Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 30 2004 @ 2:08pm

Mystery pollster looks at the tea-leaves. My hunch is that Osama will nudge them to break toward Bush. Or is the cycle so fast now that Osama will be over by Monday? Nah.

BROOKS ON OSAMA: It’s more elegantly put than Bill O’Reilly, but it’s the same message. This, according to David, is a symbolic election. Who “gets” the existential battle beneath this war? Vote for him. But the more important question, it seems to me, is a calmer, graver one: who will do the most damage to Osama bin Laden and his enablers and accomplices in the next four years? Can we afford four years like the last one in Iraq? Can we afford a future international isolation far more profound than the past two years? Can we afford re-electing an administration that adamantly and fiercely resists any responsibility for any errors? I think we have learned that this administration is accountable to nothing, except the threat of lost power. Once that threat is removed, we will have no more leverage. That may be the case next Wednesday. And Osama just did his own little bit to make sure it is.

ME ON THE COUCH: It is, I suppose, flattering to have not simply my arguments in this election dissected, but my motives as well. Did I turn against Bush because of the war failures? Or because of the FMA? Or because of the spending? Am I a traitor or a thinker? Am I deluded or are my critics? Well, the great thing about a blog is that if you really care that much, you can see all the evidence splayed out in front of you. When someone writes daily, hourly, as I do, you don’t just make arguments or points. You’re showing the whole inglorious sausage-making of the intellectual process. I think that’s a good thing. This notion that writers somehow exist in a purely rational world outside of human emotion, passion, sensibility and bias is a silly one. We can struggle against these factors; but they can never be abolished. Read your Montaigne.

ALL OF THE ABOVE: I’ve made countless arguments about Bush’s spending record and his war conduct – from long before the FMA endorsement. I’ve been very candid, however, in saying that Bush’s opposition to a cause – equal marriage rights – I have devoted my adult life to is bound to have affected my preferences. I guess if you think the case for Bush’s incompetence is completely baseless or overblown, then it seems as if the only reason for backing Kerry is the FMA. Ditto if you simply don’t think of the FMA in the same dire terms that I do, or believe gay equality is a petty or objectionable cause, and not the moral imperative I do. If the view of the writer is of any interest here – move over, Derrida – then my best shot at self-analysis is that my main reason for backing Kerry is that I sincerely think that rewarding incompetence is not a good idea in wartime, and that Kerry is better suited to winning the next stage of the war than Bush is. But obviously, Bush’s hostility to gay equality, and the cynical manner in which he and his party have exploited this issue, has had a huge impact as well. It’s all of the above. And the point of a blog like this is not to persuade everyone I’m right; but simply to show how one person can grapple with a variety of factors – personal, intellectual, historical, political – in coming to a simple conclusion. You may disagree with my conclusion. But it seems unfair to me to call it a dishonest one.