Friday, October 29, 2004

Ironic endorsements

I'm tired of Andrew Sullivan. I've sparred with him in his LETTERS section, and thought about him way too much. I'm trying to swear off having anything to do with him anymore, because he has simply become an unserious thinker. I wonder whether he ever really was anything else.

Others--most notably, Lileks--have excoriated Sullivan far better than I ever could. And now that Sullivan has finally done the inevitable, almost endlessly-telegraphed-in-advance thing--endorsed Kerry, with convoluted "reasoning" that gives this reader a headache--I would like to finally sign off on him. We'll see if I succeed.

But Hitchens is another story. All around the blogosphere, people are scratching their heads at Hitchens' recent endorsement of Kerry in Slate. I'm scratching my head, too, but that's because I don't read his piece as an endorsement, especially since he had (slightly) endorsed Bush in the Nation just a few days earlier.

I may be utterly alone in thinking this, but it seems to me that Hitchens has set up a sort of ironic math puzzle or game of logic, offering an arch challenge to the reader. "You figure it out, if you're so smart," he seems to be saying.

So, here's my score sheet: Hitchens postulates three types of endorsement, and offers a Bush and a Kerry evaluation under each type, for a total of six.

--Bush gets it, for confronting the enemy
--Kerry loses it, for being unprincipled

--Kerry gets it (albeit somewhat backhandedly), as his election would
force the Dems to "get real" about Iraq
--Bush loses it, for poor planning

Ironic --they both get it (although this hardly counts, since this category
would seem to be a joke)

So, the score is even, two endorsements for each. There's a slight edge for Bush, though, because he receives what I would call the only serious vote, the one in the "subjective" category, for confronting the enemy.

Which leaves us with a slight edge for Bush, completely consistent with what Hitchens wrote in his Nation piece.

So perhaps Hitchens has set up a puzzle here, with clues. It would certainly suit his contrarian, superior, sarcastic nature if he'd done so.

Update 11/1/04: It appears (if I can trust this article), that Hitchens agrees with me. For now. Apparently, the Slate piece was meant to be a Bush endorsement, but the editors screwed up by labeling it for Kerry. Ah, editors! I've had a little trouble myself with them in the past, so I can well believe it.

Later: and now, straight from the horse's mouth, as it were.


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