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Gore Vidal: Living Through History

Posted on Nov 21, 2006
Gore Vidal and Robert Scheer
Zuade Kaufman/Truthdig

Gore Vidal (left) sits with Robert Scheer (right)  at Vidal’s home in Los Angeles, Calif.

Iconic author and historian Gore Vidal speaks with Robert Scheer about his new memoir, “Point to Point Navigation,” and the events that shaped his life and his country, from war with Hitler to the “waking nightmare” of Iraq. 


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Partial Transcript:

Scheer:

Let me begin, well, first of all, it’s kind of depressing the way you begin this book.  You say you’re headed for the exit.

Gore Vidal:

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I’m not serious.

Scheer:

Oh, you’re not serious.  OK.  Because I got a little worried. I’m not far behind, you know.

Vidal:

No, my exit is headed toward me.  I’m not running toward it.

Scheer:

But you make a point, that you’ve lived through one-third of the history of this country…

Vidal:

Most of the 20th century.

Scheer:

Yeah.

Vidal:

Three-quarters of the twentieth century.

Scheer:

And it started out, I don’t know, from the book it sounds like it was a lot more exciting, vital and fun-filled than it is now.

Vidal:

I’m now a creationist.  Because the distance from George Washington to George W. Bush makes a monkey out of Darwin.

Scheer:

[laughs] Now you’ve been—you’ve seen a lot of scoundrels in your time.  You’ve been in, you know, you’ve been through some periods when we’ve been ruled by liars. You’ve exposed a number of those lies…

Vidal:

There’s a difference between that and having, uh, and having systemic lying—which is the only way these people know how to govern.  The president says, “Look, look in New Orleans in no time at all, everything’s gonna be cleaned up and, uh, [imitating Bush] I’ve given orders, and when I told you, last time I was here in, uh, whatever square this is ... it’s got a church here, isn’t it?  It’s a cathedral square!  I told—what I told you then, I meant.  And that’s what your gonna get.”  He was telling the truth.  They got nothing, and they got nothing the second time around.  Everybody knows that about him.  There are a few crazies who want to cheer the flag and this yappy little terrier as though he were a real president. Well, he’s not a real president.  He’s a thing, a chimera who was put together by the Supreme Court, first time around, and reelected by, uh, Diebold, Sequoia and some other interested parties.  Everybody knows he isn’t there.  Or what is there isn’t for us—it’s not our president.  We do have a real, uh, a shadow president in Vice President Cheney, whose wife is a famous novelist given to tales of unnatural love… . But Lynne, more power to you.  She’s my kind of novelist.

Scheer:

I mean, you witnessed the Third Reich.  You grew up at a time when people—you were in the military ... . Your generation, as you say in the book, was cannon fodder in fighting the third Reich.  Young cadets who thought they were taking language training and then they end up…

Vidal:

They ended up in the Battle of the Bulge.

Scheer:

So how did we get to this point?

Vidal:

I think it’s a sort of waking nightmare I’m in.  I get up in the morning. I get the newspapers. I start to open them up and I see Iraq.  What happened there?  I’ve just ... during my sleep I block it out.  And because I thought in 1945—‘46 I got out of the Army—I thought, well, I’ve had my war, my father had his war, my grandfather’s generation had the Civil War, and I thought, well, that’ll do for now.  That’ll do for the next century or so.  Then we had what I call the golden age, which was from 1945 to 1950.  All the arts in America exploded.  Unlikely arts like ballet.  We had been nowhere—we’d never heard of toe-dancing before, and suddenly we had the ballet theater.  We had some of the best ballet dancers in the business.  Suddenly in music there’s Lenny Bernstein ... comes along—a one-man orchestra, really.  We were producing many first-rate poets, starting with Robert Lowell ... and Tennessee Williams in the theater. I mean it was a burst.  In five years this happened.  Everybody came along at the same time.  Why?  Because we’d lived through depression.  We’d lived through World War II.  Most of us had not been too frightened to get into the war, and so we went, and got frightened once we were there, naturally, but we felt that was what you had to do.  So our reward was a golden age of five years in all the arts.  And those of us who were in the arts, I mean it was a magical time.  Then what happened?  Korea.  And the evil genius of our country, which I will chat about another time, is Harry Truman, and Dean Acheson, who was the brain for him.  But Truman was ... he wanted a war.  Preferably cold, but he’d settle for a hot one.  Why?  He had one good motive, which he would explain to you all the time.  And that was, the depression had not ended by 1940.  We were still deep in depression.  It had returned.  The New Deal had not solved it.  He was terrified, and when Franklin Roosevelt put $8 billion into the economy to rearm America in 1940, it was the end of the depression.  Everybody had a job.  The country was prosperous.  And then we won the war.  We’re very good at war, by the way.  We must tell the Republicans, remind them.  World War II was ours, Vietnam was theirs, and certainly this mess in the Middle East is theirs.  So we did know how to win them, not that I approve of war, but if you’re going to have one, you better win it.  And then suddenly by 1950 we’re in Korea, we’re losing.  And then the wars begin.  Many of them for the same reason: that the people who own the country thought it was good for business.  Politicians saw it was a way to rise, play the patriotic card.  And so there we were, with a golden age aborted on our hands.  It’s often been mentioned, the amount of melancholy that can be found in the novelists of the ‘50s and ‘60s.  Well, it was—we’d lived through the thing once.  And it was all coming back again.  Here we are, contesting with Cuba, threatening to throw missiles.  Here we are, fighting the Viet Cong in Southeast Asia—we don’t belong there.  We had a good excuse for the other wars—for the real wars—but not for those.  But it did us in.  So this election, coming up, although it’s a mere off-year, this is the on-year election of all our lives.  And if we don’t turn it around the right way, we’re not going to have representative government.  We’re not going to have the people’s voice ever again expressed quadrennially in the presidential election, because they can falsify it each time now.  So now’s the time to use a new Congress, hoping we get one, to tidy up.

Scheer:

What happened to the center in America?  I mean you ... you’ve lived through this period where you say they’re thugs now.  What, you know ... I don’t know if you were there at Stanley [Sheinbaum’s] house when [George] Soros was there recently?

Vidal:

No, I wasn’t.


Scheer:

I asked him this question because he has this book, again talking about fascism—and he lived under fascism in Hungary.  And I asked him, I said, “Where are your buddies on Wall Street?  Where are the ... “

Vidal:

Good question.

Scheer:

“... Where are the people who worry about the world their grandchildren will inherit?  You know, what happened to that notion of responsibility?”  And he said, you know, it was greed.  And I said, “But greed is always there, but they’re somehow still worried about the outcome.”  And he said the big problem is they are innocents.  They simply do not believe it will happen.

Vidal:

In the late ‘30s, early ‘40s, I forget the exact year—my generation—I went in the Army when I was 17.  I had read, by then, a book called “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, which was a very chilling account of just ordinary middle America, which goes fascist, and how it will come about.  I wouldn’t say he was a great prophet, but we all knew it could happen here.  We watched Hitler; I mean it was just fascinating.  Every other day, if you read the papers regularly, a new country had fallen.  It was suddenly up—there he is in Finland, or wherever it was he ended up—he’s all over the place!  He’s got Poland; he’s going to get Czechoslovakia.  He can’t get France.  Hmm, he got France.  We were quite used to the—there’s a wonderful song from the Revolution: “The whole world upside down” was the lyric of it.  Well, we knew about the whole world upside down from having watched the newsreels of Adolph Hitler.  What could happen there could certainly happen here.  And we had enough home-grown Nazis anyway, who were in favor of his tactics, if nothing else.  Many of them high in the Army.  And I used to listen to some generals, because my stepfather was an Air Force general—not a Nazi—but he ... I can remember him, he was a very right-wing general, and he and the other generals would sit around and ... they were just sort of chuckling about how we were fighting the wrong enemy—we should be fighting Stalin, not Hitler.  And then somebody would always pipe up: “Yeah, well, let’s go down to the White House and send him home.”  And, of course, the American Legion had tried to do that with President Roosevelt when he first came into office.  They tried to organize—it was General Smedley Butler, formerly of the Marine Corps, who turned out to be too much of a patriot, but they offered money, would he overthrow FDR in his first term.  So ... it was in our air.  Fascism was in the air, obviously, between Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin’s repressiveness.  And no one I know ever thought we would be exempt from it.  As time passed, I began to watch things we were doing which were totally imperial, totally mindless.  And I thought, uh-oh, you know, we’re taking some wrong turns here.  So you do your best to warn about it, and everybody does their best to pay no attention.  And then suddenly you are faced with the fact that we have lost habeas corpus.  So we are—900 years of Anglo-American law has been swept aside by a mere whim, and this attorney—oh, Attorney General Gonzales—every time I look at him I see Truman Capote.  [Imitating Gonzales/Capote] “Well, I just don’t know ... the Constitution’s really quaint.”  And he yammers away in that nasal voice of his.  And I thought, my heavens, how could you have found that?  I think of our ruling junta.  Why not get a real lawyer or a better lawyer?  Or someone at least conversant with the Constitution.  But I think the loss of habeas corpus—“Oh, Abraham Lincoln did that”—all the non-history these people come up with.  They don’t know why Abraham Lincoln did it—they don’t know if he did do it.  It’s a talking point: “Lincoln did it, FDR did it, this one ... oh, and George Washington, oh, yes, George Washington imprisoned everybody.”  All you have to do is give them a suggestion and they will cascade lies.

Scheer:

Then what is the truth on that?

Vidal:

FDR on habeas corpus unilaterally suspended it when he arrested the Japanese Americans, on the grounds that they would [support] their fellow tribalists in Asia after Pearl Harbor. And they were all mostly on the West Coast, so he put them in concentration camps. I have a friend, Louie Auchincloss—very good novelist, great lawyer - and I said, ‘When did you first become fearful for our Democracy?’ And he said, ‘I was just out of law school when Roosevelt built the concentration camps and locked up the Japanese. If he can do that, without even an act of Congress - Congress will do many stupid things for a president but they hadn’t thought to do that (as far as I remember as it went)—but that was presidential prerogative, and that set a very bad precedent.

Scheer:

Well what about that argument, that Lincoln used it and Washington used it? I mean, they do use that argument all the time.

Vidal:

Let’s begin at the beginning. There is no war. Because everyone is either collusive or just damned dumb. They don’t know any different. I’m talking about people on television, people in the media. [Imitating shrill talking heads:] Wartime president! Wartime president!
Which, if you were in charge of the program or asking the questions: No, you’re not. You cannot be a wartime president without a war. This is impossible. For a war you need a country. [Imitating shrill talking heads:] Iraq! Iraq!
There is no war over that country. There is a criminal invasion of aggression by the United States on presidential order alone. It is completely illegal; you could be impeached any day of the week for what you’ve done: committing American troops, firing on innocent people, Saddam Hussein never had the power to do us any harm at all, and had no intention of doing it. Now we’re going to hang him! Oh boy, it’s a real serious war, you see? We got ‘im. We’re gonna hang him. [pauses]
We have turned into the worst barbarians on earth, and that is how we are regarded in other countries. And I no longer bother to put up a defense of us. I always used to say, ‘Americans are not bad, and certainly not stupid, but they’re ignorant. The educational system is terrible, and the media is bought.’ The should just about take care of everybody.

Scheer:

I don’t want to take up too much of your time here, but we did talk a little about criticism that you’ve endured. And at the end of chapter 51 - there’s a lot of chapters—

Vidal:

They’re very short.

Scheer:

Yeah. You’re discussing this fella Altman, who wrote about you, and so forth, and I don’t want to read the whole thing, but you talk about how he gets it wrong.

Vidal:

I’ll say.

Scheer:

And he gets it wrong about Jews, and there’s some quote where you mention a black writer and a Jewish writer, and then he says you’re not sympathetic to African American writers—

Vidal:

That’s just so stupid.

Scheer:

I just want to throw the third one in: and you didn’t do enough for AIDS, and then you have this great response where you say—

Vidal:

My virulogical skills are few.

Vidal and Scheer:

[laugh together]

Scheer:

But people have really expected you - it’s sort of weird: you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. To come out with strong statements, it’s, ‘Why is Gore Vidal again saying something?’ But on the other hand, people have criticized you for not championing every cause around, right? I mean, that’s what I got from [the book].

Vidal:

I chose Altman because much of what he’s written in this book about me is pretty intelligent. But he’s Australian though, and doesn’t really know the American context to everything. So I got word to him, and I said, ‘You know, I was just invited by the Congressional Black Caucus to address them. Just phone in from Italy.’ I said, ‘Do you think that would happen to this writer, that writer, the other writer?

Scheer:

  But you were in fact a strong supporter of writers like Baldwin…

Vidal:

I certainly was; I tried for two years to get “Go Tell it On the Mountain” published, whose original title was “Cry Holy.” I remember it was in two white cardboard boxes. And I gave it to Elliot MacCray, who owned E.P. Dutton, and he looked at it for a while, and he said, ‘Is that James Baldwin?” And I said, yeah. And he said, ‘I can’t publish it,’ and I said, ‘Why not? It’s a wonderful book,’ and he said, ‘I’m from Virginia.’ This is not 1920, this was 1946 or ‘47.

Scheer:

You actually made the point that they had to go to France to be established -

Vidal:

To be established and properly praised.

Scheer:

But what changed? You got two areas there: Baldwin was a homosexual and a black man. How much has the world changed for those two categories, or people in those two categories?

Vidal:

Not much.

Scheer:

Really?

Vidal:

No. It’s more vocal these days. There are people who wrap themselves in the pink triangle, people who wrap themselves in Africa, but the feelings are still there; notice the campaign we’re now enduring. Mr. Foley of the Republicans is in great trouble; he’s harming them—I gather - just by what he is, not by his little notes to page boys—or whatever they are - in the Senate. [editor’s note: Foley sent electronic messages to House pages, not, apparently, to Senate pages.]

Scheer:

So you really don’t think it’s changed that much?

Vidal:

Very little. Very, very little. That you have militant movements, sometimes set in motion by one minority or another minority, it doesn’t mean you’ve changed peoples’ views. They’re fed them from birth. They don’t change. I was just down in Texas, you know, speaking in Austin, which is the liberal capitol of the state, and I was talking to liberal-minded Texans about their problems. Same old problems.

Scheer:

Right, so don’t you think there’s more tolerance? Here we are in Hollywood, and so forth, all of this stuff we’ve been hearing about: gay marriage, and in the case of black people - now called black instead of negro - there’s…

Vidal:

Changing a word does not alter a situation.



Click the play button the video box below to watch the full 36-minute interview—including Gore Vidal’s memories of the Kennedy clan and his take on the JFK assassination.

Or download: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, or one large file.

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By Kellina, January 13, 2007 at 10:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey Blackolive, don’t despair:

http://www.total911.info/2007/01/hustler-investigates-911-inside-job.html

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By Bill Blackolive, January 10, 2007 at 10:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I believe the quickest route to reaching those who cannot accept reality of 9/11 is in talking the physics, keep hammering how skyscrapers cannot possibly ever fall into their foundations from engineering defect or impact or heat. Only controlled demolition can do this, naturally. I know some calm folks are hammering, but we must have established journalists saying it. A safety of large numbers
would be nice, but a few must be brave enough to get it rolling.

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By Ed, January 9, 2007 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Though not a very scientific man I think I have discovered the “MISSING LINK”,it lies on 1600 PA ave DC,
is anyone intersted in some funky,pioneering,illuminated research…......to eliminate CANCER.

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By God, January 9, 2007 at 11:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I dont believe he ran for president, he ran for House in New York and Senate in California. I saw him speak once (and actually got my picture taken with him. Truly a brillant man.

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By Ed Wright, December 31, 2006 at 12:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Cheney-Bush regime is illegitimate.
It is negligent.
It is corrupt.
It is criminal.
It is the most negligent,
most corrupt,
most criminal regime in the entire history
of this nation.
Impeachment off the table Nancy?
It’s not about the polls, it’s about the facts.
The evidence of the crimes committed is patent.
Impeachment off the table John (Conyers)?
John, we thought you were in gear on this?
Well Gore, same ol’ same ol’, right?

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By brian roberts, December 20, 2006 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vidal is someone who is not afraid to tell the truth, an American icon. His assessment that America has not recovered from the JFK assassination is very true. This is a very dark,important time in American history, the biggest puppet president and his obligitory war in the Middle East (for the benefit of his Zionist comrades) is diving the country and I fear we may lose our country because we have no representation. We elect a conservative Republican for president and what do we have -a liar, a warmonger, an OJ acting as our president.  God help us to elect congressmen and a president that will represent what Americans want - truth, accountability and peace.

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By occupant, December 10, 2006 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The “occupant”, that NEEDS controlled!

All the Best,
Concerned Mother

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By HARRY, December 10, 2006 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal calls under-appreciated novelist James Purdy
“An authentic American genius”.
Both are geniuses in my book.

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By harry, December 9, 2006 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is a supporter of under-appreciated novelist
James Purdy…........Both are fantastic writers!

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By felicity, November 29, 2006 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Vidal, you have heard, I trust, that Mr. Bush is to build a $500 million presidential library to himself?

In light of that, I can think of no more fitting display to greet visitors to his library than a very large photograph of George being sworn into office as president.  The accompanying caption to read, “January 20, 2001, A Date That Will Live in Infamy.”  (with apologies to Franklin)

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By Georgia Whitman, November 27, 2006 at 3:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For the past 11 months I have been traveling across the world. I can only think of one person who said that he likes the US: a Bangladeshi in Rome. Everyone else is baffled and some are understandably angry.  I too don’t bother to defend the people of the United States. The truth is as Vidal said, but to put it my way, the majority wallow in their happy ignorance. George Bush would not have been possible without Ronald Regan and he would not have been elected without the consent of the majority that supported a man who appealed to their base instincts. And now they sup from the pig trough of lies that are his memorial.

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By mare, November 26, 2006 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Vidal is a true intellect. What happens to this world will hinge on listening to his words of insight. If we chose to ignore those who have wisdom then we are lost!

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By paul kibble, November 26, 2006 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is and has long been my favorite author. Since tilting at windmills is one of my favorite pasttimes, in a recent fit of madness—-or was it lucidity?—-I dispatched this litlle communique to the committee that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature. Not even I am deluded enough to believe that they’ll actually read the damn thing, much less act on it. Still,  unregenerate romantic that I am, I still need to entertain the possibility that someday Gore will take his rightful place alongside such previous honorees as Sam Beckett and Saul Bellow, though I doubt that even Gore would presume he deserves an exalted niche similar to those occupied by the immortal Pearl S. Buck and. . .what are some of those other names again?

To: Horace Engdahl, Permanent Secretary to the Swedish Academy

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am not privy to the selection process for the annual Nobel Prize in Literature, but I of course defer to the autonomy of that process for this most distinguished of awards. My own credentials are merely those of an amateur, in the best sense of that term: I love something—-in this case, the literature of many different countries—-simply for its own sake, rather than out of any “professional” commitment to literature as a branch of academia or publishing enterprise (although I have worked in both those fields myself).

I trust I therefore won’t sound unforgivably presumptuous if I were to share with you my hope that you and your colleagues might consider the American author Gore Vidal as a possible future recipient for the Nobel Prize in Literature. In their range, variety and—-it must be emphasized—-courage, Mr. Vidal’s accomplishments as essayist, novelist, and political commentator speak for themselves.

But while Mr. Vidal has demonstrated a superlative grasp of American history, he has also never hesitated to point out the darker implications of that history for his contemporaries, including those who currently wield—-often recklessly—-unparalleled power over the fate of so many human lives on this planet, be they American or otherwise. For while Mr. Vidal’s personal history is inextricably bound up with that of his native land, he is, in his cosmopolitan tastes and outlook, as well as in his deep and abiding concern for those utterly unlike himself, truly a citizen of the world.

In this respect, for nearly sixty years Mr. Vidal has remained a brave and often lonely figure who has used his polymathic learning, fierce intelligence, and merciless wit to illuminate and inspire readers on a broad range of historical, political, and cultural themes. For these reasons, I respectfully urge you and other members of the Academy to consider honoring him with an award that would grant permanent recognition to his extraordinary achievements.

Thank you for taking the time to read these brief notes dashed off on behalf of one of our—that is, the world’s—-greatest living writers.

Sincerely,

Paul Kibble,
USA

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By kathy sullivan, November 24, 2006 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think we are still hurting from the Kennedy assassination because we never fully understood what happened; we never healed as a nation.  The Warren Commission was a farce with the “one bullet” theory and was never believed.  We have the same repeat of history with 9/11; the lies and cover-up of one of the biggest crimes in history; the sham 9/11 Commission, etc.  However, we still have a chance to do something about 9/11; demand a real investigation!  If we do not have a proper investigaion, we as a nation will fall into deeper despair because we cannot face the truth.

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By bc42, November 23, 2006 at 9:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve been following developments of this 700 mile fence.  You may not agree with it as I and much of the country does yet as you know Republicans pushed it through with Bush’s approval hoping for some gains.  It is proving to be an interesting test of how democracy is changing by the emergency powers granted the president. I haven’t seen much on it because many of the vocal have painted themselves in a corner making this a civil rights issue, (honestly the boomer generation has sacraficed more than anybody for that already, nevermind veterens and women’s rights).  It passed but it isn’t funded.  Bush likely to fund it but then plans to re-direct funding to other border security using the new powers he has.  Neither Congress nor the president are worried about Iraqis crossing the border, both worried they will miss out on this big Latino demographic that columnist Buchanon suggests in his best selling book will be about 50 million by 2050 making it not the heart wrenching issue all think it is in intellectual circiles on the internet (let’s all close our eyes and minds and vote for goodness).  So, Bush having appeased most of us who struggle with labor competition, will now reach out to the intellectuals and throw away all the fence money into security cameras citing Home Land Security Decision!.  The whole issue, at least in their minds, has nothing to do with 911.  So there is is, “rewrite how we make laws because we gave some leeway on terror”  He’s not savy to what the emergency powers represent, facilitating flexiblily not a surrender of democracy.  Here is funny discussion on border cameras:  http://www.prospect.org/cgi-bin/mtype/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=2370

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By Samantha, November 23, 2006 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Too bad we can’t have a Vidal-Moyers ticket for 2008, eh? But re Vidal’s interview, I think our nation is still smarting from the Kennedy assassination.  This single event created a terrible psychic bogeyman, an amorphous villain who’s engendered a kind of cynical defeatism in some of our brighter minds, and a strange reactionary penitance in others that verges on bizarre religious extremism. (All this while in Europe and South America, people were/are becoming much more egalitarian, in keeping with the doctrines of Jesus and Marx.)

I remember that the mid-late 50s were similarly scary. Then people were rallying to ban the Bomb and get rid of McCarthyism. But even the beats managed to produce some solid protesting voices that brought about the change of consciousness in the 60s. Let’s not despair, even in these dark hours.

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By concerned, November 23, 2006 at 4:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jeanne;
Because all of the “Wars on”, ie; poverty, drugs, terrorism, etc., have been proven to be nothing more than a (the) war on people—people like you and me. Let’s discard the “war on” mentality and consider alternatives.

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By Sarah Merlin, November 22, 2006 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal represents the last vestiges of all that is worth remembering, admiring and emulating - a distinguished American of letters, a beautiful, gilded figurehead for an all-but-vanished time when intellect, character, manners, and the moral imperative to make one’s existence count by making it about something larger than oneself were the true measure of a human being. The mirror opposite of a callow, treacherous troll like George Bush. If there is going to be cloning, let it start with Mr. Vidal! Thanks, Robert Scheer, for providing this snapshot of a life well lived and Godspeed, Doug, on your efforts. What an unspeakable tragedy that all Mr. Vidal stands for has come to be regarded as virtually anachronistic in our coarse, shallow America; he will live enduringly in the American pantheon alongside Jefferson and Lincoln, Eliot and Pound, Keroac and Dylan and the rest of the select number who belong in such company. Thank you, Gore Vidal, for all you’ve done and all you are. Long may you run.

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By Edward Schonberg, November 22, 2006 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is so truly informed about the history of this country and very wise to the fabrications of this administration. Never have there been so many lies by our elected leaders. I wish Mr.Vidal only good health and more public expressions of his thoughts.

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By Quannah, November 22, 2006 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

comment to Jaded Prole #39117:

Gore Vidal did run for President… I believe it was 1976. Too bad you missed it, because it was the amazing to behold. It was a time when he was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show, and it was enjoyable every time he made an appearance.

Poor Washington wouldn’t have known what to do with Mr. Vidal! I would have paid any price to have seen it, though!

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By Alex Fraser, November 22, 2006 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment
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Magnificent.

  Keep Gore Vidal at any cost!

      Alex

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By Erroll, November 22, 2006 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment
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One of the more notable quotes by Gore Vidal was in the film The U.S. vs. John Lennon. Vidal observed, quite correctly, that John Lennon represented life while Mr. Nixon and Mr. Bush represent death. Today, as in Nixon’s time, people are spied upon by the government while the lessons of Vietnam were ignored   by those in power today. But as Vidal has noted in the past, Bush, however, has proved to be more obtuse and more obstinate than Nixon, unwilling to admit that staying the course has led to the unnecessary and tragic deaths of Americans in Iraq.

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By edward, November 22, 2006 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment
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Nice interview, but Vidal’s judgment is skewed about who killed Kennedy. Don’t bother reading “ultimate sacrifice,” the book he recommends. The following is my Amazon review of “Final Judgment,” the best JFK book (currently out of print, but used copies are available):

Michael Collins Piper in his book, Final Judgment, presents a compelling case that Zionists in general, and the Israeli Mossad in particular, played a primary role in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the subsequent coverup. His book is chock-full of sources and evidence to support his hypothesis. He has provided ample authority in his book with over 1,000 endnotes, and 10 appendices. While other books have revealed the separate involvement of Lyndon Johnson, the Dallas Police Department, the CIA, the FBI, anti-Castro Cubans, French intelligence agencies, and organized crime in the assassination of President Kennedy. The intrepid Mr. Piper methodically explains how all of these persons and organizations were tied together in a conspiracy that at its core was set in motion by the Israeli Mossad. One of the key players in the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy was Meyer Lansky, who Piper reveals was the de facto head of organized crime in the United States. Piper explains how Lansky had deep and continuing working relationships with both the CIA and be Israeli Mossad. Although Piper’s book deals with the assassination of President Kennedy, which happened over 40 years ago, the lessons he imparts are important and topical today for all American citizens who love their liberty. This book is an autopsy which dissects the putrid body of a world conspiracy that is so pervasive, so intrusive, so powerful, it can assassinate the President of the most powerful country in the world and then conceal its involvement in that crime by controlling the mass media and even the very organs of that government. Piper takes off the blindfold and pins the tail on the donkey. His book is aptly titled; it is truly the Final Judgment in the assassination of our beloved President, John F. Kennedy, who valiantly and selflessly tried to wrestle the control of the U.S. government from a Zionist cabal. After assassinating President Kennedy that cabal resumed control of the government, which they have maintained to this day.

Edward Hendrie

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By Rich, November 22, 2006 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment
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intellectual leaders are what they are. We don’t need anymore. We need real leaders.

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By Joan G., November 22, 2006 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
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Jeanne’s question,#39137 “...why can’t the USA call global warming a war and battle that?..” is not stupid, it is BRILLIANT!

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By Paul Deland, November 22, 2006 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
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Gore Vidal - a true Wizard with a wide open multidimentional mind.

He warns about the dark narrow minded fiends & demons who seek to suppress & enslave us…...

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By Gary, November 22, 2006 at 9:43 am Link to this comment
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Gore is as darkly funny as ever and nails Bush as the OJ of presidents, a known murderer and liar walking among us. I wonder how many brave troops will have to die so this preening cheerleader and his catamites can pretend he didn’t LIE us into the biggest foreign policy blunder in US history.

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By osisbs, November 22, 2006 at 7:15 am Link to this comment
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Alberto Gonzales is a real ‘Murkan hero.

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By Al, November 22, 2006 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
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Does Gore Vidal have any peers? Is there anyone HE considers a peer? I sure hope so. Woe betide us when he’s gone. Supplicate the gods for his continued good health.

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By richard, November 22, 2006 at 5:19 am Link to this comment
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Doug…I can only hope you succeed in what you proposed with your friend….gore vidal is the real McCoy, so to speak…a treasure, indeed.

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By David, November 21, 2006 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment
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Doug,

Man, do I ever hope you’re successful.  Talk about an archive of inestimable value…

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By Jeanne, November 21, 2006 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment
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This may be a stupid question but why can’t the USA call global warming a war and battle that? It will keep us busy for awhile.

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By Jim M. Slater, November 21, 2006 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Vidal you are my hero, as always!
Congradulations on turning 81 years young.
Your voice is such a welcome dose of reality.  I don’t care what you do just don’t ever die.  This article was obviously written before the American public finally woke up and put the democrats back in power . . . If they don’t screw-up, this country just might be somewhat salvaged. 
Mr. Vidal—Hang in there, old friend, we need you more than ever . . . Voices like yours have helped turn the tide, and remind us this is our country after all!  You are a National Treasure!      Jim Slater—Oak Point, Texas

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By steven kelly, November 21, 2006 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
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Thank got we’ve got Mr. Vidal around as a constant reminder of our history. WE THE PEOPLE need Gore pointing out the lies and hipocracies of those who would undermine the living document that is the constitution.

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By Jaded Prole, November 21, 2006 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment
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Always a pleasure to read Gore Vidal! I wish he would run for president if only to have him in the debates.

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By felicity, November 21, 2006 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment
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Barbara Tuchman’s book “The March of Folly - from Troy to Vietnam”  makes an excellent case that human folly, apparently intrinsic to the beast, can ultimately explain most of the idiotic things man has done through the ages.

I don’t know if she is still alive, but if so she’d have a field day analyzing the last 6 years with Mr. Bush and his minions in charge.

The comment by Mr. Soros that the motivating force of greed common to many is no longer tempered by its potential pernicious outcomes because today’s actors are innocents was fascinating. That was one of the characteristics of folly that Tuchman talks about.  What will clearly be the outcome of a particular policy is usually known, but the belief is that it will never happen.  Full speed ahead right into the abyss defines so many monumental screw-ups that have played out on the world stage for millenia.

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By MinorRipper, November 21, 2006 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment
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Very interesting…Vidal is a treasure. Keep going man! Keep going!

http://www.minor-ripper.blogspot.com

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By Doug Tarnopol, November 21, 2006 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
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Keep this up! Get as much of Vidal down on video as possible. He’s a national treasure, and we must preserve it on video for that majority that doesn’t read, and won’t read Vidal’s many thousands of pages.

A Hollywood friend of mine (from high school) and I are approaching Mr. Vidal for an unlimited, mildly interlocutive, free-associational series of interviews on anything he likes, on tape, for free distribution on YouTube, Google Video, MySpace, etc.—or just to be deposited in the Houghton Library. A kind of public service: Vidal knows so much and has lived through so much.

I realize his time is precious, but I hope we’re able to do it. If not, please keep going!

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By John, November 21, 2006 at 10:00 am Link to this comment
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Sounds like a good and challenging read Did you find a roost.  Big Hugs Priscilla

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