Crazy Questions Are Private Questions

Andrew Sullivan is in an uproar because he sent two emails to the McCain campaign asking questions, and the McCain campaign shopped those emails around until Howard Kurtz wrote a column about them. Why are Andrew Sullivan's questions notable? Because these were the questions:

"I'm very sorry to say, it's come to this: can you confirm on the record that Trig Palin is Sarah Palin's biological son? . . . Since this is a crazy idea, it should be easy for you or someone to let me know, the most popular one-man political blog site in the world, what the truth is."

""I asked a simple question akin to asking whether you can confirm that the sky is blue. Here's the question in case it got lost: can you confirm on the record that Trig Palin is Sarah Palin's biological son? Can I please get a response of some sort, even if it is that you will not respond?"

Sullivan, you might recall, gave this someone-else-bore-Trig story more visibility than any other prominent mainstream blogger I can think of.

Sullivan is upset because (1) the McCain campaign violated "core confidentiality of private good-faith questions" and (2) they ought to answer a factual question with a factual answer.

This, of course, is nonsense. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in an unsolicited email unless (1) privacy is explicitly assured or (2) the relationship generates an expectation of privacy (as in an email from a prospective client seeking a lawyer, for example). There is definitely no reasonable expectation of privacy in anything communicated to a political campaign. And there is the opposite of an expectation of privacy when a strong critic of a political campaign writes that campaign asking nutty questions. These questions are surely nutty; the fact that they are "factual" and that answers would be "factual" does not alter that. I could write the Obama campaign and ask whether or not it is true that Obama molests squirrels and it would be equally "factual," and would be met with equal contempt.

The McCain campaign saw this as an opportunity to portray Sullivan as off the deep end, a portrayal with which Sullivan is cooperating vigorously. I say that as someone who likes and admires Sullivan and abhors Palin.

Also, referring to yourself as the "most popular" anything is a sure sign that you need to be taken down a few notches.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Patrick says

    You can admire Sullivan all you want, but he's never going to link you (interestingly, he or one of his interns just read this post) because I'll always be here to discuss his flimsy grasp on sanity.

  2. Patrick says

    You know I'm not a fan, and you can forward this to him for all I care, but you were there and you saw what happened when Mr. "Heh" linked us. It beat our Mike Seate / angry mommy / Mark Steyn, and yes, even Dailykos links into the dirt.

    Of course you're welcome to ply your wiles with Mr. Sullivan as often as you choose, despite my disparagement. Apparently all one has to do to get a link from Sullivan is to discuss politics with one's wife, at the worst moment of an awful, once-in-five-years period, then transcribe the result on a blog.

  3. says

    No question, the man drives traffic.

    Also no question that Sullivan is more that a little loopy recently.

    I'm missing your post reference, though.

  4. Patrick says

    I’m missing your post reference, though.

    I'm not sure what that means. If you mean the Instapundit link by "post reference," it had something to do with New Zealand. If you mean something about Sullivan, my statement above was hyperbole, though Sullivan remains the closest thing blogging has to Elizabeth Wurtzel.

    If by "post" you mean something in Latin that I'm just not getting, well I studied Russian before I attended law school, and I probably paid more attention to the slavs.

  5. Patrick says

    What I meant to say is that Sullivan is rather (to put it mildly) hysterical, and in fact always has been. But that's Greek to me.