either way, she's right.

If she wants her conversion to be believable, she really ought to express some regret about her earlier writing.

I'm not sure a conversion is in the cards. But a little vitriol-driven-alienation might be a suitable consolation prize.

One of the things that Hitchens used to say was that the extreme backlash against him for his support of the Iraq war and, to a considerably lesser extent, Afghan war, led him to abandon the left almost whole hog.

Now, I'm not defending the wisdom of this type of spiteful fickleness, just observing that it sometimes happens. And if Parker moves in that direction even slightly, I'd consider that a positive development.

I'm no purist. More pragmatic really.

KC,

I think Sadly, No may have been on to something when they called the reaction to Parker's original column her "Terry Schiavo" moment...

Went to the Townhall link to read the full Parker column. My intertubes were still loading the enormous string of vitriol found in the comments denouncing Parker as a woman-hating, attention grabbing, lefty (and those the most mild comments), when I gave up and came back here.

All of the mindless, uninformed, starry-eyed hero worship the right has been accusing Obama supporters of for the last year is undeniably present in these folks defending Palin.

So Ms. Parker has come to recognize that McCain's campaign is based on personality, not ideology, and she finds it distasteful enough to tell the right-wing yahoos so. Good.

But here's the thing: what would an honorable campaign have looked like, this year, from any of the GOP hopefuls? What ideology (other than "Democrats bad! USA! USA!") does the GOP profess any more?

The people who call themselves Republicans and yell "Treason!" and "Terrorist!" any time Grandpa and Barbie push the right rhetorical buttons are probably beyond reasoning with. But I know there exist reasonable Republicans: people who probably disagree with me on practically any political question, but with whom I can at least agree on what the questions are. Here's hoping that this latter kind of Republicans take back the GOP someday.

--TP

I think many Republicans now recognize that this election is lost to them. They have already started moving on to the next stage - infighting between their internal factions to see who will set the direction for their party for the next 2 years. Part of that struggle is blame shifting and finger pointing regarding the 2008 election.

Parker, Peggy Noonan and other old-hand Reaganites are one faction. The Palinites are another faction. It is scorpions in the bottle time.

"The Palinites are another faction."

They make one look fondly back at Mike Huckabee.


They make one look fondly back at Mike Huckabee.

Just wait till Blackwater, et. al. come home, to a recession/depression.
We’re going to have a right wing militia movement that will make the 1990s look like a tea party by comparison.

I think many Republicans now recognize that this election is lost to them.

many, but not all.

the true believers are doing what all true believers do in the face of imminent political defeat: they turn to Larry Johnson. for in his intricate conspiracies and rumor-based fantasies lie hope for those who thought hope had abandoned them.

KC, in principle I agree with you. But I can hardly be the only person who reads Andrew Sullivan regularly despite knowing that he has - so far as I'm aware - never apologized for his vile and reprehensible statements after 9/11 about a fifth column in the coastal liberal elites. I suspect many readers of ObWi read Sullivan, not least because Sullivan has been quite good to Hilzoy. But it is clear that even within the pro-Obama blogosphere there can be rehabilitation without honest reconsideration.

Pooh, the best example I know of a conservative having a "Terry Schiavo moment" is John Cole, and he has been quite admirably forthright about his record. Indeed, since he redesigned his site recently the tagline is "Consistently wrong since 2002."

Here's hoping more people emulate Cole than emulate Sullivan - and that, regardless of that question, more people have and express opinions as strongly and openly as either Cole or Sullivan.

But I can hardly be the only person who reads Andrew Sullivan regularly despite knowing that he has - so far as I'm aware - never apologized for his vile and reprehensible statements after 9/11 about a fifth column in the coastal liberal elites.

i haven't forgotten. and i try to remind him as often as i can work it in, when i send him email responses to his postings.

"I heard Seymour Hersh speak at Berkeley last night. He was fairly certain that the Secret Service might not be amused."

This comment from a commenter at the blog SadlyNo may explain why the McCain campaign has toned down Palin's hot shrill rhetoric.

It is perhaps worth noting the problems that come with an emulation of Sullivan are the same problems we deal with concerning racism and Vietnam, to give two examples. With both of those, people were finally convinced of the wrongness, but the inability to admit the fact that they were mistaken sets up a dynamic that allows moving back into the same situation.

Eric,

I find it odd that you speak so fondly of Kathleen Parker, and she seems to have become some kind of hero for people who are not Republicans, when clearly the woman is an imbecile. In her book "Save The Males", she laments that men are now "too girlie", presumably because they are no longer wife-beating drunks with cowboy hats. Her criticism of Palin seems to be focused on her moose-hunting, which means that a serious critique of her platform is most likely absent.

IMHO, the major reasons the Republicans failed over the last 8 years has more to do with advoacting an interventionist foreign policy without increasing resources and personnel (Rumsfeld legacy), running the national debt to dangerous new levels due to completely irresponsible spending, and distracting Americans during a time of war with ridiculous issues like scapegoating immigrants, stem cell research, and Teri Schiavo. That's just my two cents, and I'm sure the commentariat could find a lot more, but at least my criticism of the corpse of the GOP doesn't have anything to do with Palin's lipstick.

Blackwater, et. al.

Just to make sure I'm not misunderstood - the et. al. in this statement is referring to the other private contracting companies not subject to either Iraqi jurisprudence or the UCMJ.

It is not a reference to anyone in uniform.


I find it odd that you speak so fondly of Kathleen Parker, and she seems to have become some kind of hero for people who are not Republicans, when clearly the woman is an imbecile.

You resist the brownshirts with the shocked and dismayed Republicans you have, not the shocked and dismayed Republicans you wish you had.

Also ditto what W.T. said about John Cole. We need more people like him.

the true believers are doing what all true believers do in the face of imminent political defeat: they turn to Larry Johnson

I take pretty much everything Larry says with roughly a cubic mile of sodium chloride.

I think we're going to see the Plamaniacs and the McCainiacs, to an extent, swapping places in their regard for Larry.

TLTIA, you remind me of this guy.

And even more, of this.

What ideology (other than "Democrats bad! USA! USA!") does the GOP profess any more?

Lower taxes. That's about it.

"Lower taxes. That's about it."

You left out protect us from invading brown people, Mooslim terrists, and teh gay.

Of course, for them, that's summarizable as "Democrats bad!"

I find it odd that you speak so fondly of Kathleen Parker, and she seems to have become some kind of hero for people who are not Republicans

Did I speak so fondly of her? Really?

Did I treat her as a hero?

Her criticism of Palin seems to be focused on her moose-hunting, which means that a serious critique of her platform is most likely absent.

Really?

Parker from the cited piece:

As we've seen and heard more from John McCain's running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion. [...]

Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there's not much content there.

In fact, I searched the text and found zero references to moose hunting. How do you justify your claim that Parker is focusing on moose hunting?

and yet, it was just 2 short weeks ago that everybody on this website wanted to tar and feather her... Indeed, some of you asked why I even read her "tripe"...

Now you have your answer..

If you are going to argue with her, argue with her on the merits of her arguement... not yours.

LT: while I agree with everything you said in the 2nd para of your post, I have to point out that:

"Her criticism of Palin seems to be focused on her moose-hunting, which means that a serious critique of her platform is most likely absent."

Sarah Palin has no serious platform. How can one make a serious critique of a platform that John Stewart/Steven Colbert cannot top?

C'mon LT... you are obviously an intelligent and well informed individual... HOW, can any one defend the Sarah Pain pick? (and no, that is not a typo)_

If you are going to argue with her, argue with her on the merits of her arguement

what's her arguement ?

TLTIA, you remind me of this guy.

Gary,

I'm sorry but those references flew right over my head.
Who exactly from those links do I remind you of, and in what way have I spoken or acted like one of them?

Aussaresses, convicted of being a torture apologist?

Pierre Lagaillarde or one of the others in the wiki article about the 1958 coup?

This sounds as if you are making an accusation but I'm somewhat at a loss as to what I'm being accused of. Could you please be a little bit more direct?

Thanks


In fact, they may have pushed Parker to view recent events without a partisan lens.

Well bully for her. And all it took was a death threat, imagine that.

Welcome to the human race, Katherine.

See if it lasts if it starts to affect her paycheck.

Just wait till Blackwater, et. al. come home, to a recession/depression.
We’re going to have a right wing militia movement that will make the 1990s look like a tea party by comparison.

This wasn't the main thread of this post, but I'd like to make a reply to it.

If folks like the Blackwater crew come home and want to take up arms against the rest of us, then they can go ahead and bring it. Screw them. Some of us lefties can fight and shoot, too, if it comes right down to it.

If they want to come home and be useful members of society, welcome home.

The rest of us are damned well going to be living with a recession/depression, they can take a number, get in line, and do the same.

I am damned sick and tired of right wingers talking about how they're going to kick liberal @sses.

Try it on, boys, and see how far you get.

Thanks -

I think Gary meant that you are describing a bunch of people coming back from Iraq who are like that guy.

"Who exactly from those links do I remind you of, and in what way have I spoken or acted like one of them?"

No, no, I'm sorry I was unclear. I didn't mean you, your person, reminded me of them. I meant that when you wrote "We’re going to have a right wing militia movement that will make the 1990s look like a tea party by comparison," you reminded me of the French diehards who threatened a coup and caused the fall of the Fourth Republic. I was attempting to draw an alarming parallel as a followup to your point.

Clearer?

"I think Gary meant that you are describing a bunch of people coming back from Iraq who are like that guy."

Yes. That having thousands of mercs used to feeling the power of the gun, unrestrained by law or much of any constraint, returning home, possibly embittered and facing a political regime some might look at similarly to the way people who show up at McCain/Palin rallies and shout "treason!" and "kill him!," might have Bad Results.

having thousands of mercs used to feeling the power of the gun, unrestrained by law or much of any constraint, returning home, possibly embittered

I am under the impression that the legendary Wild West was "wild" in part because of a wave of Civil War vets who could not fit back into civilian life after they were discharged at the end of the war.

In fairness, Andrew Sullivan has apologized, at least for having demonized opponents of the Iraq war. Link is http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/148 and the title of the diavlog is, aptly "Mea Culpa".

"In fairness, Andrew Sullivan has apologized, at least for having demonized opponents of the Iraq war."

Where is it in writing?

Here is a good start to finding the apology from Andrew Sullivan that Gary asked for:

"[Obama in 2002] was right. I was wrong."

Gary, at the time Andrew Sullivan apologized on bloggingheads.tv, he knew that it was a website with a permanent video archive. His video apology is every bit as permanent and consequential as a written apology.

Lots of people were wrong about the war. I appreciate it when they acknowledge that they were wrong, and don't expect them to apologize for it.

But people who called opponents of the war a fifth column, who equated opposition with treason, need to apologize. And as far as I'm aware, Andrew Sullivan has never apologized for that outrageous smear.

Here Andrew refers to "[his] my abject apology for passionately supporting the Bush-run Iraq war."

Anne E, where is the link to Andrew Sullivan's apology? And -- because I hate to watch videos of talking heads for which no transcript is available -- is it an apology for the 'fifth column' smear, or just an admission that he was wrong about the Iraq war?

I suppose the "passionately" is supposed to cover the fifth column attack. Some apology.

Nell, I put my link in my post above, but here it is again: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/148. If the link doesn't work, put bloggingheads.tv into google, go to the bloggingheads search function, put "Wright" and "Sullivan" into the participants fields, and select the diavlog titled "Mea Culpa".

In answer to your other question, the apology was specifically for having smeared opponents of the Iraq war.

By the way, for those who want truly challenging/growth-producing intellectual stimulation, I HIGHLY recommend bloggingheads.tv.

I've listened to the first half of the tape, that Anne links, and that's all I can take. At no point does Sullivan apologize for his attacks and smears against war skeptics and opponents.

He regrets that emotion clouded his analytical ability. The closest he comes to an apology is an admission that he is somewhat ashamed of his "passionate certainty". When Robert Wright reminds Sullivan of his calling Wright and others "appeasers", the best Sullivan can do is to say that Wright's view has held up better than his own.

Nothing even close to an apology.

There are multiple purposes for supporting Obama in this election. They include both the promotion of liberal domestic policies and the restoration of a limited presidency

Despite how unforgivable several see Sullivan for his old anti-anti-war insults, I judge him and any others who define their conservativism with "limited government" as a necessary ally in the second of these purposes. As much as I want health care reform that really makes it a right, limiting the president's power feels even more important to me. I want the coaltion that supports a return to the Constitution to be so great a majority as possible. A tyrrany such as Bush's won't ever again be unthinkable, but with a left/right coalition condemning we will get closer to this goal than with the left alone.

(Before I knew of Obsidian Wings, and before I dreaded my government's power, I enjoyed reading Andrew Sullivan because he challenged my beliefs constructively. My introduction to this blog was a 2005 link from him, to Hilzoy detailing the items in law and treaty that were being violated at Gitmo. The broad and detailed information here is a delight, but the respect for those who disagree also is a critical part of what I am looking for here.)

Bloggingheads.tv is often good ... radio. I get the podcast, and listen to half of them, more or less. I can't understand the reasoning behind the whole video component; yes, the video makes it a bit easier to tell which person is saying what, but at a big cost in convenience and portability.

I was aware that Sullivan had apologized for his previous support of the war, but (like, I think, Nell) I am not convinced that his vague apology stretches to cover the vileness of his 'fifth column' statement. Especially as the statement in question was made http://www.spinsanity.org/post.html?2001_09_16_archive.html#5801755>just days after 9/11 - a time when the nation was in theory uniting in common purpose, and a time at which a future invasion of Iraq was not yet an issue for substantial public debate, despite John McCain and various Bushies immediately seizing upon 9/11 as opening the way towards an invasion of Iraq. The famous "fifth column" sentiments from Sullivan are separated both temporally and I believe in kind from his later cheerleading for the Iraq war.

Look, as I said I read Sullivan faithfully. He is a passionate person and is both fearsomely talented and amazingly dedicated in his chosen profession of blogging. But even as I read his writing, I refuse to overlook some of his more glaring defects.

I thought Sullivan's 5th column nonsense was had nothing to do with the Iraq war, but was published soon after 9/11, did I miss something? Or did he repeat it with reference to Iraq?

And, WTF are 140,000 U.S. troops doing in that country 5 1/2 years later, BTW?

I'm happy to see the viciousness at Palin/McCain rallies continue. They're marginalizing themselves with this garbage and anything that turns off the independents is fine with me. and the media is turning on McCain. You could tell Millbank really didn't like it when the crowd messed with that soundman.

"...he knew that it was a website with a permanent video archive."

I don't believe in such a thing. Print, on the other hand, gets reproduced and distributed widely enough that writing is apt to survive a long time.

"His video apology is every bit as permanent and consequential as a written apology."

Not for me. I want to read it. And be able to quote it, if necessary.

"Here is a good start to finding the apology from Andrew Sullivan that Gary asked for"

That's an admission of error, not an apology. And it has nothing to do with the "fifth columnists" assertion.

Mind, I'm not calling for acts of abnegation, or rending of clothing or flesh, or for self-humiliation, or anything like that. My own initial record on the Iraq invasion shames me, and shames me every day, and will do so for the rest of my life: I never came out for the invasion, but I didn't come out against it until after it happened; I stayed on the fence until a few weeks had passed; that was a horrific error of judgment.

But if Sullivan has apologized for his "fifth column" remarks, which he made in writing, I'd be interested in reading it, and for me, the only possible way to apologize for a piece of writing is another piece of writing. Nothing else counts. In my book.

The Sullivan quotation:

[...] The middle part of the country--the great red zone that voted for Bush--is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead--and may well mount a fifth column.
"Here Andrew refers to '[his] my abject apology for passionately supporting the Bush-run Iraq war.'"

Again, this is an entirely separate topic.

Let me point out that Sullivan also wrote this:

To the Editor:

Anthony Lewis (column, Sept. 29) writes that my statement in The Sunday Times of London, that ''the middle part of the country -- the great red zone that voted for Bush -- is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -- and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column,'' is such a ''disgusting diatribe'' that it ''condemns itself.''

By taking these two sentences out of a 6,000-word article, he implies that I am saying Americans in the ''blue states'' that voted for Al Gore are somehow unpatriotic. This is a distortion. I made no mention of ''blue states.'' My point was that a fringe, decadent part of the left is alive and well and might in the future undermine the battle against terrorism.

It is quite clear from the article that I believe that the vast majority of liberals and even leftists do not share this view, and that almost all blue-state inhabitants (of which I am one) are committed to victory.

ANDREW SULLIVAN
Washington, Sept. 29, 2001

A relevant Richard Gid Powers piece from 2002.

"By the way, for those who want truly challenging/growth-producing intellectual stimulation, I HIGHLY recommend bloggingheads.tv."

This is going to sound horribly like bragging (I lack all sorts of other talents, to compensate: I can't draw, or make music, or do a zillion other things), but I read faster than the top speed on old analog reading machines I was tested on as a child; a quick update here just gave the result that "[y]ou read at 4612 words per minute"; further tries gave results of 7437, 5308, and 5321, with 100% comprehension (mind, I read various material slower for various purposes; how fast or slowly I read depends on the material and my purpose; certainly I can't read and fully absorb complex material that fast, nor would I read good writing for pleasure remotely that fast -- though I might for professional evaluation purposes); I have no patience at all for sitting through though someone talking at 20+ times slower speed; it's a huge waste of my time; I'd rather spend the time reading 19 other things. (This is why I hated lectures in school, as well, and only rarely am interested in authorial readings, though those can be more of a performance.)

Gimme it in writing.

"A tyrrany such as Bush's won't ever again be unthinkable"

I like to think that I'm as opposed to the innumerable wrongs of the Bush administration as anyone sane, but I think referring to the administration as a "tyranny" is deeply silly, and ahistoric, and that it's an insult to those who have lived under actual tyrannies, such as, say, that of East Germany, or Ceauşescu's Romania, or Mao's China, or any of hundreds of other examples.

I had an exchange of e-mail with Sullivan at the time, which I did not preserve, but in which he came across much like he did in the letter to the editor quoted by Gary above. The exchange led me to beleive that Sullivan honestly did not understand the term he used, "Fifth Column," or appreciate that it implied treason and not merely dissent. In other words, Sullivan was more stupid than vicious.

My point was that a fringe, decadent part of the left is alive and well and might in the future undermine the battle against terrorism.

Gosh. And to think it was actually Bush, Cheney and their merry bunch of Neocons who ended up undermining the "battle against terrorism."

That having thousands of mercs used to feeling the power of the gun, unrestrained by law or much of any constraint, returning home, possibly embittered and facing a political regime some might look at similarly to the way people who show up at McCain/Palin rallies and shout "treason!" and "kill him!," might have Bad Results.

I don't mean to discount this, or to deny the seriousness of it, at all, but I do want to point out that there are thousands of them, and millions of us.

Also:

Over the last eight years, a common theme on the right has been how it's only their very good nature that prevents them from coming over here to liberal land (wherever that happens to be) and showing us the business end of their gun, or bat, or boot.

I've not only had enough of it, I had enough of it about 7 years and some months ago.

The solution to bullying is to not accept it. If guns for hire come home and want to stir up trouble here, they should not expect to find themselves unopposed.

I'm not looking for a fight with anyone, but I will not accept bullying. None of us should, and we should be clear about our intent not to.

Thanks -

@Gary,

Clearer?

Yes, much clearer, thanks.

I agree with the second half of your 11:20pm comment.

I’m not sure I agree with the historical parallel you are pointing out as clarified in the first half of that comment, since the French military has had over its history a rather dramatically different relationship with civilian govt. than is the case here in the US. I’m not worried about a conspiracy of Colonels and Generals in this country. I think backwoods militias of the Tim McVeigh variety are much more likely.

@joel hanes


I am under the impression that the legendary Wild West was "wild" in part because of a wave of Civil War vets who could not fit back into civilian life after they were discharged at the end of the war.

That is my understanding too, that much of the lawlessness in the post 1865 West was a legacy of the US Civil War, something that (along with the anti-Union insurgency in the Reconstruction era South) is rarely pointed out in history classes as taught here in the US. We have a great many taboos concerning the US Civil War, which cause it to be compartmentalized as if it had little to do with the rest of our history either before or after the 1860s.

@russell

Point well taken about how the Left should not cower in fear in response to threats from the Right – that wasn’t the point I was making if you are responding to my comments. If anything my intention was the opposite – I think we should think about some of these challenges which we may be facing in the future so as to not be caught by surprise if/when they happen – that way shock, fear and panic are less likely to be our immediate reactions (and by “our” I mean the population as a whole, not just the Left).

Forewarned is forearmed so to speak, and our best chance of responding in a measured and effective way will come if we aren’t caught by surprise by events no one thought were possible.

russell: preach it, brother.

reading your laser-beam tirades is one of the few compensations for the state of the world these days.

farmgirl --

Thanks for the kind words, I'm glad you enjoy my ranting.

From my point of view, it's either post here, or wander around the house in my PJ's with a half-empty bottle of Jack, muttering darkly to myself and kicking the furniture.

I appreciate everyone's tolerance.

102 and one-half days, folks.

Thanks -

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