Thursday, October 14, 2004

Sexual McCarthyism Regurgitated

I was disgusted but not surprised that cynical opportunist John Kerry would find an excuse to invoke Mary Cheney in a highly public forum. Maybe it’s just me, but I detected a similar sniff of self-satisfied righteousness in his tone on at least two occasions, during the first and last debates, when he alluded to the colorful Bush twins. No doubt many Kerry supporters who consider themselves humane and open-minded are congratulating their side for exposing the so-called hypocrisy of the so-called family values ticket while scaring away some of those so-called extremist homophobic right-wing religious zealots that form Bush’s so-called voting base. Ironically, Andrew Sullivan is now one of them.

Sullivan is a founding father of the blogosphere, a prodigiously gifted writer and editor, and an often forceful advocate of a humanistic libertarianism that appeals to some conservatives, including me. If weblogs are the most personal form of modern public writing, Sullivan is in large part responsible for breaking down barriers between writer and reader. To read his blog, as I used to do daily, was to gain an almost unfiltered glimpse into the workings of a grand intellect and a conflicted soul. More often than not, Andrew would successfully balance reason with emotion without sacrificing clarity or descending into propaganda.

From 2001 until 2003, Andrew Sullivan built a comprehensive case for pre-emptive action in the war on terror, an amicus brief in defense of the Bush doctrine. His support was neither blind nor uncritical but consistently pro-Bush. Suddenly last winter, when same-sex marriage first seemed like an imminent possibility, Sullivan started holding a fire sale on his well-documented principles and positions. He seems determined to lash out at many of his patient friends in the blogosphere, except for Christopher Hitchens with whom he recently appeared on Tim Russert’s weekend show on CNBC (the transcript is fascinating). Andrew’s blog has grown so incoherent and colicky that it depresses me to read it more than once a week.

Perhaps I have no right, but I expect Andrew to remember that there are malicious ways to expose someone who has already come out to an audience of his or her choosing and that to do so is a breach of privacy he termed sexual McCarthyism. When it happened to him, Sullivan recognized it immediately as payback for the audacity of an openly gay person to be politically conservative and an attempt to shake his supporters on the right. Both assaults, first on Andrew Sullivan and presently on Mary Cheney, came from the secular left.

The new Andrew Sullivan sees homophobic Christians under every bed. I miss the old Andrew Sullivan who used to know who Bush really is and lives now only in internet archives.

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