Dom had an interview with Andrew Sullivan the other day, of which I've only seen the clip of Dom saying that working in a nightclub as a student kept him in touch with the common man (a nightclub which I am reliably informed is patronised almost exclusively with Durham University students). Presumably the lads discuss their shared fondness for head-measuring; I’m not going to bother with the whole thing because even my Dom completionism has limits (I never finished my attempt to annotate the Odyssean Education PDF, which might be fun for me but would definitely be even less interesting than the usual Dom posts on here) but it got me thinking about Sullivan himself.
I actually used to read the Dish, his blog, back in the day. That now seems very strange. Our Freddie wrote something (that seems to have been deleted) about how back in the blogosphere days people used to read the other side and there was a lot of dialogue (or at least mutual antagonism) between the bloggers. Even if it was fisking someone’s post, people engaged in a way they don’t any more, beyond occasional [email protected] screenshots of the most egregious stuff in tweets. The closest thing I can think of these days is Chapo reading series.
What I remember about Sullivan is his brand as a "thoughtful" conservative, who is willing to speak out against certain orthodoxies. There are tiny number of these folk, but because they all seem to have jobs in legacy media, think tanks or some other wing of the establishment you could be fooled into thinking they are a real political tendency. However, unless you are of the elite, you are unlikely to ever encounter one in real life.
They tend to come to mostly the same conclusions as the more open reactionaries (and almost all the issues where they differ are ones which will not threaten ruling power interests), but they will put quote marks around "woke" to signal that they're not complete mouth-frothers. They will talk and talk about how difficult and arduous a decision it was to agree with whatever the hell it is they wanted anyway, how Brave and Necessary their mates who have just written something agreeing with them are.
But they do real damage. Sullivan published head-measurer Charles Murray, published a piece by Elizabeth McCaughey that helped bring down the Clinton administration's attempts to create a universal healthcare system. He was absurdly enthusiastic for the Iraq War, and despite his recantation, the damage was, by that point, already done. Maybe I don't read conservatives, "thoughtful" or otherwise, because I've changed, become the intolerant left or whatever. I suspect, however, it's because I've fully apprehended their style and worldview, realised the harm it causes and am sufficiently unimpressed that I no longer want to spend my time on it. (Also, most of them have turned into the most tedious anti-woke bores imaginable. There are other things going on, lads. Come on.)