Andrew Sullivan Profile
This profile of Andrew Sullivan in Intelligent Life by his friend Johann Hari is quite good. This ‘graph is especially noteworthy:
Sullivan is often accused of flip-flopping according to political expediency, but it’s revealing that almost all the later tensions in his thought are prefigured in his writings about Oakeshott from his early 20s, recently published as “Intimations Pursued“. In 1984, he wrote that Oakeshott offers “a conservatism which ends by affirming a radical liberalism”—precisely the charge against Sullivan since 2004.
The piece as a whole is well worth a read, providing some excellent insights into a man who is both the most significant and most exasperating voice online. In addition to Hari’s, two recent descriptions of Sullivan capture my thoughts on him quite well.
Jim Henley:”Sully is the medium’s one true genius. He is simply taking the implication of the online political (in the broad sense) diary to its implicit conclusion. He is silly like us, but his gift survives it all. I would read it all, and enjoy it, agreeing sometimes and disagreeing others, condescending now and bowing ten minutes later, but I would never have the time to read anything else.”
Alex Massie goes further: “Andrew is by turns perverse, infuriating, stimulating, entertaining, humane, amusing, provocative, admirable, obsessive, generous, contradictory, witty and above all, incorrigible.”
Sullivan is both simply brilliant – he was the lead editor of The New Republic at 26! — and a well-trained intellectual (Oxford and a Harvard PhD) and yet the most emotional blogger I read. He’s more willing than most to, as Hank Williams Jr. said of his famous father, pour his heart right out on the page.
The combination of these traits makes for some of the remarkable highs and lows you’ll see anywhere. His obsession with Trig Palin, for example, is baffling and sad. And his contempt for “Christianists” goes way too far even for this anti-theist. But the same tendencies make him the first to criticize his own, whether it’s jumping ship on a war he passionately championed, vigorously opposing torture, or his disdain for the more radical elements of gay culture.
First link via Tyler Cowen.