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July 11, 2003

Living history.
In 1968, when I arrived at Oxford as a gangling skinny Northerner with serious sexual identity problems, I went to a lot of political meetings. You could hardly not notice Hitchens—he was charismatic, and beautiful, and passionate in his denunciations of the Americans in Vietnam. You also ended up noticing a quiet bearded American called Bill something, who would periodically stand up and oppose the war, while defending his country’s better angels. My memory, which may be faulty, is that, on at least one occasion, I heard them speak at the same meeting.
Our old friend Roz Kaveney remembers Christopher Hitchens, Bill Clinton, and a long, terrible betrayal. [11:16 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Living history.:

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2003, 05:00 AM:

And a Buffy quote, too!

Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2003, 08:56 AM:

Sigh. Now I REALLY regret not going to Oxbridge on my junior year.


Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2003, 11:52 AM:

I have a friend who was part of the same circle, who said, around the time of Clinton's first election "Of course he never inhaled. He had asthma. We made him fudge instead."

julia ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2003, 12:14 PM:

I've always wondered how Hitchens got his sad, frustrated habit of assigning the evils of the world to a single individual and tearing off after them as the crow flies, and this certainly does help explain it.

His politlcal associates sound like some kind of twisted religious community.

I almost feel sorry for him, alternately clutching his 'principles' to his breast and bludgeoning people with them while he rages against not being one of the Great Men himself.

Poor sad demented bastard.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2003, 03:15 PM:

Thanks for calling this to our attention. It is wonderfully well done. I looked at the more of her LJ and have added her to my friends list. One can never read too much good prose.


Mr Ripley ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2003, 11:18 PM:

Andrew --Hitch tells the same story, I forget where --maybe Letters to a Young Contrarian, the last book he published before losing his mind completely.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2003, 10:00 AM:

Posted this over there:

Wow. This is amazing writing. I never knew Hitchins before he lost his mind/turned to the Dark Side/became a vampire; you brilliantly evoke the pain of his tragic fall.

I really hate to raise a quibble, but it's a minor one, so perhaps you can forgive me: you wrote ...turning a negative national debt into trillions of dollars in less than a single electoral term. While Dubya certainly presided over the conversion of a surplus (income minus spending > 0) into a deficit (income minus spending debt (the trillions the US owes to its gajillion creditors) was there before, during, and (we hope) after this particular idiot.
It was another brilliant Republican economist, Ronald Reagan, who tripled the actual debt during his two terms in the Oval Office. This while my friends died of AIDS, and while instituting income taxes on unemployment benefits, and proclaiming ketchup to be a vegetable (for school-lunch purposes), and...well, you all had your own Milk Snatcher, so I don't need to tell you.
And Avram, yeah, isn't it amazing? I have got to meet this person someday.
Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2003, 10:06 AM:

Hmm, over on Live Journal that appeared correctly. I meant "...(income minus spending (less-than sign) 0), the debt..."

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2003, 11:39 PM:

A little nitpicking:

Roz says: "If Clinton was a murderer for signing death warrants, as Hitchens used to claim, what does that make Bush?"

Bush had little power in the death penalty process in Texas. In the case of Carla Fay Tucker who brutally murdered two people the Texas parole board voted 18-0 to not grant clemency. Bush could not, by law, overturn that decision. Roz implies that he had the same power to grant clemency as Clinton did. He did not. Most people do not understand this and held Bush personally responsible for all executions in the Texas. Of course, Clinton, always with an eye on the next election, had a chameleon-like approach to the death penalty issue. His infamous flight back to Arkansas to witness the execution of a man who, on the night of his execution, saved the slice of pecan pie to be eaten before bedtime, not realizing his death would come first was just another sleazy Clinton political gambit. 87 people were executed during Clinton's terms as governor.

From a CNN report:

"Under Texas law, the parole board cannot consider commuting a sentence until it receives a written request from the condemned, the condemned's representatives or from a majority of the trial officials.

The board usually acts on clemency requests within five days. Ten of the 18 board members must approve or deny the request before making a recommendation to Gov. George W. Bush. The governor may commute a death sentence only after receiving a recommendation from the parole board, but he is not bound by the board's opinion. If the parole board denies a clemency request, the governor cannot grant it." http://www.cnn.com/US/9801/20/tucker.appeal/index.html

When someone produces a fine, well-written article that includes a little bit of cheap, factually incorrect, political mudslinging in it it bothers me.

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 04:30 AM:

I take the point, and have no excuse in respect of the details of Texas law. However, my substantive point remains.

Clinton used the death penalty as a political instrument for his own advancement, and appears to have been motivated by a belief in his own capacity thus to put himself into a position to achieve the greater good. This is, in my view, profoundly wrong, but is the immorality of a serious person.

Bush may not have any power of clemency in particular cases - though I refuse to believe that, as governor, he had no power to argue for e.g. greater care in the prosecution of capital cases as a general issue. And it is legitimate to say that however serious-minded he had been in the rubber-stamping of death penalties, dead is still dead. What remains objectionable, and objectionable at a wholly different level to Clinton's behaviour, is the frat-boy frivolity with which he treated signing death warrants - the one in the Tucker case in particular.

And there is a blitheness to this approach which oddly parallels the preparedness of Trotskyites and other Marxist-Leninists to condone the terror execution of whole classes. When upper-class boys like the young Hitchens give intellectual assent to e.g the shooting of the Kronstadt mutineers, they are, it seems, on a slippery slope which can lead to condoning any killing anywhere.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 09:56 AM:

> the frat-boy frivolity with which he treated signing death warrants

Roz, you're absolutely right about the general attitude. It's also what underlies the "bring 'em on" remark.

Yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 12:01 PM:

So we have no idea what "being an occasional consultant to the Bush White House" actually means, or whether Hitchens is maybe trying to have some influence on the administration. After all, a sure way to have little influence on world events is to police everyone associated with your movement to make sure they are not tainted by any contact or God forbid dialogue with people who disagree with your positions.

So she extolls Hitchens' wonderful qualities but is ready to brand him a traitor based on one vague accusation which she doesn't define. Sounds like typical extremist fringe politics to me, indistinguishable on the right or left. Yawn.

This reminds me of the ideologues of the left who bitched about Vaclav Havel becoming a - gasp! - mainstream politician and actually getting his hands dirty trying to steer a country toward a liberal democracy, rather than staying pure and artistic and in jail.

Or the ideologues of the right who became outraged when whoever it was went and talked to the Log Cabin Republicans. Or the people who try to delegitimize Sari Nusseibeh or Omar Karsou.

Ideologues always eat their young, and smart independent minds get the hell out. One of the things I really like about Hitchens - although I don't agree with many of his positions - is that he doesn't fit into the nice neat political boxes into which people want to place him, and good for him. The world needs more Hitchens and fewer Kavenys.

Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 12:43 PM:

Yehudit: 'So we have no idea what "being an occasional consultant to the Bush White House" actually means, ...'

Yes we do. It means he's taken the thirty pieces of silver and gone to work for the other side.

And "This reminds me of the ideologues of the left" tells us exactly where you are coming from. Clue: guilt by association won't work on this particular peanut gallery -- the monkeys are educated.

Finally we come to the assertion, "ideologues always eat their young, and smart independent minds get the hell out." Yep, I agree. Hitchens agreed to act as a consultant to the most ideologically driven US executive in decades. If you can't see what this signifies, it suggests that it's high past time you took your own advice ...

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 12:56 PM:

Of course, Yehudit has no idea whether Roz Kaveney, whom she mispells, is an "ideologue" who "fits into nice neat political boxes."

In fact, far from being the kind of "ideologue" that Yehudit wants to bash, Roz has a long and distinguished history of principled civil liberties work, which has led her on more than one occasion to oppose bad agendas and bad policy coming from the left as well as from the right.

Not that this matters. What's really evident from the above is that Roz "reminds" Yehudit of a motley list of people of whom Yehudit disapproves, and that based on that, Yehudit feels free to announce that the world "needs" "fewer Kaveneys." Nice one.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 01:38 PM:

Yehudit, you write "After all, a sure way to have little influence on world events is to police everyone associated with your movement to make sure they are not tainted by any contact or God forbid dialogue with people who disagree with your positions."

Coulnd'nt some of Hitchens' criticism of Clinton be looked at that way, too?

Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 02:14 PM:

Patrick, I was trying not to succumb to the temptation to rely on personal acquaintance in order to point out to Yehudit the error of their ways ...

But having said that: I'll take Roz and her personal integrity over a Hitchens who works for the White House any day of the week.

CMuncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 02:31 PM:

MadJayHawk, nothing personal, but to paraphrase your own post, when someone criticises someone without carrying out basic research, it bothers me.

The Texas executive clemency process is as you have related, with a few addiitions, particularly during the Bush years. (Like a number of southern states, Texas is a "weak governor" state.) The Governor, though, can ask for a 30 day stay, which Bush did only once to allow for more sophisitcated DNA testing (which returned the prisoner to death row for execution). He also once asked the BPP to review the case of a notorious mass murderer, who, ironically, could not physically have committed the crimes he confessed to in Texas (he wasn't there at the time . . .). The BPP quickly complied with his request. No surprise, the BPP members are appointed by the Governor and many if not most of them are former Texas Department of Corrections and Justice employees.

The BPP is notorious as a rubberstamp body that basically servers as a figleaf for the governor by never, ever, recommending mercy unless the Governor asks for it. As related in a recent Atlantic article by Alan Berlow:

. . . the BPP, which was infamous for rubber-stamping executions. In a December 1998 district court hearing on a lawsuit brought by the death-row inmate Joseph Stanley Faulder (in whose trial a principal state witness was promised more than $10,000 by the prosecutor to testify), Judge Sam Sparks concluded, "It is abundantly clear the Texas clemency procedure is extremely poor and certainly minimal." Sparks found that "none of the members" of the BPP read clemency petitions in their entirety; that "a flip of the coin would be more merciful than these votes"; and that the board provided no rationale whatsoever for its clemency recommendations. "There is nothing," Sparks said during the hearing, "absolutely nothing that the Board of Pardons and Paroles does where any member of the public, including the governor, can find out why they did this."

In fact, the board never actually meets -- the members just fax in their votes.

I suggest you start with that Atlantic article to see just what kind of a process Texas really has.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 02:31 PM:

I was referring to stuff that's discernably in the public record. I believe.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 03:13 PM:

What, specifically, is Hitchens doing for this White House? Any links?

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 05:15 PM:

I should have included the URL of my source in the original piece.


Congressman Ron Paul claimed that Hitchens was a consultant to the White House in a speech to Congress. I am prepared to stand corrected if there is an innocent explanation, But to take White House gold would be consistent with Christopher Hitchens' evolution.

It seems to me that to support the Iraq war, at a time when the US media did so more or less en bloc, is not what one expects from a contrarian, especially one with a long and honourable record.
(I speak as someone who opposed it in spite of real problems with doing so - I first went on a demonstration for a free Kurdistan as long ago as the mid-70s.)

The idea of me as a Stalinist ideologue is one calculated to cause intense amusement to anyone on the Left who knows me. I should probably post about my own complex political evolution at some point.

I am a soggy moderate and proud of it - it is just that the world has moved to the Right around me.

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 05:41 PM:

For what it's worth...Christopher Hitchens' response to an article in the National Review on this subject (from the Christopher Hitchens Web):

I never thought I'd have to outdo Arnold Beichman in a denial, and for the first few outings of a certain rumor I had really believed that no rebuttal was needful, but given today's over-wrought atmosphere I suppose it's unsafe to make any assumption. So I had better say, at once, that I am not now and have never been an advisor or confidante of the George Bush White House, or of any other Executive Mansion for that matter. Things, in other words, are not that bad.

There's more, but why believe the actual man rather than an unsubstantiated line from a Congressional speech, transcribed on a site that can't even spell his name (Hitchins) right?

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 07:22 PM:

It seems possible, from a defence of Hitchens in my Live Journal, that Paul was referring to a lecture Hitchens gave at the White House. Which, OK, is not being a consultant. And yes, not quite that bad, then, if so.

But bad enough.

What would a younger Hitchens have said to anyone who went and spoke at the Nixon White House on the eve of Cambodia? Or the Reagan White House on the brink of its various military adventures?

Particularly if the speech were as full of self-serving claptrap as the attached extract: "I spoke about the difference between the rhetoric of Lincoln and the rhetoric of Churchill, strongly advocating the former over the latter for his qualities of philosophy and reluctance. I added, since the time for a confrontation with Saddam Hussein was then approaching, that I wished
success to American arms in Mesopotamia but hoped that nobody, Kurdish, Cypriot or Palestinian, would ever have to live under a Pax Americana without consent. I also argued that the United States was compelled historically to defend the idea of secular pluralism.... The question of Leon Trotsky didn't come up in any very marked manner, as far as I recall, but I did stress Karl Marx's energetic support for the Union cause, and the conviction of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine that the United States ought to be a superpower for democracy.'

This seems to me bad enough. If you are as smart and as silver-tongued as Hitchens, and have the oppurtunity to address the key men in the belly of the beast, you aren't rude, heavens no!, but you do tell them the righteous truth. And this is not it.

Either he was criminally naive in making such a speech to them at such a time, or he knew that he was being asked as a way of demonstrating their broadness of mind and as someone who was never going to say anything that was not, in the last analysis, safe.

And yes, it is more venial and less mortal to sell yourself for flattery and fine wine than to take silver - but it is still unworthy of the man Hitchens once was.

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 07:57 PM:

The comments above, about David Perrin, strike me as so unjustified and unpleasant as to discredit their writer. Perrin's piece, an interesting companion to my own in a way, deals with his period as one of Christopher Hitchens' acolytes and their subsequent ideological estrangement...


MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 08:18 PM:

CMuncey: I did the basic research. My point was that that Bush in Texas did not have the same clemency power that Clinton did in Arkansas. Roz mistakenly implied that he did. That was the issue I was addressing.

The inner workings of the parole board have nothing to do with my asssertion and that is why I did not mention them. I am sure that as governor if Bush wanted to assert himself into every case involving the death penalty he certainly could have. Whether he would have been successful in getting clemency for someone on death row in some cases is just spectulation. To fault him for not trying to circumvent the legal system in all the executions is unfair. These cases, keep in mind, had been through the entire appeal process and the board was there just, as you point out, to rubber stamp the decisions that the courts had made. At that point, unless there is some last moment revelation, all that can be said has been said.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 09:02 PM:

I have looked Google-high and Google-low for references to Hitchens becoming an advisor to the White House and cannot find anything substantial.

Rep Ron Paul, in his congressional speech, seems to be quoting an article found in a Canadian newspaper called the National Post. The National Post article was written by Canadian conspiracy buff named Jeet Heer, an academic at York University who also reviews movies. The article is no longer available on line. Mr Heer evidently contends in the article that Hitchens is an ad hoc consultant to the White House.

Ron Paul's speech: "More recently, the modern-day neocons have come from the far left, a group historically identified as former Trotskyists. Liberal Christopher Hitchins, has recently officially joined the neocons, and it has been reported that he has already been to the White House as an ad hoc consultant." http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2003/cr071003.htm

The National Review Online (NRO) debunks Mr. Heer's column in the National Post in general and Mr Heer's claim that Hitchens is now an ad hoc consultant to the White House: http://www.nationalreview.com/script/printpage.asp?ref=/comment/comment-beichman060903.asp

NRO quotes the National Post: "The National Post story said: "Despite his leftism, Hitchens has been invited into the White House as an ad hoc consultant.""

Roz's caustic post concerning Hitchen's alleged foray into consulting business seems to stand on rather shaky grounds. The post did allow her to get off some good volleys at the President so the well-written post had some positive aspects to it - if you agree with her viewpoints concerning President Bush.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 09:09 PM:

"MadJayHawk's" post above appears to come from an alternate universe in which Roz's post of 7:22 PM doesn't exist.

Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 10:26 PM:

This may be slightly off topic. I used to read Christopher Hitchens with some amusement and some agreement, until he published (in _The Nation_) a screed about capital punishment in relation to the Oklahoma City bombing. I call it a screed because he saw fit to accuse the families of the victims of vicious ignorance and hatefulness for wanting Tim McVeigh to get the death penalty. (Wish I could recall his exact words, but believe me, they were mean). I'm against the death penalty myself, but the sheer nastiness of the names he called those grieving people was so vile that I just stopped paying any attention to him at all. He can call himself a "contrarian" if he wants to, but I think his contrary-ness (is that a word?) is more like plain old selling out.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2003, 11:41 PM:


My universe had these statements (see Roz's statements below) in them. Did yours? Was the basis for Roz's biting original post that Hitchens had become a consultant to the White House or am I crazy? She backs off that in her 7:22 post on your blog but the damage has been done. (Sorry, I do not enjoy biting the hand that blogs us.)

Please read Hitchen's account of his day at the White House (link below), apparently not attended by "key men in the belly of the beast" but by "staff". Key members of the administration, according to Hitchens, were busy elsewhere. The lunchtime event at which Hitchens spoke at is evidently something that historians and journalists are regularly invited to in order to broaden the horizons of staff members. (My former company had something similar called Brown Baggers. We discussed work related issues.) Was he, as a liberal, suppose to be rude and say nasty things to his hosts about the war, economy, or racial relations during his talk? It is sad that his lunchtime talk to staff apparently did not live up to the expectations of people who will probably never be invited to informal gatherings like these at the White House. He deserved to be trashed because he was polite and tried to provide something intellectually stimulating to chew on along with the pe2te9 de foie gras (without Bush there they probably didn't have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches)? After reading his account of his little talk at the White House, it certainly doesn't sound like he was serving as a big time consultant as Roz and Rep Paul contended.

Hitchens's account: http://users.rcn.com/peterk.enteract/WH.html

Roz's Hitchens comments from http://www.livejournal.com/users/rozk/23897.html

"He is now, according to sources, acting as a consultant to the George W. Bush White House.

However, Hitchens is now cosy with Bush, who thinks signing death warrants is fun

And suddenly Hitchens is an accomplice, or at least a cheerleader.

And he is advising Bush, whose government has cut aid to any international birth control organization that has any connection with advice services that support abortion.

And Christopher Hitchens is acting as an occasional consultant to the White House.

But Hitchens is a consultant at Bush's White House.

But Christopher Hitchens is an occasional ad hoc consultant at Bush's White House.

Oh Christopher, Christopher, how could you at once embody and betray the hopes of your generation so totally?"

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 01:47 AM:

No, MadJayHawk, she did not.

Ms. Kaveney, at most, impllied that both signed death warrants (quite true in both cases), and that both could effrectively choose whether or not to grant clemency. As already stated, you are at best partially correct in a formal sense; The powers of clemency granted to Governor of Texas are more limited than those granted to the Governor of Arkansas. But as already cited to you, that is a distinction wihtout a difference, as the Texas PPB has long (since well before Bush's time) been known as a rubberstamp for the Governor's wishes. This is not particularly obscure -- just check out this month's Atlantic. as cited above.

But what she did do was to give her opinion about how the behavior of Clinton and Bush compared concerning capital punishment, what that implied morally about the two men, and what that implied concerning Mr. Hitchens' judgment. There is no doubt as to the behavior of Governor Bush towards capital punishment -- his mocking of Karla Faye Tucker and his spending an averrage of only a half hour reviewing clemency cases are matters of public record. There is also little question that he had the practical power to commute sentences -- as he did quite easily the one time he chose. Disagree with Ms. Kaveney's opinions as much as you like, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and we have lots of electrons left. Don't argue, though, with the simple facts, for on this you are simply wrong, and that is not a matter of opinion.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 03:37 AM:

Claude, you contend that Bush had the practical power to commute sentences. He did not. The Texas board was not a rubberstamp for Bush's wishes. They had a long record of not overturning the jury's and the appeals court's decisions. Bush chose not to ge politically involved in the clemency process. His predecessor, Democrat Ann Richards, didn't as well. In Texas the inmate has to formally request clemency. Many do not make that request.

There are those who seem to want for Bush to have turned the review procedures as spelled out by Texas law into a wide-open political process in an partisan effort to give him the responsibility for the executions in Texas. This was not an issue when Ann Richards was governor. The Texas legislature removed the governor from the process for a reason and now certain groups of people seem to be recommending that this particular governor should have side-stepped the legislature's desires in order to politically lobby the board. Bush refused to do this except in one case.

Roz implied that Bush and Clinton's clemency powers were the same. They were not legally or practically. Clinton cannot claim any moral high ground either. He changed his position on the death penalty after losing an election to an opponent who said he was soft on crime. Clinton repeatedly showed that he wanted to participate in the death penalty proceedings in order to bolster his image as being strongly anti-crime. To him his personal views on the death penalty were just one more issue to measure against public opinion polls. Bush didn't have a legal role in the process in Texas and, like his predecessor, refused to get drawn into a political hornet's nest.

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 05:16 AM:

1. I have done what I can to track my piece and add a correction about the nature of Hitchens' dealings with the White House, giving the Ron Paul reference to explain my original misapprehension.

The real point is that Hitchens should not have had any dealings with the White House at all, especially not this one.

2. To become a courtier or consultant has a certain seedy glamour; to go and entertain minor staffmembers, all of them at work on the intolerable, is merely sad.

3. Was he to insult his hosts? You betcha. That would be the only possible excuse.

4. The Texas system provides the governor with deniability not innocence. Clinton's calculations were morally wrong, but not contemptible; if he had achieved health care, he might have saved many lives that would have balanced those executed. This is a serious calculation, though amoral.

Pacifists and quasi-pacifists are entitled to condemn him, but not former Leninists.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 02:10 PM:

Roz: It is interesting that you expect Hitchens not to have what seem to be innocent dealings with the White House because you do not like who is occupying the place. Your effort to get Hitchens to fall in line with your view of the current occupant of the White House by writing a what amounts to a screed, tenuously based on an article in a Canadian paper, about aspects of his personal life probably did not sit too well with him. If he read it.

Texas law gave Bush deniability. What was Bush guilty of in Texas? His hands were tied. He and Ann Richards both did not get involved in trying to politically influence the board of pardons. Bush and Richards both supported the use of the death penalty and therefore had no reason to get politically involved unless there were unusual circumstances.

I cannot conceive of Clinton purposefully sitting down in 1980-1 and saying to himself "If I support the death penalty now then I can save millions by achieving healthcare when I become President.". It seems that he supported the death penalty to simply get re-elected Governor in Arkansas in the early 1980's, not to be able to, as president, propose healthcare legislation in the 1990's.

Yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 02:21 PM:

"It seems to me that to support the Iraq war, at a time when the US media did so more or less en bloc, is not what one expects from a contrarian, especially one with a long and honourable record."

First of all, the US media did not support the war en bloc. I have been reading tons of mainstream news since 9-11, and the war and reasons for it have been controversial throughout that time.

Second of all, Hitchens seems not so much a contrarian (although he may call himself that) as an independent thinker whose opinions are not formed in opposition to what is considered the establishment, but are formed from his own assessment and analysis of the situation. If his opinions happen to coincide with "the establishment," fine. If they happen not to, fine. In contrast to those who constantly look to see which way the Bush administration is jumping so that they can jump the other way, Hitchens is not ruled by anyone but himself.

I don't agree with some of his positions, but I recognize an indendent thinker when I see one, and I treasure them.

Well this sounds like self-righteous PC policing to me:

"If you are as smart and as silver-tongued as Hitchens, and have the oppurtunity to address the key men in the belly of the beast, you aren't rude, heavens no!, but you do tell them the righteous truth. And this is not it. . . . it is more venial and less mortal to sell yourself for flattery and fine wine than to take silver - but it is still unworthy of the man Hitchens once was."

Oh come on. The guy gives a talk for some brown-bag lunch and he's a sell-out? (Were you by any chance one of those who groused when Bob Dylan went electric?)

Some people are just not made to march to a party line. Probably why Hitch admires Orwell so much.

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2003, 06:19 PM:


1. As Hitchens was very prone to pointing out during the Clinton era, there are no innocent dealings with whoever is in the White House.
2. As I keep pointing out, even if it were true, and some of the posters here seem to think it is not, that Bush was merely honouring a democratic mandate, he could have cut the gags about the Tucker woman.
3. Hitchens' attacks on Clinton over the death penalty referred primarily to a specific execution, of a man with brain damage, which did take place during the period when he was starting to put himself forward for the Presidency. Given how very smart and calculating even his worst enemies acknowledge Clinton to be, I don't think the weighing of facts involved is especially implausible.
4. This row has been going on for some time and I am a latecomer to it. Many accounts of Hitchens' personal life when young have appeared, some of them penned by the man himself, and I thought it interesting to try and put the record straight - as it were - as I see it. Given e.g. Hitchens' claim to have slept with one of the same women as Clinton, and his own references to his past bisexuality, I don't think I have committed any great trespass. In fact, one of the things I was trying to convey is why we should care. This man was golden once, and now he is not - and this says something about political life in our time.

1. While, yes, there were some US media critical of the war, the vast majority of it was supportive, or at least that was how it looked from abroad.
2. You are right to value independent thinkers - I am just worried that Hitchens has ceased to be one. And, to be very precise, since he has used the term Contrarian of himself, I think one is entitled to examine whether he is still entitled to it.
3. If I were engaged in PC policing, I would have written this piece some considerable time ago. Believe me, I know what it is to march to my own drummer - if I find myself in step with a more conventional leftism on this issue, so be it, but such has not, in the past, been my story.

John Whitley ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 01:16 AM:

If you have the stomach for it, you can still read the full transcript of the astonishing "CLINTON CHRONICLES" video. See the full transcipt at http://www.survivalistskills.com/clinvid1.htm.

You'll find the "CLINTON,COCAINE, AND CIA DRUG SMUGGLING THROUGH MENA, ARKANSAS" page full of interesting quotes, too. http://www.survivalistskills.com/mena.htm.

There's an excellent archive of other 'New World Order Intelligence Update' stories archived by link at http://www.rarehistorybooks.com/NWOLINKS.HTM.

John Whitley ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 01:16 AM:

If you have the stomach for it, you can still read the full transcript of the astonishing "CLINTON CHRONICLES" video. See the full transcipt at http://www.survivalistskills.com/clinvid1.htm.

You'll find the "CLINTON,COCAINE, AND CIA DRUG SMUGGLING THROUGH MENA, ARKANSAS" page full of interesting quotes, too. http://www.survivalistskills.com/mena.htm.

There's an excellent archive of other 'New World Order Intelligence Update' stories archived by link at http://www.rarehistorybooks.com/NWOLINKS.HTM.

MadJayhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 01:31 AM:

Roz, if you are still reading this I was wondering if you met Cliff Jackson at Oxford while he was there in 1968?

And if you did, do you have any opinions as to why he turned on Clinton. I read in Toobin's book that Jackson and Clinton were good friends at one time. Toobin was not clear on why Jackson came to hate Clinton. Toobin makes it sound like jealousy was driving Jackson but the things that Jackson was involved in would indicate to me that more than simple jealousy was involved.


Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 07:37 PM:

I have no memory of Cliff Jackson - like I say, though I knew people in Clinton's circle quite well, it was after he had left. They all spoke well of him - and mostly, in spite of disappointment with his Presidency, still do.

Ted Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 11:44 AM:

Mr. Hayden's post refers to a "long, terrible betrayal." The story was long enough, to be sure, but what exactly was the "betrayal" and why was it "terrible"?

roger ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 04:30 PM:

Re the comments on Bush's enthusiasm for the death penalty.

The New York Times op ed today has a story from an advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority on rebuilding the justice system. This paragraph struck me:

"Perhaps the most notable example was the long delay in replacing Saddam Hussein's laws with the comparatively progressive Iraqi Penal Code of 1969. Despite agreement among the coalition members in April that this was the best option, the change did not occur until last month. The delay, we were told, came because America's coalition allies wanted the death penalty provisions in the code suspended, while Washington was steadfast in its insistence, apparently, that what's good for Texas must be good for Iraq."

Clinton's insuring that a poor retarded kid get the chair was dastardly, and one of the reasons I voted against the guy in 1996; Bush's enthusiasm for the death penalty is drearily pervasive throughout his political career. It won't be one of the reasons I vote against him next year -- there are so many others, it will be lost in the shuffle.