MJT: You should be able to compare their foreign policies honestly, without being a partisan hack. I know it’s a bit early—you’ve got eight years of Bush policies to compare with one year of Obama’s—but let’s hear it. What do you think?

Hitchens: There’s something everyone has forgotten, and Obama has never tried to remind them. He doesn’t get credit because he’s never asked for it. Do you remember when the American crew was taken by the pirates off the coast of Somalia? It’s the same country of origin of the axe-wielding maniac who just tried to murder Kurt Westergaard in Denmark.

Someone went to the Oval Office and said, “Mr. President, you have three choices. We can have a standoff with the Somali government, we can negotiate with the pirates, or you can order the Navy SEALs to fire four shots.”

I wouldn’t like to be a newly elected president and have that dumped on my desk. He must have said, however long it took him, “Use the SEALs.”

But that’s not what impresses me. The point I’m making is not the one you thought I was going to make. What impresses me is that he didn’t give a speech later about it. If Reagan had done that, everyone would remember it. There would be hubris. “They can run, but they can’t hide.”

I like his nature. Those who need to know, know. We don’t have to make a big fucking circus out of it.