Saturday, January 31, 2015

Andrew Sullivan

You've probably seen that Andrew Sullivan plans to retire from blogging soon.

I can't tell you how proud I was when he linked to my post about him for the 10th anniversary of his blog, in 2010.

So many other writers were paying tribute to him that day, and many of them were being more complimentary than I was. He had solicited "toasts and roasts," but they seemed to be mostly the former.

My post lauded him for some things but was quite critical of him in other ways, and I even mentioned that I had stopped reading his blog.

I thought the fact that he would link to a post by an obscure person like me, and even quote the critical parts on his blog, when he had so many more positive posts to choose from that day, really said something about his character.

From my post on his 10th bloggiversary:

Self-righteousness and dogmatism are generally not a perfect fit with foreign policy. Sullivan's style is what it is. It isn't perfect, as even he admits. But he has done far more good than most cheerleaders for the Iraq war by exposing and analyzing his own shortcomings in thinking about war.

But when I think of Sullivan's political voice, I won't think first about foreign policy. I'll think about the issue he showed me how to think about.

His opening remarks about same-sex marriage in that video (back in 1997, before he was a blogger) are dated. He thought Hawaii was soon to be the first state in the US with same-sex marriage; the first such state was Massachusetts in 2004, and Hawaii still doesn't have it. [That was true when I wrote this in 2010; the law recognizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii was signed in 2013. — JAC] He didn't do a great job at predicting the future, but his message still has great resonance today.

I was going to find some choice moment of this video, transcribe it, and quote it here to draw your attention to it. But I would have felt like just transcribing the whole thing. So please, watch the whole thing. To say this is Sullivan at his best would be an understatement.

I love how he starts by giving definitions of homosexuality and heterosexuality that seem so uncontroversial as to be hardly worth explaining — and then leverages those definitions into his case for same-sex marriage (both as something that should happen and as the most important front in the gay rights movement).

Though he's often criticized as overly emotional about political issues, he took the political issue he feels the most strongly about in his life and made his case with lucid logic. He did it when it was a lot less popular than it is now, and he did it over and over.

Thank you, Andrew Sullivan. You have made a difference.
This is Andrew

(Photo of Andrew Sullivan by Trey Ratcliff.)