June 7, 2013

"I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war."

"He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work."

He = Glenn Greenwald. The quote, from Andrew Sullivan, appears at the end of a NYT profile of Glenn Greenwald, the man who received and publicized the leaked secret court order about the NSA acquisition of phone records.

Selecting that Andrew Sullivan quote for this post, I didn't think about the fact that it's one gay man commenting on another gay man, but I'm thinking about it now, as I read the linked article more carefully and see this quote from Greenwald:
“I do think political posture is driven by your personality, your relationship with authority, how comfortable are you in your life,” he said. “When you grow up gay, you are not part of the system, it forces you to evaluate: ‘Is it me, or is the system bad?’ ”
By the way, I believe there's a deep connection between a person's individual psychology and his political positions. It's a central topic of mine on this blog, as you may have noticed (or not, depending on the kind of person you are). Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.

And now, here's Greenwald, inviting us to analyze his politics based on his homosexuality. "When you grow up gay...." One might say, when you grow up gay, you might have an exaggerated fear of surveillance by the authorities. Or when you grow up gay, you're critical of others who grow up gay and are too pure and lacking in sophistication....

But I doubt if Greenwald really wants other people analyzing him that way. He only wanted to leverage his specialness into a super-power to see when the system is bad

81 comments:

MayBee said...

Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.

Or to be seen as someone who has the gift of cruel neutrality.

Mitchell the Bat said...

The way to understand Don Draper is to bear in mind he's still a little kid.

tola'at sfarim said...

I thought the headline and subtitle were referring to Obama

Peter said...

" I believe there's a deep connection between a person's individual psychology and his political positions."

I believe there's a deep connection between what Andrew Sullivan's dick wants and his political positions. And no, that's not a comment on gay men in general- just on Andrew Sullivan.

Jay said...

We told you so.

Sincerely,
Conservatives

Pogo said...

What the world clearly needs is the Magic Gay Elf POV on all topics.

cubanbob said...

When all you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail. Greenwald needs to expand his toolkit.

El Pollo Raylan said...

He = Glenn Greenwald. The quote, from Andrew Sullivan, appears at the end of a NYT profile of Glenn Greenwald, the man who received and publicized the leaked secret court order about the NSA acquisition of phone records.

I saw a bit of this last night when ARM and phx were somehow more concerned that this Greenwald guy had broken the news than the news itself. It's just weird and if sullivanists are involved, i guess it sheds light on the whole thing.

Did you hear me roar, Titus? Sullivanist!

Bob Ellison said...

He's gay? I thought he was just stupid. Well, gay people can be stupid, too.

MayBee said...

It's also hilarious to read Andrew Sullivan's quote. He who freaked out at fake menstrual blood on a female interrogator's hands because that was prisoner abuse.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Is it me, or is the system bad?

It's you.

Old Dad said...

Two of the most boring, narcissistic humans on the planet, or should I say, self-important pant loads.

Did you know that they were gay? Just ask them about it if you've got a few days.

Lem said...

Doesn't Supreme Clarence Thomas say something along the lines that growing up poor and black in Georgia .... I guess I should look up the quote but I cant because I have to hit the road.

Mingus Jerry said...

Wait? So Sully is back to supporting the War on Terror? Hard to keep up with his flip-flop on the issue. At least Greenwald is consistent no matter which party controls the WH.

AJ Lynch said...

Ha! I thought the quote was referring to the disengaged non compos mentis currently enthroned in the White House.

Bob Ellison said...

In an earlier thread, David Hampton said Glenn Greenwald opened Pandora's Box by breaking the story. It is hard to believe that the best this administration could come up with for a deflection would be a story about NSA data mining American citizens as we watch the construction of the new NSA mega site in the wilds of Utah progress. I note for the record that the definition of the information mined does not address parameters of the meaning of "data" which the inquiring mind would include photos, e-mail, sites visited...the entire panoply of communication in all it's forms and functions. Do not underestimate that abilities and capabilities of the NSA. Additionally. do not underestimate the abilities of committed ideologues to "gerrymander" the elasticity of rules that govern the usage of NSA derived information. Susan Rice, National Security Advisor to the POTUS does not bode well for our privacy. If this administration had spent as much time and effort tracking the Boston Bombers as they do conservatives prior to election cycles we would have dodged the marathon bomb. Convince me we are not collateral damage on the progressive march to utopia.

That's florid writing!

El Pollo Raylan said...

1. I claim that a sullivanist selected from the group consisting of phx, AReasonableMan, Rhythm & Balls, Titus, and harrogate will be around shortly to explain this all to us in no uncertain terms.

2. The claim of claim 1 without the double negative.

cubanbob said...

I'm having a hard time trying to figure out if Obama is a errand boy sent by grocery clerks or an evil genius. Sort of like that old SNL skit about Regean. All things considered I'm hoping Obama is an evil genius rather than the errand boy.

DADvocate said...

Greenwald conflates growing up gay thoughts with thoughts everyone probably had. I had those thoughts. Greenwald doesn't know what it's like to grow up straight, but seems to think he does. He erroneously confuses his political thoughts as being different with those of straights based on sexual preference.

A common mistake among people in "special" groups is to claim others don't know what it's like to be them, but the "special" person knows what it's like to be everyone else.

MayBee said...

Exactly, dadvocate. That's one reason I hate the "white privilege" meme. It encourages thinking the average white person just skips through life with no headwinds.

madAsHell said...

When you grow up gay

Maybe he would feel more comfortable if we stitched a pink triangle to his shirt, then he wouldn't have to constantly remind us of his special snowflake status.

Kensington said...

I'm betting that Andrew Sullivan is just fine with all the new surveillance we've learned about this week.

I'm mildly curious about that, but not enough that I'm willing to give him a click to find out...

rhhardin said...

Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.

It's the female love of reframing into a bigger and more complex issue in order to avoid resolution.

More complex is always better.

You can't use resolved issues for anything interesting.

Henry said...

I credit Greenwald, more than most on the left, for actually holding Obama to the same standards he imposed on Bush.

Sullivan on the other hand demonstrated that very lack of grip he complains about for the last 6 years of Bush's terms.

Then Obama got elected and Sullivan got all sophisticated again.

I'll take the honest idealist over the malicious pragmatist every day of the week.

MayBee said...

I just remembered Obama made a big push for cookie notifications on the Internet in the name of privacy. It's almost as if this admin wants us to think the government is concerned about our privacy so they can sneak behind our backs and snoop on us.

elkh1 said...

tola'at sfarim, I thought so too, until the professor helpfully gave us "He =".

Life is hard for Sully when his dream boy is in office. If Bush is in the WH, "he" would be Sully's latest hero. Now the poor guy has to pretzel himself to tell his readers why "he" was wrong.

gerry said...

A common mistake among people in "special" groups is to claim others don't know what it's like to be them, but the "special" person knows what it's like to be everyone else.

Simply profound.

Black people cannot be bigoted for that reason, right?

I've been lectured about how gay people and black people and eastern Indian people and Germans (well, no, not Germans) and Muslims and Jews are all just like me except they are diversified in how they approach eating dogs, number of wives, whether one can walk more than 1000 feet on Fridays, and so forth.

And now the Professor suggests that what a person felt growing up affects their reasoning.

Is all reasoning equal? Or, is some reasoning superior because it was done by someone who is not gay (or is), or not black (or is), and so did not have their intellects poisoned by prejudices they suffered (or did not) or projected during their upbringing (or did not)?

Are we even allowed to discuss this?

I'll expect the Progressive-police knock on my door at midnight after they analyze this post based upon an algorythm that can spot a whiff of dissent...

Better to go postmodern. It's all the same because truth is not knowable. As long as no one gets hurt.

Virgil Hilts said...

"I do think political posture is driven by your personality, your relationship with authority, how comfortable are you in your life . . ." I agree with that, at least when it comes to men (I don't think it works as well for women). That's why strong and confident men (including confident gay men) tend to be conservative while men who are pantywaists tend to love Obama.

Marshal said...

This may be the first time in a decade but I agree with Sullivan. It's easy to criticize policies for their negative aspects, all policies have them. But critics are responsible for advocating a better alteranative. The problem with too many critics is they advocate counterfactual preferences but implausible downplay the negative aspects of their choices. Serious commenters need to prove it by acknowledging rather than downplaying the negative counterfactual possibilities, but Greenwald doesn't.

This is an extremely common issue among libertarians (and others like Paul Krugman, plus commenters like Robert Cook). It's easy to be intellectually consistent when you simply ignore the costs of your policy preferences.

tim maguire said...

Glenn Greenwald is on a very short list of liberals whose ethics, causes, and concerns don't change when the party in power changes. Whatever one might say about his politics, he has integrity.

SMGalbraith said...

By the way, I believe there's a deep connection between a person's individual psychology and his political positions.

Sure, there has to be. Where else do we get our view of the world except based, in large part, on our own experiences?

Wasn't this the observation about Keynes' and his economic views?

The one that got some people in trouble?

It's tricky ground. One can wind up sounding like Maureen Dowd with her psychobabble.

Writ Small said...

By the way, I believe there's a deep connection between a person's individual psychology and his political positions. It's a central topic of mine on this blog. . .

Ann on Niall Ferguson when he wondered if Keynes homosexuality had anything to do with economics theory: "kicking members of an out group when they were on the outside."

Paul Zrimsek said...

Winner in this fight: Niall Ferguson.

SteveR said...

"growing up gay" Is that a reason or an excuse?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Kensington said...

I'm betting that Andrew Sullivan is just fine with all the new surveillance we've learned about this week.

If it allows us to determine the actual mother of just one of Sarah Palin's children, it will all be worth it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Well, of course how you grow up and you live affects your adult viewpoints on everything including political viewpoints: your economic circumstances, the community or various communities that you lived in, the quality of the schools and teachers that you had, urban living versus rural living, religion, foods that you ate.....everything all compiles into a big ball of YOU.

Some people face themselves and either accept it and take the Popeye approach....I 'yam what I 'yam. Or examine the warts in the mirror of the soul and try to make adjustments. Some people, like Greenwald, can only look at themselves through a personally chosen prism, in his case Homosexuality.

Some people just ARE more analytical than others (INTJ) others are more emotional. So?

Lyle said...

I happen to agree with Andrew Sullivan on Greenwald.

I've always thought of Greenwald as someone who is telling us what the laws should be in a perfect world.

Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world.

viator said...

When you used to grow up gay you were in fear of surveillance. Now being LGTBQ is a status symbol which also brings privileges not obtainable to others. Included is affirmative action and special protections regarding speech and employment. Also a disease associated with LGTBQ communities, AIDS/HIV, has been singled out for special benefits not available to any other malady like cancer or heart disease. Two thirds of all the costs of treatment of AIDS/HIV are paid for by the government, use of generic drugs is prohibited, and any drug which shows promise is immediately made available without FDA trials, unlike any other class of drugs.

Franklin said...

Only my experiences are valid, because of my unique, special point of view. I am the first to ever experience these things and after me there will be no more. Here's 2,500 words explaining this.

Tim said...

Ha ha ha ha - catfight!

Do either of these twits have the standing for normal people to seriously listen to their criticism of each other?

I mean, really, who gives two shits what either of these twits think of each other, or anything else for that matter?

exhelodrvr1 said...

"I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war."

That applies to the majority of the people who voted for Obama.

Tim said...

"Some people just ARE more analytical than others (INTJ) others are more emotional. So?"

So?

The emotional ones are destroying the county when they uniformly, lock-step vote for Democrats.

Tim said...

"That applies to the majority of the people who voted for Obama."

Really?

Do you know ANY Obama voters who have any "grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war?"

I sure don't know any.

Tim said...

"Ann on Niall Ferguson when he wondered if Keynes homosexuality had anything to do with economics theory: "kicking members of an out group when they were on the outside."

Typical, female feminist Democrat with a gay son reasoning on homosexuality: "It doesn't matter at all on anything important, that is, until I think it does. And this is logically consistent with my position."

Astro said...

...because in order to really understand the constitution and the limitations of governmental power, you've got to know how to run the country or run a war. (You stupid serf. Don't you know your place?)

exhelodrvr1 said...

Tim,
Some relatively small fraction of them knew exactly what they were getting. They perpetrated the hoax on the others.

edutcher said...

He wants us to believe he was "gay" in the womb, came out that way, and did everything in a "gay" way from his first breath?

Sure he did.

Ann Althouse said...

By the way, I believe there's a deep connection between a person's individual psychology and his political positions. It's a central topic of mine on this blog, as you may have noticed (or not, depending on the kind of person you are). Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.

I take it cruel neutrality's a dead duck, then.

MayBee said...

Exactly, Astro.

If you want to limit government control/survellience of the citizens, it's up to you to figure out another way to do what they are doing.

Meade said...

Well, when the president uses a top-secret court order allowing the National Security Agency to monitor Sarah Palin's uterus, that means that it is not illegal.

Scott said...

Many years ago, a professor of mine shared a great piece of wisdom with me, to wit: 37.6 percent of all people are thieves, finks, and poltroons. This discovery (the result of years of careful analysis) demonstrates the universal brotherhood of mankind.

It doesn't matter how you divide up the group, it is always 37.6%...

Sayyid said...

Althouse two posts ago: It's also important not to violate constitutional rights, but questions of rights and national security need to be analyzed. [Emphasis added]

Althouse now: Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.

Tim said...

"Tim,

Some relatively small fraction of them knew exactly what they were getting. They perpetrated the hoax on the others."


True.

pduggie said...

"Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way."

Cruel neutrality?

Robert Cook said...

Glenn Greenwald should be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, or the I.F. Stone award, or both.

Since the debut of his personal blog a few years back, which I found by chance a couple of months after he launched it, Greenwald has put to shame every single highly paid celebrity print and tv journalist in the American media, showing them up for the frauds and suckers-up-to-power they are.

Sullivan's condescension derives, I'd bet, from knowing that he (Sullivan) is a total mediocrity who will never offer the journalist value Greenwald provides in every column he writes.

There are a few others out there as penetrating and valuable, but they lack Greenwald's audience and public recognition.

garage mahal said...

The NYT thinks Greenwald is a lonely blogger who has trouble making friends.

LOL

Dante said...

Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.

I hate to say it, but I agree with this. It's next to impossible for me to understand the leftist POV, though I keep trying.

I think I've come up with a few thoughts on it. Women, for instance, are far more willing to have others provide for them, and seem to have no shame in the feeling. I'm assuming this is on account of their position as the nurturers of children. They can justify a lot of socialism due to this.

What I don't get is the guys. They often make ridiculous claims. For instance, I have had a running discussion with a very intelligent leftist who thinks, for instance, that government programs yield a net return, when to me it's the opposite. It doesn't seem possible to convince him otherwise.

I'm thinking part of it are catchy words like "nuance," "Revanchism," and all the other cool lefty phrases that makes them feel smarter than everyone else. It's an ego boost to be a leftist, and approve of people ripping you off.

X said...

Greenwald was also one of the original and most prodigious users of self promoting sock puppets, so he's got that going for him too. Rick Ellers Wilson Ellison agrees with me 100%.

Andy Freeman said...

> If you want to limit government control/survellience of the citizens, it's up to you to figure out another way to do what they are doing.

No, it's not.

I'm under no obligation to figure out a way for the govt to do things that it has no biz doing, even if it does use the "war on terror" excuse.

This has nothing to do with the war on terror.

gutless said...

It makes one wonder about these two fellows mothers and fathers.

David-2 said...

Sullivan criticizing anyone with respect to the "sophistication of his work"?

***cough*** Trig ***cough***

Palladian said...

Sullivan's condescension derives, I'd bet, from knowing that he (Sullivan) is a total mediocrity who will never offer the journalist value Greenwald provides in every column he writes.

I agree. I also think it's worth noting that one of them has had dinner with Barack Obama and one of them hasn't. Which one would you trust to be objective?

William said...

Is being gay a risk factor in security work?......Is it me or is it society? It's very rare that people pin the blame on themselves. I think leftists have been especially good at explaining how the flaws in their nature are directly attributable to bourgeoise capitalism.

El Pollo Raylan said...

William said...It's very rare that people pin the blame on themselves.

It's also obvious that we can't pin the tale on the donkeys.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Another example of Obama's cluelessness in how the real world works:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-message-from-the-ruins-of-qusair/2013/06/06/32b64cc0-ced9-11e2-8f6b-67f40e176f03_story.html

Rusty said...

Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.


Um. Because I was taught that reason is one of humanities highest virtues?

Revenant said...

Greenwald has it backwards, I think.

If you look at the political affiliation of "outsiders" in American society -- gays, atheists, Jews, Muslims, racial minorities, etc -- you find that they tend to align with the "the government needs more power" side of the political spectrum. In Greenwald's terms, they tend to disproportionately decide "it isn't me, SOCIETY is bad, and the system, i.e. government, needs to do something about that".

Greenwald himself is in a distinct minority among gay men in thinking Obama is behaving badly.

Revenant said...

Greenwald has put to shame every single highly paid celebrity print and tv journalist in the American media, showing them up for the frauds and suckers-up-to-power they are

The frauds and suckers-up-to-power are the people who decide who wins the awards.

Personally I'm amused that a "Pulitzer Prize" is considered an honor, in light of the real-world career of the man it is named after. It makes me wonder if serious dramatic actors and actresses will, in the future, be awarded the Linda Lovelace Award for Excellence in Acting.

Robert Cook said...

"I also think it's worth noting that one of them has had dinner with Barack Obama and one of them hasn't. Which one would you trust to be objective?"

As I.F. Stone warned, Washington reporters should never socialize with the people they cover.

Crunchy Frog said...

A common mistake among people in "special" groups is to claim others don't know what it's like to be them, but the "special" person knows what it's like to be everyone else.

e.g. Crack's whole "I'm a black conservative in Utah!" shtick.

William said...

There's reason to believe that most of I F Stone's legwork was done by researchers in the Soviet Embassy......The idealism, ie alienation, ie homosexuality, that caused Whittaker Chambers to become a Soviet agent also led him to become an anti-communist. When leftists took note of Chambers' homosexuality, they usually mentioned it in a negative light. So there you have it. When Bradley Manning's sexuality leads him to betray America, it's a positive thing. When Whittaker Chambers' sexuality leads him to betray the Soviet spy network, it's a symptom of his degeneracy.

David Davenport said...

Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.

Their psyches or their bodies? I refer AltHousers to recent news that strong, wealthy men are more likely to be conservatives.

Synova said...

You know... Isn't law and being a lawyer all about reason and rationality? Sure, you've got your feelings and your opinions but the law requires different behavior. The law may require you to work toward a result that might not be entirely fair, but it's required by the larger picture, that the law not be seen as capricious, that contracts are upheld and that guilt has to be proven not simply felt.

Way back when I was in ROTC (never was an officer) we talked a lot about fraternization and about the appearance and fact of not playing favorites. Leadership requires setting aside those natural human affinities (not denying it but acting otherwise) because you Can Not Lead if the people you're leading perceive that your decisions are made emotionally and you're likely to let your distress or your favoritisms get them killed.

Now, it's entirely possible that the reason that some people have a "thing" about reason and rationality is that they felt the unfairnesses of their childhood profoundly. I know that some of the smallest injustices still fester in my memory, when I told the truth but got spanked anyway when I was four... specific events. As an adult I know it's silly, but it may very well be part of why I make a point to at least TRY to be objective.

I also don't trust my feelings. Half the time I don't know what they are anyway. I don't understand people who always know how they feel. I distrust anyone who claims to be sure about feelings, about what God wants, about what the right answers are.

It seems clear that the way our brains work is completely contrary to clear thought or perception. As a visual artist (or at least the child of two of them) I understand that the evidence in front of my own eyes is likely a lie. We can draw two lines on a piece of paper and see a dog because we just make the rest up. We, as humans, create patterns and realities out of the barest hints and suggestions.

And then we create science because we understand that our imaginations might get us started but they need to be tested and checked or we've trapped ourselves in superstition and thought we were done and needed to do no more.

And what is political *feeling* but that? My heart bleeds for the poor, so I... do something that sounds good and makes me feel good and never bother to use reason or rationality? Never test it? Never ask... did I help those people or have I trapped them in dependency?

It's horrific that little children are massacred so I must do something that makes me feel good because I'm not like those mean people that can only think of themselves and their freedoms.

What?

Really?

cokaygne said...

So, does that explain Matt Drudge?

cokaygne said...

So, does that explain Matt Drudge?

X said...

http://patterico.com/2006/07/27/annotated-wuzzadem-the-facts-behind-the-greenwald-sock-puppetry/

Tim said...

"There's reason to believe that most of I F Stone's legwork was done by researchers in the Soviet Embassy..."

For fans of I.F. Stone, that's a feature, not a bug. Socializing with the people you cover may be bad form, but accepting instructions and cash from your handlers from Moscow is totally cool.

Because America sucks, dontcha know?

X said...

phx said...
These guys'll be suckin my dick in no time.


it just seemed to belong in this thread

Balfegor said...

While at this point, I think of Sullivan as constantly harping on his homosexuality, all gay all the time, I've never really thought of Greenwald as gay at all -- more a kooky left wing extremist on civil liberties issues (not "gay marriage" but actual civil liberties) who turned out to be almost the only prominent leftist who honestly believed everything he said when he criticised Bush II. I had forgotten he was homosexual until I saw this post.

Gene said...

Ann: By the way, I believe there's a deep connection between a person's individual psychology and his political positions.

You are so right. If politics were just a matter of reasoning one's way to the correct solution people wouldn't get into fights over politics in bars.

Liberals, I have always thought, have this great fear that they can't cope on their own. Hence their deep attraction to socialism and the idea that if we will all join hands, work together and otherwise assure each other that the lion sleeps tonight we can at least for another day hold the howling cosmic winds at bay. It also doesn't hurt that under socialism we get to demand that other people give us some of things we don't know how to make on our own.

Libertarians, on the other hand, are often mechanically gifted and thus quite capable of coping physically. For them there is no advantage at all in socialism because all it means is that people who can't (or won't) do any productive work get to seize by force the fruits of their productive labor.

Revenant said...

Good points, Balfegor.

Mike Gerge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.