On the question: does political propinquity exist between Andrew Sullivan & Bret Stephens? Political Observer comments

Mr. Sullivan’s Anti-Trump hysteria seems to reach many denouements, here is part of his December 20, 2019 essay:

Headline: What We Know About Trump Going Into 2020

The two core lessons of the past few years are therefore: (1) Trumpism has a real base of support in the country with needs that must be addressed, and (2) Donald Trump is incapable of doing it and is such an unstable, malignant, destructive narcissist that he threatens our entire system of government. The reason this impeachment feels so awful is that it requires removing a figure to whom so many are so deeply bonded because he was the first politician to hear them in decades. It feels to them like impeachment is another insult from the political elite, added to the injury of the 21st century. They take it personally, which is why their emotions have flooded their brains. And this is understandable.

But when you think of what might have been and reflect on what has happened, it is crystal clear that this impeachment is not about the Trump agenda or a more coherent version of it. It is about the character of one man: his decision to forgo any outreach, poison domestic politics, marinate it in deranged invective, betray his followers by enriching the plutocracy, destroy the dignity of the office of president, and turn his position into a means of self-enrichment. It’s about the personal abuse of public office: using the presidency’s powers to blackmail a foreign entity into interfering in a domestic election on his behalf, turning the Department of Justice into an instrument of personal vengeance and political defense, openly obstructing investigations into his own campaign, and treating the grave matter of impeachment as a “hoax” while barring any testimony from his own people.


The editorial about Trump in Christianity Today: 

Character matters. This has always been a conservative principle but one that, like so many others, has been tossed aside in the convulsions of a cult. And it is Trump’s character alone that has brought us to this point. That’s why the editorial in the Evangelical journal Christianity Today is so clarifying. Finally — finally — an Evangelical outlet telling the truth in simple language:

And J.K. Rowling:

This is how J.K. Rowling tweeted her support of Forstater’s freedom of speech: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

Both play their parts in Mr. Sullivan’s rambling polemic, although he attempts to segue from subject to subject,  it always reads ‘as if’ it were just an extended rant. The most primitive part of his ‘thinking process’ wedded to his rhetorical skill.

On to Mr. Stephens, of December 26, 2019:

Headline: What Will It Take to Beat Donald Trump?

Sub-headline: It’s not what the progressive left is talking about.

Second, the progressive left’s values seem increasingly hostile to mainstream ones, as suggested by the titanic row over J.K. Rowling’s recent tweet defending a woman who was fired over her outspoken views on transgenderism. Third, the more the left rages about Trump and predicts nothing but catastrophe and conspiracy from him, the more out of touch it seems when the catastrophes don’t happen and the conspiracy theories come up short.

The most obvious point is not to promise a wrenching overhaul of the economy when it shows no signs of needing such an overhaul. There are plenty of serious long-term risks to our prosperity, including a declining birthrate, national debt north of $23 trillion, the erosion of the global free-trade consensusthreats to the political independence of the Federal Reserve, and the popularization of preposterous economic notions such as Modern Monetary Theory.


Mr. Stephens’ essay may not be a perfect match with Mr. Sullivan’s polemic, but the ‘attack’ on J.K. Rowling’s ‘defense of women’, and the perpetual political menace of ‘The Left’ , are two key points, to that proffered political moralizing propinquity. Recognizing that Stephens expands that list,  demonstrating the he is a more sophisticated moral/political/economic scold! I’ve rendered these portions of this run-on sentence in bold type. The reader must be impressed with Mr. Stephens’ mastery of such complex, indeed vexing questions, that he presents as ‘There are plenty of serious long-term risks to our prosperity… ! Where might he place the Climate Crisis ? Or is this a creation of malcontents,now led by a child Greta Thunberg? These ‘risks’ are framed in economic terms. So might the reader look upon Trump as the only political threat to us? Or are ‘the self-styled saints’ who are perusing the Impeachment an equal threat ‘to our prosperity’?

Political Observer














About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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