Hitchens attacked Obama's "dumb, nasty ... racist" church, compared Clintons to zombies, vampires, and werewolves

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

On Morning Joe, Christopher Hitchens called Sen. Barack Obama's church a "dumb, nasty, ethnic rock 'n' roll racist church." Additionally, citing Sen. Hillary Clinton's claim to have "won" the Florida and Michigan primaries, Hitchens said: "[A]nyone who, like me, when they think about Clintons, thinks about zombies, thinks about the undead, thinks about stakes through the heart, silver bullets and so on, has just received confirmation. It's as bad as we thought it was going to be."

On the March 5 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens repeatedly attacked both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Echoing conservative smears, Hitchens called Obama's church a "dumb, nasty, ethnic rock 'n' roll racist church." Additionally, citing Clinton's claim to have "won" the Florida and Michigan primaries, Hitchens said: "So all the -- anyone who, like me, when they think about the Clintons thinks about zombies, thinks about the undead, thinks about stakes through the heart, silver bullets and so on, has just received confirmation. It's as bad as we thought it was going to be."

Citing the potential for increased press scrutiny of Obama, Hitchens asserted: "[T]his dumb, nasty, ethnic rock 'n' roll racist church that he goes to in Chicago, he won't be able to walk away from that anymore." In fact, while Obama's church -- the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago -- is predominantly African-American, it has been described by non-blacks as "enthusiastically welcom[ing]." According to an April 2 article on the website for The Martin Marty Center -- which is described on its website as "an institute for the advanced study of religion at the University of Chicago" -- professor emeritus Martin E. Marty wrote of Obama's church: "My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed." In addition, Rev. Jane Fisler Hoffman, a minister in the United Church of Christ who attends Trinity, recently made a statement about the church -- video of which is available online -- in which she stated that "[m]inisters all around the United Church of Christ -- European-American, African-American, and other denominations -- bring people from their churches to Trinity because the worship is so powerful, the preaching is so meaningful and prophetic." Hoffman went on to add that Trinity "is a church that reaches out to everybody, locally, around the world, all colors, and it just wants to share the gospel and good news of Jesus."

Hitchens also repeatedly called Obama a "shallow and flaky candidate," and later added that "I thought he was an incredibly successful shallow and flaky candidate."

Hitchens said Clinton is "like a wounded puma, going to fight to the very end for the last delegate," and described as "sinister" Clinton's statement during her March 4 speech that "[w]e've won Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, Arkansas, California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Tennessee." Hitchens asserted that "Florida and Michigan are counted out by the Democratic National Committee, if you remember, because they broke all the rules." Hitchens later claimed that "[s]he wouldn't mind running with [former Alabama Gov.] George Wallace if it would get her the nomination."

Hitchens did not comment on the results of the Republican primaries or the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain.

From the March 5 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: Let's bring in right now Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens. He is the author of Thomas Paine's Rights of Man. Christopher, thanks for being with us. What do you make of last night's results? It appears that Hillary Clinton lives to fight another day.

HITCHENS: I'm still thinking of it as this morning's result. I hope it doesn't show.

[laughter]

MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): Well, it kind of does.

HITCHENS: You know what -- you know what struck me as very important and slightly sinister, maybe someone said this before I got here, but when she said, "We won Florida and Michigan." Notice that? They haven't won -- they haven't won Florida and Michigan. Florida and Michigan are counted out by the Democratic National Committee, if you remember, because they broke all the rules. They haven't -- they said those primaries didn't count. She thinks they do count.

What does that mean? It means that she's like a wounded puma, going to fight to the very end for the last delegate, even in states that have been written off for that purpose. So, OK -- obviously, I am the first one to point this out to you. But I think Florida was the first one she mentioned. Play it again. Play that list and see. Florida and Michigan have not been counted by either person. She -- most of the other candidates weren't even on the ballot in those states.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, we are getting that for you right now.

HITCHENS: So all the -- anyone who, like me, when they think about the Clintons thinks about zombies, thinks about the undead, thinks about stakes through the heart, silver bullets and so on, has just received confirmation. It's as bad as we thought it was going to be.

BRZEZINSKI: Mmm.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, no. Another eight years possibly, Christopher, for you to write about a Clinton. Let's take a look at Hillary Clinton going through the list of states.

CLINTON [video clip]: You all know that if we want a Democratic president, we need a Democratic nominee who can win the battleground states just like Ohio. And that is -- that is what we've done. We've won Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire --

SCARBOROUGH: You know what? Christopher Hitchens, you're exactly right. She went to Florida first.

BRZEZINSKI: She did do that.

HITCHENS: It's terrifying. So -- because before anyone else noticed it, she's thinking delegate count, superdelegates, and what is -- the arm-twisting that she's going to be ready to do, is already exerting on the Democratic Party: Seat those delegates from Florida and Michigan at the convention, which they've said they will not do.

SCARBOROUGH: But it seems that things have changed very quickly for Barack --

HITCHENS: Well, I mean, of course --

SCARBOROUGH: -- for Barack Obama. Just a couple of days ago, he could do no wrong. He could walk on water.

HITCHENS: I've been trying to -- I've been trying to say about this for a few days now that he's a very shallow and flaky candidate. And it's beginning to show. The trial of his friend, Mr. -- is it Rezko? Resko? -- I'm not completely certain how to pronounce it, and the shady Iraqi backers of that man who've emerged recently. It couldn't have been a worse day to have a corruption trial open in Chicago. I think it was -- it looked yesterday as if, well, it won't matter, because it'll be all over before anyone notices. Now it's on the table. Extreme flakiness on the NAFTA question. Apparently very casual in his approach to that scare ad about why you'd want Hillary Clinton in granny glasses at three in the morning when there was a crisis. But, you know, suddenly people thinking, actually, what is there to this except charm?

SCARBOROUGH: So, do you think --

HITCHENS: That's a question he can't afford to have asked.

SCARBOROUGH: Are you calling -- are you calling Obama a shallow and flaky candidate? Do you --

HITCHENS: I've repeatedly called him a shallow and flaky candidate, and -- though I thought he was an incredibly successful shallow and flaky candidate. I would add other things that are going to now get a second look that they've long deserved: this dumb, nasty, ethnic, rock 'n' roll, racist church that he goes to in Chicago, that's going to -- he won't be able to walk away from that anymore. The crummy associates he's got in Illinois, going on trial for corruption with their Iraqi friends. None of this is going to get the free ride from the press that it was getting until about this time yesterday morning.

SCARBOROUGH: Wow.

BRZEZINSKI: So what does he do now? Because clearly the "kitchen-sink" strategy has had an impact. And I see a difficult position Barack Obama may be in, in terms of trying to potentially or needing to potentially go negative.

HITCHENS: Well, exactly. That's what -- that's what happens with charm. I mean, if he isn't willing to be nasty to her now, or about her now, then he will find that she doesn't feel the same way about him.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, yeah. But also, his identity is being above it all. I mean, Barack Obama, in terms of all the discussions that we've seen along the way on the campaign trail, even when race reared its ugly head and was -- you know, blew up in the Clinton campaign's face, Barack Obama was able to sort of be above it all. But now it's -- quite frankly, if there was a free ride, it's over.

HITCHENS: Well, yeah. I don't know whether or not what people -- you know what people mean when they say the Bradley effect, right?

BRZEZINSKI: Right.

HITCHENS: Shall we -- I mean, just in case the viewers don't know, shall we quickly say?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, Tom Bradley was supposed to win in California, and ended up losing.

HITCHENS: Yes. Until recently, it looked as if that effect had gone away. That if white voters said they were going to vote for a black guy or someone who was not all-white, anyway, they were going to. I mean, I think in Georgia, in fact, I think he did win the white male majority --

SCARBOROUGH: He did.

HITCHENS: -- which is an incredible thing, given that no Democrat's won that, of any shade, since Lyndon Johnson.

SCARBOROUGH: He did.

HITCHENS: But so, the white working-class vote seems to be breaking in a different direction, at least in Ohio and parts of Texas, and that -- and that the open-but-nasty secret is that many, many Hispanic voters don't mind telling opinion pollsters they don't want a black president, or indeed mayor or police chief or senator, at any price. It's really a question of whether Mrs. Clinton wants to be represented as the candidate of that backlash. My opinion is she would do anything. She wouldn't mind running with George Wallace if it would get her the nomination.

Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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