Forked Tongue

by digby

Here's a lovely little story about your political and media elites, in which they all gather together at a party at Christopher Hitchens' house to tongue kiss and talk torture:

Inside, Hitchens opined on whether the Obama administration should answers calls from the left to prosecute Bush administration officials for illegal interrogation of prisoners: “As long as it's agreed that these steps were taken in response to public demand,” he began, only to be interrupted by Andrew Sullivan, who greeted him with a hug and a kiss. “I want tongue. Give me tongue,” Hitchens implored, to no avail. “No, I'm not giving you tongue,” Sullivan replied, feigning astonishment. “Let the record show: Sullivan wouldn't give tongue,” Hitchens replied. (“He's gayer than I am!” Sullivan later told us.)

Continuing his discourse on torture policy, Hitchens then claimed that the Bush administration's commitment to harsh interrogation techniques, which he considers torture, derived from a desire among Americans for a more “ruthless” government. “It has to be admitted by every American that in the majority after the 9/11 Commission, people wanted an administration that was much more ruthless than the one they'd had on September the 10th,” he said.

“I know something for a sure thing,” Hitchens continued. “The demand for torture and other methods I would describe as illegal, the demand to go outside the Geneva conventions — all this came from below. What everyone wants to say is this came from a small clique around the vice-president. It's not educational. It doesn't enlighten anyone to behave as if that were true. This is our society wanting and demanding harsh measures.” Therefore, he went on, the demand for prosecution or other measures against Bush administration officials would likewise have to come from below, via the grassroots. “Otherwise it's just vengeful, I suppose, and partisan.”

Hitchens is mildly insane of course. But he's a villager through and through, as are most of the attendees at this fabulous bash. And I suspect that he's actually speaking for most of them when he says that the torture was "demanded" by the people. From the perspective of the village that's quite true: the mechanism for this demand was that villagers like Jonathan Alter and Thomas Friedman --- who believe they are perfectly in tune with salt of the earth Real Americans --- were screaming at the top of their lungs for the leadership to "get crazy" and torture suspects (who turned out to be completely innocent.) In the minds of our political establishment they represent "the grassroots."

And considering how eagerly these Real Americans are embracing the idea that not only must Obama not prosecute anyone for torture, he really needs to keep torturing, I suspect that we won't be seeing any calls for accountability from "the ground up."

There are a bunch of irrelevant rubes who asked Obama to appoint a special prosecutor. But they aren't invited to post-partisan soirées at Christopher Hitchens' house, so nobody noticed.