So Long and Thanks for all the Dish

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-the-daily-dish-andrew-sullivaAndrew Sullivan, the weirdo-crank/intellectual/beard-fetishist/dope-smoker/Catholic/beagle-fan/pro-obama-conservative/English/American/Palin-obsessive/HIV+ genius who invented both blogging and gay marriage published his final blog post today.

I’m verklempt. I read his blog religiously, day-in and day-out for the final eight of the staggering 15 years it was online. To say I “didn’t always agree with him” would be a platitude: not just because his ideas were so idiosyncratic but because the dude wrote so damn much nobody could possibly “always agree with him”, not even himself.

It’d be soft-selling it to call him an “influence”: Andrew Sullivan defined blogging as a form, one as different from OpEd writing as ballet is to yoga. He made it what it is, explored what it could be and sketched what it ought to strive to be. To anyone who took blogging seriously as blogging, he was an obligatory reference, and his retirement is an immense blow.

His last post, today, puts it well, with that clear, vibrant, urgent voice he honed over so many years at it:

What I have written here should not be regarded as interchangeable with more considered columns or essays or reviews. Blogging is a different animal. It requires letting go; it demands writing something that you may soon revise or regret or be proud of. It’s more like a performance in a broadcast than a writer in a book or newspaper or magazine (which is why, of course, it can also be so exhausting). I have therefore made mistakes along the way that I may not have made in other, more considered forms of writing; I have hurt the feelings of some people I deeply care about; I have said some things I should never have said, as well as things that gain extra force because they were true in the very moment that they happened. All this is part of life – and blogging comes as close to simply living, with all its errors and joys, misunderstandings and emotions, as writing ever will.

I tried, above all, to be honest. And you helped me. Being honest means writing things that will make you look foolish tomorrow; it means revealing yourself in ways that are not always flattering; it means occasionally saying things that prompt mass acclamation but in retrospect look like grandstanding. It means losing friends because you have a duty to criticize what they write. It means not pretending you believe something you don’t – like a tall story from a vice-presidential candidate or a war narrative that was increasingly obsolete. It means writing dangerously with the only assurance – without an editor – that readers will correct you when you’re wrong and encourage you when you are right. It is a terrifying and exhilarating way to write – and also an emotionally, psychologically depleting one. But I loved it nonetheless. I relished it every day. I wouldn’t trade these years for any others.

I’ve never met Andrew Sullivan, but I still think of him as my mentor. I count the handful of times he picked up something I’d written and ran it on The Dish as the pinnacle of my career.

His departure leaves a big, fat void on my Bookmarks Bar, one that won’t easily be filled.

All the best, Sully. I can’t thank you enough.

1 COMMENT

  1. Really brilliant description by Sullivan of the true nature of blogging vs. other written forms of expression, but I assume that Juan will continue to fullfill for you that bookmarks void….

  2. Do you identify more as a writer or political scientist?

    You are definitely creative with all subjects economy so I cross-out businessman.

  3. “I tried, above all, to be honest.”

    In this sense, you certainly did not follow his lead. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of another blog that is so characterized by its lack of honesty as yours. For example:

    –You have consistently, and unceasingly denied, for over a decade, that the opposition carried out a coup against Chavez in 2002.

    –When opposition violence led to the deaths of dozens of people last February, you not only were silent about all those deaths caused by opposition violence, you went so far as to refer to the state violence as a “pogrom” against dissidents. The reality was that a majority of the deaths were caused by the guarimba and the barricadas.

    You once tried to be honest about electoral fraud, stating the obvious truth that electoral fraud is practically impossible with the current electoral system. Yet, when Capriles made his wild claims about fraud, you suddenly became very silent on the topic. You didn’t utter a peep while all of your friends were running with the lies about “fraud”.

    Sullivan may have been a mentor to you, but in the honesty department you fell way, way short my friend.

    • “Betty” has taken the place of “Arturo” as stand-up comic on this Blog. And, FT, I over-viewed quickly yesterday your many CC Blog contributions, and you should feel proud of carrying on the Sullivan tradition of blogging excellence all these years.

    • Betty: Why do you spend so much time commenting on blogs you disagree with? I’m not attacking you as much as I’m genuinely curious.

        • Haha, right Toro, so you took back the “pogrom” blunder, all the while doubling down on all the rest. Even in this post, where you try to pretend to have a semblance of honesty, you center your attention exclusively on the actions of the state, claiming they were trying to “terrorize” caraqueños. There is literally zero mention of how the violent guarimbas and barricadas, which killed more people than anything else, might have also been terrorizing caraqueños?

          You’re so dishonest that even when you are pretending to be honest you can’t manage it.

          • And another funny little thing about that post of yours Toro…. You claim only one person died during the events of the 19th and 20th of February. Well, turns out that’s only true if you think only some people matter.

            If you think all people matter, then between the 19th and 20th of February, when you were so “hot in the moment” about the government’s horrible “pogrom”…. there were 4 other people killed, all a result of opposition barricades.

            –Luzmila Petit de Colina: la anciana de 70 años murió el 19 de febrero causa de una hipertensión arterial que no se trató a tiempo por barricadas que obstaculizaban el paso en Caracas.

            –Julio Eduardo González Pinto: falleció tras perder el control de su vehículo por esquivar una barricada en Carabobo. El accidente ocurrió el 19 de febrero, de acuerdo con un artículo de Noticiero Digital.

            –Delia Elena Lobo: murió tras sufrir fuertes lesiones cuando la moto en la que viajaba cruzó una trampa de alambres de púas en Mérida. La mujer tenía 37 años.

            –Arturo Alexis Martínez: este hombre de 59 años murió al recibir un disparo en el pecho cuando presuntamente se encontraba quitando barricadas de la calle el pasado 20 de febrero.

            It must be hard to maintain such blatant dishonesty, even while pretending to be honest.

        • that’s the point, evidently lost on those with limited IQ’s. Which brings to an earlier discussion on the correlation between those of low IQ’s and those who swoon over a dictatorial regime that masquerades as a democracy. Thanks for proving the theorem.

      • Yeah, it must really seem strange to actually, you know, engage the arguments of those who you disagree with. But Toro’s responses here serve as proof enough that actually engaging others’ arguments isn’t you all’s strong suit, is it?

          • “You Internet activists are coddled babies.”

            That’s the end of CC, I take it.

            Expats have greater creative licences.

          • Bottom-of-the-bell-curve: We on-the-ground nationals and far-away expatriates who gather under the CC umbrella do not pretend to carry forth the *revolutionary* zeal commanded by your Daddy leader-de-la-décennie to the most narrow alleyways of Venezuelan cities, or the more destitute pockets of the countryside. It is evident, from the huge amount of time you spend here, dspur, that you cannot be contributing much, if anything of value to your Bolivarian development *plans*.

          • dspur, I don’t think anyone at CC is so pretentious or narrow minded to consider what they do here “activism”.

            CC is to your “activism” sort of like what an interesting and thoughtful conversationalist is to a stalker.

  4. On topic, FT’s Blog contributions are in general really excellent, even those some of us have disagreed with, and I wish that more of this Blog’s viewers would express their heartfelt thanks….

    • I too have many exceptional insights to thank FT for , his contributions to this blog are invaluable . I had never read nor heard about this Sullivan fellow , took a bit of time to try to track some samples of his writing and a profile of his personal and intellectual character . He is by all accounts a very remarkable writer and person ,even though some of his interests are on the esoteric side as far as Im concerned he has something which make him admirable and it is an intellectual honesty that makes him defy that ultimate fear of all men of thought , the fear of incongruity . He will follow his thought to wherever they may lead him even if it means proyecting an image of someone always in conflict with a part of himself .

      Once again Francisco is to be thanked for introducing us to the writings and life of an extraordinary person.

  5. I never bothered to read Andrew Sullivan’s blog. He may have been right on a few issues I cared about, but he was very wrong on others. And he went batshit crazy in 2008, when he became an enthusiastic abettor of claims that Sarah Palin is not the mother of her youngest child, Trig, having faked her pregnancy that year.

    Obama Birtherism was crazy. But it began as doubts about thinly documented events that took place fifty years earlier, all witnesses to which were long dead. Trig Palin was born in April 2008. And no outright Birtherist remained active at any important media site of any stripe, whereas Sullivan retained his post as chief blogger of The Atlanticunitl 2011, when he took an equivalent post at The Daily Beast (blogging there until 2013).

    I don’t think any assessment of Sullivan is complete if it doesn’t inlcude this egregious folly.

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