Hitchens on how to choose a candidate

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I've seen at least 4-5 links to Christopher Hitchens' piece last week about how people should choose their presidential candidate, but hardly any of them have focused on the parts I found most interesting, so I had to highlight them. I'm not endorsing everything I quote here, but it's refreshing that someone is saying these things.

Some excerpts:

The character of the candidate is itself the only "issue," and it is furthermore the only "issue" about which a thinking voter can be expected to make up his or her mind....

Party-mindedness is an enemy in itself, if only because it makes intelligent people act and think stupidly....

A successful contender for office can change his mind on, say, universal health care. What he cannot change is his personality. If he's a money-grubbing, narcissistic, and approval-seeking psycho at the start, he will not doff these qualities in the Oval Office. One ought therefore to begin by eliminating all those who are running for some kind of therapeutic or Oedipal reason. (This doesn't cost much: It would only have deprived us of Kennedy, Nixon, Hart, and Clinton in the recent past, and superior candidates from both parties were readily available in all those instances.)

[Dean] was obviously very lucky to get as far as the governorship of Vermont. A man who will say anything to any audience if he thinks it will raise the roof is a candidate to be shunned: It should have been all over when he trashed his Hippocratic oath to invent a story about an incest victim from his physician's office. Think of all the money he raised and squandered: It would have been far better spent donated to the reconstruction of Iraq. His entire campaign was, to borrow one of his sillier slogans, a distraction from the hunt for al-Qaida....

John Kerry should decide whether he's a moral hero for fighting in a futile and filthy war against the Vietnamese revolution, or for protesting against that war. Can I guess from his demeanor which of the two was his "noble cause"? No. Shouldn't I know by now? Yes, I should, since it's not evident at this relatively late date whether or not he's proud of voting to remove Saddam Hussein. As with most senior Democrats, Kerry's revolving-door record with lobbyists and donors is one to make Cheney and Bush look like amateurs.

[About Al Sharpton:] It's a relief to see how few black voters identify with a big-mouth shake-down artist, against the patronizing expectations of the media, whether it's an election year or not....

There are worse things than simple mindedness�pseudo-intellectuality, for example. Civil unions for homosexuals, or prescription-drug programs, are not even going to be in second or third place if we get this wrong. And presidents can't make much difference to the stock market or the employment rate or to income distribution. But they can and must uphold their oath to defend the country. So, having said that "issues" are only tangential to campaigns, the best estimate I can make is one about the seriousness of individuals. I was open-mouthed at the idea that anyone would even consider entrusting the defense of the United States and its Constitution to Howard Dean, but that problem appears to have taken care of itself.... Make up your own mind, is my own best recommendation, and put "electability" (once a Dean property, for heaven's sake) to one side.

I wonder who he meant with the comment about pseudo-intellectuality. I thought he was a bit too positive about Clark, given that he's basically Dean with a southern accent, and suppose I should mention that he had some nice things to say about Edwards.

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