Daily Archives: March 21, 2006

Three Card Sully

To hear it from a character named Russ Smith what we’ve got here is a case of “HOMOPHOBIA ON THE LEFT Eric Alterman plays the gay card against Sullivan”

Now what, praytell did Eric do?

“It’s a question that can’t be asked too often. Is selective homophobia acceptable when practiced by left-wingers who otherwise have impeccable anti-Bush, anti-Republican, anti-Alito, pro-abortion and soak-the-rich credentials? The one sliver of grace in Paul Krugman’s I-told-you-so March 10 Times column, in which he reluctantly welcomed “born-again Bush bashers” Bruce Bartlett and Andrew Sullivan to his club, was that he didn’t mention the latter’s preoccupation with gay marriage. Maybe Krugman’s squeamish about the subject, but I’m grateful.”

Are you now? I don’t recall any New York Press call-to-arms in support of same-sex marriage, nor has it since Michaelangelo Signorile’s departure dealt with issues relevant to the glbt community save in passing. So suddenly your interested homophobia, and Eric — of all people — is a homophobe?

The Nation’s Eric Alterman, on the contrary, has no manners.”

Now really! Eric is perfectly presentable. You can take him anywhere. And unlike yours truly, he’s rarely given to contentious outbursts of any kind. So where’s the (steroid-enhanced) beef?

“Sullivan, as noted here before, is not one of my favorite pundits. He denies it, of course, but his animus toward George W. Bush—the man who allegedly tortures at will, has an IQ lower than the typical unionized highschool teacher, presides over an economy that’ll leave the country bankrupt sooner rather than later and is in favor of a police state—coincided with the president’s vocal stance leading up to the 2004 elections that marriage is an institution reserved strictly for heterosexuals. That’s certainly a reasonable point of view from a proud gay man who writes about his “fiancé” and snickers in print about the “hot” Olympian John Weir, but he ought not cloak his “born-again” opposition to Bush with arguments that minimize this crucial difference of opinion.”

So now who’s “playing the gay card”? Don’t ask Russ, he won’t pay you no nevermind. Russ’ too busy shifting the cards — with the war popping out of the deck right on cue.

“Additionally, it’s off-putting to hear Sullivan on the subject of Iraq—you’d think he was writing from Baghdad’s “Green Zone” rather than one of television’s “green rooms” that he frequents more than is decent—especially after he told the citizens of Iraq “you’re welcome,” after Saddam Hussein was ousted three years ago. “

And were they grateful? One gathers they were all too busy seeking cover from the latest explosion.

“It’s also strange to read his ongoing hagiography of Sen. John McCain—in similar terms with which he once described Bush. After all, the Arizona senator is one of the politically beleaguered president’s most fervent supporters right now, as he mines Bush’s contributor lists in preparation for a 2008 presidential run. Also, McCain is against gay marriage and is cultivating, somewhat successfully, an alliance with the cultural right. On March 11, Sullivan wrote on his Time-financed blog, “Too many [Republicans] hate [McCain], I fear. And the factions who hate him—the factions who [detested] him in South Carolina in 2000—are among the most vicious and shameless in the country.” Oh, please. Both economic and social conservatives are not shy today about plumping McCain as the best Republican bet in 2008. Sure, there’s strenuous disgust still with the Senator’s grandstanding, sponsorship of a First Amendment-busting campaign finance bill and coziness with some Democrats and almost every reporter in the country, but the onetime POW and Keating Five survivor has the look of a winner. Anyone who thinks Sens. George Allen, Bill Frist or Chuck Hagel are going to defeat the McCain machine are living in the past.”

So now we’re on to the McCain Card. Sully’s “ongoing hagiography” of the Senator that most obsesses the press puts him as one with the “mainstream” — which is clearly of more importance to him that his alleged pet issue of gay marriage. Is it homophobic of Russ to point that out?

“Krugman, a detestable writer who picks random facts to make political points,”

Step away from the pocket mirror and nobody gets hurt, Russ!!

“nevertheless was right on target on March 13—far ahead of his colleagues—when he skewered McCain. “[H]ere’s what you need to know about McCain,” he wrote. “He isn’t a straight talker. His flip-flopping on tax cuts, his call to send troops we don’t have to Iraq and his endorsement of the South Dakota anti-abortion legislation even while claiming that he would find a way around that legislation’s central provision show that he’s a politician as slippery and evasive as, well, George W. Bush.”
Coming to andrewsullivan.com soon: full-throated support of Sen. Russell Feingold.
Nevertheless, it’s outrageous that Eric Alterman, the party-circuit Manhattan/Hamptons resident who also writes for The Nation and a Web site run by MSNBC, continues to smear Sullivan by calling him ‘Little Roy.’ ”

Is it really so “outrgeous”? Maybe to the degree that unlike his iconographic predecessor The Creature From the Blog Lagoon isn’t being pursued as a marital prospect by Barbara Walters (as Nicholas Von Hoffman recounts in his far-from-definitive, but nonetheless useful biography of Cohn.)
Likewise Sully holds no legal authority and isn’t in any position to order anyone to their deaths. He does, however, traffic in death-pimping behavior as I and others have pointed out. And he is, of course, “out of the closet” in a way Big Roy wasn’t — not even in his Studio 54 days. But frankly when Eric first coined the term all I could think of was DAMN — should have thought of that one myself! Moreover it’s never been more appropriate than in the fabled “run-up to the war” when The Creature was declaring anyone who even so much as hesitated to support BushCo’s mass murder campaign to be an Al Queda acolyte.

“Alterman never forgets an attack: The New York Observer is forever an unreliable newspaper since George Gurley wrote an unflattering profile of him a few years ago, and Time is on a par with The Washington Times as an instrument of the demonic right wing because Ann Coulter (who seems as unstable as Alterman) was on the weekly’s cover last year. This columnist has had an ongoing duel with Alterman as well. Who hasn’t, save Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Todd Gitlin and Billy Joel? “

Oh let’s hear more about that duel! How was it settled? Pistols at dawn? Barry Lyndon is my all-time fave Kubrick movie, Russ. Is it yours? Or is The Shining moreyour speed?

“But I’m small vino compared to his usual targets.”


“Sullivan’s crime, and it’s not insignificant, was, in the early aftermath of 9/11, to question Alterman’s patriotism, another example of his rush-to-print proclamations. That wasn’t fair, and Sullivan, who’s as guilty of obsequious name-dropping as Alterman, should have apologized shortly thereafter.”

(All together now –)

AS IF!!!

“The self-righteous Nation scold did write, on Oct. 8 of that year: “The right has been without a rallying point since the end of the Soviet Union… [T]his horrific tragedy looks to be just one more excuse to try to get the U.S. military to do Israel’s dirty work rather than pursue the more difficult but constructive business of resuming the search for a workable peace.” He goes on to say that the desire for vengeance after the attacks was “wholly understandable,” but asked, “[W]hat’s the rush?” That wasn’t my line of thinking, but it didn’t make Alterman a ‘fifth columnist.’ “

And your whining doesn’t make Eric a homophobe either.

But enough of such nonsense. Like most gay men of my generation I’ve far more important things than Sully to think about.

And as Elaine Stritch croaks in Company “Here’s one for Mahler!”

“Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,
Mit der ich sonst viele Zeit verdorben,
Sie hat so lange nichts von mir vernommen,
Sie mag wohl glauben, ich sei gestorben!
Es ist mir auch gar nichts daran gelegen,
Ob sie mich für gestorben hält,
Ich kann auch gar nichts sagen dagegen,
Denn wirklich bin ich gestorben der Welt.
Ich bin gestorben dem Weltgetümmel,
Und ruh’ in einem stillen Gebiet!
Ich leb’ allein in meinem Himmel,
In meinem Lieben, in meinem Lied!”


“I Am Lost to the World
with which I once spent so much time;
for so long it has heard nothing of me,
it may well believe that I am dead!

It is no matter to me
if it takes me for dead.
I can also say nothing against it,
for really I am dead to the world.

I am dead to the turmoil of the world
and rest in a quiet region.
I live alone in my heaven,
in my love, in my song.”