William Kristol's NYT op-ed column today concerns Obama's "now-famous comment" about how the hicks in the sticks "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
The headline of Kristol's column is "The Mask Slips." He digs out, for comparison, the well known Marxian quote:
Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of a soulless condition. It is the opium of the people.
Andrew Sullivan has a response, titled "Now He's A Godless Commie". Sullivan claims that Kristol's headline is saying that Obama's "voluminous writing and speaking about the sincerity of his own religious faith, and of others, are presumably 'masks.'" Sullivan claims that Kristol infers "Obama's Marxism." And:
He's calling him a lying, Godless communist.
So you can link-click for yourself to determine how on-target Sullivan's claims about Kristol's column are. My view is: they're not even close. For example, the sole occurrence of "mask" in Kristol's column is specifically not about Obama's faith:
What does this mean for Obama’s presidential prospects? He’s disdainful of small-town America — one might say, of bourgeois America. He’s usually good at disguising this. But in San Francisco the mask slipped. And it’s not so easy to get elected by a citizenry you patronize.Kristol's pretty clear: Obama's "mask" is not convering up his Godless communism; it's covering up his disdainful, patronizing, elitism.
If that were all there was to Sullivan's rant, big deal. So he's misrepresenting his opponents' arguments, and not in a particularly clever way. So what? For Sullivan, this is pretty standard operating procedure.
But in his last paragraph, Sullivan lets his own mask slip:
A non-Christian manipulator of Christianity is calling a Christian a liar about his own faith.
Sullivan's characterization of Kristol's column is wrong. The only true thing about the sentence: Kristol is Jewish. And that little fact is clearly something Sullivan thought he needed to drag into the discussion.
Sullivan has flirted with religious bigotry before, when he teed off on Mitt Romney's Mormonism, including speculations on whether Romney wore "Mormon underwear".
For me, this is the last straw. I probably put up with Sullivan longer than I should have because I enjoyed his anti-Clinton stuff. My bad.
Sullivan may, as he has in the past, admit that he went off half-cocked on this. If he does, I might hear about that by reading others; I won't be going back to his website.