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The Reading Impaired Andrew Sullivan

Monday, January 22, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Andrew Sullivan brings those analytical skills that distinguished his understanding of Disraeli’s Reform Bill to the essay by an active duty officer I posted on Sunday, attributing it to me.  Another example why Andrew’s legend remains firmly fixed in his own mind, but very few others’.

I am reminded of when I pointed out to Sullivan a glaring error concerning Disraeli that Sullivan had included in his book, which I did  in the interview I conducted with him on October 25, 2006.  He corrected the error on his blog on December 9, pleading to “sloppy word use,” but not to his refusal to concede the error six weeks earlier.

I suppose we can hope for yet another Andrew correction no sooner than March.

The broader point is that Sullivan repeatedly makes very basic errors, and the sort of error that raises questions about the reliability of all of his work.  It isn’t “sloppy word use,” or haphazard reading, but a fundamental carelessness about argument and detail combined with a staggering defensiveness that has led me to just skip him except for those occasions when, as here, his drive-by mutterings are called to my attention.

Here’s the exchange from October for your reading pleasure:

HH: First of all, just a note. I’m always alarmed when I find obvious errors in a book. And this was probably an oversight on your part. But Benjamin Disraeli did not bring universal suffrage to Great Britain, as you write on page 268.

AS: You mean he excluded women?

HH: Well, no, he also excluded a whole bunch of men. There was still a tax, you had to be a property holder, he excluded most of the rural poor. It was not even close.

AS: No, no, no. The point is that he brought a huge number…I mean, he faced down the Torry elites and brought in huge numbers of people into the…now if you want to be pedantic like this, which is the way you normally are, because you’re not interested in the real points, you’re interested in catching people out, because I’ve read your interviews, and listened to you. I know what you’re up to. Fine, yes. If you mean that…do you not disagree, do you disagree that he brought in huge numbers of people into the electoral system who weren’t there before?

HH: Yes, but you didn’t write that. You wrote universal suffrage, and I thought it was an error that should be noted, because small errors, and in fact, that’s kind of big, made in effort to prove a point…

AS: You’re pathetic. You really are a pathetic…you’re such a pathetic pedant. You really are.

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