30 Jan 2015

Andrew Sullivan Retires (Again)

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On Wednesday afternoon, Andrew Sullivan suddenly announced that “in the near future,” he is going to quit blogging.

Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.

The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years.

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Pejman Yousefzadeh cheerfully interprets Andrew’s decision to retire as a final gesture of repentance for betraying Conservatism in order to pursue the homosexual agenda and worship at the feet of the first black (and very possibly queer) US president.

[D]uring the Obama era, Sullivan has indeed blogged “like a hack in a one-party state.” At times, Sullivan’s blogging project seemed like a giant audition aimed at getting Sullivan named chief propagandist of the Obama administration. Sullivan may have failed to achieve this particular station in life, but his failure wasn’t for lack of trying.

I write all of this, of course, because Andrew Sullivan claims that he has decided to quit blogging. Now, Andrew Sullivan has claimed that he decided to quit blogging before, and he has come back, so I’m keeping the champagne on ice for the moment. But I’d like to think that at long last, Sullivan has realized that his fatuous, overwrought, emotionally unstable, intellect-insulting writing has finally reached China Syndrome proportions of insufferability. I would like to think that Sullivan took a good long look at his writing, his thought process (if one can be so generous as to claim that Sullivan’s writing is backed up by any thought whatsoever), and himself, and didn’t like what he saw. I would like to think that at long last, Andrew Sullivan decided that a belated embrace of discretion and silence was the best–the only–way to salvage whatever dignity he once had, before he decided to squander the vast majority of that dignity via anti-Semitic trolling, logic-defying apologetics on behalf of the Obama administration, and the spelunking of Sarah Palin’s womb.

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Andrew retired previously once before, and of course unretired before very long. Glenn Reynolds (perhaps Andrew’s only real rival for title of genius loci of the Blogosphere) responded to Andrew’s announcement with the skeptical retort: “I suspect Sullivan will be back. In my observation, it’s easier to quit blogging than it is to stay quit.”

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I certainly agree with Pejman Yousefzadeh about Andrew Sullivan’s shameless and infuriatingly insolent pronunciamentos. Reading Andrew’s melodramatic postings accusing US counter-terrorism agencies of “torture” and his endless, lachrymose complaints about George W. Bush, the War in Iraq, and Sarah Palin, contrasted with his canine adoration of Barack Obama, could get my blood pressure pumping on a daily basis. Personally, I’ve been hoping that some especially keen GOP candidate in 2016 will put “Deporting Andrew Sullivan” high up on his list of contributions to the Republican Platform.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that Andrew has been an extraordinarily perspicacious and creative blog editor, reliably able to turn up precisely the kind of interesting and amusing web morsels that readers are looking for. Additionally, I feel obliged to note that, despite the outrageous intellectual dishonesty too commonly characteristic of Andrew in full rant, he did always maintain a peculiar streak of personal honesty and habitual fairplay, which frequently caused him to apply his excellent editorial skills to finding and publishing the best rejoinders to his own nonsense.

Besides which, speaking as a blogger myself, my hat is off to Andrew for his energy, his ability to produce readable prose with such rapidity, and for the enterprise capable of making his blog such a large-scale, profitable enterprise. My own efforts at monetizing my blog get me the occasional coupon from Amazon.

My suspicion is that, as the third year of Andrew’s subscription paywall has arrived, Andrew felt the cold breath of the general decline in blog readership, and perceived that his blog’s financial momentum was starting to flag. Clever bugger that he is, Andrew is simply declining to ride his current horse into the ground, and has decided to “retire” while The Dish still appears to be a success. His temporary withdrawal from the field will permit Andrew to regroup, bat out another lucrative book, and then he can come back with the exciting, brand-new Andrew Sullivan blog.

I do kind of wonder whether, now, with the culture war triumph of Gay Marriage in his pocket, and the stars shaping up for a Republican sweep in 2016, Andrew may not take his period of retirement as another occasion for personal ideological transformation.

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T. Shaw

Andrew-who??



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