Hitchens: Low points from this year’s dishonest, vacuous campaign season.
Future chroniclers of the low, dishonest, vacuous campaign of 2010—not only not a single funny placard at the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally but not a single serious one, either, plus the clapped-out crooner and fatwa groupie Yusuf Islam impersonating a potted plant—will certainly puzzle over President Barack Obama’s almost weird refusal to stick up for himself in the middle of his first term. Faced with an extraordinary campaign of defamation on everything from his citizenship to his religion to his paternity (a campaign that was not confined to the “fringe” but that drew both surreptitious and overt support from Republicans as senior as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich), Obama at times looked almost masochistic in his unreadiness to seize the initiative and give the lie to his detractors. Having many reservations of my own about the president, I would nonetheless have relished the chance to support him in such an effort, as would many of my friends. But one can’t indefinitely do for somebody what he is reluctant to do for himself. And, of course, Obama’s reticence managed somehow to confirm the image of him as a glacial elitist—a man who would hardly deign to pass comment on the rubes and proles.