Andrew Sullivan is back, he’s mad as hell, as he isn’t going to take it any more

In 2015, Andrew Sullivan announced that he was retiring from blogging.  Well, that lasted two years. He’s started a new column at New York Magazine that he describes like this:

I guess I should start by saying this is not a blog. Nor is it what one might call a column. It’s an experiment of sorts to see if there’s something in between those two. Most Fridays, from now on, I’ll be writing in this space about, among other things, the end of Western civilization, the collapse of the republic, and, yes, my beagles.

And, mirabile dictu, he’s one of those conservatives who simply can’t stomach our new administration. His latest column, “The madness of King Donald,” is about exactly that: Trump’s lies, and what the press should do about them. What they’re doing—at least the reporters I admire—is what Sullivan says they should do: don’t let “alternative truths” pass unquestioned:

What are we supposed to do with this? How are we to respond to a president who in the same week declared that the “murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 45 to 47 years,” when, of course, despite some recent, troubling spikes in cities, it’s nationally near a low not seen since the late 1960s, and half what it was in 1980. What are we supposed to do when a president says that two people were shot dead in Chicago during President Obama’s farewell address — when this is directly contradicted by the Chicago police? None of this, moreover, is ever corrected. No error is ever admitted. Any lie is usually doubled down by another lie — along with an ad hominem attack.

Here is what we are supposed to do: rebut every single lie. Insist moreover that each lie is retracted — and journalists in press conferences should back up their colleagues with repeated follow-ups if Spicer tries to duck the plain truth. Do not allow them to move on to another question. Interviews with the president himself should not leave a lie alone; the interviewer should press and press and press until the lie is conceded. The press must not be afraid of even calling the president a liar to his face if he persists. This requires no particular courage. I think, in contrast, of those dissidents whose critical insistence on simple truth in plain language kept reality alive in the Kafkaesque world of totalitarianism. As the Polish dissident Adam Michnik once said: “In the life of every honorable man comes a difficult moment … when the simple statement that this is black and that is white requires paying a high price.” The price Michnik paid was years in prison. American journalists cannot risk a little access or a nasty tweet for the same essential civic duty?

He then does what few journalists will do, but what all of us are thinking: questioning Trump’s sanity:

Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.

I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration. It is that when the linchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge.

There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness.

I’ve had some beefs with Sullivan, mainly because of his religiosity, and at one point we had an acrimonious exchange about whether Genesis was meant to be taken literally (he said it was palpably metaphorical, I simply quoted the Church Fathers who did take it literally). But I nearly always respected Sullivan because the guy was thoughtful, even when I thought he was wrong. But his Achilles heel was always his faith: his decision to remain Catholic despite being gay, and, indeed, his belief in a God for which there was no evidence at all.

And, sadly, since Sullivan is a believer, he breaks up his newest blog/ column with some delusion on his own part, lauding Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Silence,” which I’ve now seen. It’s about God’s absence in helping the tortured Christians in 17th-century Japan, and an affirmation of faith in God when there’s no God to be seen. It’s not a bad movie except for its unbroken paean to delusion. The bad part is when Sullivan sees God as trumping Trump:

There are moments — surpassingly rare but often indelible — when you do hear the voice of God and see the face of Jesus. You never forget them — and I count those few moments in my life when I have heard the voice and seen the face as mere intimations of what is to come. But the rest is indeed silence. And the conscience is something that cannot sometimes hear itself. I’ve rarely seen the depth of this truth more beautifully unpacked. Which is why, perhaps, the movie has had such a tiny audience so far. Those without faith have no patience for a long meditation on it; those with faith in our time are filled too often with a passionate certainty to appreciate it. And this movie’s mysterious imagery can confound anyone. But its very complexity and subtlety gave me hope in this vulgar, extremist time. We cannot avoid this surreality all around us. But it may be possible occasionally to transcend it.

To me, “passionate certainty” means “delusion”—just the flaw Sullivan imputes to The Donald. Well, Mr. Sullivan, I’m just as disturbed as you by the state of our country, and by who’s running it. But unlike you, I find no hope in Jesus.  If we’re to solve this problem, we have to do it ourselves.

84 Comments

  1. veroxitatis
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I feel that it is unhelpful to bandy around terms such as madness. There is no evidence of which I am aware that Trump is clinically insane. He may, of course, be suffering from one or more personality disorders. If Trump is mad then so too is his core support which may number 30 million +. The real issue is that both Trump and most of them are simply unsuited to any office, far less high office. They have zero ability to assimilate information on complex situations, analyse same, reason logically and reach decisions objectively. They mostly inhabit the Me, Me, Me territory of the preschooler.

    • Sshort
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Habitually inhabiting a world-view impervious to evidence is certainly delusional. Delusional to madness is a question of degree.

      There has been enough evidence of unhinged behavior and irrationality to suggest Trump has genuine episodes of insanity, however transient. He is a relatively high functioning madman and this is masked and enabled somewhat by his cadre of delusional backers and lackeys.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        There’s a video put out by one of the major media outlets that diagnoses Trump with a personality disorder according to the proper criteria and using evidence.

        I don’t think that Trump being mad or whatever he is (there’s clearly some problem) means 20-30 million supporters are also mad as veroxitatis states. That’s like saying people are mad because they are part of the mass delusion that there is a god.

        When it comes to Trump, as plenty have pointed out, the emperor has no clothes. Some will never realize that. Others won’t realize until it’s too late. The ones that pi$$ me off are the ones who did realize it and voted for him anyway. Even worse are those that not only realized what he was like and still voted for him, but are enabling him now for their own advancement. Several GOP politicians come to mind.

        • nicky
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:06 am | Permalink

          “That’s like saying people are mad because they are part of the mass delusion that there is a god.”
          Well, aren’t they? Isn’t that madness?
          If we are looking at what is happening in the US I’m inclined to say: yes it is somehow.
          How does a strong delusion differ from madness?

        • BJ
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

          I’d just like to point out that “has one or more personality disorders” doesn’t make one unfit for positions of incredible power and responsibility. Trump’s disorders may, but I would bet many/most presidents have had NPD, some perhaps BPD, and many have suffered from depression (as do I). People can learn to manage things like depression (in the lesser cases at least, as the mroe severe ones can be crippling for life), and disorders like NPD can be very helpful to politicians.

          There is probably an enormous list of personality disorders I could list here that many politicians have had with great success, but my point was merely that having a personality disorder is, in itself, neither a disqualifier nor necessarily even obstacle to success.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

            I agree.

            • jeffery
              Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

              I’ve been trying to inform people for a long time now that it’s absolutely VITAL that anyone who opposes Trump realizes that he’s NOT “crazy” (not psychotic and hearing voices, anyway) and he’s definitely not “stupid” (although he’s nowhere near as intelligent as he likes to think he is): he’s a extremely clever and cunning, “classic” psychopath (most psychopaths ARE extremely clever and cunning- it’s a “given”) – once you study up on these creatures, it helps greatly to understand the actions he takes which appear on the surface to be “stupid”, or “crazy”.
              A true psychopath has no clue as to what “normal” human emotions and relationships are, but they become very adept at mimicking them and “tapping into” others’ emotional vulnerabilities, for their own gain, of course, which is what life is all about to them.
              A true psychopath doesn’t bother with trying to keep their lies straight, because they do not differentiate between lies and the truth: both are simply ” a means to an end”, with their usage and value determined by what the psychopath can gain from them in a particular circumstance.
              Catch a psychopath in a bald-faced lie, and he’ll simply tell another one- and they always, ALWAYS “attack the messenger”.
              A true psychopath is devoid of fear, and usually indulges in risk-taking behavior- in fact, studies have shown that most of them are actually unable to describe the emotion.
              Psychopaths will often have fits of anger and then confuse “normal” people by being entirely friendly a few minutes later- this is because to them, these “fits” are as natural as burping to a normal person; just a release of tension, and they can’t for the life of them understand why anyone would make a fuss about it.
              What’s interesting about Trump’s case is that, although psychopaths are renowned for being able to be utterly charming (initially, anyway) in the pursuit of their goals, he doesn’t seem to bother to try to get along with anyone even when he stands to gain from it. I believe that this is due to the fact that, early on in his life, he found through a set of experiences that he could get most of what he wanted, most of the time, with the least amount of effort, by bullying, blustering, and threatening- this powerful reinforcement cause him to seize upon these “tools”; now they’re all he has and he’s entirely unwilling to give them up.
              What’s that old saying? “When the only tool you have is a hammer, soon every problem begins to look more and more like a nail.”
              These people are “hard-wired” this way; there’s no changing them, anymore than you can “rehabilitate” a pedophile: the only solution is to get RID of him, as soon as possible.

              • Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

                From what I’ve read, he can be quite charming in one-on-one situations and uses flattery and uses superlatives in dispensing praise when it suits him, so the psychopath checklist still fits.

        • Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Unfortunately, diagnoses have to be done in a controlled fashion (in person?), so it *is* a little of a stunt. I do sympathize with the approach, but it should not be oversold.

      • eric
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        If being bigoted and thinking the world is far worse off than it actually is – and being impervious to data saying otherwise – is insanity, then pretty much most 70-year-old curmudgeons are insane. My grandfather was insane. Yours probably was too.

        It’s worth remembering that Trump is 70. He has a 70-year-old’s “everything is going to hell in a handbasket” biases and filters. He has a 70-year-old’s complete dismissal of young people and their information, because he already knows better (in his mind). But IMO that doesn’t qualify as insanity, it qualifies as ‘caricatured old person.’

        • Paul S
          Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          I’d like to point out that 70 is not old.

          • Mark R.
            Posted February 10, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

            70 isn’t old? Never heard that one before. The world average for life expectancy is 71, so in those terms, 70 certainly is old. US life expectancy is 77-80. So being 7-10 years from death is old. Just as being 7-10 years old (7-10 years from birth) is considered young.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted February 10, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

              77-80 is the life expectancy for people born today. That’s an average; many of them will die much younger than that.

              People who have already survived to age 70 can expect to live another 15-20 years — again, on average; some will live significantly longer than that.

              • jwthomas
                Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

                Is Richard Dawkins delusional?
                I myself am 82 and despite serious short time memory problems am not delusional. I think native intelligence, a love of study and learning throughout life, openness to changing one’s mind
                and allowing oneself to hear
                honest feedback from others are more important than chronological age. Trump, obviously, shows no sign of these traits. He is extremely dangerous.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

            I’d like to point out that I know a few 70 year olds who would resent that caricature of themselves.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted February 10, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          You don’t seem to have much respect for 70-year-olds. The phrase “complete dismissal” comes to mind.

          You realize that Bernie Sanders is in his 70s, right? And Elizabeth Warren is 67 (as is our host).

        • chris moffatt
          Posted February 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          My grandfather died at the age of 97 and was sane and sensible to the end. If your grandfather was insane you get a DNA analysis – maybe you have it too! In any case, at risk of violating website rules I’ll opine you DO have a case of arrogant ageism. But you’ll grow out of it I expect.

        • bric
          Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          I’m 71, my partner and most of my friends are the same sort of age and we don’t appreciate your characterizations. We certainly don’t go in for ‘complete dismissal of young people and their information’, nor are we unusual in that.

        • GBJames
          Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

          Well, eric, all I can do is slap my forehead and mutter about the foolishness of youth. I wouldn’t call you insane, exactly. Just a “caricatured young person”.

        • Michael
          Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          I turned 70 a couple of weeks ago, and I notice that I suddenly no longer have any patience with fools or incompetents, but I still retain all of my progressive ideals, and I still think that Donald J. Trump is an absolute douchebag.

          I have long said that as we age we become caricatures of ourselves, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we retain the worst of our traits while shedding our better selves. Anyway, I hope that’s true.

          • BJ
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

            I would think (though I’m very far from reaching these ages) that you *stop* being a caricature of yourself. All your life, you’ve been acting polite when you don’t want to be, laughing at jokes you hate, and pretending you want to talk to someone or tolerate their political views.

            Then, one day (according to my septuagenarian and octogenarian friends here), it all vanishes! You don’t become a caricature of yourself, but shed one instead!

            😉

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

            Ha! That happened to me when I turned 45. If I live to 70, who knows what levels of impatience I will attain!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 10, 2017 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

          Shit, Eric, I’m bloody near 70 and I’d be acutely embarrassed if I was caught out telling _one_ of the Drumpf’s lies in public.

          Lumping all of us old buggers together is just, well, ignorant.

          Please re-think your comment (before you perish under a pile of walking frames…)

          😉

          cr

    • Martin X
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      —-I feel that it is unhelpful to bandy around terms such as madness.
      —-

      I think it’s very helpful, because it conveys an understanding that the person will never change, cannot change, and the only hope of dealing effectively with them is to contain the damage.

    • J. Quinton
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      “They have zero ability to assimilate information on complex situations, analyse same, reason logically and reach decisions objectively”

      This is becoming more and more apparent as the administration continues; see Trump vexed by challenges, scale of government:

      “Being president is harder than Donald Trump thought, according to aides and allies who say that he’s growing increasingly frustrated with the challenges of running the massive federal bureaucracy.

      In interviews, nearly two dozen people who’ve spent time with Trump in the three weeks since his inauguration said that his mood has careened between surprise and anger as he’s faced the predictable realities of governing, from congressional delays over his cabinet nominations and legal fights holding up his aggressive initiatives to staff in-fighting and leaks.

      […]

      Trump often asks simple questions about policies, proposals and personnel. And, when discussions get bogged down in details, the president has been known to quickly change the subject — to “seem in control at all times,” one senior government official said — or direct questions about details to his chief strategist Steve Bannon, his son-in-law Jared Kushner or House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump has privately expressed disbelief over the ability of judges, bureaucrats or lawmakers to delay — or even stop — him from filling positions and implementing policies.”

      • BJ
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        While I completely believe Trump is an incompetent buffoon, I never put stock in articles that don’t name sources. Over the last few years, “inside source/s” has become code for “we wanted to make shit up but couldn’t find someone to confirm it.”

        This isn’t a dig at you, just a general reminder to people to take articles written on unnamed sources with huge grains of salt, as with articles that use weasel words or come from PuffHo.

        • FiveGreenLeafs
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

          “While I completely believe Trump is an incompetent buffoon, I never put stock in articles that don’t name sources”

          Exactly. This frightens and bothers me deeply, that so many people simply do not seem to learn from earlier mistakes.

          From a psychological standpoint it is (of course) not a mystery but easily explained in light of existing scientific knowledge, but, for anyone who endeavors to apply critical thinking, and a critical perspective, it is a monumental failure.

          Many seem to throw off any vestige of caution, because they want it to be true. They crave confirmation, and revels in it.

          Another problem is that this is now done (unabashedly) by earlier (more) reputable media channels like Washington Post or the New York Times.

          It is when you really want something to be true, that you should be at your most skeptical and meticulous in your thinking, and demands for objective evidence…

        • GBJames
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

          “I never put stock in articles that don’t name sources”

          In that case you will have very little information about the operations of government anywhere.

          It is a longstanding practice of professional journalism to publish reports from unnamed sources. This because lots of government officials want to release information without being identified. This is not a new phenomenon.

          • FiveGreenLeafs
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

            GB, I think you miss the point.

            To quote Galadriel from the Lord of the Rings movie…

            The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost

            The crucial point is (I think), that journalism and media have changed. This is not something new that arrived with Trump, but has (in my opinion) been going in for a long time. But it took a dramatic turn for the worse with the rise of Trump.

            Journalist and media today, do not view themselves as collecting and distributing relevant information to its readers, (in a fairly objective way), but, as king and queen makers.

            They act more like political activist, that decides what is right or wrong, and take it upon themselves to teach the reader.

            While it has been (historically) true that unnamed sources within governments has been valuable, you can no longer rely on this, because it has lately been used so dishonestly, and for the purpose too manipulate, that it is rapidly becoming worthless.

            When you rely on unnamed sources, you must trust the objectivity and moral integrity of the journalist, but, as has been ever more obvious, you can not (in light of the evidence) rationally do that anymore.

            When the world change, you have to update your internal models of the world in accordance, and this is something that many people have not done yet in regard to the media and journalist.

            That is way many get taken in, and end up spectacularly wrong, again and again.

            • GBJames
              Posted February 11, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

              If “journalism and media have changed” was your point you should have said that. I would have agreed. But instead you claimed that journalistic use of unnamed sources was a new thing. It isn’t, which is why I objected.

              Whether one trusts a particular journalist or not should be based on the reliability of that person’s reporting. If the reporter consistently reports well-attributed falsehoods without challenging the lie, then that reporter is a poor one. If a journalist constantly reports accurate information that is acquired from sources that remain off the record, then that reporter is a good one.

              You are using the wrong measure of quality journalism. The problem is not the existence of “off the record” information. Look instead to the failure of critical analysis, shallow “both sides” equivalence that equally represents lies and truth. Look for shallow and uninformed questioning. There are plenty of problems. Just not where you think Galadriel is pointing.

              • FiveGreenLeafs
                Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

                “But instead you claimed that journalistic use of unnamed sources was a new thing.”

                Eh?? Where did I claim that?

                Quite to the opposite, I explicitly stated:

                While it has been (historically) true that unnamed sources within governments has been valuable

                What I claimed, is that the use of unnamed sources are today, way to often and even in former high quality media, like the Washington Post and New York Times, used as a mean of manipulation, not accurate reporting.

                I also claimed, that because of this you can not, carte blanche, rationally trust them anymore, (without collaborative external evidence, I might add).

              • GBJames
                Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

                “…because of this you can not, carte blanche, rationally trust them anymore…”

                Like I said, you’re mis-attributing the problem.

              • FiveGreenLeafs
                Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

                Stop digging…

                You misread my first comment quite spectacularly, and now you are just doubling down on an initial mistake.

                Take a step back, and reread it 🙂

                Journalist are the gatekeepers, they who decide what to print, and what not to. It is their integrity and responsibility to refrain, and to make certain, to double check.

                Today, most (if not all) seem to have lost even the most basic aspect of critical thinking and thrown off any shadow of impartiality.

                They are in collusion with the power structures they are supposed to check. This is very bad for our democracy.

                This has always been so, to one degree or the other, but today it is much much worse.

                For us who stand apart of the left / right battle and don’t belong in either crowd, but thirst for an untainted channel of accurate reliable information and reporting, (on which to build our own opinions), this is terrible.

                Previously you could rely (mostly) on for example Washington Post. Today, they are (in many ways) as politically biased and warped as Fox News, and there is (in essence) in many areas little difference today between New York Times and Breitbart News, only that they play on different sides on the aisle.

                Unnamed sources, from being whistle-blowers “light”, they have (more often then not) morphed into tools and channels for outright manipulation, used by both politicians and the media alike.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

                I read you right the first time. I know this because you keep repeating the same thing over and over.

                One clue that you are off-base is that you see no difference in quality between Fox News and The New York Times. That is, IMO, an absurd view.

                I say this as someone who cancelled my NYTimes subscription back in the Bush years because of Judith Miller’s scandalous reporting. It took fifteen years for me to re-subscribe. So I’m fully aware of the failings of journalism. But the problem isn’t a excessive reliance on unnamed sources.

                I’ll let you respond with the “last word” (I expect it will be a repeated assertion that I haven’t read you right). This out of respect for Da Roolz and the sense that there’s little progress being made in the exchange.

    • Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.

      • DiscoveredJoys
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        My alternative explanation (looking on from outside the USA) is that Trump is not mad. He is not a politician but a businessman – one who believes that if you bluster and intimidate enough the other businessman will accept the deal rather than lose it entirely.

        He has put businesspeople and the military into posts around him and steamrollers over the comfy cartel of politicians and journalists. That’s what is unsettling – he is playing to unexpected rules.

        Will he be a good president? Probably not. But you might get more insight into how politics is actually done.

        • FiveGreenLeafs
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

          He is not a politician but a businessman

          Also looking on from outside the USA, I think you might be on to something.

          I sometimes get the feeling (rightly or wrongly) that Trump is (in some ways) playing other (established) politicians, media and the enraged public for fools, by using basic sales or bargaining tactics.

          In a business situation, you don’t start out with the most fair offer you are prepared to accept, but, often an outrageous offer, far off to one side. Then, you start to negotiate.

          Any easing on your hand from this position, is a concession, and, your first offer acts like an (cognitive) anchor, in Daniel Kahnemans and Dan Arielys definition (I think).

          Is this a bad way of doing things (if that is what he is doing), I have not the foggiest, but it is dramatically different, and I think that is what might throw people off (the rockers)…

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Trump’s madness strikes me as more of a piece with Lear than Hamlet.

        Hell, he even seems to enjoy making his three oldest kids compete for his attention.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        I’d say he’s an extreme case of mental neoteny. That is, he has the emotional maturity of a five-year-old. He’s learned how to imitate grown-ups sufficiently to pass as one, buffered by his millions, but he hasn’t ever developed any respect for truth or facts. The ‘truth’ is whatever is most convenient at the time and ‘facts’ are things to be made up and repeated – like kiddies going ‘nyah nyah nyah’ – until the other side just gets weary of trying to argue.

        cr

        • veroxitatis
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:22 am | Permalink

          Or runs out of money defending his lawsuits! But it does not work that way as President as he is discovering.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

          You’re right, he’s a true man-child. What might have been cute or dismissable in a kid is ugly in an adult and terrifying in a president.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          As are all narcissists.

    • Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      From what I know about Trump, I think that if he visits a psychiatrist for evaluation, he wouldn’t come out without a diagnosis, though he is very far from being legally insane.

  2. littleboybrew
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I do enjoy Andrew Sullivan’s analysis, but it has always amazed me how someone so rational could maintain religious faith. His faith is Yoda-esque, kind of a ‘do-not do’. For a man of faith he puts a lot of stock in doubt. On the other hand, that is why it does not bother me in the way the damnable certitude of a Ken Ham or Ray Comfort does.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      ‘Tis one of life’s profound mysteries that people like Sullivan continue to support the Catholic Church and the attendant woo and nonsense. Mysterious ways.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:03 am | Permalink

        I know, it’s frustrating. But his podcast discussion with Sam Harris is the single most brilliant, coruscating takedown of Trump I’ve heard anywhere. Unlike many public figures they both understand how dangerous Trump is AND manage to get it across despite being hamstrung by a language that has been devalued by constant hysterical, exaggerated declamations against perfectly ordinary politicians. People tend to yawn these days when you call a politician ‘dangerous’ because years of Blair, Bush, Cameron, etc. being described as ‘evil’, or ‘satanic’, or ‘warmongerers’ has so debased the public vocabulary. It takes a brilliant mind and a grasp of a striking metaphor to cut through that.

        And I find myself a lot more willing to set aside his religion now than I would have a year ago. In the context of unity against a recrudescent far-right it borders on irrelevant.

  3. eric
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months.

    No, his crazy hyperbolic speeches and tweets don’t really bother me. What causes me anxiety is putting DeVos in charge of Education. Rick Perry in charge of sustaining our nuclear arsenal. Issuing executive orders that stop US permanent residents from re-entering the country. Ticking off the governments of Australia and Mexico in the same month. Ordering federal agencies to remove scientific information from their web sites.

    If Trump wants to complain about how horrible the world is today, well, that just makes him a typical 70-year-old. His crazy policy actions are what’s unsettling.

    • Historian
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      It could be that Trump doesn’t have the faculties or knowledge to make rational decisions about whom to appoint to offices or making policy decisions. Consequently, all these acts are actually decided by others and Trump is simply the mouthpiece to announce them. And, it would appear that Trump is under the influence of the extreme rightists such as Steve Bannon. This is the danger as we have seen so acutely over the last few weeks.

      • eric
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but that doesn’t matter. People said Bush was Cheney’s mouthpiece in some respects too, and my answer would be the same; regardless of who is the power on the throne, it’s the policy actions that worry me, not Bush or Trump’s silly words.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        I worked for a narcissist who was just like Trump and he did the exact same stuff — hired all his pals into positions they were not qualified for – and I mean grossly not qualified for. Trumps behaviour is nothing new to me and very typical for who he is.

        • Mary Sheumaker
          Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          from the Independent, “Malignant Narcissism” by Rachel Hosie. “His widely reported symptoms of mental instability – including grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality” make him unqualified for the stresses and mental clarity that the presidency needs, etc. Unfortunately he is surrounded by enablers who want him there and think they can control him.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

            I bet he flies into a narcissistic rage too. The boss I had would do that. He did it to me once and he did it to so many people, that he ended up being asked to leave after people complained that he bullied them. I heard he did the same thing at his next job & was asked to either apologize or resign & he chose to resign. Oddly, for the most part I got along with him. I hate to admit it, but I think this is because I’ve mastered the “walking on eggshells” technique.

      • Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        It seems that Trump has also signed things that he didn’t fully grasp:
        http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/2/6/1630519/-Dangerous-incompetence-Trump-did-not-know-the-EO-he-signed-put-Bannon-on-National-Security-Council

  4. Simon Hayward
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Good to see Andrew writing more often. I still miss the Dish.

    It’s worth listening to the podcast he did with Sam Harris before the election Waking Up #49 The lesser evil.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      That was so good. It’s the best thing I’ve heard on politics in the last six months. Really cut through so much of the ‘they’re both the same’ bullshit that infuriated the fuck out of me in the run-up to Nov. 8th.

  5. garthdaisy
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Religion is the opiate of the masses. Once hooked, good luck getting off it. Those who do are rare and fortunate. Imagine if parents gave heroin to their kids the way they give religion to them?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      We should remember that a heroin-addicted mother gives birth to a heroin-addicted baby.

      • Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        And in both cases, regardless of what might think of the parent and what to do, do not blame the child for the “sins of the fathers”.

  6. JChotard
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Like the The Young Pope who keeps repeating the adage “Prescence in Abscence” – it boils down to what to do with a silent God? Answer: You make abscence a sign of prescence, you make silence the fulcrum of Faith. And where does this take you? Endlessly and masochistically ruminating on an imaginary Love Object – ever filled with joy and despair. Yikes!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      I’m really enjoying that series!

  7. Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see how he can expect god to provide any sanctuary. Trump is doing remarkably well among the religious.

  8. Randy schenck
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I agree. How can a guy who seems to be so grounded and on target with this Trump nut, yet still deluded with religion. Sometimes the hold it has on smart people is just impossible to understand.

    Anyway, he nails it with Trump and his insanity that makes you want to slip out of the room and never come back.

    • chris moffatt
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      What I find most impossible to understand is people, like some of my relatives, who are very intelligent and well-educated and yet have convinced themselves intellectually that their religion is true. This isn’t the blind obedience of ignorance it’s much more a kind of invincible ignorance in reverse.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I always think there should be some great deprogramer out there who will develop the secret formula to remove this rubbish from otherwise normal people.

  9. W.Benson
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Trump is a nut case, and my apology to nuts.

    • teacupoftheapocalypse
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      The Republicans’ Undeniably Mad President.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      The nut no squirrel would stomach.

  10. rickflick
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I do like Sullivan’s strong stand against madness in the White House. I want to see Judy Woodruff on PBS call a spade a spade, say the emperor’s got no cloths.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Don’t think Judy has it in her. Just too polite or whatever. But, I do believe as Sullivan clear does, that Trump is nuts. Some may call it mad, other say disorder, but he is mentally deranged. Yet many, many people, some right here on this posting, do not see it or believe it.

      Trump lives in his own little bag of facts and he only cares about promoting Trump. He has read very little and does not need to because he is the prophet. He knows and everyone else is less than he is. Lying is just part of the daily deal. He is pathological and the lies will simply continue. I do not claim he is stupid but he is very dangerous, particularly having obtained the current job. The joking and making fun will soon fade and a seriousness about what we have will be plain as day.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      “Madness in the White House”

      Sounds like the name of a book that will be written about the Trump presidency.

      • Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

        Good idea. If you feel up to the task, you can start making notes!

  11. Kevin
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Sullivan needs to examine the hypocrisy of Christian religion’s conjoinment with Trump.

    Trump enables Christians. Christians enable Trump.

    And Scorsese…you go girl! One of the greatest directors of all time and he pushes delusion. News flash Martin, when it’s over it’s water and carbon returned to earth.

  12. mfdempsey1946
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    “The Silence” is the English-language title of Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s 1963 release, which is about two sisters travelling through a war zone in an imaginary Europe.

    This film was widely seen and discussed, deservedly so in my opinion, when it came out. At that time, Bergman reportedly said that “the” silence had specific meanings: that of God but also that of the two sisters, who have a fraught relationship in the film.

    The title of Martin Scorsese’s film is simply “Silence”, which is also the English-language title of its source material, Shusako Endo’s Japanese novel.

    The presence of “silence” alone, minus “the”, gives the word a more general resonance in Endo’s novel that might include divine silence, since Endo, like his book’s main characters, was a Christian in Japan, where this religion is not so common.

    About whether or not the same is true of Scorsese’s film I cannot venture a guess right now because I haven’t seen it yet. But I will at my first opportunity.

    Probably online because it has already vanished from theaters in the US.

    • jwthomas
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      You can preorder it on Amazon Video for $14.99 or wait for the release when it will likely be available for rental.

  13. arizonajones
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who would support Trump as President, clearly knows nothing about vetting.

  14. Hempenstein
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Re. Tr*mp’s sanity, is there a White House physician? I haven’t heard of one.

    And in addition to divesting and releasing taxes, how about submitting a urine sample?

  15. Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    I think that Sullivan’s stance makes him a natural ally of all others who are against Trump. His religion is his business.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      +1

    • GBJames
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      His religion is our business, too, when he writes about it.

  16. Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Apropos the film “Silence,” it brings to mind a great bit from Voltaire’s “Philosophical Dictionary.” Speaking of St. Francis Xavier he wrote,

    “Is it asked how such a man could make so many converts in Japan? The simple answer is that he did not make any; but other Jesuits, who staid a long time in the country, by favor of the treaties between the kings of Portugal and the emperors of Japan, converted so many people, that a civil war ensued, which is said to have cost the lives of nearly four hundred thousand men. This is the most noted prodigy that the missionaries have worked in Japan.”

  17. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I worry the US is just going to be even more religious now that people feel so hopeless with the current administration.

  18. BJ
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I’ve always loved Andrew Sullivan since I first started reading him in the very late 90’s or early 00’s. While he was conservative then, I haven’t considered him a conservative for at least a decade now. He’s much more of a libertarian classical liberal than a conservative at this point.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: