Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hitchens: Obama is Not Great

Hitchens's Slate article about Obama's victory seesaws between banality and incoherence. Inline comments in italics (actually, they're hardly even necessary):


"Historic," yelled the very headline across the top of my morning newspaper. (Just the news, please, if you would be so kind.) Would the letters have been so big for the first female vice president? And isn't it already historic that millions of white Christians voted, win or lose, for a man with one Kenyan parent, that parent having been raised as a Muslim?

Um, no. Sarah Palin's achievement in being elected would have been a negative one -- she didn't implode enough to cost McCain the election. And yes. And the newspapers would probably have said something like that had Obama lost.

Well, as it happens, our new president has no slave ancestry, and neither branch of his parentage could have been owned by anybody, or at least not by anybody American. (Muslim-run slavery, though, is an old story in Africa as well as a horribly contemporary one.) And there were not a few elected black American representatives 40 years ago, even if mainly in Northern states.

It is well known that Kenyan immigrants were exempt from segregation. And note that "mainly." I take it he means 50 years ago, not five years after the civil rights act (or is he just being fiendishly clever?) and, um, I could count pre-civil rights southern black congressmen on my fingers even if I didn't have any.

Second, a Republican victory would have had absolutely no effect on the legal or political standing of black Americans, which is a matter of our law and our Constitution and cannot be undone by any ephemeral vote or plebiscite.

It bloody well would have had an effect on the political standing of black Americans. At the very least it would have made it extremely improbable that the Democrats would nominate another black candidate for president in the near future, for fear of losing the election again.

Nor even a diet of audacity, though can you picture anything less audacious than the gray, safety-first figures who have so far been chosen by Obama to be on his team?

Like who? As far as I can tell, Obama's appointments so far are irrelevant to policy.


I take it Hitch wanted to prove that he wasn't an Obamamaniac, but couldn't find anything useful to say by the deadline; however, this piece really exemplifies everything that's gone wrong with his commentary. He even uses "moist" (have you been reading the moist and trusting comments of our commentariat?) as a stock all-purpose intensifier, though it's become grating through endless repetition.

Someone really ought to put him to sleep.

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