Read this salon rant by Andrew Sullivan
Then read this Daily Howler rebuttal:
It seems to me that Somerby is pretty much dead on here, not just about Sullivan, but about how most punditry works: centering on nebulous claims about the motives and secret inner desires of the target of the day. Sullivan’s creative reading of Gore’s recent speech is just one great example of this.
Seems to me that Sullivan’s tactic is to first misrepresent Gore in order to label him a “left-of-Chomsky extremist,” and then whenever Gore says something that can’t easily be misrepresented as being extreme-leftist, he calls it “disingenuous,” thus making Gore out to be both an extremist and centrist-pandering liar (who decided which was the real position, and which the pandering though? Sullivan apparently “just knows”) If this were a science, we’d note that Sullivan has surrounded himself in a self-sealing claim: and and all evidence to the contrary of his portrayal is just opportunist pandering. That’s a pretty slick tactic, methinks.
Sullivan says: “Gore goes all the way to the left of Sontag in describing the United States as a greater threat to world order and peace than terrorism itself.”
Read the Salon piece, in which Sullivan quotes the odious passage from Gore. Is this a fair restatement of what Gore said? And more importantly, is Gore right on this issue? Sullivan doesn’t even bother to say (saying yes takes the wind out of his criticism, but saying no would require a defence): but not two lines later it seems convienient to concede the point so he can bash Gore for something else (not presenting a case as to why the world is wrong about the U.S.), entirely forgetting the mess that admission makes of his former attack.
It seems pretty clear to me that Gore’s position is: yes Saddam is a major threat that needs to be taken out. But not at the expense of the war on terrorism and the tenuous alliances we’ve built up, which he feels Bush is being entirely too cavalier about mangling. Whether you agree with this position or not, I don’t think this criticism is the craven lunacy that conservative pundits insist represents everything that comes out of Gore’s mouth.