Christopher Hitchens

This month in New York, the fashionable charity named United Cerebral Palsy is having an ‘awards’ event. I think that the winners must have been picked some time ago. The ‘outstanding achievement’ prize goes to General Colin Powell, and will be presented by Barbara Walters. The ‘humanitarian’ award goes to Diana Spencer and will be presented by Henry Kissinger. In other words, a single well-placed grenade could remove the whole beating heart of the international celebrity industry, along with its most servile and deferential interviewer and promoter: Barbara Walters, doyenne of drool and sultana of shlock. But not even this would restore the stolen year; the twelvemonth of trash and false alarms to which we have been subjected. In nominating one’s ‘people of the year’, it is necessary to say a bit about the disqualifications. These must include any propensity to waste time. A true celebrity ‘delivers’. He or she keeps weaving and moving in an effort not to disappoint. Richard Nixon was such a one. Every time a new segment of Watergate tape was released, revealing his Jew-baiting or thuggery or corruption, he would publish a new book on grand strategy or at least fly to Beijing. What a trouper! Such a pro! Say what you like about Dick, there was nothing of the cock-teaser about him. This is more than can be said for United Cerebral Palsy’s two chiefest honorees.

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