December 16, 2011

for Christopher Hitchens, or Requiem for a Contrarian

I did my research, and the first time I referenced Christopher Hitchens here on Macroscope was way back in 2002, in a post called "The Shadow King" on the absurdity of naming Henry Kissinger, of all people, to investigate how badly the government botched the prevention of 9/11.  Around that time, Hitch had written a book about how a very convincing case could be made that Kissinger should be prosecuted in The Hague for war crimes, given the campaign he and Nixon conducted in Cambodia and the way they sabotaged LBJ's negotiations with the North Vietnamese by secretly telling them to wait until Nixon won the '68 election to get a better deal.

I feel like I'd been aware of Hitchens for a long time, and while I bounced back and forth between agreeing with him wholeheartedly and thinking he was completely off-base, what I loved about him was that he was one of the few people in public life who took the time to argue eloquently.  Yes, he was a chain smoking jerk, but he never backed away from a fight and he always did it with the very best lyrical flourishes.

He reminds me of a political pundit version of George Sanders, and felt like he faced his own impending demise the same way he confronted all of his adversaries: with the ongoing power of his words.

Cannot think of anyone who more definitively owns the classification "rapier wit".  A quintessential man of letters in the vein of a William F. Buckley.  Hitch was often more conservative and reactionary for my tastes, but at least I always knew what he was thinking.  At least I always knew THAT he was thinking.

The political discourse could use far more voices with the style, guile, passion, and care that Christopher Hitchens possessed.  The world is poorer for his passing, but much richer from his presence.

Rest in peace, Christopher.
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