Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stuff I Read: “The Daily Dish” (Andrew Sullivan’s blog)

For a while now, I’ve wanted to highlight some of the blogs and websites and webcomics that I read, both to examine for myself what I get out of them and maybe turn a few other people on to them.

This week is the 10th Anniversary of Andrew Sullivan’s blog, “The Daily Dish”.  You can read his biography here, but in summary, Sullivan is a well know gay conservative writer, notable in his writing for several books looking at homosexuality from a positive-but-conservative viewpoint, especially Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con.  On the blogging front, he started out quite pro-Bush and has drifted more moderate over the years as revelation after revelation about the directions of the the Republican party have come out.  (Or perhaps he didn’t drift, everything else did in the opposite direction.)  And don’t get him started about Sarah Palin.

Years ago, my father taught me that the best way to beat something was to understand it, and the best way to understand it was to pay attention to it.  As an example, he was on the board of Planned Parenthood and he was a member of the Christian Coalition (I imagine they were really pleased that he was a minister); as such, he got access to huge doses of everything the theocratic right was up to, practically by the shovelful.

I’ve put that policy into effect in my own life over the years, listening to Dr. Laura and Michael Savage and Michael Medved and Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin on the radio — often shaking my head at stuff I couldn’t quite believe I was hearing.  It’s been especially interesting to listen to conservative talk radio in Seattle over the years as they’ve moved through these people one at a time, eventually kicking each to the curb and moving on to the next voice.  And where convenient, I at least open my ears to other sources of information and opinion, just to see what’s up on the other side of the fence, to see what the “easy” channels of information are not telling me.

(Really, it sometimes surprises me how much people — especially ostensibly liberal queers and techies — like to live in their own little bubbles.  They say they want to be up on politics and current events, but no, really they don’t.  Just like people addicted to Fox News, they want to get their news only from narrow, supportive avenues, ones which will feed them more of what they want to hear and nothing to challenge their world views.  If you try to balance their viewpoints, they will often fight to death to keep from learning stuff which will imbalance them.)

I initially started reading Sullivan’s blog (back in about 2002, I think) for much the same reason — to see what these “gay conservatives” were up to.  Initially, as a good fag living in a very blue city (Seattle), I was repelled by much of the pro-Bush content and such, but I muscled through.  (And “muscled through” is right: The Daily Dish has many screenfuls of content on its front page, and sometimes will fill more than one front page in a day [although less so today than in years past], so it takes a dedicated block of time to consume it.  Sullivan [and his assitants/substitutes] isn’t quick reading.)

Over time, well, the abyss gazes back: even as Sullivan’s tune shifted some, so did mine toward him and his blog.  Being confronted by opinions on the other side of the fence — opinions which are generally well written and well rounded, as opposed to the shrill name calling from talk radio — expanded my views.  Not necessarily changed my views; expanded them.  (It’s interesting to go back and revisit my blog posts from 6 and 7 years ago.  Can I see some influence from Sullivan in there?  Maybe.)  I agree with some things I read, and disagree with others, but most of all, I can’t help but respect Sullivan.

And that’s probably really all he asks for.


  1. OK, but Sullivan is pretty much in a class by himself. I can read what he writes and give him his due consideration. But the majority of conservative "thinkers" these days are, like Glenn Beck, little more than sound bite whores and cynical opportunists who wrap themselves in the flag and sanctimony while on their way to the bank.
    Jack in Seattle

  2. Definitely true. I suspect that Sullivan wouldn’t position the like of Beck as a “conservative thinker” at all; he’s an entertainer/pundit, and that's a different creature. There are a number of other conservative bloggers (thinkers) whom Sullivan references regularly, although I haven’t checked them out to see who’s who and who might be worth the time. (And really, who is going to be? I spend too much time just on his one blog as it is.)