Christopher Hitchens on Why He's Voting for Obama

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 17, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment: An ardent supporter of the War on Terror now says that McCain is not his man. With me now is the writer Christopher Hitchens, once a favorite of the left and the right and now, Lord knows.

Can I say Lord, Christopher?

Click here to watch the interview.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, AUTHOR/SLATE.COM COLUMNIST: I'd prefer you didn't. And I'd also prefer you didn't make me sound as if I'm all over the shop, all over the...

INGRAHAM: Well, I want to go back to something that you wrote in July that I loved. It was the piece in Slate called "The War Between the Wars." And it was between Iraq and Afghanistan, and you wrote this at the end of the piece:

"If we had left Iraq according to the timetable of the anti-war movement, the Iraqi people would now be excruciatingly tyrannized by the gloating sadists of Al Qaeda, who could further boast of having inflicted a battlefield defeat on the United States. I dare say the word of that would have spread to Afghanistan fast enough and, indeed, to other places where the enemy operates."

You went on to call some of the Barack Obama supporters and Obama campaign itself on this. You accused them of loose babble. How are you now essentially supporting Barack Obama, who stands for everything you stood up for, which is this War on Terror?

HITCHENS: Yes, well, there are two things. And by the way, I could have been harsher about what I had said there. And now we're told that refugees from the Iraqi terror gangs, defeated and demoralized, are flooding back into Afghanistan. It's the — try their luck there. It's the exact reversal of what the liberals say is one good war and one bad war.

INGRAHAM: But you're voting for Obama?

HITCHENS: It's the same war. Now, on Obama, starting with him, everything he said since the first debate he had with Mrs. Clinton in Texas has been getting better. That's the first time he praised the surge and praised the guys from Fort Hood for taking part in it and driving Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia out of Baghdad. He's got much more solid about the thing. He's got a learning curve. He's more teachable. And even when he nominated Biden to be his running mate, the main thing he stressed was how tough Biden would be against...

INGRAHAM: Biden has been pretty much wrong on everything except in Bosnia.

HITCHENS: He was very good about Milosevic. The thing, the losers in this are not me. It's the types that are campaigning for someone who says that, if necessary, he'll go straight across the border into Pakistan to root these guys out, which — and McCain has attacked Obama for saying how can you be so militant? Why...

INGRAHAM: Isn't that bravado? That's campaign bravado.

HITCHENS: I'm sorry, Pakistan...

INGRAHAM: But Christopher...

HITCHENS: I'm sorry, darling. May I say darling?

INGRAHAM: No, you may not.

HITCHENS: Pakistan is invading Afghanistan.

INGRAHAM: On what issues though, on what issues, Christopher, do you think Barack Obama is closer to you in foreign policy than John McCain, specifically? What position?

HITCHENS: I'm only saying he's evolving towards my position. Whereas McCain has done something I think...

INGRAHAM: He's in a campaign? That's a big bet though, is it not? That's a big bet on the War on Terror you're making.

HITCHENS: McCain takes one disadvantage and adds another. First, McCain is, in my judgment — I hate to have to say it of such a person — is losing height, losing capacity. He's just not quite the man he was, and one proof of that, you might add, is that his choice of running mate and potential vice president...

INGRAHAM: The person who's filling the stadiums across the country?

HITCHENS: Yes, with I think rather noisy and irresponsible stops and people...

INGRAHAM: Incompetence. My friends go to see Sarah Palin. They're great people. And they want to Dartmouth with me, and they're good people.

HITCHENS: I'm not very — I'm not very impressed by people who yell "traitor" and "communist" and other less printable things. I don't like it.

INGRAHAM: But you're a free speech person. A lot of this stuff that's been reported now, it looks like, the "kill him," all that stuff is bologna. It never happened. And I'll tell you something. You want to see some rowdy, nasty things, you know the Web sites I'm talking about. You know what the people are saying...

HITCHENS: Indeed I do.

INGRAHAM: ...about McCain and about Palin and the words they're using and nastiness.

HITCHENS: Yes, I do.

INGRAHAM: So I mean, forgive me if the occasional nasty comment in a rally is not — is not convincing on your world view, which was get these Islamists, we need to defeat them, we need to win this War on Terror. And the one person who's celebrated by the anti-war left as their savior is your man, Christopher. All the stuff you've written and debated your entire career about the War on Terror is all wiped away because you don't like Sarah Palin. Why? Because she what? Why don't you like her?

HITCHENS: I thought you'd never ask. You must have me on more often and tell me what you think and then I won't — you won't have to hear...

INGRAHAM: I know, but I'm frustrated with you, because you're so smart and you're so articulate, and it's not patronizing. It's true. On this War on Terror. And yet, you're willing to throw it away because McCain doesn't seem like he's with it enough, or Palin?

HITCHENS: I think McCain has been erratic and untrustworthy on the question of Afghanistan and Pakistan, first thing. And second, I think given the actuarial odds and the way — what you actually see him when you hear him and hear when you see him, it's extraordinarily irresponsible for him to appoint someone who isn't even curious about foreign affairs.

INGRAHAM: Will you come on my radio show so we can have a longer discussion?

HITCHENS: Radio might be better.

INGRAHAM: Christopher Hitchens, we appreciate it. You're not going to vote for Obama.

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