Christopher Hitchens represents what the rest of the Left should be but isn’t: principled, thoughtful, a realist who is able to look at terrorism for the culture of death that it is–and he’s a darned good writer.

But now I’m confused. Asked which presidential candidate he was endorsing in the Nov. 2 election, Hitchens told the Nation on Oct. 21 that he was “slightly” for G.W. Bush. Here’s what he wrote:

“The President, notwithstanding his shortcomings of intellect, has been able to say, repeatedly and even repetitively, the essential thing: that we are involved in this war without apology and without remorse. He should go further, and admit the evident possibility of defeat–which might concentrate a few minds–while abjuring any notion of capitulation. Senator Kerry is also capable of saying this, but not without cheapening it or qualifying it, so that, in the Nation prisoners’ dilemma, he is offering you the worst of both worlds.”

Yesterday, Hitchens told Slate (scroll down) that he was going for Kerry:

“There is one’s subjective vote, one’s objective vote, and one’s ironic vote. Subjectively, Bush (and Blair) deserve to be re-elected because they called the enemy by its right name and were determined to confront it. Objectively, Bush deserves to be sacked for his flabbergasting failure to prepare for such an essential confrontation. Subjectively, Kerry should be put in the pillory for his inability to hold up on principle under any kind of pressure. Objectively, his election would compel mainstream and liberal Democrats to get real about Iraq.”

So, which is it, Chris’ Bush or Kerry’ I’m just curious. Nonetheless, as Hitchens wrote for the Nation, a win for Kerry may not be as devastating as we fear, for the candidate who’s scoffed at terrorism as a “nuisance,”demanded that we get permission from France and Germany to fight it, and sailed blithely under the flag of the “No Blood for Oil” crowd, wakes up to what he’s actually up against:

“I can’t wait to see President Kerry discover which corporation, aside from Halliburton, should after all have got the contract to reconstruct Iraq’s oil industry. I look forward to seeing him eat his Jesse Helms-like words, about the false antithesis between spending money abroad and ‘at home’ (as if this war, sponsored from abroad, hadn’t broken out ‘at home’). I take pleasure in advance in the discovery that he will have to make, that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a more dangerous and better-organized foe than Osama bin Laden, and that Zarqawi’s existence is a product of jihadism plus Saddamism, and not of any error of tact on America’s part. I notice that, given the ambivalent evidence about Saddam’s weaponry, Kerry had the fortitude and common sense to make the presumption of guilt rather than innocence. I assume that he has already discerned the difference between criticizing the absence of postwar planning and criticizing the presence of an anti-Saddam plan to begin with. I look forward, in other words, to the assumption of his responsibility.”
Me too. But I’m not getting my hopes up.