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Andrew Sullivan does it again: he tries to demean Gov. Palin and fails, again

Andrew Sullivan writes:

From an Eagle Forum Candidate Questionnaire:

Q: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?  

PALIN: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.

The phrase was added in 1954.

Andrew, again, has not done his homework. The question was about the "under God" phrase, which, as historians of the American founding note, was added to the Pledge by Congress in 1954 precisely because it was uttered on several occasions by none other than George Washington, including this historically important moment:

The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die. Address to the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776)

So, the journalism B.A. from the University of Idaho beats the Harvard Ph.D. (in political philosophy) yet again.

Comments (18)

Frank, come on. Do you really think that was what she was referencing, or do you think she assumed the quote was in the original pledge? I am going with the latter. This is a stretch of an argument on your part.

Love, your pain in the ass little sister,

If that's the best Sullivan can come up with, this woman must have the lefties in a panic.

The question was about the "under God" phrase

I don't know, Frank. The question seemed to be more specifically about the phrase in the pledge of allegiance. I mean, if the question was:

Are you offended by the wearing a bathing suit to a funeral?,

the answer,

Not on your life. If it's good enough for Frank, it's good enough for me,

seems in place only if Frank has worn a bathing suit to a funeral; not if he's worn one to the beach. Similarly, I would have thought, for the question Palin was asked:

Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance?

I guess it's possible to hear that as a question about any use of the phrase -- just as it's possible to hear the parallel question as being about any wearing of a bathing suit. But I would have thought the questioner was asking particularly about the phrase being used in the Pledge.

Perhaps just a case of miscommunication. I just wouldn't be too quick in this case to triumphantly declare the victory to the Vice Presidential nominee of a major party over the lowly blogger.

Honestly, the things the libs are going after Palin over does more than make them look vicious and nasty. It makes them look seriously mentally disturbed and weirdly obsessive.

For instance, my reaction upon hearing the "Down-Syndrome baby is really her daughter's" rumor wasn't simply "man, you guys are scum", but also "What the hell is wrong with you people such that your malfunctioning brains dreamt something like that up?" These guys watch way too much Jerry Springer or something.

Ditto for speculations about Palin not being married when she first got pregnant. That, and nitpicking over her Pledge-of-Allegiance statement, also serve make the folks leveling the charges appear unhealthily obsessed.

These people are socially autistic. As far as I can tell, they have absolutely no grasp of how their actions make them look to other people. They appear to be under the impression that the more garbage they can come up with in the shortest amount of time, regardless of lack of credibility, the better. It strikes me as being a very similar psychology to a stalker.

We should always offer the most charitable interpretation of a person’s words. In a case where two different interpretations are equally plausible, you always go with the charitable one.

I have no idea what was inside Sarah Palin’s mind when she answered that question. But do I know a bit about the Founding and the Pledge, and I can easily see myself answering a brief candidate-issue questionnaire in the same way. In fact, I suspect that if I had answered it in the same way, most of you would grant me the charitable interpretation, since I’m a male college professor who teaches in this area. But when it comes to a woman with only an undergraduate degree, who has spent most of her life in the real world, you don’t interpret her with charity, since you assume she could never know enough about this topic to be entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

Yes, many parts of America are not real. For example, I don’t live in the real world, I’m an academic. What I do is important. But it doesn’t hold a candle to my grandmother who worked as a seamstress for 50 years in Brooklyn, New York. No, I’m a pampered, spoiled, intellectual, who, admittedly, gets his dander up when he sees a woman–not unlike my mother, sister, or wife–demeaned and denigrated in ways that are completely unfair.

Sullivan's transformation into a Kos diarist is now complete.

We should always offer the most charitable interpretation of a person’s words.

Ok, but wouldn't this go for the questioner as well? Why understand him as wondering about the offensiveness of just any use of the phrase "under God" when he can be more charitably -- and more naturally -- understood as wondering about its use in the Pledge?

Frank, I've been reading your posts the last few weeks. I'd classify at least several of them as attempts to demean & denigrate Obama -- though a few are more serious attempts to address the issues. "Humor" is what you call your own attempts to demean. Why not read Sullivan as being humorous? Where's your sense of humor?

Why not read Sullivan as being humorous?

You must be joking.

Mr. Luse: Is your claim that Frank's previous posts, many of which seem *far* more demeaning of Obama than Sullivan's post was of Palin, are to be excused because they're just humor, but Sullivan's post is not; or are you an equal opportunity guy, who thinks all this demeaning is to be condemned (or that it's all to be condoned)? Sullivan's post is quite minimal -- Frank quotes it all. All he does after quoting the question and answer is point out that the phrase was added in 1954. If Palin did think -- as it *seems* - though this is open to interpretation -- that the founding fathers had been approving of "under God" being in the Pledge, that's a *little* funny. Not much, to be sure. But about as humorous as Frank's pointing out again and again and again and again that Obama had spoken of 54 states, right? Or is it "Ha ha ha" to wonderfully humorous Frank (where are all those liberals' sense of humor?) but "Oh the shame of it!" to Sullivan's "denigrating" Palin? Are *you* joking?

Myself, I think Obama's inability without teleprompter to remember how many states we have is a more relevant kind of mistake than this one to the presidential race, and hence a bigger blooper, even if this _was_ a mistake on Palin's part.

Not to worry, Lydia. Obama knows how many states there are. No memory problem. (It's not as if he *repeatedly* bloops on Sunnis/Shiites [would that be a bit worrying?], or something crazy like that!) He just misspoke, and (to anyone who is inclined to be charitable on a bipartisan basis) was clearly thinking of the number of contests (primaries, caucases) they had been going through, most of which were state contests. Supposing charitably that Palin really knows about the history of the Pledge, then she's in the same boat- humorously (well, again, it is a *little* funny) speaking in such a way as to make it look like she thought something wrong.


I never dropped any unsubstantiated rumors about Obama, did I? I didn't say that he sired a child that he now claims is not his, did I? But that's just the sort of thing Sullivan did when he issued that filthy slander against both Gov. Palin and her 17-year-old daughter.

I'm not sure how I've been demeaning to Obama. Of course, like you, I have my political views, and what may seem funny to me may not be funny to you, and vice versa. But, as you may recall, I've said nice things about Obama's mother and have never attacked Obama's character. In fact, a couple of months ago I offered humorous comebacks for Obama, that were not exactly flattering to McCain. If the truth be told I believe that Obama is a decent person, who I also believe is wrong on virtually every political issue. But to compare my humorous jibes to the feeding frenzy that has been facilitated by people like Sullivan is ultra-hyperbolic (new word alert!).

Remember, this is politics. It's not personal, and it should never be. I've had some good fun with Obama's mistakes and Biden's bombasticity. But that hardly is demeaning. At the end of the day, would you rather be made fun of for saying 57 states or accused of perpetuating a hoax with your daughter's infant Down Syndrome child? Case closed.

To quote a famous country song, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.


I wasn't comparing Beckwith's posts to Sullivan's at all, just responding to your puzzlement as to why we shouldn't read Sullivan's post as an attempt at humor. He was trying to make Palin look stupid, which he knows very well she isn't. That's hysterical. I also confess to having been prejudiced by his previous speculation - his "filthy slander", as Frank puts it - that Trig's real mother was the daughter. I laughed so hard I cried. Dale Price has Sullivan pretty well pegged.

Well, *I* had been comparing Beckwith's post to Sullivan's. My whole point was comparative. I wasn't saying simply to take Sullivan's post as humor, but that *if* we're going to let Frank off the hook b/c he's being funny, why not extend the same courtesy to Sullivan? So when you asked me whether I was joking, I of course read you as addressing the essentially comparative point I had been making. Frank has been for weeks demeaning Obama, trying to make him look stupid. But I suppose that *is* hysterical?

Frank: I was only speaking of the Sullivan post you were writing about in this post. You seem to be calling *that post* of Sullivan's an attempt to demean Palin. But it is very much of a piece with your posts on Obama -- and much less demeaning than many of your posts about Obama. Or so it seems to me. Sullivan may well have been more demeaning in other of his posts.

If you want to see lunacy taken to a new level, head over to the Daily Douche and read Sullivan's commentary on her speech just now.

With conservatives like this, who needs liberals?

No, Sullivan is clearly right (for once). Your interpretation is very strained.

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