Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, August 10, 2004
THE GASTROPOD CONTEMPLATES HIS ERRORS in today's repeat of Late Night Live, and finds Christopher Hitchens guilty.

Yes, Phillip Adams concedes, he did underestimate his mate Saddam's corpse-production by a small factor, 98.75% to be precise, but it was a mere pecadillo and his other old mate, Chomsky, tells him that Hitchens is no longer worth listening to.

'We on LNL have tried so hard to be balanced on Iraq', the Gastropod claims, in his softening up introduction. 'Oh dear, it's such a divisive issue. And would you believe it's a whole year since I last had Christopher on the program. Now Christopher, are you still such an apologist for the occupation.'

I paraphrase, of course, but I don't exaggerate.

'Christopher, I have always agreed with you about those nasty Islamic fascists. Why did you go astray into Iraq?

'Well, because the Saddamite regime backed Islamism' offers Hitchens.

'Chris, no-one else has found a connection between Saddam and 9/11' responds the Gastropod.

'Try Zarqawi. Try the odd bomb-maker getting refuge in Iraq' responds Hitchens. 'He had to be sorted; better for us to choose the timing'.

'So the Yanks had been planning it before 9/11' oozes Adams triumphantly.

'Indeed', responds Hitchens, 'there was a bi-partisan agreement in the US Senate on the need for regime change in Iraq, during Clinton's time, and Clinton bombarded Baghdad twice'.

'We conscientious observers are so worried about the failed WMD excuse for invading Iraq' the Gastropod claims.

Do you really want to hear again about all the others who believed in Iraqi WMDs? Neither do I.

And so it went. Our Saddamite Gastropod fishing for chinks in Hitchens's record. Since he's just asking questions, retreat to innocence is available every time he fails to land anything more than confirmation of his own wilful ignorance.

Hitchens notes, in passing:'Confirming Iraq's illegal dismantling of its own nukes program is no small thing. It led to the dismantling of the Khan network in Pakistan. And you will note Ghaddafi surrendered to Blair, not to Kofi Annan', leading the Gastropod to rush to his next question.

'Why don't you support Kerry over Bush' queries our faux-innocent Gastropod?

'He's trying to have it both ways, supporting the goals while undermining the means. Looking for others to pay the costs.'

'Well, what about supporting Nader'. (Yes, the Gastropod did say that).

'And how does it feel to be dumped by so many of your former friends?' (Oh Jaysus).

'And to be a pin-up boy for so much of the hard right? (ditto)

'Were you particularly hurt by the criticism of your old mate [insert name of any critic of Hitchens]?

'And didn't Abu Ghraib destroy you?'

'Shouldn't you go to Guantanamo?'

'What do you think about the erosion of civil rights in the US?' Hitchens:'Ashcroft is just a continuation of Clinton era expansion of security powers, often resisted by libertarian Republicans.'

'And what about Palestine?' Hitchens:'More likely to be a settlement under a second-term Bush than Kerry-Edwards, both more beholden to the Israel lobby.'

So there you have it; ABCwatch's version of this 'interview'. If you doubt it, go
listen to the audio (when it's available).

But you have to admire the communard idea of fair debate.

Radio National's favourite left commentator is found guilty of an ignorant apologia for Saddam Hussein. A critic points out the error and questions the policy. The Gastropod mumbles a confession and then puts the critic on trial, with himself on the bench.

That's why Uncle's primary response to our Gastropod is not disagreement, but disgust.

Only on their ABC.