December 17, 1990
Andrew Sullivan takes a look at the impact of HIV/AIDS on the gay community.
Attacks from within families are always more hurtful than those from the outside, and so I cannot pretend that Leon Wieseltier's latest personal attack in the pages of TNR isn't painful in the extreme. To be accused of "Jew-baiting" in the pages of a magazine I was once proud and honored to edit, and which I love and support, is an extremely wounding blow. It is also untrue and unfair. And the context proves it. I was outraged when Bill Kristol called Obama a liar about his own Christian faith in The New York Times.
The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 By Dinesh D'Souza (Doubleday, 333 pp., $26.95) I. American conservatism is in crisis. That much is almost universally clear. But the next period in American politics will be determined not least by how clearly we understand the crisis of the right. For it may be that the remarkably successful Republican coalition of the last three decades is not at all doomed at the polls. A Giuliani or Romney candidacy, especially up against a Clinton candidacy, could well eke out a victory in 2008.
The most infuriating aspect of the Mark Foley fiasco is that we're still unclear on what exactly it is we're infuriated about. This was not pedophilia: The pages involved were all above the legal age of consent in Washington, D.C. It wasn't exactly pederasty either, given that we have no evidence (at least not yet) of any actual sexual contact between two live human beings. Sexual harassment? It doesn't appear that, at the time of the now- infamous instant messages, the pages were in Foley's employ.
Why is torture wrong? It may seem like an obvious question, or even one beneath discussion. But it is now inescapably before us, with the introduction of the McCain Amendment banning all "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" of detainees by American soldiers and CIA operatives anywhere in the world. The amendment lies in legislative limbo.
Assimilation and its meaning.
For the better part of two decades, I have spent much of every summer in the small resort of Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod. It has long attracted artists, writers, the offbeat, and the bohemian; and, for many years now, it has been to gay America what Oak Bluffs in Martha's Vineyard is to black America: a place where a separate identity essentially defines a separate place.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."--Ronald Reagan, January 20, 1981 "We have a responsibility that, when somebody hurts, government has got to move."--George W. Bush, September 1, 2003 Conservatism isn't over. But it has rarely been as confused. Today's conservatives support limited government. But they believe the federal government can intervene in a state court's decisions in a single family's struggle over life and death. They believe in restraining government spending.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is absolutely right. I've waited many years to write that sentence, but, hey, if you live long enough. ... I'm referring to her superb speech earlier this week on the politics and morality of abortion. There were two very simple premises to Clinton's argument: a) the right to legal abortion should remain, and b) abortion is always and everywhere a moral tragedy. It seems to me that if we are to reduce abortions to an absolute minimum (and who, exactly, opposes that objective?), then Clinton's formula is the most practical.
ONE OF THE MOST VIVID experiences of my time as a graduate student at Harvard was a seminar I took with the preeminent liberal political theorist John Rawls. The discussion centered on Rawls's later work, in which he divorced his liberalism from the claim of absolute truth. His argument was only cogent, he averred, if read and understood by people who already shared some basic premises--the need for consent, the reliance on reason, a tone of civility, a relatively open mind. With characteristic tactlessness, I asked him what his response would be if Hitler joined the debate and disagreed with