Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Speaking of Camelot

Speaking of Camelot, my favorite contrarian wrote an amusingly bilious little piece about the Kennedys in the new issue of the Atlantic. The following graf captures his main argument, around which he spun much snark:

The three years of the JFK regime were consumed by extraordinary hyperactivity on two fronts, and by extraordinary torpidity on two others. The hyperactivity consisted of continuous and stressful “crisis management,” often necessitated by self-induced crises, and reflected a picture of narcotic and sexual debauchery within the White House that still has the power to make one whistle. The torpor concerned two “macro” subjects--the pursuit of a nuclear test-ban treaty and the adoption by the administration and Congress of a serious position on civil rights--that really were both urgent and overdue.

As one commenter at the Atlantic wrote
So what do we get here? Strident pronouncements that are more warped than whatever hagiography Hitch claims is out there and that merely show that he has read little or none of the literature since the Schlesinger/Salinger years. For example, he writes about Ole Miss as if Bryant is the first ever to have covered the well-worn subject. Furthermore, he apparently is unfamiliar with a vast historiography that is critical of Kennedy's response to civil rights (and is obviously unfamiliar with an equal volume of literature that is not exactly charitable toward Eisenhower, whom Hitchens implies was warm and fuzzy on civil rights). He takes cheap-shots at Bob Dallek, who, while hardly above criticism, has forgotten more about the Kennedy presidency and the concomitant literatuire on it than Hitch has ever read. Hitchens is scabrous without being insightful, a nasty combination.

I can't really add to that. Except to ask, how necessary is insight when you can give good scabre? And to excerpt my favorite moment of supremely bad taste from the article:

We have all understood for a long time that Kennedy did not even attempt to shield his wife from the humiliation caused by his whorings. He seldom invited her to bear him company on his out-of-town forays, and she often declined to accompany him. I had not appreciated, though, that until November 22, 1963, she had never been at his side on a domestic presidential political trip. And she might have missed that one, too, had it not been felt that a charm offensive was needed to heal the breach in the Texas Democratic Party, and had she not just spent too much time being photographed half naked on the cruise ship of her future husband Aristotle Onassis. On the first couple's last night in the White House prior to departure for Dallas, staff and press accounts coincide in reporting an emotional row on the Grand Staircase. And the next day, she had parts of his skull in her hands.


  • At 11:33 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I would say that kind of cheap dramatic twist was below Christopher Hitchens, except I think very little of him, so I don't think much is below him. So much linguistic talent, so little heart.

  • At 2:31 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    But so much linguistic talent. Did you read his screed against Mother Theresa?


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