Hitchens pimp-slaps McCain/Palin

The inimitable Christopher Hitchens unveils a presidential endorsement. Taking the long view, it’s no surprise that the leftist-briefly-turned-neocon goes with Obama. It’s also no surprise that this endorsement comes complete with a no-holds-barred smackdown of the opposing candidate and his running mate.

Hitchens is simultaneously the most thrilling (if you agree with him on a given topic) and maddening (if you disagree) scribe out there. This SLATE column is no exception.

On “the issues” in these closing weeks, there really isn’t a very sharp or highly noticeable distinction to be made between the two nominees, and their “debates” have been cramped and boring affairs as a result. But the difference in character and temperament has become plainer by the day, and there is no decent way of avoiding the fact. Last week’s so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience. McCain occasionally remembers to stress matters like honor and to disown innuendoes and slanders, but this only makes him look both more senile and more cynical, since it cannot (can it?) be other than his wish and design that he has engaged a deputy who does the innuendoes and slanders for him.

The ineptitude of the McCain campaign is disturbing no matter how you slice it – either the Senator himself is in charge, in which case any intellectually honest person has to question his skill as an executive for running such a blundering operation, or the Rove-disciples are calling the shots, in which case Senator Obama’s claim that McCain = GWB term III seems pretty valid.

In William Kristol’s column yesterday, he simultaneously beseeched McCain to fire his campaign managers and beseeched some unknown person to let McCain and Palin off the leash – to “set them free.” I hate to break it to the unfunny Billy Kristol, but if there is someone behind the scenes secretly in charge of McCain, that kind of undercuts his legendarily mavericky maverickness.

Anyway, back to Hitchens, who we couldn’t agree with more in this instance…

The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: “What does he take me for?” Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her—her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations—were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party’s right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama’s position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.

It therefore seems to me that the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year, and that both its nominees for the highest offices in the land should be decisively repudiated, along with any senators, congressmen, and governors who endorse them.

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

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