Turned up to eleven: Fair and Balanced

Monday, January 07, 2002

I'm back, and I am sure that all seven of you missed me. I was going to stay away from the computer for a few more days, but I decided to catch up on my reading a little bit. That got me in trouble when I got to Andrew Sullivan's page. After some mindless palaver about who Dubya is more like in Lord of the Rings (Frodo or Sam), Sullivan says one of the most truly brainless things that I have ever read

He just doesn’t let his intelligence dictate his sense of right and wrong. He knows the two realms of intelligence and morality are categorically separate, a simple truth many liberals don’t easily acknowledge. That’s why government isn’t always best left to the most theoretically clever. It’s best left to those who are practically smart and morally clear. Eggheads like me, and Jake, should stick to journalism. And we shouldn’t condescend to politicians who are achieving things neither of us could begin to master.(italics's mine)

I had to read this a couple of times to make sure I had it right. I don't like to criticize fellow bloggers, but Sully's defenses of W. have become so strained and mindless that they stretch credulity. Does he seriously think that morality is separate from intelligence? Shouldn't we think about the difference between right and wrong, or should we just mind our mannners and let our betters do the thinking for us? Whether or not government is best served by cleverness is up for debate, and there is something to be said for earnestness and moral simplicity, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater! I am not a fan of W., and I don't think that he has done anything special in the last three months to distinguish himself as a leader. A useful comparison is to Mayor Guiliani, who is by all accounts a very smart man, and a very shrewd political operator. For all the Bush administration's spinning, it is clear by any measure which of these two has been the better wartime leader. Already, W. has returned to his old tropes (as have the Dems), trying to make sure we all know that they just want what's best for us, while their opponents want to run this country into the ground. It is no virtue to be ignorant, uncurious, or lazy. George W. Bush has shown himself to be all of these things in his past, and although he has been a passable leader during the "War on Terrorism", he has certainly not suddenly become a shining symbol of the virtues of American democracy. The funniest thing about this passage I quoted, tho, is the utter surety of Sullivan's statements. Not only is he a mindless Bushophile at this point, but he has lost the ability to see nuance. Anything in the least bit disparaging to Dubya must be shot down, and quick! Weisberg's piece in Slate compares Dubya to Truman and Reagan, a comparison that most Bushies would probably see as favorable. Ah well, the dance continues.