Toast Or Roast: John Althouse Cohen

Althouse Cohen toasts and roasts:

Today, [Andrew Sullivan is] running "Toasts or Roasts": other bloggers say what they like or don't like about his blog. So far, he's posted 10 men including Reihan SalamEzra KleinTyler Cowen, and Ben Smith -- and 1 woman: my mom, Ann Althouse. ...

Sullivan was one of the first blogs I read on a regular basis along with Talking Points MemoKausfilesInstapundit, and Metafilter  circa 2000-2001. It's impressive that they're all still thriving, though you could also say there's a problem here: the blogs that got big early on tend to keep dominating the blogosphere. There isn't the space for some new brilliant person to come along and be a Sullivan or a Kaus or an Instapundit.

Of those 5 blogs, I still read 3 regularly: Kausfiles, Instapundit, and Metafilter. ... And in contrast to my mom's roast/toast to Sullivan, I can't say I always keep reading him no matter how matter how much he changes. The truth is that I don't read Sullivan regularly anymore. 

Oh, I'm sure his blog continues to be excellent. But he got too passionately moralistic about every issue especially when he would flip-flop on foreign policy without bothering to dampen his moralistic fervor. ... Self-righteousness and dogmatism are generally not a perfect fit with foreign policy. Sullivan's style is what it is. It isn't perfect, as even he admits. But he has done far more good than most cheerleaders for the Iraq war by exposing and analyzing his own shortcomings in thinking about war.

But when I think of Sullivan's political voice, I won't think first about foreign policy. I'll think about the issue he showed me how to think about. His opening remarks about same-sex marriage in this video (back in 1997, before he was a blogger) are dated.

He thought Hawaii was soon to be the first state in the US with same-sex marriage; the first such state was Massachusetts in 2004, and Hawaii still doesn't have it. He didn't do a great job at predicting the future, but his message still has great resonance today.

I was going to find some choice moment of this video, transcribe it, and quote it here to draw your attention to it. But I would have felt like just transcribing the whole thing. So please, watch the whole thing. To say this is Sullivan at his best would be an understatement.

I love how he starts by giving definitions of homosexuality and heterosexuality that seem so uncontroversial as to be hardly worth explaining and then leverages those definitions into his case for same-sex marriage (both as something that should happen and as themost important front in the gay rights movement).

Though he's often criticized as overly emotional about political issues, he took the political issue he feels the most strongly about in his life and made his case with lucid logic. He did it when it was a lot less popular than it is now, and he did it over and over. Thank you, Andrew Sullivan. You have made a difference.

Read John at Jaltcoh.