Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Just Love These Guys: Andrew Sullivan and Ta-Nehisi Coates

Last fall I was obsessed with political blogs, but come on, who wasn't, right?  The domestic front at Chez Marta-Julie was turned upside down by a basement renovation; I was coping with depression and anxiety triggered in part by the chaos here at home, but mostly by escalating drama around programs for kids living in poverty sponsored by my church in which I had invested way too much myself (note to self: don't do that again) but which, despite my best efforts, were falling apart; and oh, yeah, Barack Obama was running for president!  So obsessively reading political blogs was not only a form of escape, but really, my duty as a citizen of this fine democracy, nu?

So raise your hand if you experienced just a little bit of a post-election slump.  Okay, so I'm not alone? Good.  Anyway, yeah, my own private malaise continued apace, but somehow administration-building-in-the-midst-of-the-next-Great-Depression wasn't nearly as fun as OMG-it-looks-like-we-might-win-Indiana!!!  I finally called everyone's bluff and just quit everything at church (other than going to church, though even that felt excruciating at times), and made my world intentionally small.  Really, really small.  Really, really, cozily, love-a-ly, scrumptiously, stress-freely small.  Oh, and I started seeing my therapist too, which was super smart and helpful.  I even came this close to starting anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication, something I have not done yet, but will definitely do if I ever feel that bad again for any length of time. Fortunately, my depression lifted suddenly, just as I started reaching out for help, and life got better.  But in the meantime, I totally abandoned my political blogs, and stuck with a very small, cozy handful of domestic blogs I have been following for years.

Interestingly, the first to go of the political blogs were the far-left rags.  I was actually getting pretty annoyed with them even before the election, because they were so completely predictable and knee-jerk.  Yawn.  Among the last to go were two of my favorites, The Daily Dish, by Andrew Sullivan, who blogs for The Atlantic, and Ta-Nehisi Coate's self-named blog, also at The Atlantic.  Now that I am once again dipping my toes back into the political blogosphere, these two blogs (along with my homeboy, Radley, who blogs at The Agitator) are, not surprisingly, the ones I am reading these days.  

I love both Sullivan and Coates independently of each other, and I intend to do a full-length Blog Review of each of them some day.  But in a nutshell, I love them both because they are unpredictable and thought-provoking.  Sullivan is a self-avowed conservative, or as he more recently described himself, "a libertarian independent."  I reviewed his book The Conservative Soul here; I tend to sympathize with some of his detractors who question his conservative credentials (or maybe, heaven forbid, I'm becoming conservative myself??)  I do in fact disagree with him in principle about a few pretty fundamental things, but I agree with him way more often than not, and admire his integrity all the time, and even when I think his arguments are just plain silly, I find him so damn charming and sweet and earnest that I just have to shake my head like a doting sister.   Ta-Nehisi Coates, on the other hand, I feel like I'm just getting to know.  I also find him charming, especially in his willingness to jeopardize his street cred with his brazen geekiness.  I haven't found much to disagree with him about, but I think his unblinking honesty and thoughtful openness about the issues of race that he routinely and deftly tackles is just super refreshing.

So yeah, I love both of these guys independently of one another, but what I really really just love so much is the thoughtful, respectful interplay between them on their blogs.  I'm probably being completely sentimental, but there's just something about the obvious affection that this White gay man and this Black dude from Harlem (via the 'hood in Baltimore) have for one another. One of my two biggest critiques of Sullivan is that he has yet to incorporate a convincing analysis of race in America into his philosophy of conservatism (and it strikes me that once he does, the more silly parts of it will crumble), so I'm really glad that he's listening carefully to Coates.  It would be hard not to, since Coates is so passionately spot on when it comes to one of Sullivan's favorite issues, marriage equality for lesbians and gays.  I think we'd all be a lot better off if there were more forums for respectful discourse across the political spectrum; I'm glad that Andrew and Ta-Nehisi are providing at least one.

Here are a couple of their recent posts that so swelled my heart I had to write this little love letter to two of my favorite boys:

Sullivan on Maine's passage of marriage equality legislation (and I agree whole-heartedly with him that legislative strategies are far, far superior to court victories, though I'm not complaining about how Massachusetts got the ball rolling).

And because he was too spittin' mad to get it all out in just one post, another Coates post on Marion Berry and gay marriage.

In other news, life here is richly and happily full of birthdays, baptisms, confirmations, and end-of-the-school-year; and when not engaged in those delightful past-times, it's All Gardening All The Time.  So while my head is always teeming with things to write about, I'm not so sure how much time I will actually have to write in the coming weeks and months.  We'll see.


Snoopy in Iowa said...

Ahhhh....finally a night to read and catch up. I have never read these blogs but will go there right away.

How fun to catch up and to do so via such fun/good writing, too -- you ARE such a smahhty!

Patrick said...

I too tend to abandon most political discussions when I feel the numbness of depression kicking in. Frankly they're also the last thing to come back, since when I'm at my worst, it seems like reasoned discussion between respectful adults is impossible to find. So I appreciate this heads up for a number of reasons.