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Andrew Sullivan: I Fear a Civil War if These Christianists Beat Obama, or Something!

This from the scribe who's devoted an inordinate amount of time over the last three years to indulging a bizarre conspiratorial obsession with Sarah Palin's uterus.  His new admonition: Be careful what you wish for, wingnuts -- an Obama loss in 2012 could trigger a neo Civil War.  Scary, right?  We'll tackle this conclusion in a moment, but first, Sully sets the table with some (now familiar) anti-religious sociological psychobabble:


...The GOP, deep down, is behaving as a religious movement, not as a political party, and a radical religious movement at that. Lofgren sees the "Prosperity Gospel" as a divine blessing for personal enrichment and minimal taxation (yes, that kind of Gospel is compatible with Rand, just not compatible with the actual Gospels); for military power (with a major emphasis on the punitive, interventionist God of the Old Testament); and for radical change and contempt for existing institutions (as a product of End-Times thinking, intensified after 9/11).

Heavy stuff.  Next, he primes the pump with some breathless religious warfare rhetoric:

[Our current] political deadlock conceals a religious war at its heart. Why after all should one abandon or compromise sacred truths? And for those whose Christianity can only be sustained by denial of modern complexity, of scientific knowledge, and of what scholarly studies of the Bible's  origins have revealed, this fusion of political and spiritual lives into one seamless sensibility and culture, is irresistible. And public reminders of modernity - that, say, many Americans do not celebrate Christmas, that gay people have human needs, that America will soon be a majority-minority country and China will overtake the US in GDP by mid-century - are terribly threatening.


That some Americans don't celebrate Christmas is a "reminder of modernity"?  Who knew?  In the immortal words of Animal House's Boon, "forget it, he's rolling."  Rolling, it seems, straight into hair-on-fire paranoia about bloody, internecine armed conflict:

If you ask why I remain such a strong Obama supporter, it is because I see him as that rare individual able to withstand the zeal without becoming a zealot in response, and to overcome the recklessness of pure religious ideology with pragmatism, civility and reason. That's why they fear and loathe him. Not because his policies are not theirs'. But because his temperament is their nemesis. If he defeats them next year, they will break, because their beliefs are so brittle, but will then reform, along Huntsman-style lines. If they defeat him, I fear we will no longer be participating in a civil conversation, however fraught, but in a civil war.

Ah, yes.  We "fear and loathe" this president because of his pristinely pragmatic and reasonable civility.  Good grief.   (Incidentally, what was it that Sullivan wrote about this pragmatic president's budget, again?  See "Update V").   Setting aside Sullivan's hyperventilatory freak-out, a sharp liberal correspondent points out an obvious flaw in his, ahem, logic:


Accepting (for the sake of argument) that the hard right is willing to start a civil war, that war [would] follow an Obama victory, not an Obama defeat. Extremist political factions start wars after they've failed at the polls. That's what happened in 1860, to which Sullivan alludes. If President Perry or President Bachmann takes the oath in January 2013, then the hard right [would have] no casus belli.

Indeed.  Based on this stellar analysis, if Sullivan truly fears civil war, he should vociferously advocate Barack Obama's defeat in 2012.  Not so, he argues; an Obama victory would "break" conservatives, forcing them to regroup and re-brand in the image of Jon Huntsman.  But didn't he just spend the previous half-dozen paragraphs portraying the GOP as a motley band of  implacable religious zealots?  Since when do extremist nutters "reform" when confronted with frustration?  Faced with this apparent analytical incoherence (perish the thought!), I've cooked up an alternate theory: Perhaps Sullivan is suggesting that the Left would instigate this hypothetical civil war. In that case, I know who'd be first in line at the rebel recruitment center.

UPDATE -  In Sully's defense, if I were an Obama supporter, I might be approaching my own meltdown moment:


Not only did President Obama fail to get a bounce from his jobs speech to a joint session of Congress, but his approval rating actually declined slightly following last Thursday's address, according to Gallup.  In the just released Gallup daily tracking poll, which now has three days of polling since the speech was delivered last Thursday (Sept. 9th through 11th), Obama's approval rating has fallen to 42 percent. By contrast, in polling done before the speech between Sept. 5th through 7th, Obama was at 44 percent approval, and on Sept. 6th through 8th, he was at 43 percent.  So the best one could say is that the jobs speech left his ratings virtually unchanged.

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