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Andrew Sullivan has a couple

Andrew Sullivan has a couple of entries in the last few days discussing a NYT piece on Colin Powell. Doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. Does Powell disagree with Bush a lot? Yes, obviously. Is Powell well-liked? Yes. Is the article slanted? Oh, sure.

But really. When I read “a Republican administration supposedly eager to demonstrate its commitment to compassionate conservatism,” it is fairly obvious to me that the author, Todd Purdum, is implying that the administration is not actually eager to commit to compassionate conservatism — they just want to look like they are. Powell (Purdum thinks) symbolizes compassionate conservatism, and thus his presence in the administration indicates a committment which isn’t actually there.

That belief may or may not be valid, but the meaning of the sentence is far clearer than the accuracy of its suppositions. Despite this, Sullivan asks, “So is Todd Purdum saying that the administration doesn’t even want to appear to be eager to be seen as compassionately conservative?” I can’t figure out that reading. It literally makes no sense to me. No, you dork; he’s saying that the administration wants to appear eager while not actually being eager.

On third read-through, I see the problem. Sullivan read the original text, and mentally inserted the word “appear” in there somewhere. Then he pretended that “supposedly” modified “appear,” instead of “demonstrate.” Nice work if you can get it.

So, what’s Powell done to deserve all this wrath? Been praised by liberals? Horrors. The ideological divide persists partially because commentators on both sides make a nice living off it; there is war because who can imagine any other way of life? And once again attention to more substantitive issues than the choice between an elephant and a donkey is directed elsewhere.

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