Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh Come On Hitch Just Say It Already

In his own inimitable way, Christopher Hitchens comes out for Obama in Slate. But he certainly doesn't make it easy for himself. He starts out on this seemingly irrelevant note:

I used to nod wisely when people said: "Let's discuss issues rather than personalities." It seemed so obvious that in politics an issue was an issue and a personality was a personality, and that the more one could separate the two, the more serious one was. After all, in a debate on serious issues, any mention of the opponent's personality would be ad hominem at best and at worst would stoop as low as ad feminam.

Oh my! I for one wouldn't want to be caught dead stooping to ad feminam. In other words, Hitch is beating around the bush. He continues to beat some more:

At my old English boarding school, we had a sporting saying that one should "tackle the ball and not the man." I carried on echoing this sort of unexamined nonsense for quite some time—in fact, until the New Hampshire primary of 1992, when it hit me very forcibly that the "personality" of one of the candidates was itself an "issue." In later years, I had little cause to revise my view that Bill Clinton's abysmal character was such as to be a "game changer" in itself, at least as important as his claim to be a "new Democrat." To summarize what little I learned from all this: A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact—if it happens to be a fact—that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.

So basically Hitch, what you're trying to say is that you think McCain has too many character flaws to be a good fit for the presidency. Oh, but what's the fun in merely cutting to the chase? Better to quote old English boarding school sayings. I also continue to be amused by Hitch's misplaced disgust toward Bill Clinton. Why Bill Clinton and not George W. Bush? Is it because every other columnist has George W. Bush covered? I'm not saying that Clinton was the greatest president ever, but how was he more of a "pathological liar" than every other politician we've ever had in the history of Western civilization? I suspect that Hitch simply likes to relish in his flair for the dramatic. Witness the text below:

I suppose it could be said, as Michael Gerson has alleged, that the Obama campaign's choice of the word erratic to describe McCain is also an insinuation. But really, it's only a euphemism. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear had to feel sorry for the old lion on his last outing and wish that he could be taken somewhere soothing and restful before the night was out.

A low blow couched in highbrow discourse. At this point I think Hitch should just abandon the thin journalistic veneer and dive headlong into Hunter Thompson-esque absurdity. Near the end of the piece, he finally offers, in what amounts to high praise in the Hitchens world, a tepid endorsement of Obama:

Obama is greatly overrated in my opinion, but the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one, even if it does accept the support of the surrender faction, and it does show some signs of being able and willing to profit from experience.

Well ring the bells and fire the cannons!

Join the team, Hitch. Join the team.


yoggoth said...

In related news, William F. Buckley's son Christopher has come out in support of Obama. William F. Buckley has always struck me as singularly overrated. Using a thesaurus to write your self-aggrandizing bullshit adds tedium without joy. Hitchens isn't that bad, in fact I still like his columns most of the time, but I thought I'd mention it.

Little Earl said...

Funny you mention it, but apparently Christopher Buckley has been asked to leave the National Review because of the whole Obama-supporting thing. Melinda Henneberger in Slate:

"It's unbelievable that Christopher Buckley has been asked to clean out his cubby at the magazine his father founded—'briskly' allowed to resign for the sin of endorsing Obama. Where the National Review thinks it'll find another writer who can throw around Jane Austen's favorite verb quite the way he does, I aver I don't know. (See? Not even close.) But apparently, even they can't have any damn intellectuals hanging around thinking outside the talking points."

Herr Zrbo said...

I'm a fan of the English language and all, and I don't want to come down on English major types for using big words, but this article this Hitchens guy wrote is so steeped in adroit daedalian semasiologies that I succumbed to inaptitude in my perspicaciousness.

Just come out and say what you mean already!