Yesterday, I noted that Andrew Sullivan had attacked Mitt Romney for among other things, saying “that he opposes ‘unjust discrimination against anyone. . .for sexual preference,’ while he favors allowing gay people to be fired from their jobs for being gay without any sanction.” I pointed out, via David Frum, that Sullivan himself had said in 1998 that, like Romney, he opposed any sanction (i.e., legal cause of action) on those who fire gay people from their jobs from being gay.
Sullivan has responded. In addition to his usual self-pitying huffing and puffing, Sullivan insists that he has not flip-flopped on the “sanctions” issues, inasmuch as he still opposes giving gays the right to sue for alleged employment discrimination. This consistency may be commendable, but in this context it raises troubling questions. First, why did Sullivan choose to attack Romney for holding a position that he himself currently holds? Second, why did Sullivan frame Romney’s position (which turns out also to be Sullivan’s) in a way that makes it sound hypocritical and silly? Surely, if Sullivan had disclosed his opposition to gay rights employment legislation, he would not have characterized it as opposing discrimination while being in “favor [of] allowing gay people to be fired from their jobs for being gay without any sanction.”
These questions aren’t hard to answer. First, Sullivan saw an opportunity to attack a politician he doesn’t like. Second, he saw an opportunity to frame his attack in a particularly snarky way. Third, he didn’t expect anyone to point to his past writing on the same subject. Finally, Sullivan felt free of the constraint that intellectual honesty should have imposed on him.
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