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Hitch Hates Humorists
November 5, 2009 11:04 PM   Subscribe

Christopher Hitchens is an Atlantic contributing editor, a Vanity Fair columnist and, perhaps unsurprisingly, not at all a fan of "liberal humorists" like Jon Stewart, Steve Colbert and Al Franken.
posted by Effigy2000 (74 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: I know there's probably a schadenfreude angle here that's sort of appealing, but a one-linker of Hitch doing something other than writing something really, really superb is probably not worth the friction that yet another Hitch post produces. -- cortex



 
And if any one thing undid Governor Palin as a person who could even be considered for the vice presidency, it was the merciless guying of her manner and personality by Tina Fey.


allow me to express my reaction to this comment via the art of dance


*Runs in a circle, screams, jumps out window*
posted by The Whelk at 11:11 PM on November 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


The victory of Stewart in the race for anointment as the new Cronkite...

...umm, did I miss something?
posted by Hardcore Poser at 11:17 PM on November 5, 2009


Unfortunately for both Palin and Hitchens, there was much, much more than one thing that undid her candidacy.
posted by fatbird at 11:17 PM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


People who take themselves seriously rarely see the seriousness of satire.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:18 PM on November 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, and I never thought I wold be the nit-picker who had to do this, a single link post to a rambling and cranky Christopher Hitchens article does not the best of the web reflect.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:19 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sometimes Hitchens is funny drunk, and sometimes he's holy-shit-grandpa-you-need-to-shut-up-now drunk.
posted by mek at 11:20 PM on November 5, 2009 [28 favorites]


Foul pundit is foul. Yes?
posted by bicyclefish at 11:21 PM on November 5, 2009


Yeah, sometimes I can appreciate the guy, but sometimes he's just way cranky. It reminds me of times I have a bad day and just want to tear stuff down, except I don't write arrogant columns about my half-assed hating.
posted by palidor at 11:23 PM on November 5, 2009


Not long ago, I was teaching a class on Mark Twain at the New School in New York . . .

And he doesn't see the quite obvious (even for a girl from Sarajevo, who read Huck Finn in Serbo-Croatian) links between Mark Twain and folks like Stephen Colbert, John Stewart and Al Franken? Must have been a hell of a teacher!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:24 PM on November 5, 2009 [18 favorites]


Typical mundanle contarianism from Hitchens.

Now that I think about it I would not be surprised if he remade himself into some sort of Obama hagiographers. The tea baggers are a bit to low class for Hitch's standards I would suspect.
posted by afu at 11:26 PM on November 5, 2009


Christopher Hitchens is a cranky asshole.
posted by zardoz at 11:27 PM on November 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Having read it, I still can't quite tell what Hitchens is railing against. There's a lot of words to say: Liberal comedians think they're funny, but they're really not; Liberals think that liberal comedians are really funny, but they're not, and liberals are just laughing along because they know the cues; when liberal comedians are serious, they're "schmaltzy". And somehow the right wing is being victimized by this orthodoxy.
posted by fatbird at 11:29 PM on November 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


He's right about Al Franken not being that funny, but Hitchens has no sense of humor.
posted by empath at 11:44 PM on November 5, 2009


Little Chris didn't get invited to sit at the fun table with the popular kids.
posted by tula at 11:49 PM on November 5, 2009


Oh, go back to England.
posted by koeselitz at 11:51 PM on November 5, 2009


The fact that Al Franken is not very funny does not go very far toward convincing me that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are not funny, either. And, anyway, Al Franken isn't supposed to be funny anymore. Sure, he can crack a joke now and then, but the fact that he's a Senator and not a Comedy Central satire show host means he has a whole different raison d'etre.

Hitchens is just jealous that, whereas Franken, Stewart, and Colbert have well-defined roles in American political discourse that they actually perform well, Hitchens' only well-defined role seems to be that he's a ridiculous crank who makes a fool of himself more often than he even makes the ridiculous points that he's trying to make.
posted by The World Famous at 11:54 PM on November 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


And The Atlantic continues to wonder (by virtue of endless solicitation) why I no longer subscribe...
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:08 AM on November 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, hang on now. This article wasn't actually that bad – and he does say he likes Franken and would have voted for him.

The bit that bugs me is that everybody keeps talking about Walter Cronkite as if there weren't better newspapermen, better reporters in general, and even better leaders while he was alive and working. And it's not as though the American news media has suddenly woken up and become superlative, so it's sensible that comedians have taken the place of reporters in a world where reporters are too afraid of offending anybody to do any good.

But it seems like somebody needs to go about the business of taking down Liberals again. Conservatism is so thoroughly vanquished, and conservatives so roundly repudiated, that Liberals today breathe a heady ether up at an altitude where absolutely nothing can touch them. That needs to change, as liberals are just as ridiculous and self-centered as they've ever been.
posted by koeselitz at 12:09 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are there two Christopher Hitchens and I've just never noticed? Is one a rational darling of the Skeptical movement while the other is a bug fuck nuts, war mongering, "MSM" fearing freak? Does Christopher Hitchens have an evil twin?
posted by crataegus at 12:09 AM on November 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Who is this man and why are they posting his rambling, cranky editorial in The Atlantic?
posted by baserunner73 at 12:10 AM on November 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bill Clinton's missteps mainly hurt himself and his agenda, but still, there were instances of collateral damage.

Exhibit A: Christopher Hitchens, who has apparently never recovered from the scorching horror of Bill's villainy.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:14 AM on November 6, 2009


I'm going to say this every time Hitchens' name is brought up: when the chips were down, he sided with holocaust denialist David Irving in his libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt. His judgment on anything that matters is therefore completely worthless, and he should shut up from now until the time he dies.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 12:18 AM on November 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


But Jon Stewart for Samuel Langhorne Clemens is quite another. What next? Stephen Colbert for Zola? Al Franken for Swift?

Tripe. The Christopher Hitchens of 1885 would cattily dismiss the undue popularity of Huckleberry Finn.

"One feels that a lighter touch was in order for such grotesques as the King, the Duke and 'Pap' (whose name is another deployment of that vaunted Twain vernacular, which permits the iron-mouthed Carpetbaggers of his public to chortle at the beautiful cadence of the Southron tongue), and a surer hand to frame the book's desperately episodic structure. Twain, ever proper to that too-neat sobriquet, charts a middle course between the rudeness of François Rabelais and the neat allegory of Sebastian Brant, only to end up in the horse latitudes of dull progressive piety.

"And to think this self-hating Missourian is winning comparisons to the august Tom Taylor! The late Disraeli once told me, over a particularly slow round of quoits, that only an Englishman can truly tweak American pretension; but the Yankee hordes would appear to hold a different opinion."
posted by Iridic at 12:21 AM on November 6, 2009 [49 favorites]


And, unfortunately, PJ O'Rourke--an unfunny "humorist" if ever there was one, and conservative at that--somehow manages to get his writing published.
posted by msbrauer at 12:23 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


He's got a point in that the political comedians on television are all liberal. However, as far as I can remember, this has always been the case. Maybe it's just because I'm too young to remember a time when conservative comedians had any traction or maybe I just don't watch enough TV.
posted by katerschluck at 12:36 AM on November 6, 2009


As presumptuous as it is to say that Stewart is this generation's Twain, it is both pretentious and presumptuous to say that he is not. They're both prominent political humorists. Everything else is commentary.

Time will tell whether history is as kind to Stewart as it was to Twain, but... fuck. This is what we got, Hitchens. You got something better, now's the time to speak up. Until then, The Daily Show is amusing at worst and brilliantly scathing in not-so-rare moments. I sympathize with his dismay about Jon Stewart being considered the nation's most trusted news source. But just because I don't like it doesn't make it wrong.

Honest news and commentary have always been loss leaders, but in recent years the networks and the cable news channels have subverted the format into a hideous perversion of journalistic ideals. Controversy sells more ad time than consensus, and there's always someone willing to offer a counterpoint no matter how moronic or disingenuous. That way, they can offer "pure news and commentary" which is, in actuality, neither.

But with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and to a lesser extent SNL and the late night talk shows, they don't have to pretend they're offering pure news. The loss leader can just be a loss leader, and the humor can be the product. As long as they're funny, they bring in advertisers. And as long as there are advertisers, they can be as honest or dishonest as they like.

The testament to Stewart and Colbert is that they both appear to be fundamentally honest people. They both care deeply about this country and have been fortunate enough to find a venue where they can use their comedic talents to make a difference.

And they've both been extremely clear that they would MUCH PREFER have a robust and informed and honest press in our country, even if it relegated them back to basic cable purgatory making fun of Elvis impersonators.

These guys are diamonds we've pulled out of the sewer, and I have little tolerance for Hitchens shitting all over them as if he was the divine arbiter of modern satire.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:37 AM on November 6, 2009 [30 favorites]


I have a suspicious feeling that he was drunk when he wrote all that.
posted by chillmost at 12:37 AM on November 6, 2009


Conservatism is so thoroughly vanquished, and conservatives so roundly repudiated, that Liberals today breathe a heady ether up at an altitude where absolutely nothing can touch them.

If you think conservatives are down for the count you are simply not viewing the world correctly. I would absolutely dearly love to think the days of hate speech and Fox News were over. They are not. The tenacity of the health care "debate" makes that clear.
posted by JHarris at 12:39 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Having read it, I still can't quite tell what Hitchens is railing against.

I am mostly on the same page -- I could tell I disagreed with most of it, but damned if I know exactly why.

I will say that there are some points with which I think I agree. I love the Colbert Report, but I actually find it kind of hard to watch the Daily Show sometimes; there's a sort of smug tone I feel that Jon Stewart often has and, although I almost always agree with him on the actual issue, it feels to me like he's often just completely dismissing things, like he doesn't even need to explain them because anyone of any intelligence would agree with him. I don't like the feeling I get from the show that everything Jon Stewart says and likes is right and there's no room for debate or dissent. I'm not saying he actually feels this way, but the way he states things and reports them sometimes seems really contemptuous of contrasting viewpoints to me.

I also think Hitchens might be right that there are certain phrases on the Daily Show like, as he mentions, Christian right or Moral Majority or any reference to George Bush's intelligence (or lack thereof) that get an automatic laugh because wow they're so wacky and we're all in on the joke. He says "It certainly works very well with audiences who laugh not because they find something to be funny, but to confirm that they are—and who can doubt it?—cool enough to “get” the joke." I don't always agree with this, but there does seem to be to be a certain amount of smug self-congratulation for being smart enough to understand that the mere mention of the "Christian right" is hilarious in and of itself. My mother loves the Daily Show in general and Jon Stewart in particular and I'm definitely not saying that everyone who likes it fits into this category, but the tone Jon Stewart takes often rubs me the wrong way. I know that many people on MetaFilter will disagree very strongly with this but those are my feelings, for better or for worse.

I will say that I don't find this to be an issue with the Colbert Report* and I generally disagree with most of what I think Hitchens is saying, but there are parts that feel true to me.

*This may be because I have an insanely huge crush on Stephen Colbert but I believe it is also because I find it much funnier and I feel like he actually delves more deeply into what is actually ridiculous about his targets.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:43 AM on November 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's funny how he all his criticisms of Franken's books (maybe justified- I haven't read them) only made me think "this guy sounds like he'd like Jon Stewart".

I only speak for myself, but the reason I don't pay attention to tv news has as much to do with their treatment of a subject like John of God, recently, as it does with any political reason. It's just dumb. If a newscaster is willing to work to reverse that, well, by all means.
posted by alexei at 12:48 AM on November 6, 2009


He's got a point in that the political comedians on television are all liberal.

And yet, whenever the right tries to start a comedy show it turns out horrible at best. Remember the 1/2 Hour News Hour? Satire is at its best when it turns the tables on the powerful. To make fun of the disenfranchised is just being a bully.

And when powerful liberals are disingenuous, hypocritical or nonsensical, not to mention the news media, the Daily Show has proven just as willing to take the mickey out of them too. Most attempts to cast them as a liberal show has shown itself to be part of the same strategy the right has followed to try to marginalize all other forms of news reporting, an attempt to categorize it as biased against them and thus ignorable.
posted by JHarris at 12:54 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hitchens is a brilliant man, any time I see him interviewed I can't help but recognize that he is extremely intelligent.

I also can't take anything he says seriously ever since I read his piece defending Ahmad Chalabi. When your thesis is "I don't have any new facts to go on but we run in the same circles and he's a nice guy at dinner functions so lay off" I think you forfeit your intellectual integrity.
posted by uri at 12:55 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


And if any one thing undid Governor Palin as a person who could even be considered for the vice presidency, it was the merciless guying of her manner and personality by Tina Fey.

What, seriously? No, come on. Be honest with yourself for just five seconds while I ask you, are you fucking serious? Did it ever occur to you, sometime deep in the evening hours while you clutched Pooh to your chest in defiant sleep, that perhaps Ms. Fey would have had a harder time getting material for her merciless guying had Palin not been an astoundingly ignorant rube, a hypocritical demagogue, a bully of criminal proportions that abused the power entrusted to her for her own personal gain, then ran away like a coward at the first signs of trouble?

Maybe? Ya think? Evidently not.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:15 AM on November 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


can i just point out that stewart should probably be disqualified if not for the sheer fact that he reads lines written for him by script writers, and twain thought of everything himself?

i mean that just seems to me to be the most important difference here; stewart's persona is totally patchwork, and while i give the man a lot of credit (not trying to pretend that anyone could do his job), it is absurd to say he's "all we've got," especially since his prestige is largely due to the fact that people consistently seem to forget that he is an actor on the daily show, and does not write all his own material.

vonnegut, however self-appointed, was surely a twain in some sense. oh wait, what am i saying, hunter s. thompson. OH WAIT, they're both dead, goddammit.
posted by parkbench at 1:15 AM on November 6, 2009


He's got a point in that the political comedians on television are all liberal.

Intelligent people tend to be liberal as well.

Boy, it sure is a mystery.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:17 AM on November 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


"I think you've forfeited your intellectual integrity" is possibly the best single-line description of Hitchens' writing that I have ever seen.
posted by moonbiter at 1:21 AM on November 6, 2009


JHarris: “If you think conservatives are down for the count you are simply not viewing the world correctly. I would absolutely dearly love to think the days of hate speech and Fox News were over. They are not. The tenacity of the health care "debate" makes that clear.”

This is nonsense. You know as well as I do that hardly nobody of consequence, nobody intelligent, politically powerful or worth listening to watches Fox News. And you can tell yourself that there are throngs of vile bigots in the heartland who pose a significant moral threat or that there are legions of evil conservatives somewhere left for you to battle, but keep in mind that a few months ago all those 'conservatives' in the heartland were standing in line largely to vote for Obama. I know a lot of evangelical Christians, and all of them voted for Obama, too; at least all of them who were under the age of 60. The conservative movement makes a bit of noise now because it's more powerless than it's been in decades.

And that actually worries me. Because politics is stupid, because we need to keep in mind how silly both sides are, and because there doesn't seem to be anybody anywhere in the American political spectrum willing to give it a go and try to stand outside the liberal/conservative perspective. You can ponderously explain to me that conservatives are still a threat, that you would dearly love it if everybody really did think like you, but my concern is that we're a lot less aware of the silliness and futility of the tug-of-war we play on the American political battlefield than we've ever been before. It's as though the politicians have actually convinced an entire generation, through news-media saturation and lifetimes of slick ad campaigns and self-important speeches and the whole bit, that politicians really matter and politicians are worth listening to. Obama is an interesting phenomenon, and probably an exception to a lot of rules; but we shouldn't let that impress us so much that we forget that politicians are liars and generally sneaking, conniving brats, especially the ones who write the party platforms.
posted by koeselitz at 1:21 AM on November 6, 2009


This makes sense coming from the man who doesn't think women are funny unless they are fat and/or lesbians. Can someone explain again why we even care what he thinks about humor?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:24 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Civil_Disobedient: “Intelligent people tend to be liberal as well.”

Oh, bullshit. Intelligent people don't swallow party planks whole. Intelligent people question authority. Intelligent people resist identifying themselves with some largely mediocre and media-coopted artificial political 'movement.' Intelligent people distinctly don't 'tend to be liberal.'
posted by koeselitz at 1:27 AM on November 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


He's got a point in that the political comedians on television are all liberal.

That's because conservatives have no sense of humor, duh.

What about Dennis Miller? Sure, he used to be a liberal. He seems to have become a conservative a few years after he stopped being funny. I wonder if there's a connection...

Actually studies show that conservatives actually do have a sense of humor, but it's actually less selective. They find more stuff funny, and therefore it stands to reason that their standards are a lot lower. That's why they find people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck "funny".

Intelligent people tend to be liberal as well.

I have a theory about that. Intelligent conservatives realize how repellent their philosophy actually is, so they don't talk about it. They either get hopped up Randianism or just don't discuss their theories honestly. A lot of them just lie all the time (Like bill Kristol, people like that). The fact is lies always sound dumber then truth, because a liar has to keep entire imaginary worlds in their mind, while honest people only need the truth. Obviously it gets confusing, so they either have to play dumb and act like they don't understand how what they're saying is inconsistent.

Anyway the point is: Smart conservatives either keep their conservatism to themselves, or lie and therefore seem stupid. Result: Intelligent people seem to be more liberal.
posted by delmoi at 1:28 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Chris Hitchens can suck my balls.
posted by delmoi at 1:29 AM on November 6, 2009


That needs to change, as liberals are just as ridiculous and self-centered as they've ever been.

Are they really? That seems a bit general... are you thinking of anyone in particular?

It occurs to me that presenting liberals as ridiculous has always been a pretty standard republican attack (e.g. "Al Gore invented the internet").
posted by lucien_reeve at 1:29 AM on November 6, 2009


Ugh. Hitchens is the poster boy for everything I don't like about people who agree with me on most major issues.

Plus, you know, there's the whole thing of getting it totally wrong on the Iraq war, then writing a hundred columns called "I totally didn't get it wrong on the Iraq war" or somesuch.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:34 AM on November 6, 2009


lucien_reeve: “It occurs to me that presenting liberals as ridiculous has always been a pretty standard republican attack (e.g. "Al Gore invented the internet").”

Good God, but does this piss me off. If you talk about liberals being silly, you must be a conservative, because there's no such thing as a human being who's neither, right?

If anything, this is the biggest problem with America today: the most aggravated myopia in history. We're so goddamned focused on our little rivalry that everything in our little tiny world becomes politicized. It's all an argument between liberal and conservative, between Democrat and Republican. Though I'm not going to hold Chuck D and Jello Biafra up as the world's great political leaders I still seem to recall a time in my basement 'round about junior high when, listening to them talk about how both sides were just perpetuating the same game, it made sense to me to want to live outside it and rise above it. Nobody wants anything like that any more for some reason; we're just resigned, I guess.
posted by koeselitz at 1:37 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


(And yes, I'm thinking of people in particular. I'm thinking of all the corrupt politicians – sorry, that's redundant, all the politicians, republicrat and democan; all the 'news reporters' who don't really report shit; and especially all the pundits who seem to think their opinions are golden fruit from a heavenly tree.)
posted by koeselitz at 1:40 AM on November 6, 2009


Good God, but does this piss me off. If you talk about liberals being silly, you must be a conservative, because there's no such thing as a human being who's neither, right?

There may well be. I hope you aren't suggesting that I think this, though, because I don't. I'm sure that there are silly liberals. I was just hoping that you would provide some concrete examples.
posted by lucien_reeve at 1:49 AM on November 6, 2009


Intelligent people don't swallow party planks whole.

Nobody mentioned a party. I said liberal.

Reading is fundamental, fool.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:04 AM on November 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


HI, MY NAME IS CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, AND I HAVE BEVERAGES AND OPINIONS.

Seriously, though: Hitchens, glib contrarian par excellence, is saying that people shouldn't be respected if they let schtick get in the way of speaking about politics?

Bathos and irony, indeed.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:09 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: This is nonsense. You know as well as I do that hardly nobody of consequence, nobody intelligent, politically powerful or worth listening to watches Fox News. And you can tell yourself that there are throngs of vile bigots in the heartland who pose a significant moral threat or that there are legions of evil conservatives somewhere left for you to battle, but keep in mind that a few months ago all those 'conservatives' in the heartland were standing in line largely to vote for Obama. I know a lot of evangelical Christians, and all of them voted for Obama, too; at least all of them who were under the age of 60. The conservative movement makes a bit of noise now because it's more powerless than it's been in decades.

I must tell you that, whatever people you have in your region, they must be smarter than those around me in mine, because nearly every restaurant I've ever been in in this benighted state of Georgia since Fox News began its unholy rites has had it on TV. The major exceptions to this rule are the ones in which I have had the opportunity to change it off of that station myself. I can tell you for absolute fact that I do not know many Obama voters personally that I did not meet in college.

And even if you consider that those may be only due to the call of Great Cthulhu off-shore in the Atlantic, the fact remains that like 48% of the U.S. still voted for McCain last year, even though the man had a ventriloquist's dummy for a running mate. They may be on the run at the moment, but they may rally. The Democrats certainly don't seem to be pressing their advantage.

And that actually worries me. Because politics is stupid, because we need to keep in mind how silly both sides are, and because there doesn't seem to be anybody anywhere in the American political spectrum willing to give it a go and try to stand outside the liberal/conservative perspective.

In fact, there is a fairly wide variety of perspective within the Democrats right now. That's why health care reform has proven such a bitch to get passed. Even Joe Lieberman chose to become I instead of R.

But the reason the liberal/conservative perspective arose is because it does a fairly good job of describing people's views. It is true that some people define themselves based off of one of those labels instead of coming up with their views first, and that is sad and bad. But these people are not what you might call on the forefront of political front, I think.

You can ponderously explain to me that conservatives are still a threat, that you would dearly love it if everybody really did think like you, but my concern is that we're a lot less aware of the silliness and futility of the tug-of-war we play on the American political battlefield than we've ever been before.

They ARE a threat. How can you have gotten through the Bush years and fail to see this?? He won two terms! And the second one he DID have the popular vote. God, don't you remember Katrina? Whether my explanations are ponderous or not... well, I have expended a lot of words on the subject before. But I'm trying to do better....

I don't like the Us Vs. Them battle either, but the fact is that the Republicans definitely do see it that way. The fact that the Democrats, especially Obama, are slow to pick up their end of the rope has paralyzed the government. And that itself suits the Republicans fine; when they get in power next (and don't think they aren't making plans) they'll be able to continue right where they left off.

It's as though the politicians have actually convinced an entire generation, through news-media saturation and lifetimes of slick ad campaigns and self-important speeches and the whole bit, that politicians really matter and politicians are worth listening to.

They are important because THEY WRITE THE LAWS, and they are worth listening to because THEY WRITE THE FUCKING LAWS. And get us into ridiculous wars. And push for domestic and internet surveillance. And lock people up and torture them without due process. And extend copyright terms. And consistently underfund education. And do a hundred other things that are unhealthy for the nation and the world. Do not ignore this!

Obama is an interesting phenomenon, and probably an exception to a lot of rules; but we shouldn't let that impress us so much that we forget that politicians are liars and generally sneaking, conniving brats, especially the ones who write the party platforms.

The key word here is generally. Many of them are, maybe even most, but not all. Getting elected does not magically turn you into a rotten human being. We need to know about them so we can keep the good ones and get rid of the bad ones, and we need to know wherein lies the rotting process to keep them from going sour.
posted by JHarris at 2:19 AM on November 6, 2009 [17 favorites]


Damn, isn't Hitchens' 15 minutes up yet?

And for that matter, Colbert's (who should've got maybe 6 or 7 minutes max) ought to be about up too.

Stewart gets a bye, because his 7-15 minutes ended with the election; and Fey never had any (save the couple seconds she got when she did the Palin bit), so who cares about her... but it's long past time for those other dudes to hang it up already.
posted by hamida2242 at 2:22 AM on November 6, 2009


"Intelligent people question authority."

Republicans are the party of boot-lickers, power-worshippers, and pure sycophants. Questioning authority is definitely a liberal, not a conservative trait found amongst "the strong daddy" party.

There are plenty of stupid liberals out there, but conservatives are stupid by design.
posted by bardic at 2:25 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


especially since his prestige is largely due to the fact that people consistently seem to forget that he is an actor on the daily show, and does not write all his own material.

I hear what you're saying, but that probably applies mostly to the intro and other segments...people who've been interviewed on Jon Stewarts show, including many conservatives with whom Stewart has done battle, speak highly of his intelligence, curiosity, wit and understanding. That's really where the meat of the show is, and those interviews seem pretty candid, rather than scripted, to me.
posted by Jimbob at 3:35 AM on November 6, 2009


koeselitz: "Oh, go back to England"

No thanks. We have quite enough drunk contrarians as it is.

delmoi: Oh, and Chris Hitchens can suck my balls.

The trick is to dip them in brandy first if you really mean what you say.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:51 AM on November 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


but it's long past time for those other dudes to hang it up already.

what
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:15 AM on November 6, 2009


He's got a point in that the political comedians on television are all liberal.

I would put it this way: The only liberals on television are comedians.
posted by DU at 4:17 AM on November 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I admire Hitchens. I admire his ability to turn base contrarianism into a very successful freelance writing career. It's really admirable that someone with no passion for anything, seemingly, can write so turgidly. I'm sorry, I meant prolifically. I'm sorry, I meant turgidly.

Also, make sure to hold onto only the stem of the snifter while he dips his balls into your brandy. Wouldn't want to appear gauche. (In all honesty, by reading him, delmoi, is he sucking us?).
posted by converge at 4:28 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


koeselitz, I think that comes down to us coming off 8 years of Republicans in power, and Republicans who governed very badly, and the rise of outlets like Fox News that make it really hard to step out of the liberal-vs-conservative framework. (And does it seem like libertarianism got higher in profile during the Bush years as it started to bleed off secular or socially moderate conservatives?)

Even now that Obama's been president for nine months, it's hard to get out of that frame of mind. But I think that the coming years are going to give rise to a lot of cynicism about politicians on both sides--I believe that Jon Stewart has been very critical of the watering-down of the health care bills, the lack of party cohesiveness, and the failure of Democrats to make a case for themselves.
posted by Jeanne at 4:33 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


But the reason the liberal/conservative perspective arose is because it does a fairly good job of describing people's views.

No it doesn't. It's useful in America because American politics are a weird sporting event like a mixture of a team sport and televised wrestling, played by two teams following the same rulebook and taking up the role of hero or villain depending on the audience, but without a chance of a random upset because everything is pre-scripted. The liberal/conservative thing is just there so people know which side to root for, and which side to hiss at and vote against because they're the rival team.

Taking this to the next logical step, I expect within a hundred years all debates on the House floor will be done between representatives of both teams wearing elaborate masks and being slapped on the ass by their teammates when they repeat a talking point particularly eloquently.
posted by cmonkey at 4:47 AM on November 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I expect within a hundred years all debates on the House floor will be done between representatives of both teams wearing elaborate masks and being slapped on the ass by their teammates

Or robots. It'll definitely be one or the other.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:14 AM on November 6, 2009


Does Christopher Hitchens have an evil twin?

His brother is 100 times worse. So more like an "eviller twin"
posted by atrazine at 5:21 AM on November 6, 2009


delmoi: "Intelligent conservatives realize how repellent their philosophy actually is, so they don't talk about it."

The Cat Got Douthat's Tongue on Topic of of Gay Marriage
The question came from Christopher Glazek, a fact-checker at The New Yorker, who wanted to know whether Mr. Douthat and Mr. Salam believed that former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who has apologized on behalf of his party for the Southern Strategy, should also apologize for the Republican party's gay politics.

At first Mr. Douthat seemed unable to get a sentence out without interrupting himself and starting over. Then he explained: "I am someone opposed to gay marriage who is deeply uncomfortable arguing the issue in public."

Mr. Douthat indicated that he opposes gay marriage because of his religious beliefs, but that he does not like debating the issue in those terms. At one point he said that, sometimes, he feels like he should either change his mind, or simply resolve never to address the question in public.

He added that the conservative opposition to gay marriage is "a losing argument," and asked rhetorically if committed homosexual relationships ought to be denied the legal recognition accorded without hesitation to the fleeting enthusiasms of Britney Spears and Newt Gingrich.

After the panel, Mr. Douthat told the Observer: "If I were putting money on the future of gay marriage, I would bet on it."

He added: "The secular arguments against gay marriage, when they aren't just based on bigotry or custom, tend to be abstract in ways that don't find purchase in American political discourse. I say, ‘Institutional support for reproduction,' you say, ‘I love my boyfriend and I want to marry him.' Who wins that debate? You win that debate."
posted by Rhaomi at 5:21 AM on November 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Ah, yet another Hitchens essay in which he mercilessly derides the mote in his neighbor's eye while disregarding the many beams in his own. Color me shocked.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:27 AM on November 6, 2009


Pathetic. He may have well have said "Franken took off his cap and bells".

Franken and Colbert are satarists, a profession Hitchens once enboled. Now he shills for the interests of the powerful by dressing a drive for war in moral absolutes (if you want an unassailable refutation of the Bush/Hitchen's doctrine listen to what a real war correspondent has to say).

Maybe he's afraid the good ship Vanity Fair might go the way of the Times and is angling for a sinecure in the admiralty of Murdoch's Navy.
posted by clarknova at 5:28 AM on November 6, 2009


Last I checked, Stewart gives it to everybody. The fact that Bush gave him so much ammunition seems to consistently convince people otherwise.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:42 AM on November 6, 2009


Awww. Just Chrissy want some juice?
posted by clvrmnky at 5:43 AM on November 6, 2009


It's as though the politicians have actually convinced an entire generation, through news-media saturation and lifetimes of slick ad campaigns and self-important speeches and the whole bit, that politicians really matter and politicians are worth listening to.

Franken actually had a good bit in one of his books (I don't have it handy) where he called out Tucker Carlson for making some snide comment about Social Security, and then Franken recounts how his own family never would have survived if it weren't for government welfare and disability payments. His point being: politics DO matter, and they have huge effects on people's lives, for good or ill. And that for people like Tucker Carlson, this is all just a game, when it's so clearly not.

Perhaps that's why Franken ran for senator, and seems so much more serious about his new job than all the non-comedian senators. Nevertheless, it's quite unfair that Hitchens pulls a quote from his book "Why Not Me?" that seems harsh and racist --- that was the fucking joke, moron. The book is a self-deprecating satire about Franken running for President and winning and then becoming the worst President ever -- thus the embarrassing speech. One wonders if Hitchens watched "Extras", he would think that Ricky Gervais really hates the handicapped.
posted by fungible at 6:02 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Having read it, I still can't quite tell what Hitchens is railing against.

Then it's just like any other Chris Hitchens piece.
posted by lodurr at 6:04 AM on November 6, 2009


Al Franken is a United States Senator and it's disrespectful and inaccurate to lump him in with current TV comedians. Senator Franken hasn't written a book in four years, hasn't released a movie in three, and Hitchens spends a lot of time complaining about a book Franken wrote six years ago.

And if any one thing undid Governor Palin as a person who could even be considered for the vice presidency, it was the merciless guying of her manner and personality by Tina Fey.

Linking to a Saturday Night Live video that has Tina Fey using direct verbatim quotes of Sarah Palin doesn't support this argument.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:12 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: "This is nonsense. You know as well as I do that hardly nobody of consequence, nobody intelligent, politically powerful or worth listening to watches Fox News."

This is so wrong that I don't even know where to start.
posted by TypographicalError at 6:16 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


kirkarcha: Yeah, seriously, why does he even waste a line on Palin? It's a dog-whistle. I find that most Hitchens pieces are just rather nice-looking arrangements of dog-whistles, to loosely paraphrase John Cleese: Approached rationally, it's fairly difficult to figure out what the hell the point is; approached emotionally, the meaning becomes clear.

The meaning in this case being: "Al Franken embarrassed me by being funnier and more famous than I was on a cruise ship panel, so now I will get back at him while using other people (who are also funnier than me) as cover."
posted by lodurr at 6:16 AM on November 6, 2009


... as far as who does/doesn't watch Fox News, I have some very old & dear friends who watch it regularly. As one says, "You can't defeat the enemy if you don't know how he thinks."
posted by lodurr at 6:18 AM on November 6, 2009


since when do we judge tv comedians by their books, chris?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:25 AM on November 6, 2009


But it seems like somebody needs to go about the business of taking down Liberals again. Conservatism is so thoroughly vanquished, and conservatives so roundly repudiated, that Liberals today breathe a heady ether up at an altitude where absolutely nothing can touch them. That needs to change, as liberals are just as ridiculous and self-centered as they've ever been.

Are we living on different planets? Or are you drinking from the same well as Hitchens?

Thoroughly vanquished? So vanquished that we have single-payer on the table in the health care debate. Oh wait.

No, so vanquished that we have a decent public option on the table in the health care debate. Oh wait.

So vanquished that gay marriage is spreading faster than swine flu across this great nation of ours. Oh wait.

So vanquished that the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races were won by....Republicans. Oh wait.
posted by rtha at 6:28 AM on November 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


He manages to hold of talking about 9/11 for two paragraphs.
posted by cell divide at 6:37 AM on November 6, 2009


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