The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, July 01, 2002  

So Very Confused

From: Joshua Galen
Sent: Sunday, June 30, 2002 2:06 PM
Subject: Confused

Dear Mr. Capozzola (or whomever [sic] else is reading this),

I just read your site for the first time, and was confused immediately by one of the recent postings, the June 27 “Self-Parody Watch: Andrew Sullivan: Dispeptic, Diasporic Brit Hits a New Low.” In that posting, you say that Sullivan’s analysis “is simplistic, faulty, illogical, and plainly wrong.” How so? It seems to me that since the polls are showing that a majority of Americans support the words “Under God” in the pledge, and see this as liberal San Francisco judges meddling again where they shouldn’t, how is Sullivan wrong?

I am not trying to attack your site, I just don’t understand. You say that Sullivan is wrong, but his analysis seems like the obvious analysis to me -- and you have offered no reasons why his analysis is wrong or why an alternate analysis would be correct.

Sincerely, Joshua Galen

James Capozzola, editor of The Rittenhouse Review, responds:

Dear Mr. Galen:

Thank you for visiting The Rittenhouse Review and for taking the time to write.

I certainly understand your confusion. Shifting from the shallow, ill-considered, off-the-cuff observations all too often on display at the “The Daily Dish” to the rigorous analysis that characterizes The Rittenhouse Review has proved disorienting to several readers weaned on Andrew Sullivan’s lactations. The explanation, however, is really quite simple.

We wrote on June 27 that Sullivan’s observation that the June 26 decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit analysis is “God’s gift to Republicans” was “simplistic, faulty, illogical, and plainly wrong.” In so doing, it is true that, in your words, we did not fully explain “why his analysis is wrong or why an alternate analysis would be correct.”

This is why.

Once upon a time Sullivan was interesting, thoughtful, original, and provocative. However, in recent months, and particularly since the horrific events of Sept. 11, Sullivan has become tiresome, careless, and thoroughly predictable. And more often than not, at “The Daily Dish” assertion is a sufficient substitute for argument. Thus, our terse response to Sullivan’s tract, in which the word “analysis” was used in jest, was intended in the spirit of imitation, the sincerest form of flattery.

Sullivan offered no explanation for his observation that the three-judge panel’s decision was “God’s gift to Republicans.” In making this statement, Sullivan overlooked or disregarded abundant evidence, most of which could have been surmised or predicted, that it will prove extremely difficult for Republicans to deploy the decision for political gain.

Yes, polls show that a majority of Americans support keeping the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance. But even a cursory examination of recent media reports demonstrates that congressional Democrats are nearly unanimous in their support for keeping the pledge as it stands.

Perhaps Sullivan didn’t notice that the U.S. Senate voted 99-0 in favor of a resolution, sponsored by leaders of both parties, expressing their support for the pledge’s reference to God and instructing the Senate’s counsel to intervene in the case.

Perhaps Sullivan didn’t see the photographs of House members from both parties gathered on the west side of the Capitol for a public recitation of the pledge of allegiance, “under God” and all.

Perhaps Sullivan overlooked criticism of the panel’s decision from Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), and so many others, in language no less hostile than that used by Republicans.

Perhaps Sullivan missed the June 27 report in the Washington Post in which one of Justice Antonin Scalia’s former clerks said the panel’s decision was not only defensible but the logical outcome of decisions previously issued by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court.

With the reaction of Democratic lawmakers virtually matching that of their counterparts across the aisle, it strikes me that anyone who asserts the issue is “God’s gift to Republicans” has just one thing on his mind: demagoguery.

In the absence of further explanation from Sullivan, I can only conclude that he joyfully anticipates a campaign season characterized by Republicans accusing their Democratic opponents of atheism and disloyalty to our flag and our country, debates in which Republicans demand their opponents say the pledge for any and all to hear, or the spectacle of Republicans insisting their Democratic opponents sign promises to employ any means necessary to keep the pledge in its current form.

I hope you will forgive me if I thought we had all outgrown the juvenilia that President George H.W. Bush and his advisers injected into the 1988 presidential campaign.

Yours truly,
James M. Capozzola, Editor
The Rittenhouse Review

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