Washington, D.C.'S Best Grudge Match

East-coast intellectuals, like Appalachian mountain folk, are famous for their feuds. When Whittaker Chambers accused Alger Hiss of being a Soviet spy in the 1950s, the political elite chose sides, and some still aren't speaking. After novelist Mary McCarthy called playwright Lillian Hellman a liar--or, more precisely, said, "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'"--the literary crowd split in two. They're at it again. That rumbling out of Washington is the sound of a new chattering class feud--and unaligned wordsmiths had better head for the hills.

The firing-on-Fort-Sumter of this little war came when Christopher Hitchens, a...

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