You people are letting Andrew Sullivan down again


And by “you people,” of course I mean you, President Obama.

The extended North American/ Anglosphere Twittersphere is agog these days over the latest spectacle put on by Urblogger Andrew Sullivan, who edited The New Republic in the days when paper was king and who has spent the past decade blogging, in succession, for (a) himself (b) Time magazine (c) The Atlantic Monthly (d) Tina Brown. Since 2007 Sullivan has been perhaps Barack Obama’s leading gay British Republican supporter; he wrote a 2007 Atlantic cover story explaining why Obama was “necessary” to binding up the nation’s wounds and a 2012 Newsweek cover story asserting that Obama was about to become the most significant U.S. president since Reagan. (“The narrative writes itself. He will emerge as an iconic figure…”) About 6,000 times he has ended blog posts on Obama with the sentence-thing “Know Hope.”

But now comes Sully’s crisis of confidence.

He watched the same debate everyone else did last week; noticed, as many did, that the incumbent had a hard time of things, and then read yesterday’s surprising Pew Center poll, which essentially showed Obama’s support collapsing so rapidly he will soon owe Mitt Romney votes. So yesterday he wrote a blog post asking whether Obama has thrown the election away. Well, not really asking. More like telling:

Look: I’m trying to rally some morale, but I’ve never seen a candidate this late in the game, so far ahead, just throw in the towel in the way Obama did last week – throw away almost every single advantage he had with voters and manage to enable his opponent to seem as if he cares about the middle class as much as Obama does.


I’ve never seen a candidate self-destruct for no external reason this late in a campaign before.


I’m trying to see a silver lining. But when a president self-immolates on live TV, and his opponent shines with lies and smiles, and a record number of people watch, it’s hard to see how a president and his party recover.

Yoiks. Almost immediately, Sullivan was anointed with the Triple Crown of fleeting media-spectacle prominence: The top headline on Drudge Report…

A fake “Sully Panic” Twitter account…

And a takedown on Gawker The Awl, a somewhat Gawker-like site:

Like some CGI action movie, Sullivan’s Daily Dish blog is all explosions and implosions and dazed weeping survivors seeking only a catchphrase that will keep the wounds and memories fresh until the next apocalypse, tomorrow.

To his credit, today Sullivan is running a million emails from readers who either (a) want him to stop jinxing Obama with all this pessimism or (b) think he’s simply wrong and that Obama will win. For a guy with such thin skin, Sullivan often displays admirably thick skin. But one reason Sullivan’s wild mood swinging is so interesting is that it’s at least possible he’s right again, as he was in 2007 (on outcome, if not on rationale) when he endorsed the long-shot Illinois Senator who was at that point marching into battle against the fearsome Hillary Clinton.

It is, in fact, entirely possible that Obama blew the election with a single 90-minute display of I-didn’t-know-this-would-be-on-the-exam. Certainly if he does lose, all the post-mortem tick-tocks will begin in Denver on the night of Oct. 3. That’s one reason I found Ezra Levant’s column this morning more plausible than some of Ezra’s output, although I couldn’t help remembering that there’s another prominent North American politician who likes teleprompters more than news conferences, and that one works two blocks away from me.

Sullivan’s wild emotions are part of his appeal, to those (like me) who find him at least intermittently appealing. This week he’s a proxy for everyone who hopes Obama would win and suspects he is no longer a lock. Sullivan should be less surprised than anyone that Obama had a rough night in Denver: near the top of that 2007 profile, he noted that “a soaring rhetorical flourish one day” from Obama “is undercut by a lackluster debate performance the next.” Sure called that one, Sully. It’s never a good day at the office when you find yourself sliding from Know Hope to No Hope.



You people are letting Andrew Sullivan down again

  1. Clint Eastwood is never wrong. He pointed out (the obvious) that the emperor had no clothes a month ago. And Eastwood’s invisible Obama put up a bigger fight than the real one did against Romney.

    The idea of Obama was always more appealing than the real thing.

    The real Obama bailed out the banksters and plutocrats. The real Obama did nothing for main street. Not a single bankster prosecuted for the mortgage fraud which caused the global economic crisis. The real Obama rains drone missiles down on brown people, double tapping the first responders (terrorist-in-chief). Guantanamo is still open. Gun running to Mexican drug cartels. The Patriot Act was full speed ahead.

    • There can be little doubt Obama has disappointed moderates, much in the same way Harper has disappointed some conservatives. His best bet now is “but look at the other guy”, and the other guy is putting on a good show of being likable and quick with an answer.

  2. ‘Nervous Nellies’ Chretien called people like this.

  3. Go ahead, vote for a Mormon. Have fun with that.

    • Mormon vs. Muslim…. I know which side I’d take.

      • Obama a Muslim? What evidence do you have?

        (Honestly, I’m just curious to see what right-wing fever swamps feed the imagination of Mr. Rick Omen)

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Awesome! I assume this is Rick Omen’s pseudonym here.

        • Because Madonna said so?

          Obviously I was joking…. funny how religious bigotry is totally OK with you “progressives”.

          • @Rick_Omen:disqus: Hey, I’m not the one making bigoted jokes.

            Is @Winstone_Blake:disqus just joking too? You guys are hilarious.

  4. The reason the Awl feels Gawker-like at the moment is because Ken Layne, former Gawker/ Wonkette editor, is guest editing this week. Of course, regular blogger Choire Sicha is also a Wonkette alumnus. Incestuous!

  5. Eh, I was expecting Obama’s crucifixion when he first burst on to the political scene. People have a tendency to do that with messiahs. For recent examples, just look at the recent string of Liberal “saviours” and the messianic political movements that came out of the prairies for most of the 20th century. The fact that Obama hasn’t paid his dues enough to wield influence outside of his presidential office also doomed his followers to disappointment.

    I don’t think Obama had it in him to bring about what he promised to get elected. I also however, am as negative towards him as most people are. We tend to forget that the office of president of the United States is actually an office with limits on its powers and those powers are balanced between different branches of government officially, and unofficially through influence peddlers and the massive civil service.

    WhyshouldIsellyourwheat is correct, Obama has done all of those things. But I tend to be more forgiving because I realize that with the entrenched civil administration and the spread of influence, I probably would have all of those things done in my name if I was President too, even though I find every one of those things abhorrent.

  6. “… Know Hope to No Hope.”

    Did you write this blog so you could use this line? It is funny.

    Sullivan is interesting character – I first discovered blogs in summer of 2002 and they were jane galt, instapundit and daily dish. Sullivan was a big fan of Bush, he was right wing but Repubs were anti gay in 2004 and then Sullivan understandably changed his politics. Sullivan has made interesting career for himself but I stopped reading him years ago. It is also amazing how American msm has embraced blogs and bloggers while Canadian msm not so much.

    • Well, there’s no doubt in my mind that Ezra *is* right.

      • I actually do think Ezra has something, I can see Obama being a slacker, the guy likes to socialize way too much, nothing wrong with it but he is the leader of the free world I would certainly would expect better he is NOT Bill Clinton.

        I think he will do much better after next bedate, after heavy homework.

  7. Well, the race has been close all along. The excellent Sean Trende had another good article today:

    Romney has closed the gap on various occasions only for Obama to regain a small lead. The debate was only the latest. As far as I can tell, according to the polls Obama has a slight lead or is tied. But I also think that momentum and enthusiasm and the usual under-sampling of conservatives means that Romney now has a slight lead. Last week I thought Obama had a lead regardless of enthusiasm, momentum, and under-sampling.

    I think that the debate was a historic trouncing, but not for all the same reasons people have posited. I believe that Obama’s campaign had successfully built up a narrative as Romney being a money-grubbing heartless and rich plutocrat, cold and wooden, evading taxes, shipping jobs overseas, and even killing some poor cancer victim. That narrative was, and is, simply false in all facets. Obama has had more advertising and the usual left-leaning media coverage had successfully pushed this narrative. However, the debate was able to put a sizable dent in this narrative. The resulting trouncing in the debate and the surge since then was simply the realization, for the first time, by many of those watching the debate, that the Obama narrative about Romney was false. This would be people who don’t follow politics very closely and do not watch convention speeches.

    So it was the lead-up to the debate that is half the story about the debate. Looking at it this way, it was not Obama’s performance that was the problem, and it was not necessarily going to happen at that debate, but the Romney surge could have happened before or after under the right circumstances.

    That being said, it’s just a theory, a hindsight theory. Where the race will go from now, it seems difficult to predict. But it has been close, and it looks like it may remain close.

  8. Can a person die from Irony? Ezra is a hoot isn’t he? No one ever called Harper lazy, i’ll grant him that; but as PW sorta hints, if someone were to point out that Harper’s style isn’t all that different from Obamas[ in that spontaneous he is not. Catch him with a question he isn’t prepared for and watch him squirm…look …frankly, i um, think, er that um er that question is er um somehat moot…er, um..frankly…um.] Never get Ezra to admit that possibility though.
    I see Ezra as a comedian who isn’t all that funny, but is frequently bizarrely petty, mean spirited, incredibly lazy intellectually in the worst knee jerk way…and only occasionally and very rarely accurate.
    As for Sullivan, If he’s a Obama booster, i think Obama is in trouble.

    • You are unfair to Harper, who is very quick on his feet to deny the leigitimacy of any question asked.

      • Unfair to Harper…is not a concept i can get my head around for some reason.

    • Harper has never sold himself as someone who could lead a crowd with his oratory. In a debate the best one could hope for is he not make a fool of himself. Obama however has been presented as an inspiring figure, and when he didn’t show up last week it was a surprise to some.

  9. Sullivan should reach into that Maggie Thatcher replica handbag on the
    pedestal he keeps in his office to see if there might be a loose Valium
    rattling around in the bottom.

  10. It is not easy to see how Obama will navigate the foreign policy debate without taking on serious water. How do you respond to Romney when he brings up the fact that Obama went on David Letterman 6 days after the Benghazi attack, knowing all the while that it was a terrorist attack, and tried to blame it on a movie protest to whitewash his administration’s botching of the security? How to explain the reduction in security forces in Libya, against the direct wishes of the Ambassador? Against the advice of his security people? How to explain his own intelligence ranks calling the White House & State Department treatment of Benghazi a coverup?

    Lt. Col Andrew Wood is about to testify at the House commission about this stuff; if it’s anything like his CBS interview (and props to Sharyl Attkisson for being one of the only MSM journalists, along with Jake Tapper, with the stones to keep chasing this story)…I just don’t see how Obama comes out of that debate with any foreign policy credibility left.

    • I think it’s clear that from beginning to end, the whole approach to Libya and Egypt has been based entirely on upcoming election, from the denouncing of Romney, to the coverup of the security failure, to the coverup of the true reason for the attack rather than a movie protest, to the flying off to a fundraiser the next day when an American ambassador was murdered during the night, to bringing in the movie producer for questioning, etc etc etc.

      Every single thing that the administration has done has been done for reasons of the upcoming election. There have been no other considerations whatsoever.

      And every single on of these things would have been lambasted by the press if a Republican president had done the same. Instead, what we’ve seen is the press playing along with the Obama campaign (with the exception of a small number of reporters as you’ve mentioned).

    • It’s even worse than I thought. Now it’s come out that the whole story about Libya was an Obama administration fabrication. There was no protest in Libya. And the only reason it came out is because of the hearings in Congress.

      • Nah. That story came out over 3 weeks ago, but the news blockade was still in effect.

        The media are starting to catch up now that Tapper and Attkisson have opened the floodgates, and are pretending that this is news. They knew about this back then and have been sitting on it until now.

        • Wow. I missed that.

  11. Astonishing. When Obama walked off the stage after the debate, he thought he’d won.

  12. By the way Wells, nice Tropic Thunder reference

    • That thrill Chris Matthews had running up his leg is now a trickle down the leg…

  13. Lesson that is likely to be lost, especially if Obama pulls out the election (still the likeliest result, IMO): Look what 90 minutes of moderate Republicanism did. If Romney loses, it’s likely because he wasn’t this guy until it was too late.

  14. I normally enjoy Sully, when I read him. I rarely agree with him, but he will raise points that are outside of the normal talking-points, and I have nothing but respect for people like that.

    This last column by him, however, was just plain weird. I was almost giggling while I read it because I could almost envision him weeping in disbelief that His Guy might not take this thing in a cake-walk.

    The media isn’t campaigning for Obama this year like they were 4 years ago. Which I think is making a lot of the campaign staff question what they’re doing.

    Unless Obama can whack Romney around in the next debate like Romney just did to him, I think this campaign will end up being a Republican blow-out.

    However, if I were Team Obama, I’d be really worried about the Ryan vs. Biden debate. I think it’ll be quite easy for Ryan to make Biden look the most out-of-his-league VP in the history of the world.