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Hitchens - Walsh on Hillary Clinton




 

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I don't know how other people feel about it but I really liked to hear Joan Walsh take on Hitchens and handle him so well. I think she presented a good, realistic perspective.

The small and basically meaningless thing I would disagree with her on -- when he formalized their relationship - using her last name - at the end: I wouldn't say it was condescending - I would've said it was disingenuous. And that's how I feel about all of Hitchens arguments - and bringing out his "cherry picking" (which he does on anything where he wants to make a case) is a part of that.

I disagree. I think she was a pathetic embarrassment to other, more qualified people to represent her opinion with SUBSTANCE. I don't entirely disagree with her, but her tactics were as petty as some fox news pundits I've seen.

She threw out meaningless accusations about Hitchens getting his facts wrong---not only unrelated to the topic, but when asked to give an example of a fact he was wrong on she didn't have an answer. It was a trainwreck. There's no reason for her to attack Hitchens, unless she couldn't represent her opinion well enough and needed more to make her look right. It's desperate.

She lacked any substance, any details, just bumpersticker slogans . . it was like watching the vice-pres debate. I hate that I still hear "educated" pundits remind me of aggravated middle-schoolers.

Never fails to amaze me how people can listen to the same thing and come away with completely different responses (even though I have learned from OGM about preconditioning). I had to listen to this again to see how Ms. Walsh was so lacking. I guess I bring to it a lot of Hitchens viewing as I think Ms. Walsh does. I don't know if you haven't or you just are in agreement so don't mind his arguments.

Yes, I liked Hitchens back when I was reading him in Vanity Fair before Bush was in office. Good writer. I don't remember how often I heard him speak then. I do remember the first time I heard him spouting something I couldn't believe - hearing him on NPR arguing for the war early on -- picking and choosing his neocon facts.

Hitchens has a lovely, melodious voice with a fantastic accent, he is very smart and well-educated but he so wants to be the winner in a debate that he will fight a completely disingenuous argument to get there. As Ms. Walsh said, he will cherry-pick the most outrageous interpretations and present as facts things that aren't necessarily facts.....In this discussion, I thought a good example was his claims that Hillary only cares about one thing and that she will always be thinking about herself first, a claim that belonged more to her psychiatrist or a sibling than something for a pundit to throw around as fact.

I also thought his claim that Obama was "lucky" because the time table he was looking for was coming from the Iraqis seemed to me to be a fairly lame and useless analysis. There were no factors leading to this "lucky" coincidence? His summation why Obama chose Hillary seemed fair with a nice little insult in there about NOW which managed to dismiss the 18m votes Hillary had gotten, which dismissed her as a competent person and made her being a woman her reason to be there and it also made her seem like a token in the cabinet which she certainly is not.

I don't remember the rest but Hitchens seemed to me to be using this opportunity to continue his on-going relentless, somewhat fanatical and eventually (because of the fanaticism?) unconvincing tirade against the Clintons. He must feel very betrayed after endorsing Obama. He probably should have done what he did in 2004 and slightly endorsed the Republican candidate.

I would say that I didn't agree with either of them. I have a great respect for Hitchens. I certainly don't agree with him on many issues (especially the war) but he is an intellectual, and a man who has an independent opinion on every issue . . and can actually justify his opinion. For instance I listen to neocons speak their views on the war and I want to knock myself out. I hear Hitchens tell his justifications for supporting the war and think: oh, well those are good reasons although I respectfully disagree with offensive war period. Therefore he can play a great devil's advocate, as in this example.

He certainly isn't a conservative: he's an intellectual atheist with an english accent (if he's conservative, he'd be the only one.) He has some conservative views, but not conservative justifications. No conservative will ever say they went to war to destroy Islam as Hitchens wishes. And remember, he's not just a political pundit. If you read the books he's written, you know he is a scholar on literature and history and one of the best cultural critics of our time.

So that's why I admire Hitchens. Again, I thought Walsh did a cheap job. Be it because liberals are in a majority now and she's acquired a smug personality because of it . . Liberals still need to act like the intellectuals and represent our opinions with just as much detail and emotion as we did when we were struggling.

Not a conservative - well, no, not now - just when we needed a voice of sanity the most

Also, I really agree with IQGuy's half-truths description. I think about halfway down this article there are some good examples (Maybe not - I read a great article about it one time and checked the footnotes - I think it's this one but I don't have time to check again now.)

Anyway - doesn't matter anymore. He obviously didn't like the company he had to keep on the right so he got himself booted out with his no God book and, I agree, it is always fun to hear him arguing a cause you either agree with or don't care about. Personally, I just enjoyed seeing someone push back on him and you didn't have the same take. (Smug - compared to Hitchens? Really? I thought Hitchens was famous for his smugness. Maybe she was basking in his reflected glory. :)

As for preconditioning . . when I listen to her there are a couple things I take away from it: 1)her mood is more personal than professional, like she has a grudge. (I'm not saying that she does, but that she isn't acting professional) 2)she attacks christopher for a majority of her airtime (this, to me, represents someone who lacks confidence) 3)she uses simple slogans that lack detail or significance (diversity isn't important if no one is experienced . . so why not argue their experience, and what they bring to the table? instead she throws out an adjective) 4) she tells me what to think of things she and Hitchens say . . using more adjectives than she does nouns (that's cheap, you represent your opinion and if you were confident that would be enough) 5) she is certainly flustered from the moment she appears, where as Hitchens is relaxed.

I was disappointed in her, because there are plenty of more qualified speakers to represent her opinion, but she gets to be the spokesperson and goes in acting like she was in a popularity contest in highschool. So she makes a fool of herself, and the opinion she represented.

As for preconditioning . . when I listen to her there are a couple things I take away from it: 1)her mood is more personal than professional, like she has a grudge. (I'm not saying that she does, but that she isn't acting professional) 2)she attacks christopher for a majority of her airtime (this, to me, represents someone who lacks confidence) 3)she uses simple slogans that lack detail or significance (diversity isn't important if no one is experienced . . so why not argue their experience, and what they bring to the table? instead she throws out an adjective) 4) she tells me what to think of things she and Hitchens say . . using more adjectives than she does nouns (that's cheap, you represent your opinion and if you were confident that would be enough) 5) she is certainly flustered from the moment she appears, where as Hitchens is relaxed.

I was disappointed in her, because there are plenty of more qualified speakers to represent her opinion, but she gets to be the spokesperson and goes in acting like she was in a popularity contest in highschool. So she makes a fool of herself, and the opinion she represented.

Having followed what Hitchens has to say particularly closely over the past couple years, I have to say he is intellectually sloppy at best, but more likely intellectually dishonest.

He's not worth the time spent listening to, unless you enjoy colorful polemic rantings.

Having watched 8 years of kool-aid drinkers perfect Bush apologetics, I think we're getting our first whiff of Obama apologetics with Ms. Walsh here. Not so coincidentally, it's an extension of the Clintonian school. I feel filthy having to listen to her, she's worse than Sean Hannity.

Isn't that funny - I thought she was smart and reasonable with comments that were certainly appropriate when discussing a man who won't even be President for two more months.

Sean Hannity is a dolt and a mouthpiece who makes his money spouting whatever talking point he is given - whether or not that is in direct contradiction to what was said even an hour before. I think he is perfect for Bush and those that support him.

"He's not worth the time spent listening to, unless you enjoy colorful polemic rantings."

...And I must say I do! :P

In all seriousness though, I love listening to Hitchens. He's always got some strong special brew of outrage broiling in him, and it's not always coming from a single predictable angle or ideology either. He's always a good listen, whether I agree with him or not.

I believe that strong special brew is gin and tonic.

The problem with Hitchens is you can't trust what he says; he can't get his facts right, and I find that unforgiveable in a person who so aggressively claims to have facts on his side. He wields his fact-sounding claims in such a way that an honest intellectual can't find traction against his propaganda.

I must admit I am guilty of still listening to him and enjoying it from time to time. I'm sad to say, that I probably enjoy him in those times in the same way that a neo-con enjoys listening to Sean Hannity ... his arguments might be crap, and he fights dirty, but at least he's on my side.

That said, I'm not sure how one could claim Hitchens to be non-ideological. Maybe you think this simply because his ideology is not the cartoon right and left of Hannity and Maddow. His ideology is not the mainstream ideology, or a simple ideology, but his ideological based arguments are almost always there on display.

"I'm not sure how one could claim Hitchens to be non-ideological."

I never said he was non-ideological, I merely said his out rage does not come from a single predictable ideology...and yes I am partly saying that because he does not fall clearly into the left or right "cartoonish" catagories of political thought as you put it. I tend to respect a man who can disagree with me on so many issues, and yet still find some common ground on others, such as religion. Just as I can strongly disagree with people of faith who try to bring it into their politics(Such as Obama), and yet still respect and listen to them despite that because of the agreements I may have with them on governing policy. It shows that they have a mind of their own, and aren't just drinking someone else's kool-aid.

I do agree that with Walsh, in that Hitchens seems to "cherry pick" his facts though...by the way, that is such an appropriate fraze to use on a man who supported Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Comparing Hitchens to Hannity is obsurd. I think when you say "you can't trust what he says" you're confusing that with "I can't tell if he's on my side or against me." He has a seperate stance on every issue, not related to a single ideology. If you can't respect him for his political views, you must have some respect for how well read the man is; his many well written books and columns, he's one of our great cultural critics and his great ability to have an intellectual debate. He's one of the only pundits that show and not just tell. He's not even the same species as Hannity. (I will refrain from going on more about Hannity)

As opposed to the style of Walsh in this argument, where she makes a fool of herself by not giving an example where Hitchens had his facts wrong. She called him out for calling her Ms. Walsh--entirely unrelated to the debate and pathetic . . keep it professional not petty. Don't say he has his facts wrong . . tell me what the real facts are. I think she had a foolish and substanceless rebuttal. Not saying she's wrong, but she made a fool of herself by throwing out accusations without supporting them.

Next time you say he can't get his facts straight, give some examples. Otherwise you're about as meaningless as Hannity--he uses your same tactics.

I was more comparing my own guil-ridden enjoyment of listening to Hitchens to that of a neo-con who enjoys listening to Hannity, not so much comparing Hitchens to Hannity.

The comparison I would make between Hitchens and Hannity is that Hitchens, like Hannity, doesn't seem to care when his facts don't support his arguments, and that both are willing to actively misrepresent the facts in order to win points in an argument.

One example: Hitchen's rant against hate crime in Slate: God-Fearing People Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?

In this article, Hitchens uses the case of the "Koran put in the toilet" at Pace University last year, to bolster his ideological-based against hate crime legislation.

Whether you agree or disagree with the idea of "hate crime" legislation, and honest person should be expected to start from an accurate representation of the issue. What does Hitchens do? Hitchens misrepresented the facts of the case in order to defend one of his sacred Libertarian causes.

Hitchens writes the following: "a student in New York City has been arrested for an expression, "

The student, of course, was arrested for committing vandalism and larceny -- NOT -- for an expression.

Not only is Hitchens misrepresenting the facts here, but he is (I assume knowingly, based on his demonstrable familiarity with the issue) exploiting one of the most common misconceptions about the issue of "hate crime" legislation, that is, that "hate crime legislation" means that people get arrested simply for having hateful thoughts.

Read more of the article and you will find more intellectually sloppy if not dishonest arguments:

Hitchens claims that "feeling offended" is the basis of the crime and that "an expression" and "an opinion" were the basis for the indictment and that to prosecute this crime represents a "concession to sharia in the United States" and sums it up with a classic "slippery slope" logical fallacy: "When will we see someone detained, or even cautioned, for advocating the burning of books in the name of God?" and a "Tu quoque" logical fallacy wrapped together with a Straw Man fallacy: "If the police are honestly interested in this sort of "hate crime," I can help them identify those who spent much of last year uttering physical threats against the republication in this country of some Danish cartoons." (explanation: the "sort of hate crime" that Hitchens describes is made it up Hitchens, and just because someone else is doing something illegal doesn't make it justifiable.)

It's because of this type of intellectual dishonesty and sloppiness that I would say some comparison between Hitchens and Hannity is justified. Hitchens deserves little if any respect as an intellectual.

He's always got some strong special brew of outrage broiling in him, and it's not always coming from a single predictable angle or ideology either.

Hitchens is predictable if you put aside "right" and "left" labels and look at the man he seems to most admire in foreign policy: Paul Wolfowitz. Both are true believers in the use of military power to export democracy. (Or at least Wolfowitz was a true believer, I don't know if he's modified his views since he helped fuck up Iraq.) Hitchens will cobble together some mixture of argument and bombast to defend the proposition that democracy can indeed be exported at the point of a gun. He still can't accept the idea (originally a conservative idea) that there are times and places where American power can't solve other nations' problems.

Campbell Brown makes a good point that the press was asking a good question, but at the same time I do think too much is being made of this by the "talking head" media. "Talking heads" such as Brown are constructing towers out of straws.

They are grasping for stories that will make them look "balanced" and "critical". The last such example of this is/was the story being made out of the supposedly dramatic differences between Clinton and Obama on foreign policy. The only issue the two disagreed about during the political campaign was that of pre-conditions to meet with foreign leaders. That's a difference in political style, not policy substance ... and yet the "talking head" media made it sound like the two were at dramatic odds on foreign policy.

To a lesser extent, I think the same thing is happening now with the "talking head" media making more out of Obama campaign criticism of Clinton's foreign policy qualifications than were actually said. Notice how Campbell Brown doesn't actually quote what Obama and the Obama campaign said about Clinton ... she just chracterizes it in a way that serves her own self-serving narrative. I see no contradiction. Obama never made the claim nor argued the case that foreign POLICY experience should be an essential qualification to hold the Office of President ... and he certainly never made that case for the Office of Secretary of State.

Here's what Obama actually said about Hillary Clinton in the campaign: "What exactly is this foreign policy experience? Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no."

Here's what the Obama campaign stated:

Greg Craig: "She did not sit in on any National Security Council meetings when she was first lady,"

"There is no reason to believe ... that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton administration,"

Susan Rice: "There is no crisis to be dealt with or managed when you are first lady, You don't get that kind of experience by being married to a commander in chief."

Robert Gelbard: Clinton had more involvement in foreign policy than a lot of first ladies, but added that "her role was limited and I've been surprised at the claims that she had a much greater role."

NOTE: all the above statements are simply put, statements of fact about Clinton's EXPERIENCE -- made in response to Clinton's claim to being more qualified because of having that experience --- specifically, she claimed to be more ready for that 3am phone call because of it. Obama's statements are not criticisms of Clinton's ability or effectiveness in dealing with foreign leaders or formulating foreign policy -- they were rebuttals to her claim to foreign policy experience.

Here is what the Obama campaign is saying now about Clinton:

David Axelrod: "demonstrably able, tough, brilliant person."

Barack Obama: "She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence. Hillary's appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances."

I see no contradiction. Obama has never made the claim nor argued that foreign POLICY experience is essential to hold the office, neither the Office of President nor the Office of Secretary of State.

There was absolutely no substance to what Ms. Walsh had to say. It was all empty, overused rhetoric that could have applied to any president elect and future secretary of state. At least what Mr. Hitchens had to say was actually specific to the people they were talking about.

Ms. Walsh was a waste of air time.

Exactly! I'm glad there's someone else who agreed with me. I respect Hitchens for having substance that is rare in any pundit, whether I agree with him or not. Walsh was just a pathetic embarrassment to other, more qualified people to represent her opinion.

half truths are more intellectually dishonest than empty statements.

That's only half true. ;)

One theory why Obama let Clinton in his team: Obama rather would not have Hillary in the senate blocking his change policy and could use her base when he admitted her in his cabinet with foreign fanboy Bill. To Hitchens defence, where's the evidence against him?

This is the first time I've commented, but I dig your site and I go here daily.

I read Hitchens book, and I didn't mind it.

But the more interviews I see with him, the more I realize how sexist this asshole is.

And I don't throw that word around b/c I think it diminishes it. You can say the occasional sexist comment and not be sexist. But this guy is a misogynist pure and simple. As a young woman involved in politics it drives me up a fucking wall that this guy is taken seriously and not called out.

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701?printable=true&currentPage=all

How is that ok? Ugh.

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