TNR on Andrew Sullivan’s “serious problem” … and some weirdness with an Auden quote…?

Sorry, for being a bit derelict lately. I’m not a full-time journalist, so The Dish has some advantage over me there, as it is put together by I guess 3 full-time writers.

But the post I was going to write on a spluttering rant a few days ago that connected Israeli policy and Sarah Palin seems to have been eclipsed by a piece Leon Wieseltier has at TNR about Mr. Sullivan himself. (H/t, Daily Dish.) It seems Wieselter has a Jewish question about the apparent evolution of The Dish recently.

I’m browsing the TNR piece, and so far it looks like Wieseltier focuses on many of the Israel-related posts by Sullivan that I’ve discussed on The Daily Dishwater, identifying a lot of the same themes. It seems like Wieseltier has used my blog as an index to track some of Andrew’s recent offensiveness. If that’s true, it’s fine with me. The purpose of this blog is to collect Andrew’s grand missteps on various issues. This is partly so that Andrew will become wary of being faced with them.

I’ve already read the section of Wieseltier’s piece that refers to an Auden quote because Andrew has already made a long defense on that point, as he prepares his own Operation Cast Lead on the rest of TNR’s piece.

When Andrew put the Auden quote on The Dish, I had totally missed it. This was the whole post, which had no hyperlinks at all — i.e., no links to any discussion on Auden or the trinity or Niebuhr or The New Republic:

Quote For The Day

“Trying to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to readers of the New Republic is not easy,” – W.H. Auden in a letter to Ursula Niebuhr, Renhold Niebuhr’s wife, June 2, 1944.

Andrew has this long explanation of his ability to tell Jewish-related jokes with the Jews at TNR, since Andrew himself acknowledges:

Now it’s perfectly true that the New Republic reference also made me chuckle because, as Leon Wieseltier once said, TNR is a kind of “Jewish version of Commentary.” So I was also implying a little joke about the contemporary irony of such a remark.

But I don’t see how that mitigates the context of the quote as he provided it.

Andrew’s current defense doesn’t seem to touch on the central problem, which is the context of the quote on the blog.

The Quote of the Day post is between the posts “Israel and the Jihadist Question” (which tries to apportion blame to guess which country for the death of CIA agents in Afghanistan) and “Death of a Cat” (in which no Israelis are involved with the euthanizing of a cat).

The closest politics-related post on either side of this QOTD post are “Life As a Neocon” (a quote from Newsweek with only one line of commentary — by Andrew, I assume, since his underbloggers aren’t allowed to be as self-righteous) and “Pass. The. Damn. Bill.”

And there’s no Auden discussion or Niehbur discussion remotely near the QOTD post to justify the quote as something other than calling out a group of people for not getting something very beautiful, mysterious and Christian.

So we could look at this QOTD as evidence that Sullivan was overjoyed to share a random thought about theology, which comes with an ironic side-joke about a group of liberal Jews who believe in Jewish solidarity — his cup had runneth over.

Or, we could see a thought about theology that is in bad taste to share so soon after having written about people of conscience just not reacting appropriately, in a basic humanistic way, to things like the “daily grinding of the Palestinians.” And if Andrew was aware of the bad taste of the timing and wanted to post anyway … it’s almost like he’s feeding a desire to be insensitive.

I’m hoping his cup runneth over, and he can’t control his toes from curling when he thinks about Auden and Niehbur talking about the trinity.

I think it was a bad move for Wieseltier to begin his article on such a theological point. I suspect he wanted to sound more intellectual as he engaged in a long ad hominem. Besides that, Wiesenthel wanted his piece to identify a theological dimension in Andrew’s sporadic accusations that large groups of Jews lack the necessary empathy for … this millennium, I guess, since Andrew keeps complimenting the Jews of his past.

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