Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mr. Hitchens

Last night, I read a piece by Christopher Hitchens on Slate that really outraged me, as it seems to have outraged just about everybody else. So I joined The Fray briefly. Mostly, I berated Mr. Hitchens, who is surely tough enough to take it. What I particularly liked about what I said was a comparison of him and the other die-hard Iraq-firsters to Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. The ring calls to them, the ring destroys them, warps their sensibilities and erodes their common sense. Must have the ring--must have Iraq. Nothing can interfere with my obsession . . . .

Other than that, I don't think I have an opinion on Iraq any longer. I can scream and shout all I want, but it won't change things: Bush has the ring. Actually, the funniest bumper sticker I've seen for quite some time was one in Asheville in January '04: "Frodo failed--Bush has the ring."

What is equally disappointing is that the Democrats have little direction. Still. Has Howard Dean passed on to the big sugarbush in the sky?


jmcq said...

Hitchens is a specialist in outrage. Much of it has been laudable, most notably his book on Henry Kissinger, which presents a grim and thorough accounting of the former Secretary of State's exceptional misdeeds, including his clearly criminal and disastrous intervention in Chile's government in the early 1970s. Much of Hitchens' readership likely looks less favorably on his attacks on Bill Clinton -- to say nothing of "The Missionary Position," on Mother Teresa -- but his cool, relentless logic is persuasive if not always unassailable. It's a pity that John Paul II dispensed with the Devil's Advocate in canonization proceedings, because Hitchens would have been a good man to take the job in the matter of Teresa; at his best, it's the position he takes with all of his subjects.

In the matter of Bush, unfortunately, he's at his worst, because he seems constitutionally incapable of registering even the most obvious objections to Bush's incompetence, hypocrisy and duplicitousness. What he sees in someone with an utter lack of curiosity and intellectual rigor is puzzling to those of us who used to be fans, but Hitchens is a contrarian with, like many a former firebrand, a tiresome tendency to pick obsolete fights in new arenas. He and the neo-cons are warmed-over 60s revolutionaries, and revolution makes strange bedfellows.

I reviewed "The Trial of Henry Kissinger" for the Oregonian and met Hitchens for drinks after his reading at Powell's. He was charming and, contrary to the opinion that his talent has declined as his tippling has progressed, seemed only to sharpen as the evening and the drinks wore on. I had a hangover the next morning, and I feel something like it still when I read him today.

jeneva said...

Too funny McQ. Good to hear from you--how are the twins?