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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

virtually vapid

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 29, 2005

Andrew "We Are All Sodomites Now" Sullivan has Roman Catholic markings brightly painted on the wings of his Lancaster, and he volubly insists he is fighting on the same side as his co-religionists, yet his bombs invariably land and detonate in "friendly" territory. His loyalty is unconnected with any recognizably Christian doctrine, and beyond his self-identification as a Catholic it would be difficult for a modern Topcliffe to find in his writings any incriminating evidence of papistry. Amy Welborn discusses the paean to Hillary he offers in the latest New Republic. Following are two classic Sullivanisms (the emphasis is mine):

In a free society, the ability of a woman to control what happens to her own body will always and should always be weighed in the balance against the right of an unborn child to life itself. And, if she and the Democrats can move the debate away from the question of abortion's legality toward abortion's immorality, then they stand a chance of winning that debate in the coming years. ...

Democrats can still be, and almost certainly should be, for the right to legal abortion. But, instead of beginning their conversation with that right, they should start by acknowledging a wrong. Abortion is always wrong. How can we keep it legal while doing all we can to reduce its damage? Call it a pro-life pro-choice position. And argue for it with moral passion.

Gibberish. But it would be a mistake to conclude that it's ineffective gibberish. Sullivan's genius consists in stunning his plodding, truth-seeking opponents dead in their tracks with a paradox, then nimbly countering their stammered objections, then skipping on to a new subject. By the time his adversaries consolidate their arguments he pettishly declines to re-enter the combat.

Clever lad though he is, Sullivan is a one-trick pony. His game is to punch the wind out of the Leftists by some shockingly blunt statement of traditional principle ("Abortion is always wrong"), and then to give them their breath back, and more, by maintaining that the "right-wing" principle is best realized or safeguarded by a "left-wing" praxis. You may remember that Sullivan has already given us a "pro-life argument" in favor of the abortion pill RU 486. And, famously, he insists the sacrament of one man and one woman joined in Holy Matrimony will be ennobled by the Church's blessing of promiscuous homosexual liaisons.

For a lot of folks, Sullivan performs an important service. They want permission to do what their ostensible principles forbid -- and this Sullivan gives them -- but they don't want to forfeit a sense of self-righteousness in the bargain. Sullivan's overheated and ceaseless indignation ("...and argue for it with moral passion") fills this gap as well. There's adage that reads, "You can't cheat an honest man"; on this basis, perhaps, our age has found the fraud it deserves.

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