Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Bad Note

Andrew Sullivan has a bad habit of making his blog unreadable. This happens for a variety of reasons, among them: an obsession with Sarah/Bristol Palin's baby...the mistaken impression that he personally is a key player in the Iranian Green Revolution...and a knee-jerk reflex towards authoritarianism in the face of anything remotely frightening.

For all of those reasons this has been a bad week at The Dish. But it is his PTSD flashback-to-9/11 reaction to the Underpants Bomber that has him at his worst.

We all remember the "fifth column" reference in 2001, and the bootlicking of Bush and Cheney in the wake of the attack. Sullivan burned a LOT of bridges with that behavior. But he has come a long way since then. Andrew now properly recognizes Bush as the utter, contemptible failure that he was, and Cheney as the monster that he is...but throw the slightest dash of botched death by undergarments into the mix and it's full-blown bed-wetting panic and craven grasping for the worst behavior of the Bush Era.

It's fucking pathetic, and shows that despite all his seeming rehabilitation, Sullivan remains a toadie at heart.

Let's start with his unrelenting and preposterous call for Janet Napolitano's head on a platter, as if she is somehow responsible or accountible for what happened. To wit:
One of the federal government's core responsibilities is public order.

They've had eight years to figure this out and they are still clueless. Sure, Bush was president for much of that time and bears the bulk of the responsibility, but Obama is now president. When officials screwed up under Bush, they were defended, backed up, told they were doing great, etc etc. [...]
Obama needs to prove he is not Bush. Hold a thorough investigation and fire everyone in the chain of command who let the Jihadist onto a plane. Every single one. But before then, fire Napolitano. The buck stops with her.

First, let's point out that public order seems to be doing just fucking fine, Andrew. The only people I see or hear who's diapers need changing are Republicans looking to score cheap terror points and you. Everyone else is going about their business as usual. You know, an actual hallmark of British resolve. One that held during WWII, the IRA and the subway bombings.

And as for Napolitano? How about actually figuring out what the hell happened first before scapegoating someone to make it look like you've done something about the problem in absence of real action—like Bush would have done. And as for "everyone in the chain of command who let a jihadist onto a plane," I'm not sure what Obama can do to fire airport screeners in Nigeria and Amsterdam. John Cole's got this covered.

Then there's this:
Should We Israelify Airports?
A question worth asking.

Okay, Andrew. You asked so, I'll answer. No. I don't particularly want to model ANY behavior on Israel's. And it wouldn't work anyway. Israel is the size of New Jersey, has one major international airport, a population subject to mandatory military service, no problem racially profiling and discriminating against the majority of it's population and a statistical need to maintain that level of vigilance. None of that applies here.

What's most maddening about this is the fact that Sullivan is capable of extremely good, thought-provoking writing, and at the moment a lot of interesting year-end retrospectives. But needing to filter through this garbage just makes you question why you ever clicked over there.


Toast said...

I unsubscribed from his feed this week. Again. I go back and forth. Mainly, I just got tired of opening up Google Reader and seeing:

Balloon Juice (2)
Colin McEnroe (1)
Daily Dish (2,857)
Kevin Drum (2)
Political Animal (3)
The Plank (4)

The Iran stuff was interesting to a point (few were covering it) but he blew it way out of proportion. At one point I think he called it the most pivotal moment in human history, which is pretty fucking crazy unless you're one of those tools who thinks our species' defining conflict will be Radical Islam vs. The West.

The thing he wrote recently that really, really, really ticked me off was that throwaway paragraph last week asserting that a president Al Gore also would have invaded Iraq (unlikely) and also would have done so under false pretenses (no fucking chance). I don't care whether Sullivan thinks he has evidence in Gore's record to support that claim or not, it's still a despicable maneuver, blithely asserting that Gore - a vocal Iraq war critic and, naturally, a man Sullivan personally loathes - would have acted exactly like the most dishonest, craven and unethical administration in modern history.

But, that's Sully. His eloquence and sustained periods of insight mask the fact that, at heart, he's just another opinionated blogger with an agenda.

John Howard said...

I really wonder how people who are so afraid of everything manage to leave the house at all. I think I'm about as scared of dying as anyone, but I don't spend much time worrying about things that are extremely unlikely to kill me, like terrorism. I haven't been on a plane in a long time, but when I do get on one, I'll be far more worried about the (still pretty slim) chance of it crashing than the infinitesimal chance that some terrorist will blow it up.

It's amazing to me that people who seem to be so concerned about terrorism would be willing to encourage more of it by freaking out so much in response to a failed attack.

Smitty said... I gonna have to remove my boxers at the airport now?

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steves said...

I don't bother much with Sullivan anymore except when someone links to him. I don't think there is anyone else out there that is as all over the place as he is. Like you, I don't care for his authoritarian streak.

As for Napolitano, I was kind of reminded of Bush patting "Brownie" on the back after Katrina. She is certainly not entirely to blame, but some of her comments seemed a little stupid after what happened. It sure seems like someone dropped the ball, but I suppose I am not an expert by any means on this subject, so I could be wrong.

As for what should be done, I don't know. The fact remains that if we want more security, then we will have to put up with more hassles. I tend to think it is already a giant pain, so I would prefer if there could be some methods that don't require me to be at the airport 3 hours before my flight and submit to a body cavity search.

But, that's Sully. His eloquence and sustained periods of insight mask the fact that, at heart, he's just another opinionated blogger with an agenda.

Well said.

Deb said...

I'm with John completely on this... I don't understand how everyday people spend so much time worrying about something that is so statistically irrelevant. They're more likely to be in a plane crash than have their plane taken over by a hijacker or destroyed by a terrorist. I have a suspicion that they're the same annoying people in line in security in front of me who still can't figure out that 3 ounces is the limit or that their pocket change is going to set off the metal detectors.

Mrs Furious said...

"I don't understand how everyday people spend so much time worrying about something that is so statistically irrelevant. "

I have to say that I flew through the Detroit airport twice this past week and I don't think that many everyday people are worried about it. There was no difference in anything about my airport experience than any other time ... well.. one difference, the camera crews. People weren't anxious, lines weren't long, security was the same. If I hadn't had to hear about it on CNN in the waiting areas I would have had no idea that anything had happened at all, let alone two terrorist attempts in that very airport.

Mr Furious said...

Mrs F and I were just talking about the fact that it seems that the public was taking this in stride. Perhaps the fact that Obama has chosen a more low-key response?

It seems to me the only people freaking out over this are Republicans looking to score points, and the media looking to drum up this month's film-at-11:00 paranoia.

I'm ecstatic that this time it seems not to be working.