Slate, in its noble but hopeless effort “to emphasize the distinction between opinion and bias,” allows contributors to reveal their picks for President. And while the legion Mia-philes will be fascinated to learn that arts writer Mia Fineman is voting Kerry, it’s Christopher Hitchens’ endorsement that is likely to raise eyebrows – Hitch, per Slate, is voting Kerry.
Nevermind his recent endorsement of Bush in The Nation (titled “Why I’m (Slightly) for Bush”), nevermind his defenses of the Bush administration that occasionally border on the absurd, let Hitchens explain his choice, with the clarity and concision for which he is known. From Slate:
The ironic votes are the endorsements for Kerry that appear in Buchanan’s anti-war sheet The American Conservative, and the support for Kerry’s pro-war candidacy manifested by those simple folks at MoveOn.org. I can’t compete with this sort of thing, but I do think that Bush deserves praise for his implacability, and that Kerry should get his worst private nightmare and have to report for duty.
So his Slate endorsement is ironic, but his Nation endorsement is sincere? Or he’s not interested in voting for Kerry for ironic reasons, but for obvious reasons? Or what the fuck? I’ll bet that piece from the Nation will clear things up, where this Merlot-fueled master of the mot juste really gets to lay out his case. To wit:
Sometimes it’s objectively not so bad that the “other” party actually wins. Thus I ought to begin by stating my reasons to hope for a Kerry/Edwards victory.
I can’t wait to see President Kerry discover which corporation, aside from Halliburton, should after all have got the contract to reconstruct Iraq’s oil industry. I look forward to seeing him eat his Jesse Helms-like words, about the false antithesis between spending money abroad and “at home” (as if this war, sponsored from abroad, hadn’t broken out “at home”). I take pleasure in advance in the discovery that he will have to make, that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a more dangerous and better-organized foe than Osama bin Laden, and that Zarqawi’s existence is a product of jihadism plus Saddamism, and not of any error of tact on America’s part.
OK, so that was totally ironic. Totally. But then what to make of what follows?
Should the electors decide for the President, as I would slightly prefer, the excruciating personality of George Bush strikes me in the light of a second- or third-order consideration.
That’s totally sincere (aka un-ironic), right? So then what’s with the thing in Slate? Did he change his mind in the four days between the publication of his Nation piece and his Salon rumblings? Maybe Hitchens has run out of things to be a contrarian about and he now has only himself to debate. Or maybe someone should just lay off the sauce this close to the big day. God knows I’m confused.