DICKING AROUND….Really, there are times when you have to admire Christopher Hitchens. In Slate, speaking about the war, he says:

What will it take to convince these people that this is not a year, or a time, to be dicking around?

And get this: he’s talking about the left! That’s chutzpah!

After all, Hitchens has chosen to ally himself with the most unserious group of war leaders this country has ever seen. They treated the runup to war like a marketing blitz for a new soft drink; they have trivialized critical issues of national security because doing so made them into better partisan cudgels for congressional campaigns; they have ignored the advice of military professionals because it was electorally inconvenient; they have repeatedly misled the American public even though they surely know that this is disastrous for long term support of the war; and they have refused to seriously address the exploding guerrilla war in Iraq for months because they’re afraid it might hurt their reelection chances.

Needless to say, Hitchens acknowledges none of this. In fact, later in the piece, he opines that “Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a far more ruthless and dangerous jihadist” than Osama bin Laden ? without so much as a nod to the fact that we might have captured or killed Zarqawi two years ago but for Bush’s fear that doing so might interfere with his Iraq war marketing campaign.

So what is the real danger to the war effort? Apparently it’s DC scuttlebutt about whether the Bush administration will suddenly capture Osama next month as part of an “October Surprise.” That’s important.

In a sense, Hitchens’ pieces encapsulates everything that’s wrong with so many pro-war hawks. They’ve defined a new kind of political correctness in which every rhetorical slip is immediately seized on as a sign of deep moral corruption, while actual issues of national security are hastily swept under the carpet because it’s somehow better to have an incompetent fellow traveler in the White House than a liberal who might actually get something done. In this world, writing a column about Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Osama-baiting is more important than writing about the almost unbroken string of real-world failures by the Bush administration ? failures that are almost certain to continue for another four years if he’s reelected.

That’s important. But that’s not what they want to talk about. Can you blame them?