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Honor and Dignity in the White House. Especially Dignity

Yes, Andrew Sullivan Is Still a Mendacious Dork

Andrew Sullivan, pathetically, claims that he always knew that George W. Bush was mendacious and incompetent, but--look! 911!:

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Paul Krugman smears yours truly today.... He has one decent point: yes, I lionized George W. Bush for a while after 9/11, and, in retrospect, my attempt to place trust in him at a time of national peril was a misjudgment. But then, in times of peril, some of us feel that supporting the president, whoever he is, and hoping he gets things right, are not contemptible impulses. I should have been more skeptical. In less dire circumstances, I might have been. But some of us, in the days after 9/11, did not immediately go into partisan mode... and rallied behind a president at war.

Andrew is right about one thing: he did know that George W. Bush was mendacious long before 911. But 911 had nothing to do with Sullivan's lionizing Bush. Sullivan lionized Bush long before 911. On May 14, 2001, for example, we have Sullivan lionizing Bush not despite but because of his mendacity. Sullivan, you see, thought presidential lying was really kool:

Matthew Yglesias: The Lies, The Lies: At issue [in Sullivan's attacks on Paul Krugman] are Krugman's repeated insistences that George W. Bush's economic policy is founded on a tissue of lies. Krugman is, of course, entirely correct about this.... [I]n his May 14, 2001 column 'Downsize,' Sullivan conceded Krugman's point:

The Krugmans and the Chaits will shortly have a cow, if not a whole herd of them.... And, to be fair to these liberal critics, they're right about one thing. One of the tax cut's effects will surely be that the United States won't be able to afford a vastly expanded Medicare drug benefit. And the archaic sinkhole known as Social Security won't be shored up either. And Medicare, may the gods preserve us, may even have to grow at a slightly slower rate. In fact, many of the spending programs that some still believe solve most human problems will encounter the only political resistance that matters in budgetary matters: insolvency.

To which my response is: Hoorah.... Some commentators--at this magazine and elsewhere--get steamed because Bush has obscured this figure or claimed his tax cut will cost less than it actually will, or because he is using Medicare surplus money today that will be needed tomorrow and beyond. Many of these arguments have merit--but they miss the deeper point. The fact that Bush has to obfuscate his real goals of reducing spending with the smoke screen of 'compassionate conservatism' shows how uphill the struggle is.... [A] certain amount of B.S. is necessary for any vaguely successful retrenchment of government power in an insatiable entitlement state.... I just hope the smoke doesn't clear before the spenders get their hands on our wallets again.


UPDATE: P. O'Neill catches Sullivan monkeying with his quotes from himself:

Best of Both Worlds: Sullivan, a pioneer in the labelling of Krugman as "shrill" for his dissent, delivers a long and clearly stung response... one specific thing should be noted right away. [Sullivan writes today]:

Five days after 9/11, in an aside in a long essay, I predicted that a small cadre of decadent leftists in enclaves in coastal universities would instinctively side with America's enemies. They did. Some still do.

Note, via Sullywatch for the previous instance, that this makes it two times that has he now altered that infamous quote, once to lessen its central accusation and now to claim it only applied to universities and not everyone on the coasts:

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.

In the original, it is the coasts of the U.S. that are the enclaves, and those who do not live in the middle part of the country and/or did not vote for Bush in 2000 who are the "decadent Left." I understand that Sullivan now wishes that he had not written that.