Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
April 27, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

Terrorizing the Vulnerable

Truthdig Bazaar
Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel

Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel

By Shalom Auslander

more items

Email this item Print this item

Gore Vidal Speaks Seriously Ill of the Dead

Posted on Mar 20, 2008
Gore Vidal
Truthdig / Zuade Kaufman

By Gore Vidal

I can recall that day in the 1930s when a “news” (sic) magazine appeared in Washington, D.C.; it was called Newsweek: meant to be a counterbalance to Time Magazine’s uncontrollable malice. In due course the two became sadly alike as Vincent Astor morphed into Henry Luce: Was it something in the water? I once asked Henry Luce why he called Time a news magazine when it was simply Uncle Harry’s means of venting his rage (this was 1960 or so) at liberals, and “degenerate art” like the plays of Tennessee Williams—he had no answer. At Newsweek Vincent Astor was far too stupid to answer any such complaint. Now here we are in the Newsweek of 2008, and it’s still lousy. There have been a few decent writers in between that were less nutty than today’s Newsweek hacks.

But why is Newsweek currently lousy? Here’s an example provided by an editor who keeps a sharp eye on their crimes. He sent me their recent obituary of William F. Buckley, a hero to those who feared democracies.

Buckley bridled at bullies [we are assured]. But one of the rare times he lost his temper was debating Gore Vidal, who “got under his skin,” says son Chris. When Vidal called Buckley a “crypto-Nazi,” Buckley responded, “Now listen, you queer, you stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.” But usually his public manners were genteel [I think they mean gentile]. With “Firing Line” guests who seemed nervous or over their heads, Buckley was gentle. Behind the scenes, he could show remarkable kindness. In 1980, a rising conservative star, Congressman Bob Bauman, was soliciting a 16-year-old [male] for oral sex. Bauman had been a gay-basher, and he instantly became a pariah. The next day, knowing what lay ahead for the disgraced congressman, Buckley quietly gave him an envelope containing $10,000. “He was a knightly man,” says Chris.

Unknown to them and everyone else who might read that publication, my views on many matters do not conform to the tired hacks who’ve taken over Newsweek, a magazine that has convinced itself that Bobby Kennedy Sr. was a great liberal. They love throwing about misunderstood terms like liberal and conservative that seldom suit their superficial, not to mention malicious, standards. Recently, their words of mourning for the fallen “genteel” paladin were incredible. As my editor friend knew that I seldom read the wilder attacks on me, he deconstructs Newsweek’s obituary of Buckley:

Parenthetically, I should note that, back in 1968, ABC TV had asked me and Buckley to “debate” each other at the Democratic and Republican conventions. Although Buckley was often drunk and out of control, he was always a spontaneous liar on any subject that his dizzy brain might extrude. When we were in Chicago during the Republican convention, the Chicago police decided it would be fun to attack the young co-ed demonstrators in Grant Park, not far from our studio. It was one of the worst displays of police brutality I’ve ever seen, and so I said on air; he liked what the police had done; in no time, the whole country was as shocked as I, but not Buckley. On air he was hissing like a cobra against the young people in Grant Park because, he said, they were egging on the Viet Cong to kill American Marines. They were not, of course. Buckley was a world-class American liar on the far right who would tell any lie he thought he could get away with. Years of ass-kissing famous people in the press and elsewhere had given him, he felt, a sort of license to libelously slander those hated liberals who, from time to time, smoked him out as I did in Chicago, when I defended the young people in Grant Park by denying that they were Nazis and that the only “pro- or crypto-Nazi” I could think of was himself. He sued me and got nowhere. He sued Esquire, in which our words appeared. By then the coming right-wing surge was in view. And so Esquire cravenly agreed to settle with him for a few paragraphs worth of free advertising for his weird little magazine The National Review, hardly the great victory he claimed.


Square, Site wide
Now, to Newsweek’s obituary of this late dishonorable American in which my editor-friend assures me that his brain-dead son Christopher had a hand: “Buckley bridled at bullies.” And who was the bully in context? Myself. He was also an expert at changing indefensible contexts. Buckley maintained that I supported revolutionaries who favored murdering U.S. Marines. Yet all the talk of Nazis etc. was started by Buckley. There was no lie he would not tell to get back at those who defeated him in debate.

The current editors at Newsweek appear to have listened eagerly to his son Christopher, who is guiding them to a benign view of what had been a most hysterical queen (WFB), much admired by a media that takes everyone at his own evaluation of himself as they did with Capote, who told them that he was a great writer like Proust (pronounced Prowst) and the hacks ate it up.

The correct assessment of any reputation today is so far from plausible reality that it might be a good thing if the hacks of a magazine like Newsweek steered clear of characterizing those disliked by the advertisers; hence his creepy son’s depiction of me as a “bully” when I was simply attending to one, and then—o, joy!—Buckley called me a “queer” and actually threatened me with physical violence, so great was his testosterone level. Next, the loyal son, suspecting that the pejorative use of “queer” is politically incorrect in mag-land, Christopher rambles into a story about his father’s kindness to a Mr. Bauman who had lost his seat in Congress after the congressman had been caught while soliciting Oral Sex from a 16-year-old male (note how prurient Newsweek’s prose is, in describing undesirable people). Chris weeps into his computer as he describes how Dad gave the poor sinner of the flesh an envelope containing $10,000 (I bet?) in cash adding, mysteriously, “He was a knightly man”: Who was—the cocksucker recipient of Buckley’s charity? Or his admirer, Mr. Buckley himself?—Bauman was very right wing, it is said. RIP WFB—in hell.

The unique mess that our republic is in can be, in part, attributed to a corrupt press whose roots are in mendacious news (sic) magazines like Time and Newsweek, aided by tabloids that manufacture fictional stories about actual people. This mingling of opinion and fiction has undone a media never devoted to truth. Hence, the ease with which the Republican smear-machine goes into action when they realize that yet again the party’s permanent unpopularity with the American people will cause them defeat unless they smear individually those who question the junk that the media has put into so many heads. Anyone who says “We gotta fight ‘em over there or we’re gonna have to fight ‘em over here.” This absurdity has been pronounced by every Republican seeking high office. The habit of lying is now a national style that started with “news” magazines that was further developed by pathological liars that proved to be “good” Entertainment on TV. But a diet of poison that has done none of us any good.

I speak ex cathedra now, ad urbe et orbe, with a warning that no society so marinated in falsity can long survive in a real world.

Purchase signed first editions from Gore Vidal’s personal library at the Truthdig Bazaar.

Lockerdome Below Article
Get a book from one of our contributors in the Truthdig Bazaar.

Related Entries

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every day.

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments

By Nixon is Lord, October 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you want to think of yourself as your former neighbor, the Pope, it’s “urbI et orbI”.  And it would be “ad urbEM et orbEM”-but it’s not.

Report this

By nothankyou, December 9, 2010 at 4:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Too bad he didn’t outlive you.

Report this

By blaine, November 11, 2010 at 3:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

buckley and vidal will lock scorpion daggers in the pits of hell; they truly despised one another (this was no faux or phony feud)

But I do agree that ron paul had more of substance to say than either of them.

Report this

By derfen, June 2, 2010 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

I never liked Buckley as a man. He does not respect anyone. He loves only himself. Thanks from mahjong club.

Report this

By watcherfromtherockies, October 31, 2008 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When I listen to Sarah Palin talk, it reminds me of William F. Buckley - except he used long words, obscure references and spoke in complete sentences mostly.  I remember watching him on Firing Line, listening carefully and when he stopped talking, thinking to myself, “Huh??”  I thought it might be my lack of 3rd year Latin or something, but maybe not.  And Mr. Chomsky did clean his clock, even with just a few sentences.  But Buckley had a wonderful smirk - I’ve rarely seen another so glorious.

Report this
Blueboy1938's avatar

By Blueboy1938, June 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment

“His pleonastic (excessive use of overly elaborate words, how’s that for irony?) musings would drive any sane person to distraction . . . ,”

Just a slight correction, James R., “pleonastic” refers not to “excessive use of overly elaborate words” but to the use of excessive numbers of unnecessary words over what is needed to convey meaning.  That is a fault I am sure Mr. Vidal would not commit.

Report this

By Podocarpos 6/18/08, June 18, 2008 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a religiously fanatical pompous, pedantic sadistically immoral unscrupulous agressor; Buckley is beter off disposed of with the last bag of garbage!
He could have been an asset to us all; but, he chose a different path; that of a greedy cohort of the ponzi-like theocratic corrupters of innocents and fools while promoting oligarchy and excessive power of the rich over the poor!
He was a “rotter”!
And, a delusionally indoctrinated educated imbercile!

Report this

By James R, June 5, 2008 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment

Perhaps we can forgive GV his conjugation errors and mistakes of place, after all he shall soon follow WFB. What should not be forgiven is WFB elitist worldview. WFB belonged to that unholy Tyranny of the Annointed, I know better because I am smarter than you. His pleonastic (excessive use of overly elaborate words, how’s that for irony?) musings would drive any sane person to distraction, not to mention his infantile style of debate. (Check Noam Chomsky’s appearance on ‘Firing LIne’ in the 60’s available on youtube) Chomsky ran circles around WFB and true to form whenever he was outclassed by someone smarter, WFB resorted to Charlie Rose style interruptions, non-sequitors, and feeble attempts at humor. I think Chomsky was able to complete 5 maybe 6 sentences during his entire appearance.

When GV kicks it and the measure of his and WFB’s contributions to the world of ideas are tallied, who will come out on top? A rich man’s son who was so bored he decided to start a magazine of unhinged rants and wrote spy fiction that no self-respecting 5th grader would read, or the self made man who sought to show a mirror of what we were and are in desperate danger of beoming? I’ll take GV any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Report this

By John, June 4, 2008 at 11:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m inclined to agree with some of Vidal’s take on Buckley and like him am mystified by the medias starry eyed homilies on his demise. The National Review back in the seventies when I first recall it was a very nasty little racist publication with all sorts of code innuendoes, and some not so code, as they related to the African American community in the US. It was also a fanatical supporter of the apartheid regime in South Africa. All this seems to have been forgotten. I also had the opportunity of seeing Buckley in action at a couple of speaking engagements and far from coming off as erudite and courtly there was something vaguely repellent about his posturing and pseudo intellectualism. When forced into a corner he invariably became nasty. Basically he always struck me as a sort of minor W. R. Hearst. Someone who had inherited a lot of money and in an era when most college students were liberal chose to go the other route in search of notoriety and probably given his personal background, personal inclination. Vidal as is often the case tries to be too clever in debunking him and so I see a bunch of Buckley apologists have leaped on his alleged misquotation of some latin tag. How very Buckleyan I thought. Ignore the substance and focus on trivia. Vidal, about whom I have somewhat mixed feelings, did however end with a zinger about how a society so marinated in falsehood is going to have a tough time surviving in the real world. He’s on the money there and also about Buckley I think.

Report this

By keever, April 14, 2008 at 9:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My thanks to “Truthdig” for linking to my transcript of Gore Vidals “Esquire” article on Buckley.  So far Buckley’s brownshirts have not come after me, but I have done nothing to hide from them.

I was moved to transcribe the article and post it on line when I went to Columbia’s Butler Library to read it from their archived collection of “Esquires” from the sixties.  I discovered that someone had very violently ripped the offending essay from Columbia’s bound volume.  I am reasonably certain that the vandal was motivated by a desire to destroy the calumny, not save it for private delectation, since the remaining chunks still clinging to the binding indicated that the pages must have been thoroughly shredded by the time they were removed.  I could find no other article removed from any of the bound Esquires and I have never seen any evidence of such violent destruction of archived materials in Butler’s stacks in all my years of researching there. 

This physical assault on the public commons, so reminiscent of the act of bigoted Church vandalism Vidal recounts in his essay, enraged me.  I went to eBay and purchased a copy of the original “Esquire,” read and transcribed the essay, and put it on line. 

If Christopher Buckley and his father’s other minions wish to challenge the right of on line readers to read what Vidal has to say about their fallen hero I welcome a debade over their right to censor the Esquire article.

I also urge other amateur or professional researchers to take on another task.  I subscribed to “The National Review” when I was an undergraduate in the sixties and clearly remember some pretty appalling apologetics for racism in the American south and for apartheid in South Africa.  “The National Review” has posted what it purports to be etext versions of its contents from that era.  I have only glanced at what they have put on line, but I was surprised at how mild and unobjectionable the texts they present there seem.  They do not match my recollections, but I have not gone back to Butler Library and compared them to the “hard copy” that I know is there in bound volumes.  I suggest anyone who shares my suspicions might want to spend an afternoon or two in any good research library with a collection of back issues comparing the texts to see if the current editors are, as I suspect, whitewashing their publication’s ugly past just as they have bleached the history of its founder.

If they find any discrepencies I hope they can find on line outlets to publicize them.  I don’t expect I will read about it in “Newsweek.”

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, April 9, 2008 at 5:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I had thought that it was the ‘68 Dem convention, but how to argue with a principal player?

Back then the Republican convention was sweetness and light, it was the Democrats who were full of vitriol racism and spite.

It seems the parties do this every twenty years. The Repubs did it in Houston in 88, and were so hateful that I voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the only time in my adult life…

I was ready to do so again in this election, but The Demos are behaving like Bull Connor and Malcolm X at an arranged marriage of their offspring.  I personally want no part of their attitude, and no association with their hate.

Report this

By Nag Traye, April 8, 2008 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John Robinson is spot on in his recollection of the events of the Vidal/Buckley debate. The term “nazi” was put forth by Howard K. Smith in his questioning and Buckley, in his own boorish manner, also used the “pro-Nazi” label in reference to the students being beaten. OzarkMichael might want to watch the debates again and try to understand what ocurred in context before commencing such a rant re: That Golden Moment”.

Report this

By Nag Traye, April 8, 2008 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I read with great sorrow that you, OzarkMichael, have been repeatedly called a “nazi” for twenty five years. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone and can only wonder what you could possibly be doing to attract such disdain. Your obvious revisionist history commentary (poor memory perhaps?) of the Vidal/Buckley exchanges, in context, also makes me sad for you. As another poster mentioned, perhaps “fascist” is more often the correct label for poor conservative victims (i.e. Buckley?) of such bullying.

Report this

By John Robinson, April 4, 2008 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

OzarkMichael’s That Golden Moment reveals more about himself than what actually happened on TV that night—and the other 11 debate nights some 40 years ago.  It was Howard K. Smith who actually introduced the word “Nazi” into the debate with a question to Vidal.  As Vidal answered he was interrupted by Buckley (Buckley, like the “bully” he was, constantly interrupted Vidal throughout the debates, and the ABC moderator never intervened) who called the student war protestors whose heads were being pummeled by police batons(“a police riot” it was later termed in
a government investigation)“pro-Nazi.”  Vidal then responded that the only “pro crypto-Nazi” was Buckley himself. 
As Vidal later explained in his Esquire essay, he didn’t mean to suggest that Buckley was a member of the Nazi Party, and had meant to use the word “fascist.”  But Smith’s and Buckley’s use of the word during the heat of the debate caused him to respond using it.  That Bill Buckley had shown himself in favor of branding victims of AIDS, and of preventing poor black men the right to vote (just to mention a few of his absurdities over his career), the term “fascist” seems rather tame by today’s standards.

Report this

By Kenneth, March 26, 2008 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

poor vidal, even today still misunderstood

all the bloviating on a latin he may have written as he liked, as ex cathedra, from the chair, indicating papal infallacy, whihc of course cannot exist in a human, setting the irony
but i don;t know latin and i wont pretend, po’ white trash i was, now the kind to peacefully assemble at rnc or dncs and be swept up by violent police the same, though not without a few tricks
the cryptos are still in full force, bt that we are too is a small victory we will build on. further irony tho the crytos missed it and he smoked out the fools with the trap he laid, as the spelling of proust is not the parenthetical aside he threw in there.  easy to google latin or any of this…
the main points, regardless of william buckley, are the threats to democracy idiocy and sycopahncy herald, at least vidal was a smart man to bring another perspective, rather have the yelling on tv now>  i dont have a tv…
in conclusion, how could vidal let go the 10,000$ to a C&&&sucker;as he called it wielded as evidence of this mans nobility, when he called him a queer?  probably a payoff so he wasnt implicated in it, more likely, touche!

Report this

By Kenneth, March 26, 2008 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

poor vidal, even today still misunderstood

all the bloviation on a latin he may have written as he liked, as ex cathedra, from the chair, indicating papal infallacy, whihc of course cannot exist in a human, setting the irony
but i don;t know latin and i wont pretend, po’ white trash i was, now the kind to peacefully assemble at rnc or dncs and be swept up by violent police the same, though not without a few tricks
the cryptos are still in full force, bt that we are too is a small victory we will build on. further irony tho the crytos missed it and he smoked out the fools with the trap he laid, as the spelling of proust is not the parenthetical aside he threw in there.  easy to google latin or any of this…
the main points, regardless of william buckley, are the threats to democracy idiocy and sycopahncy herald, at least vidal was a smart man to bring another perspective, rather have the yelling on tv now>  i dont have a tv…
in conclusion, how could vidal let go the 10,000$ to a C&&&sucker;as he called it wielded as evidence of this mans nobility, when he called him a queer?  probably a payoff so he wasnt implicated in it, more likely, touche!

Report this

By Stephen L. Andrew, March 26, 2008 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Celia is correct. Vidal could have written “urbi et orbi,” using the dative case without the preposition “ad,” and been correct. But by using the preposition “ad” he committed himself to the accusative case, which mandated “urbem et orbem.” But, like so many other things, he got it wrong. Buckley would never have gotten this wrong. He was a master of Latin as well as English (he was also fluent in Spanish and French, for that matter). Vidal is a master of neither Latin nor English. He is a master of homoerotic pornography (cf., e.g., Myra Breckinridge).

Report this

By Stephen L. Andrew, March 26, 2008 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If I were to address all of Vidal’s errors of judgment and fact, it would simply take too long. But readers of his hate piece ought to know that the encounter between him and Buckley took place at the 1968 Democratic Convention, not the Republican Convention as he falsely claims.

Report this

By Celia, March 26, 2008 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I haven’t yet read all 72 comments.

His Latin in the last paragraph is wrong:

“ urbe et orbe…”

I’m actually kind of shocked.  Ad takes the accusative, not the ablative.  Is he trying to say the phrase “urbi et orbi” as the popes do?  “To the city and the world”?  If so, it’s as if he just used Babelfish.

I have to say, the managing editor at Newsweek would have gotten this correct, as his Salutatorian address at our graduation was in Latin, and he was advised in its delivery by my wonderful advisor Professor Binnicker.

Oh well.  Not that big a deal, I guess.

Report this

By Stephen L. Andrew, March 26, 2008 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vidal shows what a poseur he is when he fails to properly decline the Latin nouns for “city” and “world.”  In the last paragraph of his posthumous desecration of WFB, he pompously proclaims his opinion “ad urbe et orbe.”  He means to say “to the city and the world,” but he uses the ablative form of those nouns, thus demonstrating his incompetence in Latin.  The preposition “ad” (“to”) only takes objects in the accusative case, never in the ablative. So the proper grammar would have been “ad urbem et orbem.”  Deliciously, Vidal reveals his counterfeit inferiority to WFB in a highly ironic way.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, March 25, 2008 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

There are some people who should always be listened to and answered. You Nabih, are one of them.

Buckley is dead. He cant learn anything. He has very little to do with what happens at this website.

Gore Vidal let lose the Nazi line. He is still alive. He has something to do with the tone of this website. He can still learn something.

I am sorry, but calling someone a Nazi on national TV doesnt endear a person to me. I dont see the humor in it. Vidal sure saw the humor, he was grinning and smiling. Buckley hadnt said anything about ‘queer’ yet.

Buckley is not my hero. I am not defending him. I condemn, disallow, repudiate, and renounce what he said. ‘queer’ is terrible, but I dont see what difference it makes.

But Buckley is not here. Gore Vidal is. So let us return to the matter at hand.

Maybe Vidal is a great author of fictions, but his hate and his genius for calling someone Nazi on national TV should not get admiration or laughter or cheers, he should not be toasted or imitated or praised, no matter what Buckley said afterward.

Yet he is admired, cheered, and praised on this website.

And imitated.

Report this

By Nabih Ammari, March 25, 2008 at 8:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:That Golden Moment March 24


Remember,the era of the debate is extremely important
since homosexuality was not openly accepted by either
the Left or Right,let alone tolerating it.Perhaps,the
best example to comprehend the agony homosexuals lived in at
that time, was the tragic life and death of Rock
Hudson,one of the most popular actors of his time. the sixties;and if given the choice,I
would have preferred to be called Nazi,Fascist or Communist rather than “QUEER”.The formers imply
the insult is really aimed at one’s ideology while
the latter is aimed at one’s MANHOOD.A man can get rid of his ideology,whatever it may be,if he sees fit
to do so.He cannot possibly get rid of his birth-
-given MANHOOD,exactly as one cannot possibly get rid of his own biological mother short of killing her.

As you may see with me,the word"QUEER"is much much
more insulting.The moment William Buckley uttered
the word “QUEER” with such obvious and disgusting
anger,he at once and immediately lost the debate
and Gore Vidal won it.Whatever Mr.Buckley said
afterwards did not mean much,even if it might have
been constructive.HE JUST LOST AT THAT MOMENT.Period.

Meanwhile,Gore Vidal looked,at least to me,simply
magnificent,for the fact he kept his cool with grace
and humility since he refrained from reaching out to
Mr. Buckley and hitting the filthy mouth that uttered
the word “QUEER”.If I were Gore Vidal,I,most likely,
would have done exactly that and probably said to
Mr. Buckley:F…you and F… the debate.Calling me
“QUEER” is completely and totally unacceptable to me,
regardless of the source who said it or the circumstances under which it was said.Period.

OzarkMichael,you were 9-10 years old when the debate
took place.Therefore,you probably will never be able
to really understand what I am talking about,here.And
in a sense I do not blame you or blame anybody else who did not live in the era in which the debate had
occurred.You had to live and be aware of the chaotic
era in which the word “QUEER” was devilishly used.

I Lived that era.I witnessed the tragic events of
that era.I was well aware of what was going on,and
consequently I,somehow,managed to comprehend its
complexities and causes.I truly wish you did too.
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

Report this
Blueboy1938's avatar

By Blueboy1938, March 25, 2008 at 2:58 am Link to this comment

I guess it’s inevitable that somewhere in what has been for the most part a very amusing blog, someone has to get a dig in about Jews.  In this case, it was about overzealous progressives (“mostly Jews”) labeling any anti-communist a “Nazi.”  I should have thought such stereotyping would have died by now, but I’m repeatedly disabused of that naivete.

As for Mr. Vidal’s rant:  It seems to me that he must still smart from being called a “queer” on national TV, even though that branded Buckley as the hollow shell of verbosity that he was, which collapsed into invective when Vidal called a spade a spade.  Mr. Vidal, after all, didn’t particularly like to be public about his proclivities, according to what I’ve read of his own writing on the subject (“Palimpsest”).  (Damn!  The spellcheck on this blog knows how that’s spelled!  Awesome!)

I attended a harpsichord concert Buckley gave in Scottsdale, attended by former Senator Barry Goldwater.  Buckley played pretty well, if a bit stodgily, losing his way at least one time, though, as I recall, but forging on.  Boy, but did he like to hear the sound of his own voice!  (Not during the concert;-)  I suppose he thought that, if his guest could figure out what the devil he was saying and respond, he was giving that guest the opportunity to be seen as pretty intelligent.  Woe to those who could not decipher his meandering.  It always turns me off to “interviewers” who merely use a guest as a foil for their own exalted views, whatever their position on the ideological spectrum.  Buckley was the worst.

Well, that’s what happens when you get two together who each think they are the “smartest guy in the room”:  Name calling.  How “schoolyard.”

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, March 24, 2008 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

That Golden Moment

‘Gore Vidal was beating William Buckley in a debate, and because of that Buckley called him a queer’. When I heard this a few weeks ago I replied, ‘Sometimes we conservatives are bad, did Buckley ever apologize?’

Today Gore Vidal is thumping his chest while he dumps some abuse on WFB’s grave, speaking seriously ill of the dead. Truthdig put up a link to You-tube of when Buckley called him a queer, so people could see this great debater Gore Vidal beat the hateful Buckley. 

You know me. I dont mind hearing how bad I am. Or how bad conservatism is. Or Christians. Sometimes its true, and the truth is worth learning.

So I actually watched it, I figure I might as well learn from Buckley’s badness, and Vidal’s good arguments.

Its ABC and the year on the tape says 1968. Live apparently. National TV. So there I was, ready to take my lumps.

‘Gore Vidal was beating Bill Buckley’... how? over what? thats one thing I wanted to see.

It turns out that Vidal was siding with the protests and disturbances at the Chicago Democratic party convention. Buckley interupted him and said that some of the rioters were pro-Nazi, and then Vidal said with a shiny grin that the only pro Nazi was Buckley.

Buckley got very angry. Lost his cool. Oh, what a happy smile Gore Vidal had. He scored a hit.

I dont think any American had been called a Nazi on live TV in front of the whole nation before. A bold stroke from a powerful mind.

Live on ABC Gore Vidal made his major contribution to American political discourse,

Vidal has apparently made a cottage industry out of this for 40 years. To this day he is proud of his Golden Moment, would like to do it again. He relives it even after Buckley is dead.

If it wasnt for the chest thumping I would never have realized the way it works. I was taking the whole Truthdig site at face value, conceding that conservatives can be bad sometimes. Now I see the game that is played here. 

It is no coincidence that many articles at this site repeat in various ways what Vidal said 40 years ago. Truthdig is Gore Vidal’s Grin that will not perish with him, but will happily continue after he is gone.

Truthdig, where they are beating us conservatives every day!

With logic? With insightful analysis? No, they are beating us by calling us Nazis.

After hearing this directed at me for some 25 years it doesnt have effect anymore. It hurt so much the first time few times though, I admit it. Its such an awful thing to be called a Nazi. There is no answer to it.

So now all of you ‘original’ ‘thinkers’ out there, lete hear what passes on Gore Vidal’s Truthdig as ‘intelligent’ ‘debate’. You can ‘win’ whenever you want to. Go to the Golden Moment. Its right on the tip of your tongue…

Report this

By rmacalter, March 24, 2008 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Then again, I’m sure Caligula probably had a pet cat that he cuddled.”  And Hitler loved his dogs.  Evil is evil.  Vidal got it right. WFBullshit was a crypto-Nazi.

Report this

By John Ehle, March 24, 2008 at 7:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Very vell vented.

Report this

By polybius, March 24, 2008 at 6:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s fantastic to see wfb once again put in his place.  It was rather embarrassing to listen to viewer praise for him on c span after he passed on, or passed out.

I was always hoping that wfb would slouch so far over in that chair that it would tumble over backwards. Maybe now it has.

Report this

By Doug, March 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

about seeing his Conservative movement hijacked from its libertarian roots and taken over lock, stock and barrel by sociopaths and opportunists.

I was active in the Conservative movement in its formative years and can pinpoint the exact date when hijacking took place. It was 1974 and Joseph Coors used his fortune to underwrite the founding of Ed Fuelner’s Heritage Foundation and the Paul Weyrich’s Committee for a Free Congress. The decisive impact of these two organizations in creating the present American police state is not generally recognized.

I only wish that Buckley had lived a few more weeks and seen the Banksters of Wall Street exposed to the world for what they are: socialistic capitalists.

He was extremely bright, so I believe in the end he came to realize that he had created a monster. Maybe that was why he was so partial to drinking.

Report this

By Peter RV, March 23, 2008 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gee, TruthDig guys,
Thanks a lot for notifying me when new postings appear on my thread, but how about letting some of mine pass through your enlightened censororship?
Why are you inviting me then to comment?

Report this

By Jim Lorenz, March 23, 2008 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

GV says; “Anyone who says “We gotta fight ’em over there or we’re gonna have to fight ’em over here.” This absurdity has been pronounced by every Republican seeking high office.”

I paid to hear WFB speak in the late 1960’s and he deflated in front of my eyes. He was a fancy speaking intellectual fraud.

BUT, Mr. Vidal has made an error by uttering an untrue sweeping general statment. There is ONE politician who has been in the House for 10, now 11 terms from Texas, Dr. Ron Paul, who has never uttered such jingoistic, chauvinistic, bloodthirsty mumbo jumbo. Google Ron Paul, ditto YouTube.

Report this

By Bill, March 23, 2008 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Try to work in a little alliteration next time, eh?

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, March 23, 2008 at 11:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The courage of “liberals” never ceases to amaze. The tactic seems to be to wait until they are dead, or sick with Alzheimer’s then rip them apart. Hoover, Reagan, and Heston have been victims…

News flash… after they are dead they aren’t worth discussion.

Report this

By Maani, March 23, 2008 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

Bill Buckley’s pedantic proclamations, tendentious treatises and bloviating braggadoccio revealed a malevolent malefactor of prodigious proportions. His superficial and sickening superciliousness and his effeminate effeteness masked a belligerent boozer given to vitriol, vituperation, venality and vilification.

In other words, he was not a very nice man.

Report this

By Peter RV, March 23, 2008 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yeah, there is a grudge there alright, perhaps because Buckley used a British highbrow expression ‘queer’ instead of the good old American ‘fag’ or ‘fruit’, but that might have been just the thing (more than reading Gore’s novels) that propelled Gore to fame. He gained instantly an unconditional alligeance of the Homos from all around the World.( What they didn’t notice was, that Buckley looked very much like one of them, when he wasn’t drunk).
Buckley lost a lot in my esteem, by losing his cool on that occasion, for this was a clear signal that the words he manipulated so cleverly, could fail him miserably. No wonder he refused to talk about it later.Never understood,though, how anybody could get infuriated for being called nazi of fascist; anyone who held anti-communist views was almost authomatically branded as such by our zelous ‘progressives’(mostly the Jews).
  He lost completely his judgement over 9/11 by joining the general hysteria in calling to bomb anybody anywhere. He also lost me definitely at that moment. I found out then I had much more in common with Gore Vidal than with him, whose patriotism looked suddenly appallingly cheap- McCarthite.
If his intellect couldn’t accept that his country, after producing so much of it all over the World, can’t be exempt from violence on its own soil, there was really nothing more for me to expect from him.
His subsequent attempts to plead ignorance of the facts put his moral statue on the height of Hillary (and Bill) Clinton’s.
He certainly wasn’t without great qualities, but he failed miserably as a human being who presented himself to be a leader.

Report this

By James A. Kenny, March 23, 2008 at 12:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal’s take on William F. Buckley is intriguing as usual and I do appreciate his candor and his willingness to state what others won’t. But in his recollection of a debate during a political convention in Chicago in 1968, he errs when he states that it was the Republican Convention. It was, in fact, the Democratic Convention in that city when the cops assaulted demonstrators in Grant Park and in the melee, they also attacked newsmen, passersby in the nearby streets and even convention delegates. The demonstrators chanted “The Whole World is Watching! The Whole World is Watching!” and in fact, at that moment, the violence of the establishment was shown in its ugly nakedness, for all the world to see, as the protestors well knew.

It comes as no surprise to me that, at the time, Buckley reacted to the police attack with some glee or at the very least, a degree of smug satisfaction, but I don’t actually specifically recall the debate(s) between Buckley and Vidal at the time.

As for Vidal’s mistaken recollection of this being a Republican Convention, which I believe had been held in Miami earlier in the year (unless that was the one held in 1972—-to renominate Nixon and which was crashed by Ron Kovic and other Vietnam veterans who had turned against the war, but I think Miami was the site for Republican Conventions in both ‘68 and ‘72.), I can only attribute that error to age. After all, he is getting on in years and as sharp as he remains, a lapse every now and then is understandable.

Report this

By hollyse, March 23, 2008 at 12:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

W.F. Buckley usually chocked on his own “rich” words while leaning back in his chair indulging himself, over eating his “fat” vocabulary at the expense of others while interviewing.  He was a case in study reminding me of those over eating Roman emperors to the gluttonous state of regurgitation so the experience of indulging could be repeated.  Fat still clogs the arteries Mr. Buckley, Sir, and the body can only take so many gluttonous combinations of a,e,i,o,u and y often taking the place of an e or “I”.

Report this

By Ga, March 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment

Vidal insists EVERYTHING WFB said was a lie.  Not true.

Yeah, not true, as in Vidal said no such thing. He said:

“Buckley was a world-class American liar on the far right who would tell any lie he thought he could get away with.”


“There was no lie he would not tell to get back at those who defeated him in debate.”

Calling someone “a liar” means that they have lied, not that everything they said was lie. Bit of a stretch there.

And that Vidal is gay is no excuse for being called a queer in that way. Or is Spic okay for a Mexican? Jew (as in goddamned jew) okay for someone Jewish. Or spook (or that other word) okay for an African? Etc.

Report this

By Nabih Ammari, March 22, 2008 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:Vidal-Buckley memorable debate.

Perhaps I was one of the millions of Americans who were
lucky enough to witness the unforgettable debate
between Gore Vidal and William Buckley.I watched it on
my black and white television then.I had no attachment
to either.Once Mr.Buckley called Mr. Vidal a “Queer”
on national TV for the whole nation and probably the
whole world to see,Mr Buckley sounded so small to me
and Mr.Vidal appeared,at least to me,so magnificent
in the way he handle it with humility and grace.It
was a defining moment for Mr.Vidal.Since then tell
present time I have tried not to miss any writing
authored by Gore Vidal.He certainly is one of America great writers,authors,debaters and commentators

In spite of the negative views I had about Mr.Buckley
due to the memorable debate,I made a point of watching his lively and interesting “Firing Line” on
National Public Television,hoping that he would
somehow moderate his ultra-conservative views.At the
end I just gave-up about him.I really liked Bill
Buckley.In many ways ,he was personable and likable.
I just could not digest his views which were way way
to the Right.I have been a Centrist tilting slightly to the Left.Perhaps that is why I have followed the
writing of Gore Vidal and gave up about Bill Buckley.
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

Report this

By M Reith, March 22, 2008 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Growing up a Young Republican, I adored WFB’s huge vocabulary and sharp wit. Sad to say, I became a career military officer and gobbled up the crap that was fed to me. I offer no excuses. It was only Christianity and self-education in classic liberalism that allowed me to see the world for what it was, and understand how dangerous were people like WFB. The thought that his giving of $10 grand in cash to a man who had solicited a minor somehow makes up for the enormity of harm he and his empirical, neoconservative movement have cuased is absurd. Then again, I’m sure Caligula probably had a pet cat that he cuddled.

The weight of millions of deaths can be laid onto the back of a nation that has shaped a foreign policy around the philosophies of those such as WFB, and murderous dolts like myself who saluted and said, “Aye-Aye, Sir!”. it will take far more than handing out cash to child sex solicitors caught in the act to cleanse our hands of their blood.

Report this

By srelf, March 22, 2008 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

Mr. Vidal’s point about the corruption of the press is so important. Another related item is the advertisement business that underlies newspapers/newsmagazines/newsTV, heck, life in these United States. Since ads are usually some variant of a white lie (a lie nevertheless) our kids grow up to accept untruth. And then, the fact that capitalism requires one of the seven deadly sins (greed) to be alive and healthy in our culture - although William Safire once wrote that he thought greed should be taken off the list - means that WFB must have been schizophrenic in order to profess Christianity AND such things.

Report this

By blues1, March 22, 2008 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

Bill Buckley was an entertainer, nothing more, nothing less. A song and dance man. Gore Vidal is a torch song singer.

Report this

By ocjim, March 22, 2008 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

Both Buckley and Reagan pushed racial policies to advance their agendas. Back in the 50s Buckley was lauding Franco, the fascist leader of Spain, citing his coup as an improvement over the rule by the masses which was democratic. Reagan exploited the angry resentment of southern whites when he suggested welfare queens (promoting the black stereotype, built on a resentment of affirmative action, threw the mentally ill out on the streets, and used the image of crime and chaos overrunning our streets.

Both used fear of crime, race, etc—just as the Bush regime used terrorism—to solidify support of their agendas.

Report this

By Deacon Elurby, March 22, 2008 at 9:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“They love throwing about misunderstood terms like liberal and conservative that seldom suit their superficial, not to mention malicious, standards,” Vidal opines.

Well, does he (( and do you )) understand the psychological underpinnings of those terms, “liberal” and “conservatgive”?

Read and learn from my article on the subject:

Underlying Psychology of Political Affiliation

Report this

By Transcender, March 22, 2008 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The liberals who fawned over WFB’s patrician sesquipedalia showed themselves for what they really are:  closet monarchists.  They liked Buckley and the Kennedys for essentially the same reasons:  They were/are, in essence, this country’s royalty. 

I would amend Gore Vidal’s famous assertion in this way:  This country has one political class, and all of its members were born with the proverbial silver spoons in their mouths.  There are two branches of this class, and the difference between them is this:  One seeks to consolidate and expand its wealth through militarism; the other, through expanding other government powers and functions.

This, from the German poet Holderlin, is a fitting post mortem to WFB:

    I hate the great horde of rulers
    But I despise even more
    The genius who takes their side.

Not to say that Buckley was a genius.  He had what many people considered to be the most tasteful veneer of an education money could buy.  But he did acquire considerable skills from Yale and the other schools he attended to aggrandize the worst aspects of what has ruled us for the past quarter-century or so.

Finally:  Thank you, Gore Vidal!

Report this

By P.M.Lawrence, March 22, 2008 at 6:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I immediately noticed ad urbe et orbe too, but I supposed that it was most probably a typo for ab urbe et orbe - from the city and the world, a reworking of the usual phrase that Gore Vidal chose for some reason.

Report this

By John Ehle, March 22, 2008 at 6:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Buckley seemed drunk when we tuned in for laughs in the 60s. Even then, we knew that to take these masters of superfluous pedantics seriously was to subscribe to their hallucinations.

His effeminate posturing made our gay friends seem very masculine and direct. Buckley was fawning, reptilian and slimy. I was embarrassed for him most of the time.

I believe that he’s gone AND forgotten; not the great righty adversary that clarified the truths on the other side but a besotted clown who may have sobered up just in time for final exams.

Where would he have been w/o all that money? Working, productively like the rest of us?

Report this

By Lucien Francesco Brancaccio, March 22, 2008 at 12:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The correct Latin is in the dative case without a preposition. Wikipedia Article elucidates this as follows:

Urbi et Orbi, literally “to the City [of Rome] and to the World,” was a standard opening of Roman proclamations. Nowadays the term is used to denote a papal address and Apostolic Blessing that is addressed to the City of Rome and to the entire world.

Report this

By Muscleboy, March 22, 2008 at 12:28 am Link to this comment


Yes so well said Mr Vidal. A great Democracy needs a free and unfettered press, this includes having ownership and market controls to prevent the truth from being told dispelled from our system. Newsweek, as one example, should not be owned by MSNBC which in turn is owned by General Electric the nation’s largest defense contractor.

A free-market must be free of excessive governmental regulation but even more importantly it must be free of totalistic controls; market walls– obstructions to the freedom of the marketplace– buyers and sellers– which are created when giant corporations bribe the all powerful politicians into doing their bidding. Essentially gaining control of the USA’s markets – some 14 trillion- requires relatively very small bribes in comparison to the scumball politicians and their lying cheerleader cohorts like Buckley. We should have two amendments—one- no money or valuables of any kind to or from politicians or their supporters. Purge the Democracy of the cancer of bribery; and we should have an amendment to work actively to preserve the free marketplace from market walls such as super corporations who work to use their might to buy control over the market. We must have a free and powerful Democracy( a place where people live and breath freely bathed in truth and evolving in the constant progress of freedom)…. It’s simple do everything to stop the thieving criminal hoods from running our country. I say again, make it a felony to give or receive money for any aspects of political campaigning or politics whatsoever. Then we can have our freedom and eat it too. We can have unending wealth and creative joys which are a product of a society whose government is not run by big oil or big defense or big anything. Imagine boundless energy that DOESN’T POLLUTE but actually makes the planet ever better for our fellow man and the multitudes of life forms which populate it– this all can happen today if we jail the felonious hoods who make mass-murdering entire nations into vast loot for themselves.

But I just thought it was great how Gore pressure washes off the filthy lies to show the truth time after time. The truth. It’s what we must face to get to the other side of this seemingly never ending fascistic hell. It was great the way you put it so simply –they are the liars. All they are is little lowlife (WFB and others) criminals of the very worst sort if you think of what it is their lies are doing on so many levels all at once. I mean just think about that for a long while and don’t stop. It will take a while to really get what I mean.

I also see another big problem. That is well-meaning so-called liberals who repeat or even repackage the lies of the fascists mixed in with their messages of truth– this they do for fear or is it just plain stupidity I’m never sure which. But that’s another topic I suppose.

Report this

By srelf, March 21, 2008 at 11:58 pm Link to this comment

I grew up in a Republican household and watched WFB on
Firing Line” with my Aunt Mary when I was in my late teens. I ate the *#@& up. WFB had that rapier wit! Little did I know that later I was to realize what a RAPIST wit it was! A mild misperception! I still have a place in my heart for the bas*#@& even though I don’t buy his *#@& any more. Francis Fukuyama’s indictment of the neocons, that Bush were deeply flawed in that they couldn’t bring themselves to recognize that the Iraq invasion was a failure, was backed up in 2006 by WFB. I have to say though that God will have to be ALL-merciful if WFB is to RIP. One doesn’t cheerlead for the practicality of a war that kills 3 million or more Vietnamese men women and children and merrily skip through the pearly gates!

Report this

By J.F.William, March 21, 2008 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is one of the last american… Cherish him !

My two cents & hommage…

“Our only political party has two right wings, one called Republican, the other Democratic. But Henry Adams figured all that out back in the 1890s. ‘We have a single system,’ he wrote, and ‘in that system the only question is the price at which the proletariat is to be bought and sold, the bread and circuses.’” : Gore Vidal - The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

Report this

By Pat Johnson, March 21, 2008 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I remember watching Buckley and seriously not understanding a word he said!  It was like listening to Bob Dylan and attempting to detect the meaning of their words.  I thought it was me but now I realize that Buckley was such a supercilious fraud that he deliberately confused us and then watched the idiot pundits deify him.  Vidal is right on the mark.  As usual.

Report this

By RickinSF, March 21, 2008 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment

I know what you mean.

Jabba the Hut comes to mind. For me, at least.

Report this

By Greeningogo, March 21, 2008 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I too remember Puckface’s show—watching the amused look on my wonderful liberal Dad’s face as he watched that comically pompous asshole WFB on Crossfire. Those were the days. I just regret I was too young to get it. The neocon talking heads of today just ain’t as much fun.

Report this

By Marshall, March 21, 2008 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment

Sounds like you’ve been harboring a bit of a long term grudge there.  Well I’m just sorry that WFB ain’t around to respond, or goad you into the ring for a battle royal.  Well I’m sure you guys will meet up again later, wherever bitter writers go upon their demise.

Report this

By Tex, March 21, 2008 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

bill buckley as a drunken rich white conservanazi, who portrayed himself as such a great thinker on his programs.

I wonder what would have happened to buckley if he hadn’t inherited his family’s great fortune.

Have a good day in Hell with fallwell, bill.


Report this

By tabulrasa, March 21, 2008 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment

One thing that always mystified me about Bill Buckley was his reputedly very high intelligence.  I am not suggesting that he was an idiot, but I never saw signs of an extraordinary intelligence.  I hope the fact that he gave me the creeps has not clouded my judgment about his intellect.

Report this

By Mark, March 21, 2008 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

read: ad urbem et orbem

Report this

By C Quil, March 21, 2008 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

I couldn’t understand all the fawning plaudits for Buckley after he died. He made my skin crawl from the first time I saw him. There was something reptilian about him that I found very repulsive.

Why would anyone cheer the resurgence of the self-important and self-congratulatory right wing? It would be like cheering the return of smallpox on the basis of maintaining viral biodiversity.

I’m glad Mr. Vidal had a go at him. It must have shaken his superiority complex to its foundations.

Report this

By Allen Thomas, March 21, 2008 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

people might want to make sure they have all the information before they draw these wonderful images of Buckley. In his book. ‘Windsong’, he mentions how he & some help screwed a boatyard operator out of their lawful charges for repairs to his boat. He seemed a little triumphant as any good Repubican would be.

he never would admit how much he inherited but we may guess it was too much to give him clearance to speak for a helping hand to the less fortunate.

Report this

By Thomas Billis, March 21, 2008 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Mr Vidal delivers the true eulogy of Wm F. Buckley.Whose legacy will be that he was able to build a philosophy around greed and racism.When I read Newsweeks account of Bill Buckley I went back and looked for “Once Upon A Time"at the beginning.I have read fairy tales with more truth than the Newsweeek depiction of Bill Buckley.As usual a truly great man of American letters,Gore Vidal,has laid a truly despicable man to rest with the truth.I am sure Bill Buckley and Jerry Falwell are having great laughs together in the front row of hell.

Report this

By Bruce M Smith, March 21, 2008 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a lucky American now retired in France, and never trustng the Bush family, changed to Euros long ago, I paid for it! Sort of…
I’m well aware of the Buckley’s, working and living in Connecicut for 21 years; in fact did some work for them via their servants. (Luxury goods of course) Really dreadful people.
What’s funny over here is Buckley was such a nothing it missed the press he loved to hound. ie that he’s dead. I think.. is he? I read a few ‘Chris’ articles - a few Ok - but no Vidal. Just a well educated cheap-shot.
What bothers me most about the catastrophe Bush/Cheney AND CONGRESS have given the American people is at least there are Gore Vidals & others from overseas who came here. Can any foreign intellectual today want to meet Cindy Sheenan?
This is what Gore Vidal gives us, which the next generation won’t. GET REAL AMERICA! We don’t have much to offer the rest of the world until we CHANGE!

Report this

By Tony Waters, March 21, 2008 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Of course.

Report this

By Karen Miller, March 21, 2008 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, William F. Buckley was a true simpleton (and tasteless at that), I believe that would make him an insipid ninny. 

We scream loudest about the things we are most guilty of and boy that seems true of the right who are always screaming about something since speaking softly about it would draw no attention.

Report this

By Tony Waters, March 21, 2008 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal never seems to be blown off course.  He just tells the highly unvarnished truth, and lets the reader either digest it or find it indigestible.  Good to see that age and a wheelchair have not blunted his blade.

Report this

By Dr. Vogel, March 21, 2008 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal called Buckley a queen.  And his son an imbecile.  And called out the so-called liberal media for the intolerant wack-jobs and shills to the Right that they are.  I get the sense that Mr. Vidal is as embarrassed to be an American as most of us are now.

As an aside, one of my favorite Buckley moments was when ABC had big roundtable after the first airing of “The Day After.”  Buckley was trying to respond to something, mostly through drunken mumbling, holding his fountain pen to his cheek as he so often did, and Ted Koppel, the moderator, told him to sit up straight and speak into the microphone.  Let’s just say that Koppel completely punked him, and Buckley knew it.  I think Carson may have done the same once.

Thanks, Mr. Vidal, we’ll forgive the sloppy Latin.

Report this

By Bill Blackolive, March 21, 2008 at 11:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Vidal, what might ever change this land’s most indoctrinated population in history than the shock of learning 9/ll is inside?  I tell old friends go to patriotsquestion9/ll.  They get their shock.  Maybe they say this is shills, I say to them they have yet to go there, here be from 40 two Septembers back now a thousand famous howling, known people, besides the firemen trying to speak to Michael Moorer and so on. Hey, we have got to start.  Hey, keep your noble self in the flesh a time further, life on Earth might improve, be worth a good drink.

Report this

By saramus, March 21, 2008 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

of course, what Mr. Vidal really meant to say was not “ad (+accusative)” anything, but simply urbi et orbi (dative)—the papal proclamation “to the city (Rome) and the world.”

Report this

By saramus, March 21, 2008 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

Gore Vidal is a treasure, loved the piece. WFB got the obit he deserved. But I’m surprised the genuinely erudite Mr. Vidal got the Latin wrong at the end. ex cathedra is fine, but that’s ad urbem et orbem.

Report this

By tomack, March 21, 2008 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Regardless of his love of Bach or his video on celestial navigation (all worthy in there way), and despite his “softening” in later years—the man was still one of those people responsible for the Love It Or Leave It attitude that continues to corrupt and stall American cultural and societal Evolution.

Report this

By ahansen, March 21, 2008 at 7:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My God.  Purple Girl’s channeled Buckley!

Report this

By Suzanne Lynch, March 21, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I read God and Man at Yale while I was an undergrad and wondered even then why WFB did not simply transfer to Holy Cross or Georgetown if he found the agnosticism at Yale so threatening. His analytical skills might well have been improved had he taken Catholic theology or Philosophy at a Catholic school.

Later I watched his TV until he brutally attacked a very elderly Norman Thomas whom he had invited to be his guest. It was a despicable display and formed my permanent distaste for all things Buckley.  He made a career of enlarging himself at the expense of others. I trust he has gone into the void he deserves.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, March 21, 2008 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

Vidal insists EVERYTHING WFB said was a lie.  Not true.  It might have been insulting, crude, and cheap to call Mr. Vidal “a queer”, but it is true that Mr. Vidal is gay.  As for everything else in those ‘68 debates, I found them hilarious “Now Bill, don’t stick your tongue out at me!”

It’s also obvious that WFB was sloshed during that “crypto-nazi” exchange.  Even in B&W;it was obvious that his face was flushed and puffy.

I think in his later years WFB showed a bit more sense (other than being pro-Intelligent Design).  He at least at the end recognized that George W. Bush is a nincompoop stating, when asked about GWB’s legacy that Bush will leave no legacy.

Plus, his video on celestial navigation is terrific (Buckley, of course, loved to sail).

I guess, when you compare him to TRUE conservatives, like Barry Goldwater, WFB comes off looking bad.  But when you compare him to the modern Bushian and religious-right-wing-nuts he looks a little better.

The one thing Vidal picks up that’s amazing is that they have the GALL to call WFB an anti-bully, when ANYONE who watched Firing Line watched to see if he could bully the guests (Oh, to find a video of the Muhammad Ali “Firing Line”!—It was like watching a clumsy St. Bernard try to catch an agile mouse…“Mr. Buckley, I’m not as smart and educated as you…”)

Report this

By oldgeezerpilot, March 21, 2008 at 7:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fans of Gore Vidal should read this interview he did for CityPages three years ago.

The man is right on the money… as usual.

Report this

By Jean Tracy, March 21, 2008 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks, Gore Vidal for telling it like it was.  The most I remember about William Buckley was his “batting” his eyes every few moments.

Let’s hope that some day we get only truth from the media.

J. Tracy

Report this
thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, March 21, 2008 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

Jacob Freeze, you are correct about Mr. Buckley’s passion for Bach, that was genuine. When I spoke of him as a cowardly fraud, I meant politically. I will never forget a late interview with Barry Goldwater, where William F., caught up in the fervor of the Reagan era, thought maybe deficit spending wasn’t so bad after all. Goldwater said: “Bill there is no way in hell you can convince me that deficit spending has anything to do with being a conservative.”
Also, I have heard he liked to smoke some weed… out in the ocean, in his sail boat.

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, March 21, 2008 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although I agree with some of what Mr. Vidal says above, his label; “Lier” falls flat on the basis of Videl’s own prevarications.

He rails about the country being in the position it is because Gore Vidal’s latest novel, authors tell “...fictional stories about actual people”

One only need read “Burr” to understand Vidal’s hypocrisies.  My mother approached him at Random House in 1973 after she had completed the book. She asked “why did you call it Burr as it is devoid of all but a few generalized facts on the man” He curled his lip and sneered at her “Why do you think it says “A Novel?”

Vidal has a warped unequal standard. Had Vidal died first, Buckley could have made the assertions above, and they would have carried the same weight.

Report this
AnAmericaninGermany's avatar

By AnAmericaninGermany, March 21, 2008 at 5:11 am Link to this comment

Your wisdom… on the mark as always… has been a delight to my tired mind.  Thank you.

If I had but one wish, it would be to dine with you and talk into the wee hours.

Report this

By nana, March 20, 2008 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ROCK ON, Gore!!!

Report this
thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, March 20, 2008 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment

I was 12 years old when I saw the exchange between Buckley and Vidal. Gore Vidal’s account is true. The former host of Firing Line was a frothing nincompoop. My late father observed at the time that while Vidal might be homosexual, he was sure that if it came to fisticuffs, Vidal would kick his ass.
It was a shocking, and I must say entertaining moment in broadcast television. Of course seeing Oswald shot in the stomach by Jack Ruby, when I was 8, remains to this day, the most shocking of all. But the horror of the Chicago Convention police riot was at least a bit more scalable, watching the so-called Nazi becoming incensed by the so-called queer.
I have always been a fan of Gore Vidal. He has a wickedly sharp sense of humor, and his writings, especially his essays, are fine examples of what a good writer can do. As I am so much older now, I can only lament there is nobody that will replace his unique personality. He is the true gentleman. WFBjr. was a cowardly fraud.

Report this

By lightiris, March 20, 2008 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is a treasure.  While I’m not sure he has been on the right side of every issue, on most issues one can be assured he will call a spade a spade. 

Buckley, otoh, was an intelligent asshole who should have known better.

Bravo, Mr. Vidal, for stepping up and speaking out.  You, sir, are treasure.

Report this

By Christopher Robin, March 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After months of not blogging…. I return to find a new column from Gore Vidal!! smile

It was with bemusement that I saw the solemn fawning television coverage of Buckley’s passing. From many self-professed people on the left, who admired his ability with words….his cultured manner….blah blah blah.

To hear a few profess that National Review was “required” reading and such similar nonsense, by self-proclaimed “Democrats”....Well no wonder we’re in the mess we’re in.

But I could only think to that moment in 68’. When you confronted the eye-popping droll wind bag…it’s the stuff of lore.

I was just 5 years old in 68’, but recall an earlier time where progressive thought at least had a chance on the air waves…Dick Cavett and others, long before the Reagan changes in ad time allotted to broadcasters. Long uninterrupted speech, the stuff interesting talk shows once had….only found now on C-Span.

But a few scratchy poor quality black and white short clips exist on YouTube of your near brawl with the condescending snob Buckley. I guess his facade was dropped when cornered.

In light of what has passed over these ensuing years , your use of “crypto-Nazi,” turned out to be on the mark…and more telling than his reaction to rioting outside.

Considering where the conservative “movement” is now, it’s time to drop “crypto” from their ideology…. It’s passed being veiled…rather it’s unveiled and true to form when called out on it , indignant anger is the only response.

See: idiot Jonah Goldberg some think tank twit, who has written some complete revisionist view of history “Liberal Fascism” where he claims fascist movements of the 20th century were liberal constructs! that’s how bad the misinformation is today.

Or a descendant of Herbert Hoover writing of the Depression years, reams of revisionist crap. In essence accusing FDR’s policies of prolonging the Depression. Overlooking the depression was well under way for three years before Roosevelt took office, and still deepening. Hoover’s hands off waiting for the “business cycle” to self correct things, was judged in 32’ when he was ousted in a landslide. FDR judged by his reelection to four terms.

See, when they can’t handle the truth they lash out , accuse you of their sins, and refute historical facts with very selective use of history. So adherant to bastardizing of the word “Freedom” to apply mainly to property. It’s beyond ignorance, and can only be seen as willful attempts at misinformation, something the National Socialists in Germany were prolific at.

Nothing “crypto” about that.

Report this

By lightiris, March 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is a treasure.  While I’m not sure he has been on the right side of every issue, on most issues one can be assured he will call a spade a spade. 

Buckley was an intelligent asshole who should have known better.

Bravo Mr. Vidal for stepping up and speaking out.  You, sir, are treasure.

Report this
Paolo's avatar

By Paolo, March 20, 2008 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

Buckley was a truly contemptible human being. Anyone who was listening knew, as early as the 1950’s, that Buckley was an enemy of freedom. His words, from the early 1950’s, were that America had to become more like the Soviet Union, in order to defeat the Soviet Union. He mentioned, in this context, that America would have to have central planning boards, economic centralization, and a draft to continue the constant belligerence.

When Ayn Rand died, his publication wrote a most insulting obituary. Fair is fair; he deserves the same.

Buckley’s formula was to pay lip service to the Old Right by calling, not too convincingly, for economic freedom, all the while calling for constant warfare, which is economic freedom’s worst enemy. He essentially conned the Old Right while forming the belligerent, war-loving New Right, which eventually morphed into the Neo-Conservatives—the most revolting political animals of all.

His nose-in-the-air, fake-upper-class-British attitude was particularly loathsome. He loved to use sesquipedalia to give the impression of deep thought. As Nietzsche would have said: he muddied the waters to make them appear deep.

Report this

By Philip B Wood, March 20, 2008 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

there is still some sanity in America!

Report this

By Ernie, March 20, 2008 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Vidal is our greatest living man of letters.  I hope Kurt Vonnegut—perhaps his closest peer when alive—is smiling down on him from above.

Report this

By Joe, March 20, 2008 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I enjoyed Bill Buckley’s novel “Stained Glass” as well as Gore Vidal’s “Burr.”  The best way for them would have been the duel with pistols; in earlier times I would have figured Buckley as playing the part of the pushy loon, Burr, but on reading Vidal’s piece here I’m not so sure. Vidal is cool, of course, and here has given me a really good belly-laugh. Buckley’s ghost is swirling around Vidal right now, fucking with keys on the typewriter and such.

Report this

By sad old german, March 20, 2008 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I used to love to watch Buckley’s program on PBS.  Best comedy show on tv at the time.  Even my apolitical sister rolled with laughter.  What a spectacle to watch somebody do for himself what Lil’ Bush on comedy central today is trying to do for the shrub!

Report this

By DR, March 20, 2008 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you, Mr Vidal. Finally someone who has the balls to speak the truth about the ignorant, self-important pedantic ass that was Mr William F. Buckley. He never, EVER, won an argument on the merits; yet, because he could verbally confuse most who would dare speak to him, he, like the French, managed to SEEM intelligent, instead of actually BE intelligent.

Thank you, Mr Vidal, then, for your rare sanity.

Report this
G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, March 20, 2008 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Buckley was an enemy of Freedom. Who lived in an Ivory Tower constructed of his own reificaitons.

Who could actually listen to him for more than 10 seconds?

If any could I would doubt their sanity.

As to Newsweek, it belongs in Doctors offices, and Dentist offices, where sick people go for a little light reading while they wait an eternity for their appointments. No where else should it be tolerated.

Report this
Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, March 20, 2008 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

I consider the Media the last of the assemble Horseman to the Humanitarian Apocalypse. They are the ‘youngest’and the must unskilled and Ackward of the Group. The first of course is hierarchial Organized Relgion- the granddaddy of forced compliance.Gov’t was formed in it’s image (until the birth of ‘Democracy’), next and also a carbon copy of it’s predecessors Commerce (Inc’s hoarding and controlling the use of Natural Resources). The scam began as soon as one person had to concede their beliefs about their personal realtionship with the ‘unknown’. One had to compromise on a subject that has no real answers- thus became subjugated to the other. the Birth of Power, add a little muscle and limit essential goods for survival and Voila you have the BEAST, but had no voice to Proclaim it’s Validity to the Masses. So is initiated the Pirates of Human ingenuity- Mass Communications.The Mouth of the BEAST. but it is weak and dependent upon the Mass to acknowledge them First. they are still slaves to man’s attention and acceptance. The weak Link who have not mastered their Lesson Yet.
Deny them and they will crumble, thus creating a ripple effect through the ground on shich these Horseman Ride. Their Youth should help question the others and the realization that by turning now in our defense, in Alegience with the masses, they can only benefit. Stop Talking and Start Singing

Report this
Right Top, Site wide - Care2
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide

Like Truthdig on Facebook