You can say a lot of things about Christopher Hitchens’s role as a cheerleader for the war in Iraq, most of all that it stank to high heaven. Of course it’s pure coincidence that he died on the same day that marked the official end of the war. But it’s a fitting irony that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s lie to the departing troops — “You will leave with great pride, lasting pride” — applies to Hitchens’s departure as well. All the fine principles that Hitchens stood for were tarnished by his relentless drumbeat for an unforgivable war. When they took down the American flag in Baghdad for the last time, the band played “Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder.” I doubt that the lyrics will be recited at Hitchens’s funeral, but they would be a fitting sendoff for him, too.
Postscript: Dec. 20 — I see that Alexander Cockborn wrote a welcome antidote to the Hitcharoma that has gripped the press.