Writer and general antagonist Christopher Hitchens is always reliable when he sees a need for an argument. Neither rightwing or leftwing, he can often be both during the same train of thought. When his adversary isn't up for arguing, he's more than happy to step in and begin the argument with himself. For all his bluster, high academic elitism and '60s radical heart, he's quite possibly one of the best contrarians in the media. The very pin that pops the balloons of both neocon and satirical truthiness illusions.
He considers the label "difficult" a natural self-description. It's not what he does; it's who he is.
He's skewered Kissinger, Princess Diana, even Mother Theresa while consciously taking the unpopular positions on both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- two people one might not easily connect.
Gore Vidal himself even named Hitchens as his successor to uphold the art of contradiction. Hitchens believes that truth lies somewhere between popular opinion and dissenting opinion...and if the dissenter never challenges what is popular, the real truth will never be discovered. Of course, he backs his beliefs with other contrarians ranging from Jonathan Swift to Thomas Paine to Karl Marx. At the same time, he's welcomed to the party of mainstream public debate in such forums as The Nation and Vanity Fair...and frequently joins the politically incorrect panel "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO.
The new season for "Real Time" opened up on Friday night, with Hitchens on the panel. Iraq was front and centre in the discussion. In it, he proudly aligned himself with the 1% of the British population whom now believe the still-going/never-ending War in Iraq is the right thing to do. And then things got real nasty. Although well-accustomed to boo birds in the audience, he actually flipped the audience off twice and cursed them out.
Video -- WMP or QT here
A few minutes later he cursed the audience out again. As Bill Maher might say, "what's wrong with a few F-bombs between friends now and again?" Of course, that didn't happen because by the time "New Rules" was through, Hitchens was absent from the end-show handshakes. Apparently he had walked off without word or a final F-bomb.
The Daily Kos actually wonders: was Hitchens drunk and terrified?
First we have Queen of Hate Ann "Are you calling me a liar?" Coulter getting rattled to criticisms earlier this summer for her latest Godless diatribes against Liberals, now the Hitch -- Coulter's slightly less-acerbic salt pourer for wounds? Of course, there's also Bob Novak's famous live storm-off from CNN when the water got too hot for him. The rabble-rousers are either injured from too much sparring or wearing out from all the crassness and spin control.
In Hitchens' 2001 book Letters to a Young Contrarian: The Art of Mentoring (published less than two months before 9/11), he states "every parent knows the moment when children acquire the word 'why' and begin to make use of it." Why would Hitchens' (and the others lately) choose to bow ungracefully from ugly confrontations? Maybe we'll learn next time Hitchens is on the Maher panel (and,. surely, he will be back) that he's doing his "hardest to combat atrophy and routine." At least, it reminds him he has a pulse, as he says. Or maybe the ungraceful exit is simply a metaphor for how this Iraqi War will end.
The Pissed Off Walk Off...is this a new media trend?
You can begin arguing the point now...
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, August 27, 2006,