I’ve said some harsh things about Hitchens over the years, but, in light of new evidence, I’m getting that dreadful feeling that I’ve been missing – shamefully, spectacularly – a very good joke. Consider, from this recent defense of John McCain’s innumerable houses:
I count myself as something of an expert on what writer Joyce Cary once called “tumbrel remarks.” A tumbrel remark is an unguarded comment by an uncontrollably rich person, of such crass insensitivity that it makes the workers and peasants think of lampposts and guillotines. I can give you a few for flavor. The late queen mother, being driven in a Rolls-Royce through a stricken district of Manchester, England, said as she winced at the view, “I see no point at all in being poor.”
Does anyone? Then, a few paragraphs later, in the authorial voice:
Every four years, we suddenly discover that the only people worth noticing or mentioning in the United States are those who are ill, or unemployed, or uninsured, or underpaid, or homeless, or some combination of the above. Bill and Hillary Clinton went on about these unprotected and wretched millions on two successive nights last week, apparently never reflecting that some of them at least must have been alive and suffering under the two Clinton administrations. How can a thinking person sit still and listen to such piffle, let alone get up and wave their arms about when they hear it again and again?
Hitchens can see no point at all in this “being poor” piffle. Or, I should say, “Hitchens” cannot. For, outside of a rather over-broad literary parody, who could possibly as un-self-aware as to write the preceeding lines? Could there possibly exist, in the daylight world, erstwhile champagne socialists so absurdly champagney that they bemoan the overexposure of the poor and working class in America, and castigate the hypocrisy of people who pretend they can number their properties without consulting the help? (And, really: how unspeakably vulgar it is when these arrivistes make a show of knowing how many houses they own. “Tiresome demagoguery,” is what our sort of people think.) But it’s just like I was saying to Dinesh D’Souza over double gin-n-gin’s (a delightful cocktail of my own invention) during our recent $5,000/night debate tour – everything in American politics is just class, class, class. I mean, it’s not like John McCain is actually the Queen Mum of the British Royal Family! He’s one of us, the real people in the world. So, we say enough! to your farcical lamppost-stringing and pantomime guillotine-erecting, you electoral Jacobins, you! John McCain would never suggest that the poor “eat cake.” Honorary prole that he is, he eats the cake hisself!
I get it now. Hitchens, and his literary creation “Hitchens”, are workers and works of the genius class. Now, please – watch this drive.