Thursday, September 17, 2009
Andrew Sullivan, Domestic ForeignerThe Atlantic is telling the world its own Andrew Sullivan is the 9th most influential commentator in the United States, which is hogwash (or did I miss the nation following Andrew Sullivan's obsession with Sarah Palin's last pregnancy?).
The Atlantic's often-silly list (Paul Krugman is #1!) is not completely without value, however, as it provides a cautionary tale of how foolish we can look when we pretend there is no such thing as a conflict of interest.
But back to Andrew Sullivan.
Why has a man who is not a citizen of the United States been commenting on U.S. domestic policy for the last couple of decades as if he had a citizen's stake in the nation? As Robert Stacy McCain, Ace, Patterico, Ann Althouse, Glenn Reynolds and others have reported (somewhat incidentally, given the more interesting scandal with intriguing implications to which their attention was primarily directed), after a couple of decades of telling us how to arrange our domestic affairs (in more ways than one), Sullivan's retained his foreign citizenship, at least until whenever his upcoming citizenship hearing is.
Way back in the days when Andrew Sullivan was still a 20-something toiling for the New Republic, I took a phone call from a pollster during a major British election while at a friend's house in London. As I was keenly interested in the outcome of the election, I was sorely tempted to assist my favored candidate with a miniscule poll bump. But I kept my opinions to myself and told the pollster, that, as I am an American, I have no business influencing Britain's internal political processes as if I were a British subject.
Sullivan took a different course. He has been happy to tell Americans how to vote while owing his allegiance to a foreign power. (I don't see a disclaimer on the linked page anywhere, do you?)
A bio of Sullivan I found in a source he presumably approved (an employer, not the often-fictional Wikipedia) doesn't mention his citizenship either way (beyond the fact that he was born and raised in England, a fact he does mention reasonably often), but it does say he testified before the U.S. Congress on domestic legislation as early as 1996. He may have testified as a neutral expert and taken no position on the legislation, but seeing as how the bill was the Defense of Marriage Act, I'm not going to bet on it. And an article Sullivan penned for the October Atlantic entitled "Dear President Bush" is topped by a paragraph including the phrase "our nation's history" (referring to the United States of America), starts with Sullivan saying to the most recent President Bush, "I supported your presidential campaign in 2000, as I did your father's in 1988," and includes the words "the America I love and have made my home."
I ask you, are these activities and phrases that could lead a reasonable reader to believe Andrew Sullivan, domestic commentator, had become an American? And was advising us as one?
Would a little disclaimer once in a while of the I'm-telling-you-how-to-vote-but-be-aware-if-I-ever-get-drafted-it-won't-be-the-U.S.-Army's-unform-I-wear variety really have gone amiss?
Because the team a writer is playing for actually is important information for a reader to know.
Next time I'm in London I suppose I'll answer the pollster (though given that the two biggest parties these days are both run by climate-deluded NHS vote whores, I can't imagine endorsing either one of them). So what if I have no allegiance to the Queen?
Cross-posted at Newsbusters, where comments are enabled
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:03 PM