I got Sully’s attention.

I have mixed feelings about Andrew Sullivan.

He’s one of the brighter writers out there who calls himself a conservative. But that may be damning with faint praise.

He’s clearly created a profitable niche for himself in the very narrow borderlands between the left and right wings of U.S. politics. He considers himself a conservative Catholic, and likes to take occasional shots at liberalism. But he’s also a gay proponent of gay rights, and holds a lot of the right-wing Republican craziness in disdain.

I do appreciate some of his writing and insights. But he’s often painfully wrong. He’s been known to come belatedly around to correct position on important matters (e.g., the Iraq war), but those of us who saw the rightness of the position all along are often unimpressed that it takes him months or years to see the light.

Anyhow, the latest bit of Sullivan being mostly wrong has to do with Snowden and Greenwald. (I’ve mentioned before that when Sullivan and Greenwald disagree, my money’s going to be on the latter.)

And this time I got to correct him in public:

Sullivan’s been offering some tepid disapproval of Snowden’s leaks and his leaving the country. This morning he wrote that Obama should cancel his Moscow summit because Putin offered Snowden a one-year asylum to allow him to leave the airport he’s been stuck in for a month.

Sullivan wrote “It’s preposterous to see this as anything but a piece of geo-political theater. I cannot see how it benefits Snowden.”

I whipped off a brief cantankerous reply (as I do about once a month), and this time the e-mail caught his eye. He published about two-thirds of the brief note on his “Dish” site; here it is in full:

“I cannot see how it benefits Snowden.”

What? He’d be better off living in an airport the rest of his life? Coming back to the U.S. with no guarantee that he’d see a fair trial or avoid torture?

If the U.S. didn’t prevent his traveling to Venezuela or another country that offered him asylum, Snowden wouldn’t be in Russia now at all.

I assume that you also think that Italy should be breaking off relations with the U.S. for sheltering Robert Seldon Lady from their justice system. Or is it only wrong when it’s the U.S. that gets the finger in the eye?

Sullivan responds:

Torture? I’d dismiss the idea out of hand if it were not for the disgraceful, sadistic abuse of Bradley Manning by the US military, as he waited trial.

Yeah, me too. I obviously had Manning in mind when writing. I suspect the odds of Snowden being tortured are pretty low, maybe 1% or 2%. But, my god, what has our country come to that it’s even a possibility?

I imagine that this note on The Dish has been read by more people than any other piece of my writing. My articles are probably read by tens or hundreds of people; not thousands (even when I assign them to my students).  Maybe I should be cantankerous more often.

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One response to “I got Sully’s attention.

  1. Pingback: I’m published in The Atlantic! | Physicalism

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