October 14, 2008

Eric Alterman and Christopher Hitchens -- on Bloggingheads.

This just went up, so I haven't watched it yet, but I'm ready to presume it's the best Bloggingheads of all time. I love Hitchens -- on camera even more than in writing. And as for Alterman, click on the "Alterman" tag to see what I think of him.

17 comments:

Simon said...

Ah Hitch... So often wrong, but a lovable rogue and great fun to watch.

Alterman - much the same, but less lovable, less roguish, less fun to watch, and more often wrong.

Simon said...

I'm only half way through, but Alterman's getting smoked. Just totally nailed to the frickin' wall. This is quite fun, actually.

peter hoh said...

Here's an area of study for which I have no time: the behavior exhibited by the blogginghead who is not talking.

Hitchens looks somewhat normal. Uncomfortable, perhaps, but I can imagine his expressions/body language being appropriate were he sitting across from me at a diner.

Alterman, however, is exhibiting behavior that would seem out of place in a person-to-person encounter. He appears to be scanning the area above his monitor for notes or something, which looks rather strange on camera.

Ann Althouse said...

As for the difference in behavior, Hitchens, I happen to know, has a cameraperson in the room doing the recording. Alterman is probably recording himself on his computer's webcam. He's probably alone in the room. Also, Alterman is the interviewer, and he's prepared a set of questions, which he's probably scanning on screen as he takes responsibility for the structure of the diavlog.

I hate being fair to Alterman, but I do think they are dealing with very different conditions.

peter hoh said...

Thanks for the insight.

Bob said...

I'm looking forward to seeing an Althouse/Hitchens encounter on BloggingHeads, but I think your obvious affection for him would result in more of a kaffeeklatsch than a debate.

Simon said...

Bob said...
"I'm looking forward to seeing an Althouse/Hitchens encounter on BloggingHeads...."

Maybe Althouse would finally talk about her own religious views (which she doesn't do on her blog, of course)?

Salamandyr said...

Is it just me or are the entirety of Alterman's claims about what would happen, what has happened based entirely on wishful thinking?

He seems to believe that Iraq under Hussein was a stable, and normal place, maybe something like the bad neighborhoods in US Cities; not a place you'd choose to live, but not so bad that you wouldn't brave it in daylight for that really good sushi restaurant.

He ignores that Hussein was involved in killing thousands of Iraqi civilians every year, he conflates Iraqi's killed by insurgents and terrorists with those killed by American forces. He seems to conflate world opinion with France and Germany. And he is completely disingenuous in his remarks about liberal support for the invasion of Afghanistan.

To add to it, what kind of schmuck would come up with a topic like that one? It strikes me as someone more measured in their anti-war exuberance might have found a considerable amount to agree with Hitchens on.

Simon said...

Salamandyr - I think that what jumps out at me is how Alterman is absolutely incapable - pathologically, even - of speaking in anything except soundbites and party talking points. Those just don't work in a debate with Hitch, but Alterman plows on anyway, oblivious to how much of a total buffoon he appears.

Salamandyr said...

Simon, I'll agree with that. Hitchens talks the way I wish our leaders would. For a brain perpetually pickled with alcohol, he has a remarkable command of facts, that he can draw forth seemingly at will.

I would imagine the majority of us could not even if we wanted to, for the simple reason that our memories are not as prodigious.

UWS guy said...

water is the drink of animals
Milk the drink babes
Tea the drink of women
And wine is the drink of the gods

---a plaque in my grandfathers kitchen

UWS guy said...

There's an old(ish) charlie rose episode with alterman and hitchens going at it about iraq that's probably findable on youtube for those interested who haven't seen it.

jdeeripper said...


Charlie Rose - ALTERMAN & HITCHENS

UWS guy said...

Thanks, as it turns out Alterman mentions it himself. I should have watched before posting.

two things:

interesting Hitchens chose a geometric bright red pattern behind him and not the generic book case.

also...re: Hitchens Obama endorsement. Did Obama approach hitchens directly and say that he wouldn't abandon the kurds and the fledgling democracy? I would bet that this happened.

John K. said...

About a year ago Christopher Hitchens debated one of my old English profs from the Naval Academy, David White, on the subject of the impact of Christianity on Western Civilization. Dr. White is a traditionalist Catholic, and was a huge influence on me, so it was very interesting to listen to this. Here's the url:

http://richarddawkins.net/article,1518,Christopher-Hitchens-and-David-Allen-White-discuss-the-impact-of-Christianity-on-Western-Civilization,Hugh-Hewitt

Jen Bradford said...

Since Alterman must know Hitch pretty well, I'm surprised by how frequently he uses the "everyone agrees" approach to validate his point of view. Embarrassing. Can you imagine Hitch saying "oh dear, there's a consensus? Well in that case.."

solidstatendc said...

It's worth watching the 54 minutes of this hugely entertaining "debate" simply to witness Alterman's deer-in-the-headlights stare whenever Hitchens casually decimates another of Alterman's positions. And then to see Alterman gamely regurgitate the same feeble, talking-points position in response, dismissively pretending that Hitchens hasn't just wiped the floor with him yet again.

By the end, I was reminded of the limbless knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," writhing on the ground while shrieking at his conqueror, "Come back and fight like a man!"

If Alterman is the avatar of what he (in a mind-boggling phrase) calls "moderate liberalism," then as a coherent and functional world view it's in even worse shape than I thought. Limbless, in fact.