Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
37

Andrew Sullivan's Head Hits The Desk

"The Democrats are a clapped out, gut-free lobbyist machine. The Republicans are insane. The system is therefore paralyzed beyond repair." That's Andrew Sullivan, who has been right more often than many pundits in the Obama era, and also more patient and optimistic-ending many of his posts with the sign-off, "Know hope." So it's hard not to feel despair when, in the face of the Democrats' stupid looming loss in today's special senatorial election in Massachusetts, a loss he believes will leave the health bill "dead," he writes

If America cannot grapple with its deep and real problems after electing a new president with two majorities, then America's problems are too great for Americans to tackle. And so one suspects that this is a profound moment in the now accelerating decline of this country.

Please let him be wrong. It's already so hard to get up every morning. For a slightly brighter outlook, you can check out the essay about the prospects of America's future written by Sullivan's Atlantic colleague James Fallows. It's good. But it's very long and dry, so here's pretty much how it ends: "Our government is old and broken and dysfunctional, and may even be beyond repair," Fallows writes. But, "Our only sane choice is to muddle through."

Sigh.

America has been strong because, despite its flawed system, people built toward the future in the 1840s, and the 1930s, and the 1950s. During just the time when Frederick Law Olmsted designed Central Park, when Theodore Roosevelt set aside land for the National Parks, when Dwight Eisenhower created the Pentagon research agency that ultimately gave rise to the Internet, the American system seemed broken too. They worked within its flaws and limits, which made all the difference. That is the bravest and best choice for us now.

Okay then. Hey, at least the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam is back! I mean, that's gotta be something, right?

37 Comments / Post A Comment

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Shit, I'd better get fiddle lessons before any major cities go up in flames.

Jim Demintia (#1,815)

Andrew Sullivan is always overdramatic, even when he's being upbeat. Whether they elect the naked masshole or not, things will more or less roll along like they always have. To wit:

"This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."

KarenUhOh (#19)

This system was built for gridlock. That was a major driving force. We rely on "consensus" crafted from compromises that are a hair left or right of stasis.

It seems that when we manage to lurch or leap forward, or in any direction, for that matter, it involves forces outside our governing system–economic triggers, wars, what have you.

The oldes had plagues and Crusades to keep them moving along. Every so often someone would paint something.

zidaane (#373)

Painting is dead.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Need your lawn mowed/laundry done/trash taken out? I have a BFA in Fine Arts.

C_Webb (#855)

Or write something, like that one about the best lacking all conviction and the worst being full of passionate intensity. "IM IN UR WIDENING GYRE LALALA CAN'T HEAR U!"

Flashman (#418)

But why is it your fucking Republicans always doing the gridlocking? They just throw these histrionic hold-their-breath til they're red in the face tantrums, and the Democrats have no response; reason and intelligence count for nothing. Clinton's first term, Florida in 2000, now this.

KarenUhOh (#19)

Perhaps it's a matter of defaulting to the status quo. It seems our system of government was built to resist change, unless the interlocking parts mesh. So, the party most opposed to all things "progressive" (but, oddly, nothing called "progress") would, stand to reason, be blocking the door.

Where it breaks down in this brain is that those who resist "change" are often those who, by manners ignorant or devious, eagerly propose policies that most restrict this "liberty" stuff they're always crowing about–in the guise of "libertarianism."

joshc (#442)

let's be honest for a minute and recognize that the health care gridlock was partially driven by stubborn democrats and liebermans. if they had played nicely with their caucus, the bill could have come for a vote much earlier. they didn't have to support it, but they didn't have to threaten to filibuster either.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

joshc is correct. Let's add to that: throwing out the Public Option, buying off Ben Nelson and Landrieu, etc etc!
They didn't have this business locked down to begin with. They rushed into it with little more than Obama's latest speech to back them up- no ideological conviction, no talking points, no plan of action. And what do we get for a health-care bill? A giftwrapped present to the Insurance Industry.
So now, many of the "Independent" voters (read: pocketbook voters with the political memory of a horse fly) are thinking it's a good time to turn the tables- AGAIN.
I knew that this could very well be a tough year for Dems, but honestly- it's surprising to me how quickly it seems to be going to hell!

oudemia (#177)

Well, Andrew also has a history of overreaction, does he not? I mean, on 9/12 he basically wanted to put anyone — I was about to use the "to the left of" construction, but that really wasn't it — who didn't rush headlong to embrace the idea of censorship, ethnic profiling, and war! war! WAR! in a camp. He was happily throwing about terms like "fifth column." I'm basically nauseated about the situation in MA and its possible consequences, but pragmatists like Josh Marshall and Nate Silver are writing about the ways healthcare can still pass. Not exactly soothing, but it can at least get one to put down the gun.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Yes. "Andrew Sullivan, who has been right more often than many pundits in the Obama era…" That means what exactly? If everything has been in gridlock what has there been to be right about?

But as you (and many others have) pointed out, Sullivan has been wrong. And when he's wrong he's very, very wrong. Whatever, it's in his interest to be overly dramatic and keep 'em coming back for more.

Dave Bry (#422)

Oh. I was thinking of the Obama era as including the election. And the primaries. So, the last three years, say. Much of it before the current gridlock. And I think Sullivan saw things well a lot during that time. I usually try to avoid getting sucked into the prognostication stuff-who guesses wrong or right from the sidelines doesn't seem to be so important. But to see someone who has been hopeful, and, I think, despite the history noted above, pretty measured, actually-certainly more so than many voices out there, especially, of course, the voices on TV-to see that person lose hope, that seemed important. And very depressing. Thankfully, there are wise, Walter-Benjamin-quoting, perspective-giving Awl commentators to help me regain some equilibrium. (I say that totally seriously. And I surely had to look up the quote to learn that it was Walter Benjamin.)

shelven (#1,992)

Should we light the grate and offer him a strong cup of beef tea? Or whatever you do for agonized Englishman in 2010.

oudemia (#177)

Hand job.

Moff (#28)

And a blunt.

Flashman (#418)

Put on an old episode of Morse

LondonLee (#922)

A nice cup of tea usually works for me.

lawyergay (#220)

Chris Hayes has a good essay at The Nation in which he concludes, essentially, "It's always been hard to effect progressive change."

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100201/hayes

lawyergay (#220)

P.S I just cast my reluctant vote for Coakley.

oudemia (#177)

OK, now go do it again. (Ugh! And this is part of what nauseates me about the whole thing. If it were any other time, Coakley's losing wouldn't be so terrible. Brown will be a not-even-one-termer, and who wants Coakley set up as senator-for-life? But that ain't where we are. Blegh.)

lawyergay (#220)

It's interesting you say that. When I told the Coakley supporter outside my polling place that "she has my vote," she replied, "Maybe you could vote twice?" I told her I would see what I could do.

Re: Vote fraud: Can you imagine the raving hysteria of the right wing if a bunch of liberals from Massachusetts and Vermont stormed Florida to support, say, Crist? I've been sarcastically tweeting for the past couple of days about how all these white people from Texas and North Carolina "aren't our kind" and how we need to administer a test on Darwinian evolution at the polling places. Either no one gets it, or no one thinks it's funny.

bshep (#746)

I sincerely believe, granted based on nothing more than a gut feeling plus some knowledge of MA politics, that Brown will be (if he wins) a not-even-one-termer, and Coakley will be /would have been nearly impossible to dislodge once in office. Either way, let's hope for a decent Democratic candidate in two years (or one from any party that we can support and has a prayer of winning). And lets do our best to make that happen. (at least, that's where I am at the moment.. Hopefully projecting two years ahead, not thinking of tomorrow morning)

garge (#736)

I begrudgingly did the same, while trying to avoid the NECN crew; solace in puppies.

Me too. I can't help but feel sick about this. I look at my facebook, and it's wall-to-wall VOTE FOR SCOTT BROWN! And most of these people are known independents and democrats. So upsetting.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

The Mass. political system obviously has a similar problem/dysfunction as the Kansas system- which is to say that one historically engrained party machine controls most lower-level statewide offices with little or no opposition… a few counties here and there being the exception. Here in Kansas it's the inverse, as the Republicraps are the de facto machine to reckon with.
The party in power retains a commanding lead in voter registration because of this structure, which means a lot of voters wind up registering with a party that they have no ideological affinity with just so they don't get shut out of the political primary process ("Hey, if it's going to be a Republican/Democrat to hold the office, then let's make sure it's the least egregious Republican/Democrat.") This also leads to a political culture of less-than-thrilling mediocrities and "it's-my-turn-in-line" party hacks like Martha Coakley.
This explains why here in KS we occasionally score a reasonable Democratic governor like Kathleen Sebelius; it also explains why the Republicans tried repeatedly, for years, to unseat my Dem congressman (Dennis Moore, who decided to call it quits this year- thanks for pussying out Denny!) and couldn't- no matter which version of moderate/far-right/anti-abortion/whatever clown they trotted out. As long as the opposition can field an articulate, capable, hardworking, politically astute candidate, they have a chance. If they can't, then it's business as usual.

This year in KS is shaping up to be business as usual… which means that we can look forward to Sam fucking Brownback being our next governor. Oh, the joy I feel. Brown is a scheisty asshole and believe me- this Dem would vote for a ham sandwich (Taylor Ham!) before I'd vote for an attention-seeking opportunistic fuckwit like him, but at least voters in Mass can give (very small) thanks to your Yankee stars that he isn't a completely ass-backwards, unbending ideological cretin like Brownback!

Pintonator (#2,236)

My take-away is that the Shiba Inu puppycam is back. This is therefore a feel-good post.

SemperBufo (#1,849)

SO far, I got "ni-hao," "hsieh-hsieh," and "ee-erh-san." I gotta work on this.

LondonLee (#922)

It's snowing here in MA at the moment which won't help Coakley. Maybe God really is a Republican?

Bittersweet (#765)

No kidding – the snow isn't helping me get off my ass and vote for a candidate I can't stand, and wouldn't vote for if the 2 alternatives weren't equally heinous.

Vulpes (#946)

Sully's just still smarting from finding out his dog isn't actually a beagle.

oudemia (#177)

The gorgeous reddish doggie pictured (after the jump!) in his follow up post on the topic of finding out his dog is part Chinook is miiiiiiine. (God, what a sad dork I am, but, hey, there aren't too many Chinooks. And mine was a god damn goodlucking one.)

davidwatts (#72)

Like it or not, America is supposed to be a representative democracy, and if something approaching half the nation is against a given idea, even if it's for retarded reasons and you actually know what's "best" for everyone, maybe that thing should happen in a way they can be happy with. Not that I agree with them, but that is sort of the point of America, in a way.

LondonLee (#922)

And if a small handful of Senators who represent 10% of the population can kill major legislation, that's democracy too?

Andrew Sullivan comes in third on my list of Brits who should have been deported after 9/11 for flooding the media with consistently stupid, inflammatory and hysterical screeds. (The other two being Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis.)

I really don't care what he thinks.

joeclark (#651)

I don't know: Is the Awl a useful place to document how much U.S. law has been written just to serve Andrew Sullivan? (Relaxed marijuana enforcement, rescinded ban on positoids entering the country.)

Scum (#1,847)

Andrew Sullivan is the biggest bosom trembler in the biz. Nothing is ever concerning, it is always 'chilling'.

Plus he has the most annoying 'intellectual' trait of them all: making up pointless neologisms to give his stale ass shit a veneer of originality. The same boring old stuff about christian fundamentalists doesn't become interesting just because you call them 'christianists' instead of christian fundamentalist.

And less anyone think I have some strange bias against Sullivan I should point out thatI think these things even though I am his father as can be seen from my son andy's failure to ever document otherwise.

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