The Weekly Wrap

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 24 2012 @ 10:30pm


Today on the Dish, Andrew explained what he thinks Obama needs to accomplish in Charlotte to get himself on the path to victory, and also why he thinks Obama is the “conservative reformist of his dreams”. He then considered the meaning of GOP whiteness, while Mitt thought that big business was “doing fine”, just before making a birther joke (which probably wasn’t a joke). Harry Enton pondered the likelihood of a Romney convention bounce, while Fallows advised Obama to use surprise as a weapon in the debates. Speaking of debates (that aren’t happening), Rick Warren was embarrassed nobody wanted to talk to him – so he decided to lie to us. Meanwhile, in the Ad War, dark money presented second-thoughts from former Obama voters while MoveOn stayed classy by whipping out the coat hanger. Jonathan Capehart indicated the gay vote wasn’t as Obama-solid as we might think, while Jennifer Granholm, Monica Potts and Jared Bernstein argued the finer points of people’s small government perceptions.

Looking abroad, Joel Wing reminded us that not only is Iraq’s insurgency still going strong, it’s even more deadly than the one in Afghanistan. Ackerman indicated the latter’s surge hasn’t worked and Exum didn’t understand why allied forces keep getting killed by their Afghan partners.
In assorted coverage, Jesse Bering told us why our prostates are pleasurable, the kind of sexual knowledge Dan Levin indicated the Chinese are now learning about through social media. We also discovered that while clams love salt, our own bodies know when it’s safer to make us hate too much sodium. Katie Kindelan shared with us the story of a well-meaning Spaniard who went all Bob Ross on a Jesus fresco, while a trio of historians connected Todd Akin’s blame game to Augustine. We also pointed to Ta-Nehisi’s wonderful new article in The Atlantic, which Andrew will touch on next week. Frum thought cable news could benefit from targeting smarter viewers, meaning they should probably avoid the dim Ryan Lochte. Patrick Goldstein panned the 3D sequel that Hollywood keeps making, and speaking of remakes, today’s shooting at the Empire State Building forced the Onion to update one of its headlines. 

In sports, Noah Davis said we might be experiencing the last hurrah of US women’s soccer, while Lance Armstrong gave up trying to prove he wasn’t a fraud, something Darren Rovell tried to complicate our judgment on. And Patrick Hubry regaled us with how a pitcher named Dock Ellis tripped his way through a no-hitter.  We were sad to find out a former Google staffer was traumatized by protecting us from evil, or that America’s severe drought had murdered our Face Of The Day. But on the lighter side, our Mental Health Break went insane in the squid-brain. Swiss Alp window view here. Lastly, we tried to figure out what kinds of anything we should ask Hanna Rosin.

– C.D.

(Photo: President Barack Obama listens as Rep. W. Todd Akin (R-MO) speaks at the 58th National Prayer Breakfast on February 4, 2010 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC. President Obama spoke about bringing back civility and compromise in American politics. By Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images)

The rest of the week after the jump:


Thursday on the Dish, Andrew interpreted how Huckabee’s Akin support affects Romney and, as Willke recalled his close relationship with Romney, weighed whether the candidate should be held accountable for Ryan/Akin abortion views. Meanwhile, readers disputed the consensuality of statuatory rape, and as Brian Fischer named Akin a victim of “forcible assault,” a reader recalled the long, excruciating path to recovery after her rape.

Andrew marveled at Dolan’s de facto endorsement of Romney-Ryan, called Rick Warren a hack and lamented the “cold civil war” we’ve descended into. After praising Clinton’s new ad for Obama, Andrew worried about the fiscal crisis. And as Fareed Zakaria and Michael Pettis fisked Ferguson for China fear-mongering, Patrick Chovanec flagged the imminent threat of a Chinese slowdown.

In other election news, Bernstein rehabilitated the Conventions, Dems adored Obama and Gakwer’s Romney dump yielded little new info. The RNC continued to lie on welfare, readers commended Obama’s charity and Sabato reminded us that post-Convention numbers go haywire. A chart of the day showed the implosion of the middle class, and more Amazon cusomters read “red” books. The Las Vegas Sun checked fairness instead of facts and new election apps debuted.

Meanwhile, on the healthcare front, David Cutler disputed Ryan’s voucher system argument while Josh Barro hailed Medicare cuts as good policy.

In assorted commentary, 648 journalists have been killed since 1992, plutonium powered Curiosity and Kevin Drum heralded American education’s non-decline. A DoD pocket guide framed America’s occupation, inaccurately, David Ansen hailed Paul Thomas Anderson’s direction and Sacks recalled tripping. Jesse Bering discussed his biggest controversy, reusable grocery bags bore e coli and readers praised Pink Ladies.

And while Chinese filial piety looked an awful lot like porking, a reader hair-grafted Windsor lineage onto an anti-Obama protester. D’oh explained here, MHB here, and VFYW here.

Shamed dog

Wednesday on the Dish, Andrew dug deeper on Akin’s ideological influences, nailed Ryan for being even more extreme on abortion and rubbed Romney’s nose in the GOP’s general Akin-akin position on “forcible rape.” He also argued that the right’s fundamentalism has “spread and intensified” – and that it is now what passes for GOP social policy. Meanwhile, Razib Kahn broke down public opinion on abortion and rape, while readers added caveats to stat-rape nonconsent.

Andrew then took on Ferguson’s China contentions, Krugman called Ferguson’s piece “raw ignorance,” and readers weighed in on Paul Ryan’s Medicare savings mirage. Ed Kilgore wondered what will happen to Medicare, Nate Cohn noted the unintended effects of GOP Akin-attacking, and Ezra discounted Romney’s cash advantage. Meanwhile, Romney hit Obama on Medicare – again. The conventions lost coverage, readers railed against the private charity canard, Walt and Galupo pondered the lack of protest songs, and Tampa, the young and Akin all got Onioned.

Elsewhere in the world, Burma’s press was freed, Ethiopa’s Zenawi died, and Marc Lynch updated the news on the Morsi coup. Goldblog acknowledged bigotry, Jesse Bering talked nature and nurture with gays, and Heather Mac Donald framed crime and policing in tax terms. Then Blake Hurst argued against cap and trade, and fairness got confused. The Library of Congress covered the 88 books that shaped America, Tony O’Neill sought countries with lax drug laws, and Dan Goodwin worried about passwords, generations disconnected. Fruit quality sparked controversy – and readers pushed back – while a corner office in the clouds awed.  VFYW here, MHB here, and FOTD here. A badass grandma here, plus a slew of dogs that should be extremely ashamed of themselves here. And last but certainly not least, Dan and Brian dined.

Tuesday on the Dish, Rapegate raged on as Andrew hailed the Dem’s culture war advantage, analyzed GOP polarization on Akin, and excavated the Right’s long-standing rhetorical redefining of rape. Akin’s lead shriveled but he still hung on, and Romney led Obama among Missouri women (but that was before Akin’s remarks). Meanwhile, Andrew clarified his friendship with Niall before going another round with him and dismantling his China arguments. Andrew also called out Paul Ryan for advocating private charity but giving so little himself, explained why healthcare is not a classic market and argued for breaking up banks. He then paused to admire wide receiver Elliott Mealer’s chin-padding.

Elsewhere in politics, Obama distinguished his personal faith from his job, the Ryan selection put Wisconsin back in play, and the potential veep’s budget plan would have Romney paying .82% in taxes. Canny readers joined in the Ferguson-fisking, Eric Cantor dressed down GOP skinny-dippers and Nate Cohn compared 2012 and 2004. And in the ad war, Romney’s campaign lied again on Obama’s welfare policy.

Shauna Prewitt went to law school to protect her rape-conceived child, and while Obama focused on welfare aid at the expense of job creation, Derek Thompson highlighted the relative importance of local jobs to the economy. Surowiecki advocated talent-focused immigration reform, Chait noted the GOP extinction from popular culture, and while Marc Tracy marveled at the right’s anti-Semitism trigger-happiness, Goldblog shushed about a spate of Jewish terror attacks.

In other assorted coverage, Ackerman argued for closing down the NYPD’s real, live Muslim-themed The Wire, Dan Colman recalled the hellish production of Apocalypse Now, and blow jobs transmitted HIV – but at a low incidence. Jesse Bering, meanwhile, considered vagina shape, paperbacks of old cost a lot and Scott Adams outwitted a used car salesman. Meanwhile, Pussy Riot comprised grrls, a cellular menage a trois prevented heritable diseases, and readers skewered the a Pareto Principle workout post. Airbus modeled the future, readers interpreted bus clues in the VFYW contest and Alain de Botton endorsed bibliotherapy. FOTD here and VFYW here. And today in funny, while the women of Qingdao dressed for a stick-em-up, er, day at the beach, the very amazing Leslie Knope did impressions.


Monday on the Dish, Andrew was back in fighting form, shredding Paul Ryan’s “zombie Reagonomics” and eviscerating Niall Ferguson’s fact-lite Obama takedown. Later, Andrew discredited Continetti’s claims of Obama partisanship, urged aginst using the word “hate” on discussing FRC and praised Mitt for allowing a reporter to attend a church service with him. In the wake of the Todd Akin “legitimate rape” remark, Andrew excoriated Republicans for their views on women while Frum recalled the popularity of this opinion. Obama hit the gas on the Romney-Ryan anti-woman attack, Blake Zeff called this the most negative campaign ever and Jane Mayer broke down Obama’s fundraising problems.

Elsewhere, Cassidy reminded us of Ryan’s sabotage on spending cuts, Ezra Klein explained how the Obama team built up Ryan and climate skepticism won few votes. Kilgore argued the pointlessness of conventions, Chye-Ching Huang made the case for keeping capital gains taxes, and Ezra and Yglesias took down Obama’s handling of mortgage policies. Meanwhile, McArdle explored our attraction to Ponzi schemes, Kirby Ferguson borrowed creatively, and Iran struggled to censor. While Pussy Riot changed Russia and Jesse Bering made sense of the foreskin, the Polyglot Vegetarian explained why truffle oil was the ketchup of the middle class and Mary Jo Bang worked John Wayne Gacy and Cartman into the Inferno.

In other assorted coverage, processed gravy tricked people into thinking they were eating meat, babies liked baby-talk, and we learned that the treadmill originated in prison. Stay-at-home dads grew more numerous, asteroid insurance didn’t make the cut and Carolyn Kormann mused on the sexy side of swimming. A cat lover endorsed keeping them inside, anti-gay fail here, Excel-related MHB here, VFYW here, and FOTD here.

Photo of a Shanghai Holiday Inn pool 24 stories in the air, via Gawker


Saturday and Sunday on the Dish, literary and religious coverage abounded. In literary news, Stephanie Nikolopoulos explained why Jack Kerouac was no Mr. Darcy, Kaya Genc described Oscar Wilde’s short-lived day job, Verlyn Klinkenborg gave advice to young writers, Flannery O’Connor trained her withering criticism on Ayn Rand, Alexander Chee revealed what life is like in an artists’ colony, Caroline Leung profiled a sex worker whose experiences provided fodder for her writing, and Maria Konnikova detailed why famous misquotations persist. Science fiction got its due, too – Alan Hurst pondered why Mormons excel at writing it and Charlie Jane Anders explored its connection to philosophy. Read Saturday’s poem here and Sunday’s here.

In wide-ranging religious coverage, Matthew Sitman argued that David Foster Wallace’s life was a search for grace, Katherine Sharpe connected depression’s stigma to a medieval sin, Rollo Romig used his first Ramadan fasting to point to God’s unknowability, and Neuroskeptic noted the lack of religious invention during the past 20 years. Andrew Hartman thought the culture wars explained the GOP’s Mormon/Roman Catholic ticket, Rowan Williams celebrated Marilynne Robinson’s recovery of the word liberal, and Kenan Malik provided an 18-step guide to logic of religious freedom. Rick Warren struck again, this time turning to the Book of Daniel for diet advice, epitomizing the religious hucksterism that might explain why less Americans identify as religious – and more as atheist – than in the recent past.

In assorted coverage, two great trends of our time – the hipster and the rise of assholism – were put in perspective. Chas Danner highlighted the brilliant storytelling of Ed Gavagan, Greg Sargent ranted about Romney and Ryan’s dodging of policy specifics, and the U.S. lost its fertility edge. A college professor offered cringe-inducing tales of student oversharing, Sky Dylan-Roberts spoke to the creators of beautiful tatoos and the stories behind them, and Paul Miller shared a dispatch from his year living without the Internet. In TV news, Emily Landau remembered the trailblazing show Degrassi Junior High and Steve Rinella of Meat Eater distanced himself from Bear Grylls. FOTDs here and here, MHBs here and here, VFYWs here and here, and the latest window contest here.

And last but certainly not least, we welcome Andrew back today. To mark the occasion we asked Barney Frank about the craziest thing Andrew’s ever said.

– G.G.