Hitchens in the Dock
In the final decade before his demise, the late Christopher Hitchens had become the Phil Spector of American politics. Ala Spector, even his hair looked crazy.
After injecting himself into the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, “Hitch 22″ appeared on some network show looking, humorist Harry Shearer hilariously noted on his radio program, “Le Show”, “like he just rolled out of bed at the homeless shelter.” He was drunk, hair going every which way, and as he angrily ranted about Clinton’s adulterous affair, he couldn’t stop blinking.
Hitchens’ evolution from young Trot, to eloquent dashing columnist for the liberal Nation magazine, to frothing war monger and volunteer mouthpiece and cheerleader for the Bush-Cheney junta’s plot to take the U.S. to war has been well-chronicled from Ian Buruma in the New York Review of Books, the website “Hitchenswatch”(which humorously noted, “We watch him so you don’t have to”) to the pages of CounterPunch.
But surely in the future the gold standard for the deconstrucion of Hitchens will be Richard Seymours’ “Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens.”
But now, posthumously, it’s Hitchens’ turn in the dock.
Seymour’s book, part of Verso’s “Counterblast,” series, is a thoroughly documented prosecutors brief and demonstrates why in a fair and just world Hitchens, who conspired with the likes of Ahmed Chalabi to start a most unnecessary war, would stand trial with Bush, Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz as an accused war criminal.
Seymour’s meticulous, Chomsky-esh detailing of the Hitchens saga was chided in the Washington Post for lacking “style” and being harshly biased. But, hey, this is a trial and Seymour as the chief prosecutor is supposed to be biased.
Frankly, my favorite part of the book is the cover photo of Hitchens in mad hatter mode.
One can’t help but wonder what would be going through Hitchens head, were he still amongst the living, reading about Secretary of State John Kerry warning Iraq to quit allowing Iran to use Iraqi airspace to assist the Assad regime in putting down a rebellion.
My guess is, unlike former Bush speech writer David “Axis of Evil” Frum, Hitchens would continue to dissemble.
According to Glenn Greewald in The Guardian, for March 18, Frum not only laments how things have turned out in Iraq, but also admits in a Newsweek column that previous denials to the contrary, the war was very much about oil.
A newly contrite Frum also reveals that the real “axis of evil” was a secretive meeting with Ahmed Chalabi–in the apartment of Christopher Hitchens to discuss strategy for starting a war.
In the final analysis, the best characterization of Hitchens came from the man who knew him best: Alexander Cockburn. In a long ago Nation column, writing even before Hitchens became “just another right -wing porker,” Alex noted that more and more Hitchens had “postures” not “principles.”
The Trial of Christopher Hitchens demonstrates in lush detail that in the matter of Christopher Hitchens its case closed.
Jack McCarthy is former managing editor of the Florida Flambeau, contributing editor to Online Journal, and a proud contributor to Counterpunch. Can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org