Hitchens published a little book two years ago called Letters to a Young Contrarian, in which he recommended that people refuse to toe the party line—any party line—and instead question received wisdom of all kinds. He was describing his own position on the Left as a ruthless critic of cliché and convention. But here at the Beverly Hills Hotel, there was no sign of Hitchens the contrarian—no more challenging the powerful, no more the maverick or rebel, not even a dissent from Horowitz's claim that the "real struggle" today is against the peace movement, not against Hussein and terrorism.
Hitchens' transformation over the past five months has been breathtaking. As the proceedings came to an end and the crowd headed out to valet parking, Horowitz looked triumphant.