By Ben Cohen
"The president should be squirming in his seat. Not smiling. The black dyke got it wrong. No one told her the rules."
- Christopher Hitchens on Wanda Syke's performance at the White House Correspondence dinner.
This is a classic phrase from Hitchens, once a decent journalist, now a slobbering drunk. Not only is it utterly vile and racist, it's also a revealing insight into why he was present at the dinner himself. Hitchens used to be a revered name in progressive circles, up there with Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and feared by the political establishment. And then somehow, he found himself in bed with George Bush cheer leading the worst foreign policy blunder in recent history.
Fed up with a marginalized role in American intellectual life, Hitchens forgot everything he once stood for and saddled up to the right wing fanatics who had hijacked the country and helped them ram through their extreme agenda. Hitchens was invited on all the networks to pimp the war, and his notoriety surged along with his pay check. Once a thorn in the side of imperial politics, Hitchens became a cog in the wheel - a sophisticated sales man with an authoritative voice and no sense of shame.
When public opinion turned, Hitchens quickly changed the subject, embarking on an atheist jihad against fundamentalist Christianity that shot him back onto the media circuit as quickly as he came off it. Hitchen's chameleon like political views have served his pockets well, and he knows exactly how to play the game.
Wanda Sykes is not a part of that game, and committed the cardinal sin of offending the ruling classes. Hitchen's slur betrayed a revulsion not of Sykes comments, but of himself, for what he has become. A sophisticated hack who once offended the elite but now plays among them.
(photo by Scott Hurst)