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Sullivan right at home with his husband, actor Aaron Tone, and their two beagles. It was noon in Washington, D. Across the country, reporters and media executives rushed to cover the story of the gunman, the Congresswoman he shot at close range, and the 14 other victims.

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For Andrew Sullivan, M. Sullivan had been lightly ill that week, so he slept unusually late, until almost two in the afternoon. Before he was quite ready to deal with the world, he checked his mailbox—and woke up fast. Along with the news of the shooting was an urgent question from readers: Andrew, where are you? Sullivan winced. Sullivan and his team had worked like this before. During the protests in Iran, they had scoured Facebook messages, Twitter bleats, Al Jazeera dispatches, and Iranian blog posts. The eclectic charm of the Dish formerly TheDailyDish —poems, philosophical and religious speculation, photographs from the windows of readers, the latest Sarah Palin outrage, and videos by The Pet Shop Boys—disappeared.

While other bloggers ascribed blame, Sullivan filtered new reports, asked important questions, grieved for the victims—and avoided partisan speculation. Once again, his audience grew. But this round of blogging was different. Andrew Sullivan is a lifelong asthma sufferer. He has sleep apnea, and at night wears a mask connected to a machine that regulates his breathing. And sincehe has been HIV-positive. During his unprecedented two-week silence, governments toppled in the Middle East.

When Sullivan returned, he had news of his own—he was leaving the Atlantic websitehis home for the last four years, to TheDailyBeast. And on the Atlantic site, the Dish also ruled. Some days, according to Alexa. In cold s: Andrew Sullivan—one blogger, with a small budget and a minimal staff—has presented Tina Brown with a gift of about 1. American media have three castes. At the bottom are bloggers. So blogging as a professional journalistic activity really involves at most a few thousand independent writers.

These elite bloggers are serious and knowledgeable, but they are often described as the untouchables of American media—unemployed, unemployable pajama-clad slackers who live with their parents and tap out overwrought screeds on basement computers. Andrew Sullivan also moves easily from blogging and print journalism to TV, but his resemblance to the Villagers ends there. At 47, his concerns are no longer those of the overachieving wonder boy he used to be. Sullivan moved on to write books and become a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for the Sunday Times of London.

To see such precocity is to be mystified—why would a writer with such impeccable credentials cast his lot more with bloggers than with people of his own kind? Bush, M. The escape was my brain. At 11, he commuted three hours a day to attend a school for gifted boys. His protection was his Roman Catholic faith.

His ambition could not have been more conventional—to become a Tory member of Parliament. Sullivan was 23 when he acknowledged his homosexuality and jettisoned his virginity. Years later, when his byline started to matter, he went public. He had, by hisa great deal of sex. Inwhen he revealed he had contracted HIV, a friend asked whom he had unprotected sex with. In the book, Sullivan held nothing back. God knows. Too many for meaning and dignity to be given to every one; too many for love to be present at each; too many for sex to be very often more than a temporary release from debilitating fear and loneliness.

That is classic Sullivan: the unsparing candor, the over-sharing, the spiritual afterthought. When Sullivan launched a website inhe thought of it as nothing more than an archive of his magazine articles. He knew nothing about technology—every time he wanted to add another article, he had to ask a friend for help. Sullivan is a prolific writer; for his friend, this routine quickly grew old. Self-publishing was liberating. Readers sent suggestions.

Soon he was updating his site several times a day; if a blogger is defined as a single writer who regularly posts news and commentary, Sullivan was among the first. The creation of a community was thrilling.

So was the absence of an editor.

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But that freedom can be a trap for a writer who prides himself on writing from the heart as well as the intellect. That was the start of a new Andrew Sullivan: a Brit applauding every escalation of White House rhetoric and cheerleading the invasion of Iraq. Toppling a dictator in Iraq did.

Sullivan was committed to that idea—even more committed, he says, than his friend Donald Rumsfeld.

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When will you make money? But when it came to war in Iraq, I was more bellicose than he was. Here Sullivan was right in sync with other neo-conservatives. Neither did his boyhood hero, George Orwell. So, first, I had to stand up, acknowledge my error, and make a good-faith apology. Then I needed to analyze what went wrong. The institutions that Sullivan believed in disappointed him so greatly during the Bush administration that infor the first time, he endorsed a Democrat for president.

But the breaking point was, first and always, torture. InJohn McCain—who had once sponsored legislation to ban American military personnel from using torture—abandoned his opposition and supported the Military Commissions Act, which gave the president the right to torture.

Sullivan was shattered. When Andrew Sullivan changes his mind, he often goes from one extreme to another. Not long ago, he was the subject of one of those interviews that, for most, is an opportunity to display some wit and warmth. Sullivan did—to a point. Then the Politico. What is it? Bush and Dick Cheney. Andrew Sullivan did not support John McCain in The torture flip-flop would have been enough of a reason.

Then McCain added Sarah Palin to the ticket. During a campaign when most pundits were, at worst, quizzical about Palin, Sullivan filled his blog with questions she was never going to answer. Did he pay a price? In the heated conversation that surrounds all things Palin, nuance has been lost—and Sullivan has been cast as a crank who takes pleasure in badgering a woman who may have no political future.

The job of a journalist is to find the truth. This relentlessness has led to continuing analyses of other issues that most media avoid. Once a strong supporter of Israel, for example, Sullivan came to question its settlements in Gaza. They attacked a civilian flotilla in international waters breaking no law. When they met fierce if asymmetric resistance, they opened fire. And we are now being asked to regard the Israelis as the victims. When Sullivan supported Barack Obama init was the final break with his former allies.

Of a dozen prominent neo-conservative writers contacted for this profile, only one responded—to decline. The world had no place for him.

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He had to make a place for himself. It should be debating which mix of long-term entitlement and defense cuts and the least economically damaging tax increases would lower the long-term debt, restore global confidence in the long-term solvency of the U. A president too calculating to take a stand and an opposition so focused on drastic cuts to discretionary spending and overreaching on collective bargaining that it is already making independents and moderate Republicans queasy. He proposes solutions.

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