Monday, September 11, 2006

Christopher Hitchens is what’s wrong.

On September 11, 2006, Christopher Hitchens uses nearly 1200 words and his primo column space on Slate to expose a canard. His conclusion: by putting a 5 year old Ari Fleischer quote into context, he’s won the debate, and put to rest the grotesque claim that the Bush Administration has used the politics of fear to achieve its policy ends. You know, things like starting the Iraq War.

The absurdity of Hitchens’ argument and summation really do defy comment in the face of a speech just last week where Bush invoked the bogyman himself—Osama bin Laden—17 times. It’s so absurd that it leaves Hitchens’ true motives for wasting space bear.

It would appear that Hitchens simply couldn’t contain his glee at identifying an inaccuracy in the opposition’s argument. Quickly, and no matter the day, he manufactured a thin justification for applying to yet another of his peer’s enemies lists. Take that Frank Rich of the New York Times.

My problem with Hitchens is he’s supposed to be a reflection of the dialogue of this country. But like so many, it appears that he has run out of insight, and is instead resorting to pot shots at prominent, but equally bereft colleagues, in a lame attempt to sustain his own relevance.

Today is tailor made for brave, progressive and even controversial ideas. It’s also a good day to come to terms with one’s own mistakes and errors in judgment. Unfortunately, Hitchens’ ego stroking is no doubt emblematic of the bulk of what’s enjoying prominent publication today. And therein is a commentary sad enough for September 11, 2006.


JohnMcG said...

I have to agree.

As much as we rag on Slate, writing a column in it on a day like today is a pirvilege. And Hitchens decided to excercise that privilege to sling some mud around.

Of course, one could say that Rich didn't exactly rise to the occasion either.

Here's my question -- is Bush such a polarizing figure that he brings out the worst in all commentators on either side of him, or is there hope that things will improve if the next president doesn't inspire such visceral hatred and blind allegiance?

JohnMcG said...

Plus, Jack Shafer decided to use his column space to tweak Marty Peretz?

Do these people realize we don't care who they think "wins" their little spats? That they are bickering their way into irrelevance?

Ender said...

Hi John:

My answer. I believe there is plenty of rational liberal criticism of Bush out there. I don’t, however, believe Bush’s defenders can afford to acknowledge rational arguments. As for pretending to criticize equally the left and the right, I’m not buying it. Sure, there are plenty of screaming wackos on the left making lots of noise, but to choose to point to them as indicative of the liberal tone is just that, a choice. Why would you choose to ignore the rational arguments of the left? Because you can’t find a conservative counterpart. I’m not saying that conservatives are irrational. I’m saying that a conservative who chooses to defend Bush is forced to abandon rationality.

That said, my sense (my hope) is a Democrat will win the White House in 2008. In response to that, there will be a resurgence of rational conservative criticism. Truth is, I think all the best conservative minds are staying mum, and have been for a while, least they’re forced to admit Bush has been a monumental mistake.

Also, I believe conservatives everywhere will be ecstatic to switch from defense to offense. When that happens, it will be my choice to listen to the right wing wackos, or their rational brothers.

JohnMcG said...

Hitchens does have a bad habit of cherry-picking the easiest targets from the other side and acting like it is a representative sample of the other side.

But that's not the case this time. It's not like Hitchens is trolling the comments section of a third-tier blog. Rich's comment appeared in the Sunday New York Times. It seems like that would be a reasonable first place to look for the rational arguments of the left you refer to.

I think you're right that there is little thoughtful enthusiastic support for Bush. Jonah Goldberg took a crack at it last week, but you could tell his heart wasn't in it. Now, he's back to barrelfishing.