Widow of Opportunity

November 4, 2011

Vanity Fair December 2011
By Christopher Hitchens

If you were to set a competition for the headline most unlikely to appear in an American magazine, the winning entry would surely be jackie tacky or tacky jackie. In her life and even posthumously, it always somehow fell to Jackie Kennedy to raise the tone. An exacting task in her case, and exquisitely so when one appreciates that she had to raise the tone without ever actually admitting that the tone could use a bit of raising.

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Anonymous said...

I wonder if CH intended this piece to be misinterpreted as critical analysis or, recognised for what it is, mere conjecture and having its only value as entertainment for those who enjoy CH's style of fiction.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:55 -

Oh come now. Let the man take a few bows for his fans, of which I am among.

I say it's a rather soft piece, as far as CH vs. Presidential legacies go. You should read what he writes about Nixon and the Clintons...

2nd anonymous said:

"I say it's a rather soft piece, as far as CH vs. Presidential legacies go. You should read what he writes about Nixon and the Clintons..."

at 2nd anonymous:


Anonymous said...

Somewhere there is a factory floor full of sacred cows, lined-up waiting for Hitchens cattle prod.

I don't think you can reduce this article to mere conjecture. All of his points have been covered by other historians who have come to similar conclusions, especially regarding the Profiles plagiarism.

Anonymous said...

"Soft piece"? On facts. Is this why cl has agreed?

"All his points have been covered by other historians who have come to similar conclusions"? Is other Anonymous alleging article is plagiarist?

Anonymous said...

Wow Anon Nov 7, you managed to totally misread and misunderstand all of the above comments...

I was supporting Mr. Hitchen's article by stating that the information contained therein was supported by others who have investigated his claims. I did not allege that "article is plagiarist."

Anonymous said...

There's something oddly context-free in Hitchens's non-review review of the Jackie Kennedy - Arthur Schlesinger interviews. I suspect he did not listen to the whole thing, either, and may be quoting the most quoted quotes to comment upon them.

You have a real widow, aged about 34, with two small children. Not only is she a widow, but the shots that were fired might have hit her - the trauma was hers to live with. And she's talking to a historian, and speaking very tenderly and affectionately of the husband she lost. But no, she isn't a feminist outside of her time and class. She isn't yet being the career woman she became after many different types of experiences. She's just sitting there kind of convalescing, but has an innate intelligence which shows she had learned to understand power and rather enjoyed being close to it, when she wasn't seeing how much destructive force there was too.

How was she "tacky" in the interview? (I believe Tacky Jacky really WAS a tabloid headline from the Onassis years, so he did not make it up). The British definition of high class is different from ours in the States. There is a good deal of entitlement and arrogance in British "ladies" with plenty of the insular forelock tugging you get in people who sense that even if they aren't up there, someone of their blood is. You cannot say that in the US to the same extent. Class is much more superficial here. Jackie was raised in the home of stockbroker whose ancestor came to the US as a cabinet-maker who did repairs at Napoleon's brother's estate in Philadelphia. That's her origin: French working class, with a good admixture of Irish. It isn't something Europeans would consider particularly aristocratic, but she was our little aristocrat, and she taught us about a wider world. I am sorry to see such ungallant words about her from a man determined to play the iconoclast even if he is attacking a valuable work of art.


Christopher reads from Hitch-22: A Memoir