My always-worth-reading New Ledger colleague, Christopher Badeaux, has the definitive and exhaustive profile of Andrew Sullivan’s work and the obsessions that have defined him as a writer and wasted so much of Sullivan’s prodigious writing talents. You’ll want to print this one out and digest it at leisure. Here’s the opening:
Perhaps the single, common life goal of every intellectual, pseudo-intellectual, and intellectual aspirant, is to be a true Renaissance man – a genius whose force of will and flexible, dominating intellect allows him to master or nearly master not one or two, but a whole host of related and unrelated fields of study and practice.
Sadly, not everyone can be Leonardo da Vinci or Karol Wojtyla. Or Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan, who has worn dozens of hats in his lifetime, is truly unique. He stands astride the worlds of politics, journalism, theology, foreign policy, and applied obstetrics like the Colossus of Rhodes. A former editor for The New Republic – a publication that benefited from his razor-sharp insights on, among other things, the early masterpieces of Stephen Glass – columnist-about-town for Time, the Atlantic, and various Fleet Street rags; a Ph.D in the works of Michael Oakeshott, recognized by true conservatives everywhere as the only conservative thinker of the last four hundred years; and an itinerant blogger whose once-eponymous site has migrated to Time and now the Atlantic, Sullivan is one of those Washington fixtures that fit unusually well on the late-night talk show circuit, as he himself likes to demonstrate. Like a real-life, hyper-garrulous Forrest Gump, Sullivan has been present for, or at least has shared his thoughts – stray, organized, rational, and delusional – on most of the major events of the last twenty five years, at a rate that has only increased since he began blogging (before it was cool) and taking long vacations after pledge drives (which has been cool forever). More impressive than his output is his utter lack of fear of self-contradiction, flights of laughter-inducing hyperbole, public obsessiveness, repeated self-contradiction, betrayals of utter ignorance, and failed attempts to mimic the Bard by coining bizarre neologisms to match his wandering moods.
Few among us have the raw intellectual firepower to go where he has. Fortunately, the internet tubes allow us to track his movements over time – an otherwise dizzying effort made more vertiginous by Sullivan’s kaleidoscopic mind. As with all things Sullivan, the best place to start is with human genitalia.