Thursday, 16 October 2008

Hitchens: the kind of endorsement of which Obama will see more

Round about this time four years ago, with America poised once again to Decide, Christopher Hitchens bade a decisive farewell to one more segment of his former fan club when he declared that he 'slightly preferred' the idea of the re-election of the incumbent, and on an essentially single-issue stand, which was the prosecution of the war in Iraq in particular, and on what had come to be known as Islamofascism in general.
This year he's for Obama, albeit in about the most lukewarm tones one could imagine. I know of this because I read Hitchens' stuff now with more or less the same keenness I've always felt, tempered only by the appreciation that we all get older and more disappointed as the world seems forever to get worse.
Hitchens, who evidently admires McCain in several important ways, nevertheless speaks now in pitying fashion of a man 'suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical... the train-wreck sentences, the whistlings in the pipes, the alarming and bewildered handhold phrases—"My friends"—to get him through the next 10 seconds.' And Hitchens is utterly scathing of the Republican VP candidate as someone propelled far beyond her abilities for 'the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party's right wing.'
What, then, of the Democrat hope? 'Overrated' is probably Hitchens' most felt adjective. And yet, his revisiting of the Iraq war vote notwithstanding, Obama has passed Hitchens' single-issue test, and that should give pause to those who are on the side of Change because it suits their self-image and they believe Change to mean whatever they fancy it means, rather than something related to anything Obama has actually said on the stump.
As Hitchens puts it, '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.' I take 'experience' to mean Obama's wish to take the War into Pakistan and to continue to hunt and kill The Terrorists, a cause to which John Kerry cottoned rather too late in 2004. Kerry must be wishing he'd had a chunk of Obama's luck.

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