A Slobbering Slugfest

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Sept. 15 2005 7:34 PM

A Slobbering Slugfest

Bloggers are savoring the ripostes that flew between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens in yesterday's debate about the Iraq war; they are also continuing to scrutinize the John Roberts hearing and discussing the merits of a New Orleans conspiracy theory.

A Slobbering slugfest: Vanity Fair columnist and Slate contributor Christopher Hitchens, an ardent supporter of the Iraq war, publicly debated British M.P. George Galloway in New York City last night. Hitchens, who has repeatedly pointed out that Galloway once told Saddam Hussein, "I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability," challenged Galloway to the debate after the latter called him "a drink-soaked, former-Trotskyist popinjay" last May.

Unsurprisingly, bloggers' stance on the Iraq war influenced their interpretation of who won. Unrepentant Marxist's Louis Proyect, who saw a "shabby looking" Hitchens passing out anti-Galloway leaflets to those waiting in line to attend the debate, praises Galloway's allegation that Hitchens "once was a butterfly, making beautiful speeches against the Gulf War in 1991, but has turned into a slug, leaving a trail of slime behind him." The pro-regime-change crowd says Hitchens won, hands down. "[W]hen your friend of last resort is a composite of every twentieth-century dictator and an ally and courtier of the remaining dictators of the twenty-first century, then it really is time to start crawling away," writesSocial Affairs Unit's Douglas Murray, author of a book on neoconservatism.


But naming a victor seems beside the point for many bloggers. Third Avenue, the blog of a Brit living in NYC, claims that the debate resolved nothing and has an eyewitness analysis: "[I]t seemed the audience was reasonably evenly divided, with perhaps a small advantage to Galloway. It frequently got rowdy. It frequently got profane. It frequently was great fun. … Hitchens never properly addressed the issue of whether the horror that is today's Iraq in any way shook his faith in the rightness of the war. … Galloway made much of the illegality of the war. He was never pressed on whether, had the war been given UN approval, he would then have supported it." The blogger also points out that Hitchens accused Galloway of "slobbering over every loathsome dictator he came across (although, disappointingly, he didn't accuse him of slobbering over Slobodan...)."

Agitprop concedes that "Two angry blokes from the U.K. hurling insults at each other is not going to improve the situation in Iraq" but admits a weakness for the theater that happened when "the Mad Scotsman, looking more tanned than George Hamilton, squared off against the gin-soaked and bugged eyed apostate of the left, Christopher Hitchens."

Read more about the Galloway-Hitchens debate; read  Hitchens' pre-debate attack on Galloway in Slate; readOxblog's Patrick Belton's live-blog; listen to the debate.

Roberts hearing, Day 4: As John Roberts finished his testimony before the Senate judiciary committee, Democrats questioned whether the judge has the "heart and humanity" to be the next Supreme Court chief justice.

Many bloggers are impatient for the confirmation to end. Liberal Coastal Badger applauds Roberts' ability to "learn and change," and writes, "Let's devote a paragraph to the notion that somehow Roberts is defeated and Bush picks again. Will we get someone brighter?  More committed to the incremental and modest approach to jurisprudence? Or someone who's last job was judging Arabian horses? ... So I say confirm him and let the mills of justice grind on." Christian T.E. Brown notes, "Roberts will come from the conservative side, of course, but he will not likely be a 'fundamentalist' in regards to how he reads the constitutuion." And grad student Dave Falvey opines, "Just confirm Judge John Roberts already and enough of this political broohaha. He's obviously qualified, he's not an ideologue, and he's a good guy. Enough politics."

Read more about the Roberts hearing; read  Dahlia Lithwick's take in Slate; read  Blogs for Bush's live-blog of the event.

Dynamited levees?: Some bloggers are suggesting that we don't yet know all the reasons why Katrina damaged New Orleans so massively. The L.A. Weekly spoke with an evacuee named Robert, who says he heard the levees explode after the storm; he believes that "the money people" flooded the city in order to gentrify it. Earlier this week, ABC's David Muir interviewed a New Orleans resident, Joe Edwards, who also claims to have heard a levee explode after the hurricane. Last week, techblog Boing-Boing's Xeni Jardin posted an IM chat with photographer Jacob Appelbaum, who talked to Clara Barthelemy in the Houston Astrodome.  She told him, "The 17th street levee was bombed by the Army Corps of Engineers to save the more valuable real estate in the city."


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