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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One of the few blogs I've checked daily (for as long as I've been reading blogs) is Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. So do, no doubt, countless others.

I wrote a column in college that was very similar in tone to the writings you see here, and I made the same point then as I do now: writing to lecture is pointless. (Particularly when you write principally about American politics, an entity at once so vital and so cynical.) Writing to inspire debate and further delving into issues is the only point.

Without waxing poetic about the man, Sullivan manages to stir debate, and that's why his is a conservative opinion I truly respected long before he came to share my advocacy for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. As a gay man, he lives in a sort of political paradox, having advocated (at one time) for those that might alternately restrict his civil rights. Ever since I've read him, I've appreciated that Sullivan isn't a blogger that simply throws up whatever he can to gain attention - he is, in fact, a journalist.

(And one who takes the time to respond to and actually publish his readers, I should add. Full disclosure would prompt me to add that this nascent blog of mine had its very first blog post linked and discussed on Sullivan's blog, as well as others, so there is a debt that I feel I owe to him.)

Lately, Sullivan has been examining the Sarah Palin nomination at length, detailing scandal after scandal and asking for real answers - including about the vicious on-line rumor/theory concerning Palin's Down Syndrome infant Trig, and whether or not the baby was her son at all. As you might expect, the very fact that Sullivan was asking for clarification that could've been provided by documents from the hospital where Trig was born was considered inappropriate by some. Well, many. Myself not included.

So this controversy is exactly what came first into my mind when I noticed that the usually extremely prolific Sullivan (the day Palin was announced, he filled his entire front page) hadn't posted a thing yesterday until 1:48pm. (Even then, it was just a photo, something I normally do only when I feel the need to put something on the blog to remind people that I'm not dead.)

Conspiracy theories abound. Other bloggers at The Atlantic have offered vague explanations for what happened to Sullivan. But it's the writer himself that, today, was awfully mysterious:
Thank you for your many emails of concern. For the record, I'm absolutely fine, nothing has changed with this blog, no one is pressuring me to write or not write anything, and I spent part of the day yesterday with my husband soaking up the last moments of summer together.

I'd normally believe that.

But when Sullivan takes a break of any kind, he usually has his assistant and/or several other known bloggers (such as Hilzoy of another favorite of mine, Obsidian Wings) take over for him. In all my years reading the blog, he's taken a few breaks, some of considerable length. But never has the blog remained dormant. And his explanation leaves a lot to be desired. Considering I was one of the folks who sent him an e-mail wondering if all was well, I expected more than him basically playing hooky.

Then today, Sullivan got downright cryptic, posting this as his "Quote of the Day":
""Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen" - Ludwig Wittgenstein.

I followed Sullivan down the rabbit hole, clicking on the link to find out that Ludwig Wittgenstein's statement is loosely translated as:
"What we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence."

Something's up.

I was perusing the blog Not Very Bright, which is seemingly on this Carmen Sandiego-like hunt as well, when I came across this anonymous comment:
Sullivan is not taking a few days off. He was asked to lay off the Palin stuff and he has responded by refusing to post to his site. Staff are meeting now to decided what to do. I work at The Atlantic.

Something's up.

I'll let Not Very Bright detail some more:
And then, at 6:18, a “Mental Health Break” Youtube clip consisting of a “Desperate Housewives” scene of a child being forced to apologize. And a picture of Beirut, Lebanon for what is usually a peaceful “View From Your Window” photo series.

Let me take a break from sleuthing, with the caveat that I'm more than willing to be proven wrong later. In fact, I hope I'm wrong. In the vein of Keith Olbermann, I'm taking off whatever journalist hat I have to venture a guess.

The combination of the clues that Sullivan has left leads me to believe that these may be his last days at The Atlantic. Considering NVB tracked down the IP address of the anonymous poster and it seems as though it may very well be legit, I believe that Sullivan is standing his ground on the Palin issue. He's likely claiming he did nothing wrong (he hasn't) and a skittish management is worried about the flood of letters and calls from low-information reactionaries. (More than anything, they're worried about subscribers. This is what this is about.)

I see Sullivan taking his blog elsewhere, and soon.

If that comes to pass, there's few things that aren't more symptomatic of our Chicken Little media, scared into submission by forces on the Right. And they will have essentially done it to one of their own, for the simple transgression of speaking truth to power. I know Sullivan would hardly consider what he's doing to be heroic, and he'd be on point with that sentiment. But if this is all true, he's right.

The funny thing is, the scared management and the bitter (bitter?) letter-writers think that this will actually silence this cat. Hilarious.

  • 9/10 UPDATE.

  • He's back today. And as feisty as ever.


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