Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Asking The Question

I like Andrew Sullivan as a blogger, and I'd say I agree with him about 60% of the time and disagree about 30% of the time, and the other 10% is usually when he annoys me so much I need to get up and get a drink of water. Which is probably about the right mix for any blogger, all things considered, but recently he's been in that 10% zone a lot with his questioning of Elena Kagan's sexual orientation. He's written about why he thinks it's so important to ask the question, and it appears to still be on his mind. Here he is generalizing the issue to something about Obama that I don't quite get.

Sullivan's most frequent problem is that he is too self-congratulatory for asking questions that don't really matter all that much but are controversial, and then acting like a martyr for free speech when he doesn't get the answers he wants. Despite numerous people saying that Kagan isn't gay, he simply cannot take yes for an answer. He's decided there's something strange there, and that's that. I find it telling that literally nobody else cares about who Ms. Kagan prefers to go to bed with, just like nobody really cared about the real story about Trig Palin. Despite there being a very plausible counternarrative to Palin's sketchy explanation for the pregnancy (i.e. that she lied about the circumstances, which is hardly out of character for her), Sullivan couldn't let it go. He seemed to be under the impression that Trig is somehow Bristol's baby, despite there being literally no possibility of that. And in both cases, he personally made himself out to be the victim when questions weren't answered to his satisfaction. Frankly, I find this an unattractive tendency. I do like Andrew Sullivan, and his blog is one of my favorites. And he often does try to honestly deal with his mistakes and change his mind when confronted with new evidence. But his strong instinctual sense for the story, coupled with a streak of martyrdom, often gets him into trouble. A word to the wise, Andrew: let this one go.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.