andrew sullivan: why i'm voting for kerry

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If you're a conservative planning to vote for Bush (and I know there are some of you out there), I'm asking you--as a personal favor to me, in exchange for any value or pleasure you may have received from this blog--to read this column by Andrew Sullivan.

Sullivan is far from a liberal standard-bearer, or member of the "vast left-wing liberal media conspiracy." He's an honest-to-goodness conservative, one who supported Bush in 2000 and then supported the decision to go to war in Iraq. But he's decided that Bush is the wrong choice this year, and he's got specifics to back up his decision.

Here's an excerpt. Read the whole thing. Please.

I should reiterate: I do not hate this president. I admire him in many ways--his tenacity, his vision of democracy, his humor, his faith. I have supported him more than strongly in the last four years--and, perhaps, when the dangers seemed so grave, I went overboard and willfully overlooked his faults because he was the president and the country was in danger. I was also guilty of minimizing the dangers of invading Iraq and placed too much faith, perhaps, in the powers of the American military machine and competence of the Bush administration. Writers bear some responsibility too for making mistakes; and I take mine. But they bear a greater responsibility if they do not acknowledge them and learn. And it is simply foolish to ignore what we have found out this past year about Bush's obvious limits, his glaring failures, his fundamental weakness as a leader. I fear he is out of his depth and exhausted. I simply do not have confidence in him to navigate the waters ahead skillfully enough to avoid or survive the darkening clouds on the horizon.

(via KF)

2 TrackBacks

conserving concerns from Liliputian Lilith on October 27, 2004 7:18 PM

If you are a conservative who has the right to go vote this coming Tuesday, please read this article by Andrew Sullivan endorsing Kerry. Yes, that Andrew Sullivan. You're still here? Go, go! (via mamamusings)... Read More

Random Thoughts from Pervasive Computing News on October 31, 2004 4:43 PM

Random thoughts from a Sunday: Things are looking up for Tuesday - EVP predicts Kerry winning 283-246. But it's still... Read More


"There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead."

President Bush, Washington, D.C., May 11, 2001

President Bush is far from perfect ... However, we have no other choice. The Democratic candidate is a joke at best, and a traitor at worst. The foundation of his support is the liberal's irrational hate for Bush. Lets hope and pray that who ever wins on November 2nd does so with a wide margin. Another disputed election will only further divide our nation.

wouldn't it be good if someone resigned for once. "Oh, I think somebody else should do this job now"

Mike, did you actually read Sullivan's article? I'm not sure how you could have read that--from someone who's far from a liberal--and taken away from it that the foundation of Kerry's support is "irrational hate" for Bush.

Mike, do you have any argument to support your assertion? Are there some who have an "irrational hate" for Bush? Sure. Do these people constitue the majority of Kerry supporters? I don't know; I doubt it. Persuade me otherwise.

Personally, I don't hate Bush, rationally or otherwise. However, I don't think the nation or the world can take four more years of his irresponsible behavior. I think Kerry will be the better president. That's why I support him.


Based on your recommendation and out of respect for you, I read Andrew Sullivan’s article. Here are a few quick thoughts:

  • While I wouldn‘t call myself a fan, I am a regular reader of his work. His tilt in this direction has been slow and steady.
  • I greatly enjoy reading a piece that doesn‘t call the other side nasty names. For what it‘s worth, A.S. regularly engages with Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online. It is a case study in “classical liberalism” (let the best idea win without resorting to authority or becoming ad hominem) and it is always worthy to review their manner of engagement.
  • By what criteria do you call A.S. “an honest-to-goodness conservative” I might say this of Buckley or Krauthammer but Sullivan is something else. He‘s far less bound to any particular school of thought and thus harder to label, as is Hitchens or Paglia. (Paglia is a professor now at where I obtained my B.F.A., by the way) However, his work is increasingly marked by, and biased towards, his advocacy of gay marriage and I suspect it clouds his judgment here.
  • A.S. thinks Bush was right in his decisions and wrong in his plans. Ironically, Kerry wouldn‘t have taken us to Iraq, so I lose the point here. We‘d still be playing with Hussein shell games with the U.N. and as A.S. points out, the “Oil for Food scandal” alone is a barometer of the U.N‘s gross inability to act out in a meaningful manner. Kerry‘s foreign policy sounds great (have plenty of international meetings with excellent snacking cheese and bottled water) but is doomed in practice. There are so many inconsistencies here, but…
  • A.S.‘s reservations grow more from Bush‘s domestic policies than from foreign. Here is the real nut for Andrew and he and I in differing paths. He sees Bush being divisive on calling for a constitution amendment for gay marriage. Yet, the push for legalizing gay marriage is currently a judicial end-run around the legislative process. I think Andrew’s advocacy is more divisive and more disingenuous than anything else he writes.

One final closing thought:

A.S.'s criticisms of Bush are echoed in much of the conservative media -- albeit at differing temperatures, depending on the source. Conservatives don't see Bush as flawless. We wince on the verbal gaffs, failed bipartisan efforts and other missteps. Back to A.S.'s assessment; the same is true with Kerry. What's interesting now is where he's seen Bush's tenure and doesn't like what he sees, he also doesn't like what he sees in Kerry's record. But, since we need a change, and since it would be politically stupid for Kerry to be weak on defense he will, therefore, do well. If not, there's 2008 and we, the electorate, will do what we must. He asserts this article of faith, despite Kerry's contrary senate record and public statement. The logic breaks. There's not a lot of potent meat for this conservative in that recommendation.

Nevertheless, if the anti-Bush/pro-Kerry crowd took A.S.'s rhetorical approach, it would fundamentally change the debate and the dynamics, for the better, and elevate it to something productive.

I have very similar thoughts to what Sullivan wrote. I'm not exactly thrilled w/G.W. at this point in time, neither. At the same time, I'm a bit leary of Kerry. I did vote for G.W. in 2000. If I thought Nader would have a shot in hell in getting elected, I would cast my vote for him this time. Unfortunately, I think voting for Nader would just be wasting a vote that could keep Bush in the Office for 4 more years.

Remember one thing before you vote this Presidential election cycle. There are many founding principals at stake to be lost if Kerry is elected President. While you may agree or disagree with how President Bush has been presented in the media, one thing you have not heard is his steadfast adhearance to the basic principals of what the United States stands for. We, as a nation, must never forget that defense of our founding principals must be guarded in peace, as well as, in war time.

I read Andrew Sullivan's article.

The more and more reading I do (and I read articles and news from both sides for three hours or more, daily, desperately searching for the truth in this mess), the more I am fiercely anti-Bush.

Sullivan's writing, though perhaps beneficial, fails to analyze the deeper problems at hand. The corruption. I believe simple and clear fact will prevail in the end. I do not believe removing Saddam was the responsibility of the US. The common American citizen has been duped by an insincere administration to believe that September 11 = War in Iraq (aka Teach the Bad Guys a Lesson). People still believe this to be true. The two events have nothing to do with one another. Are we all on the same page? No, we obviously are NOT. 72% of Bush supporters still believe Iraq had or was developing WMD. [.pdf]
A National Geographic survey of individuals 18-24 has only 58% of US citizens tested answering this question correctly: "The Taliban and Al Qaeda movements were both based in ________?"
The US scored the lowest among the countries tested. Even Mexico scored higher with 63% correct.

And even if we should have invaded Iraq just to remove Saddam (purely because we care) - (and because we have impeccable timing), do the Iraqi people appreciate the "occupation" as we have been persuaded to believe? ...

Try reading what we look like from an Iraqi perspective. A clear and strong Iraqi voice: - "Baghdad Burning"
Read as much as you can bear to.

Patrick, which founding principles, in particular, do you believe that Kerry would cause us to lose? I'm tired of Bush supporters responding in generalities rather than specifics.

Sullivan lists *specifics*, which is why I asked people to read him. Kyle does an admirable job of responding to the points at hand.

Yes, Sullivan's concerns are partially with domestic issues, and that's a huge piece of this for me. I'm horrified by the beating that civil liberties have taken in this country, by the gutting of environmental policies, by the extent to which corporations have been able to influence government policy.

But Sullivan raises issues that we should not be quick to dismiss in terms of the war.

How can anyone, in good conscience, vote to elect a man who not only presided over the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, but has done little to denounce them?

Where is the outrage over, as Sullivan terms it, the total collaps of the _casus belli_ for the war? Over the failure to plan adequately to do the job once we were there, and the *over 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths* that are in large part a result of this failure?

How can we possibly claim that what the Iraquis have now is better? Was Saddam awful, evil, worth removing? Of course. But we've done it so hamhandedly that we've actually managed to make life for Iraquis worse rather than better. That's shameful.

Patrick stated that he feared founding principles would be lost if Kerry were elected. I am mystified as to which founding principles he is referring to. My fear is that founding principles will be lost if Bush is re-elected/re-appointed. I am afraid that separation of church and state will be lost. I am afraid that the Religious Right that is after theocracy will prevail by influencing Supreme Court appointments who will be eager to impose theocracy on America. Before you dismiss this as conspiracy theory, please read the documentation of the rise of the religious right that has been assembled by Theocracy Watch.

Another founding principle I fear will be lost if Bush is re-elected/re-appointed is, well, just about every principle in the Bill of Rights. Apparently we are supposed to be willing to give up freedom to feel secure that a strict father figure is in charge to protect us from terrorists. Libertarians, independents, old-style conservatives, and liberals alike can all come together to *conserve* our heritage of civil liberties. I refer you to the ACLU website for documentation and analysis regarding the Patriot Act and its threat to civil liberties and individual rights.

Last but not least, at stake is democracy itself. In the last election, democracy was trumped. I pray that voting does not become a meaningless ceremonial act this time around, and perhaps from now on. If you don't believe that Gore won the last election, then I refer you to Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men, available in pdf form online:

I applaud all the honest conservatives who will not let partisan unity come ahead of what is best for this country, and I hope that if Bush loses, the moderate conservatives can take back their party. Then I might consider supporting them once in a while! My family background, by the way, is strong Libertarian and Christian. But I have to think for myself, as I was brought up to do! Please, all of you, think for yourselves! Don't give your minds away to authority figures!

The preening and moral indignation on display here reminds me of Dana Carvey’s old character, “Church Lady” of “Church Chat.” The comedy of his characterization was the over-the-top stridency of her moral fury.

It was funny; it wasn’t a conscience-awakening shock.

Clearly the “Religious Right” doesn’t have a monopoly here, although that statement may not fit neatly into the template presented here. Again, I think Liz and Jennifer’s conclusions are wrong and what facts they present to make their case are uneven at best. I have attempted to enter into arguments with Jennifer, but I don’t sense she’s reading my references or she’s applying some stereotype to what I’m saying or referencing (as was the case with my citing of Godwin’s Law and her following non-sequiturs) She’s made it clear that supporting Bush is more about fealty to authority than anything more meaningful. (Forget the dripping condescension here for the moment)

Which leaves me before√��Ǩ�� “Church Lady” and here it goes:

”Abu-Ghraib, civil rights, the environment, Iraqi war, Religious Right, Patriot Act, Stupid White Men√��Ǩ�� Well, isn’t that special?“

Instead of “Satan” insert “Rumsfield” “Rove” “Cheney” or “Ashcroft” in the sentence,
“Who would that be, (dramatic pause) <insert name here with heavy reverb>?”?

A tangent: I would be loath to offer the reader as my supporting evidence an URL showing a gripping documentary at (I made that up. I have no idea if that domain exists and I've spent enough time on this post already.) So, excuse me if I don't go there. The URL reads as parody, as does “” It is impossible to raise a creditable point when one wears his paranoia on his sleeve.

Now, a few points in turn from Liz:

  • Did Japanese internment during WWII condemn history's record of FDR’s application of civil rights?

  • Civil rights have never been as strong as they stand today. But, yes, we must always stand watch over this.

  • Not every law with the name √��Ǩ≈�environmental√��Ǩ�� benefits the environment or the people. Some are affronts to personal property, particularly where it’s been used to take property from individuals.

  • Bush condemned Abu-Ghraib as he had to.

Finally, a chicken-little analogy. As a 41 year old, I’ve watched presidents be accused (and in turned, accused by me) of being fascist, liberty-hating, rights-stopping maniacs that must be stopped by any means possible. Remember for my first 30 years I was very much a man of the left and proud of if. What I saw over time was that shrill rhetoric never matched how events played out. Quite the contrary. The U.S. and its people are not stupid dupes, no matter who wins tomorrow. We aren’t going to bow or cave to fascism. If socialists want to call any form of capitalism fascism, well, then, read Godwin’s Law. But that’s rhetorical silliness and nothing more. This kind of statement might sound jingoistic; so be it. I haven’t seen the historical trend match the gum flapping.

Kyle, please show where I equated capitalism with fascism. Also, please tell me how a concern with creeping fascism equates to pro-socialism. Furthermore, please tell me how my concern about the separation of church and state can be distorted into comparing me with the Church Lady. Finally, I note with no small degree of weary irony that it is "liberals" who have been demonized by the opposition, not vice versa.

Perhaps I am applying a stereotype to you, and if so, then I sincerely apologize. It's just that I have had a lot of bad experiences on the internet trying to have civil discussions with conservatives. I have found that the majority of them have a "take no prisoners" attitude which does not soften in the least, in response to a conciliatory attitude from me. If you are not this type of conservative, then perhaps we may yet have civil dialogue. I am no longer willing, however, to take sh*t from conservatives.

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