Hitchens Calls Sully ‘Lesbian’

A Media Matters report of remarks made by Christopher Hitchens in a weekend television debate with Andrew Sullivan is getting some blogospheric attention.

On the April 5 edition of MSNBC’s Tim Russert, Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens debated the significance for Sen. Barack Obama of comments made by his former pastor Jeremiah Wright about a trip Wright took with Louis Farrakhan to Libya in 1984. When Sullivan said, “And now you’ve made me forget my second point,” Hitchens interjected: “Oh, well, don’t be such a lesbian. Get on with it.”

As Media Matters for America noted, during a subsequent segment on the same show, Hitchens asserted of certain of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s actions: “I just think that if she knew how it made her look, sort of alternately soppy and bitchy, she’d stop it. But she can’t help herself, can she? She just can’t.”

Hitch had interrupted Sullivan in mid-sentence, which led to the exchange in question:

SULLIVAN: Again, you keep playing with that quote. We’re happy to have it on the record. And now you’ve made me forget my second point, which is —

HITCHENS: Oh, well, don’t be such a lesbian. Get on with it.

SULLIVAN: I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten my second point. But I do think that’s important. And I don’t think Wright is Farrakhan. And I don’t think Obama, in any conceivable way, represents anything but racial inclusion and integration. And anybody that looks at any part of his career and can be in any doubt about that is beyond me.

The reason he went to that church, clearly, if you read his biography, is he wanted to understand what it was to be black in America. He didn’t understand. He’s a very polyglot person. He grew up in Hawaii, he had some time in Indonesia.

Pam Spaulding is apoplectic, seeing this as an indication of intolerable misogyny and homophobia and calling for the removal of Hitchens and his ilk from the national debate.

An anonymous cog at Gawker (likely toiling away in great stress) observes that, “The great fun of Christopher Hitchens is that the commentator so often says things in formal settings you’d expect to hear around the dinner table after many hours of wine and whisky.”

Quite. It’s worth noting that among those apparently not offended by Hitchens is one Andrew Sullivan. Watch the video. Rather clearly, Sully is having a great time with it. Later, he makes two posts about his joint appearance, “The Wright Stuff” and “Hitch, Russert, Me,” and makes not a single reference to the incident.

Why? My guess is that the two men know each other quite well and respect each other as professional colleagues. It’s also important to keep in mind that both are trained in the “Oxbridge” debating style which is rather sharper than its American counterpart. (Contrast “Prime Minister’s Question Time” with your average Senate debate.) Employing personal barbs, especially clever ones, is part and parcel of the game. Sully himself has been known to score debating points by going personal.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    The irony is that Wright used to be a Muslim, and apparently member of Farakhan’s group, or so I’m hearing.

    Past that, Hitchens for all his friction, has nailed it, on both counts.

  2. floyd says:

    Pam Spaulding proves that Hitchens isn’t totally worthless! Talk about iconoclastic! Hilarious![lol]

  3. Grewgills says:

    The great fun of Christopher Hitchens is that the commentator so often says things in formal settings you’d expect to hear around the dinner table after many hours of wine and whisky.

    Maybe it’s the pre-interview whiskey talking.

    The irony is that Wright used to be a Muslim, and apparently member of Farakhan’s group, or so I’m hearing.

    From whom?
    Was it in his youth at Grace Baptist Church where his father pastored?
    in the Marines (1961-63)?
    the U.S. Navy, hospital corpsman (1964-67)?
    while pastoring at Zion Church or Beth Eden Church (1968-71)?
    or while pastoring at Trinity United Church of Christ (1972-2008)?
    Where do you hear these things and why can’t you spend the 2 minutes with Google to find out that they are crap?

  4. Bithead says:

    Actually, I have been reseaching it, Grew.

    Here’s one such.

    Apparently, it references an old New republic article, which isn’t on their main site anymore…. (Yeah, a genuine mystery, that) but I’ve managed to locate it here.

  5. sam says:

    The TNR Lizza article just says, with no sourcing,

    But Wright was a former Muslim and black nationalist who had studied at Howard and Chicago

    Do you have any other sources, Bithead, that don’t reference the TNR article, asserting the Wright was a Muslim. His bio indicates he’s always been a Christian.

  6. Grewgills says:

    Actually, I have been reseaching it

    and your research consists of Ryan Lizza said he was a Muslim once? He did not say that Wright was a follower of Farrakhan at any point, you added that.

    It seems your research consists of I saw it said once and it fits in with my preconceptions.

    Again, when was he supposed to have been a Muslim.
    He was a Baptist growing up, joined the Marines, then the Navy, then became a pastor at a series of Christian churches. I don’t see where he had the time.

  7. Bithead says:

    What, you don’t trust The New Republic, Sam? Shame on you.

    😀

    As I say, I’m looking into it.

  8. Bithead says:

    Grew, The obvious deal here is that I didn’t provide you with all the sources of the report that I have, nor will I. And perhaps you’d better take a remidial reading course; At no time did I say it was fact, I said I’d seen reports to that effect.

    If you want my honest assesment, I’d say as a guess at this point that the reports are inaccurate, and were likley launched in support of HIllary Clinton, (inside our outsid ethe campaign is another question) but as I say, that’s a guess. If I learn anything further, I’ll mention it, certainly.

    And by the way, Grew, Much as I don’t trust the initial report, I don’t trust the Wright bio, as you seem to, either. Indeed, the very reason I’m looking into this is I consider both sources of infomration equally credible.

    follow?

  9. Grewgills says:

    At no time did I say it was fact, I said I’d seen reports to that effect.

    You try to lay down what you consider a smear (Obama and Wright are really secret Muslims) and add the caveat or so I hear and that absolves you of all responsibility, is that right?

    Much as I don’t trust the initial report,

    Yet you repeat it and claim other sources all of which apparently reference it as their source.

    I don’t trust the Wright bio, as you seem to, either. Indeed, the very reason I’m looking into this is I consider both sources of infomration equally credible.

    Really? What portions of the bio do you find questionable? Do you not believe that he attended the church where his father pastored when he was growing up? Do you not think his father pastored at Grace Baptist Church? Do you not believe the dates of his military service? Do you think that he did not pastor at the churches that both he and they claim he did? These are all independently verifiable facts and you find a mention in an article, by someone who you would not otherwise find credible, equally credible?
    You would be fuming and charging rampant dishonesty if someone here engaged in this behavior and the target was Bush, McCain, or virtually anyone else on the right. Just judging you by your own standards 🙂

  10. Bithead says:

    You try to lay down what you consider a smear (Obama and Wright are really secret Muslims) and add the caveat or so I hear and that absolves you of all responsibility, is that right?

    No, and I don’t expect you to get thing one about this correctly. Your predisposition against the truth of the matter precludes that.

    Yet you repeat it and claim other sources all of which apparently reference it as their source.

    Actually, no. I’m current chasing three separate sources, at least two of which were independent from the TNR report.

    Bruce, over at Q&O notes this same thing tonight, and brings up another thing I’d not even scratched the surface of: Bobby Rush… he a former(?) Black Panther, and his relationship with both Wright,a and Obama.

    You know, I missed something, earlier, though, that I think I need to address…. Bruce’s article reminded me of it…

    He did not say that Wright was a follower of Farrakhan at any point, you added that.

    You must not have read it, then, because the implication clearly was Farrakhan, who was set up in Chicago, if you’ll recall. Only in the light of this connection does the sweet spot Wright always has shown for Farrakhan, make any sense. And only Farrakhan’s brand of Islam, not the whole of Islam would have the brand of race centered nonsense that Wright has so solidly signed onto. The article makes clear that it was a black identity crisis that drove Obama to Wright, in the first place.

    Now, again, I distrust the story due to the source… TNR, but too much of the story fits the attitudes, and some other factors, to be a mere fabrication on TNR’s part. Frankly, they haven’t got the smarts for it, in their entire staff, though we know they’ve faked stuff in the past. The question to my mind is how much of that writeup is a fabrication.

    I have little to convince me, either way, yet.

    As to my distrust of Wright’s Bio, I tend to place the credibility of screaming racists into question. Even ones Obama identifies with.

  11. Grewgills says:

    Actually, no. I’m current chasing three separate sources, at least two of which were independent from the TNR report.

    Neither of which you are willing to share. Very credible.

    Bruce, over at Q&O notes this same thing tonight, and brings up another thing I’d not even scratched the surface of: Bobby Rush

    A throw away line in a debate does not a connection make.

    You must not have read it, then, because the implication clearly was Farrakhan, who was set up in Chicago, if you’ll recall.

    From the single mention of Farrakhan in the article

    After these itinerant years, he would finally be able to insinuate himself into a community–and not just any community, but, as he later put it, “the capital of the African American community in the country.” Every strain of black political thought seemed to converge in Chicago in the 1980s. It was the intellectual center of black nationalism, the base both for Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns and for Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Moreover, on the eve of Obama’s arrival, Harold Washington had overthrown Richard J. Daley’s white ethnic machine to become the city’s first black mayor. It was, in short, an ideal place for an identity-starved Kenyan Kansan to immerse himself in a more typical black American experience.

    How do you read that paragraph as saying that Wright (not mentioned) was a follower of Farrakhan? That’s a stretch even for you.

    As to my distrust of Wright’s Bio…

    Wright is not the only source and all of the data can be independently verified. Even the freepers acknowledge the bio as I laid it out. You are now beyond freeper land. What color is the sky out there?

  12. Matt says:

    As to my distrust of Wright’s Bio, I tend to place the credibility of screaming racists into question. Even ones Obama identifies with.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Tell me EXACTLY where/when Wright is a “screaming racist” I have yet to find any examples despite watching several of his sermons and every time someone says wright is a racist they NEVER respond with examples 🙁

  13. Bithead says:

    From the single mention of Farrakhan in the article

    Oh, please. Use a LITTLE common sense, at least. What other major Islamic org, set up in Chicago, is directing all it’s efforts at BLACK Muslims, Hmmm????

    Wright is not the only source and all of the data can be independently verified

    The US wasn’t the only source of info as regards Iraq and WMD. Yet, you question these. Your trust of independant verification seems rather selective.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Tell me EXACTLY where/when Wright is a “screaming racist”

    Fine.
    Read.
    And you may also want to scan YouTube for his sermons. The man is a screaming, vile racist.

    Oh, by the way; If Wright isn’t a racist, why is Obama rejecting those statements?

  14. Grewgills says:

    Oh, please. Use a LITTLE common sense, at least. What other major Islamic org, set up in Chicago, is directing all it’s efforts at BLACK Muslims, Hmmm????

    So your logic is, one person says Wright was a Muslim (offering no proof of this assertion) and Farrakhan (a minister in Harlem 1965-75) moved to Chicago in the late 70s therefor Wright was a follower of Farrakhan? I guess that is about as solid as your typical argument.
    Wright had been pastoring at TUCC for at least 3 years prior to Farrakhan moving to Chicago. Was he secretly a member of the nation of Islam while pastoring at TUCC?

    Fine.
    Read.

    Again you bring this up. Response here.

    Oh, by the way; If Wright isn’t a racist, why is Obama rejecting those statements?

    Because he does not agree with them.

  15. Grewgills says:

    The US wasn’t the only source of info as regards Iraq and WMD. Yet, you question these. Your trust of independant verification seems rather selective.

    Do you truly see no difference in the ability of these assertions to be independently verified?
    or to their subsequent verification?
    One set has been verified by multiple sources and questioned by one the other was initially doubted by multiple informed sources and has since been shown to almost certainly be false. I’m guessing we will continue to disagree on which is which.