With his constipated cloud face, British accent and high-flown lexicon, Christopher Hitchens gives the appearance of erudition.
One way to appear erudite, well-informed and unassailably correct is to stud your writing with references to the work of others. But Hitchens is like the Wizard of Oz. Pull back the curtain-go read the articles he links-and you will soon discover that they don’t say what he purports them to, nor do they support his argument.
I am talking here about Hitchens’ new column at Slate
, “Rove Rage: The poverty of our current scandal,” where he purports to demonstrate that Karl Rove didn’t really do anything wrong.
Hitchens writes, “In fact, in his column of July 17
, Frank Rich was compelled to concede that the whole thing is absolutely nothing in itself, but is rather a sideshow to a much larger event: the deception of the Bush-Cheney administration in preparing an intervention in Iraq. I want to return to this, but one must first winnow out some other chaff and nonsense.”
Hitchens then launches into a totally irrelevant attack, per the current Republican talking points, on Joseph Wilson. At this late date, no one except Hitchens and his neocon comrades believe this war is a good thing. In the midst of his attack on Wilson, Hitchens again tries to resurrect the Saddam-was-building-nuclear weapons bugaboo.
At the end of a debate between Hitchens, Arianna Huffington and Greg Palast at the Los Angeles Times
Festival of Books in 2003, Hitchens emphatically said, "I assure you, weapons of mass destruction will be found."
In his article, “A Liberating Experience,” (Vanity Fair: October 2003, page 138) Hitchens tells us that components and blueprints for operating a gas centrifuge used for uranium enrichment buried in 1991 were disinterred, but then writes, "I don't doubt that, with more excavation, and more analysis of captured blueprints, it will emerge that Saddam always intended to reconstitute his W.M.D. program. Still, the fact remains that the Bush and Blair administrations decided that it was easier to scare the voters than to try to persuade them, and simpler to stress the language of ‘threat’ than the discourse of human rights or the complexities of the Geneva Convention."
Instead of simply admitting his error in the face of overwhelming evidence disproving him, Hitchens again tries to convince us that Saddam Hussein was trying to obtain uranium from Niger and once again mentions “his regime's now-proven concealment of a nuclear centrifuge.” He also tries to revive the completely discredited Bulsh administration’s repeated inferences that Hussein was in cahoots with al-Qaida: “In the same way, the carefully phrased yet indistinct statement of the 9/11 Commission that Saddam had no proven 'operational' relationship with al-Qaida has mutated lazily into the belief that there were no contacts or exchanges at all, which the commission by no means asserts and which in any case by no means possesses the merit of being true.”
Can you slice the baloney any thinner, Hitchens?
Clearly, Hitchens is arrogant enough to assume his readers will not bother to read Frank Rich’s column or even Hitchens' own past writing. However, I did.
Wherein you will find several interesting things. Rich writes:
1. “In October, the National Intelligence Estimate, distributed to Congress as it deliberated authorizing war, included the State Department's caveat that 'claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa,' made public in a British dossier, were 'highly dubious.' A C.I.A. assessment, sent to the White House that month, determined that 'the evidence is weak' and 'the Africa story is overblown.'"
2. “The administration's apocalyptic uranium rhetoric, sprinkled with mushroom clouds, had been hammered incessantly for more than five months by then - not merely in the State of the Union address - and could not be dislodged.
Once we were locked into the war, and no W.M.D.'s could be found, the original plot line was dropped with an alacrity tat recalled the 'Never mind!' with which Gilda Radner's Emily Litella used to end her misinformed Weekend Update commentaries on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ The administration began its dog-ate-my-homework cover-up, asserting that the various warning signs about the uranium claims were lost ‘in the bowels’ of the bureaucracy or that it was all the C.I.A.'s fault or that it didn't matter anyway, because there were new, retroactive rationales to justify the war. But the administration knows how guilty it is. That's why it has so quickly trashed any insider who contradicts its story line about how we got to Iraq, starting with the former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill and the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke.”
Rich’s piece impeaches Hitchens’ and also deftly reveals that Hitchens is now simply a partisan hack willingly employing himself as part of the Republican spin machine.