Monday, March 10, 2008

Quote of the Day: Christopher Hitchens

"It is cliché, not plagiarism, that is the problem with our stilted, room-temperature political discourse. It used to be that thinking people would say, with at least a shred of pride, that their own convictions would not shrink to fit on a label or on a bumper sticker. But now it seems that the more vapid and vacuous the logo, the more charm (or should that be "charisma"?) it exerts. Take "Yes We Can," for example. It's the sort of thing parents might chant encouragingly to a child slow on the potty-training uptake."
That's Christopher Hitchens writing in Slate this week. He's responding to Clinton's plagiarism accusations against Obama, accusations that mostly fell flat.

How Hitchens, who wrote a book on George Orwell, managed to talk about cliches and politics without mentioning Orwell baffles me. How can you talk about meaningless political slogans (Clinton: "Big Challenges, Real Solutions"; "Working for Change, Working for You"; "Ready for Change, Ready To Lead"; and "Solutions for America." Obama: "Change We Can Believe In;" Yes We Can.") without invoking Orwell's timeless essay "Politics and the English Language"?

Politics is no longer When was politics ever about issues and words? It's about feelings and electability. Demanding our candidates speak clearly and expand upon the empty potentials invoked by their pithy slogans would do us a lot of good.

In other Hitchens news, Vanity Fair has a new feature on its website called Hitch Bitch, which lets readers complain about Hitchens:

"No V.F. contributing editor arouses more reader ire than our tireless columnist Christopher Hitchens," says the magazine. The new Hitch Bitch section will help to "accommodate the overflow of outraged letters and e-mails sent to the magazine."

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