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John McCain in the Echo Chamber

Posted on Oct 27, 2008
AP photo / Carolyn Kaster

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is reflected in a teleprompter at a rally in Belton, Mo., last week.

By Gore Vidal

October proved to be the cruelest month, for that was the time that Sen. McCain, he of the round, blank, Little Orphan Annie eyes, chose to try out a number of weird lies about Barack Obama ostensibly in the interest of a Republican Party long overdue for burial.

It is a wonder that any viewer survived his furious October onslaught whose craziest lie was that Obama wished to become president in order to tax the poor in the interest of a Democratic Party in place, as he put it in his best 1936 voice, to spend and spend because that’s what Democrats always do. This was pretty feeble lying, even in such an age as ours. But it was the only thing that had stuck with him from those halcyon years when Gov. Alfred M. Landon was the candidate of the Grand Old Party, which in those days was dedicated to erasing every policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose electoral success was due to, they thought, Harry Hopkins’ chilling mantra, “we shall … spend and spend and elect and elect.” Arguably, the ignorant McCains of this world have no idea what any of this actually signifies; Hopkins’ comment is a serious one, and serious matters seldom break through to cliché-ridden minds.

Although I am no fan of the television of my native land, I thought that an election featuring two historic novelties—the first credible female candidate for president and the first black nominee—would be great historic television, yet I should have been suspicious whenever I looked at McCain’s malicious little face, plainly bent on great mischief. Whenever Obama made a sensible point, McCain was ready to trump it with a gorgeous lie.

When Obama said that only a small percentage of the middle class would suffer from income tax during his administration, McCain would start gabbling the 1936 Republican mantra that this actually meant that he would spend and spend and spend in order to spread the money around, a mild joke he has told for the benefit of a plumber who is looking forward to fiscal good fortune and so feared the tax man, using language very like that of long-dead socialists to reveal Obama’s sinister games.

Advice to Obama: No civilized asides are permitted in McCain Land, where every half-understood word comes from the shadowy bosses of a diabolic Democratic Party, eager to steal the money of the poor in order to benefit, perversely, the even poorer.


Square, Site wide

So October (my natal month) was no joy for me, as the degradation of our democratic process was being McCainized. McCain is a prisoner of the past. Later, in due course he gave us the old address book treatment: names from Obama’s past, each belonging to a potential terrorist. Even from the corpse of the Republican Party, which Abraham Lincoln left somewhat hastily in the 19th century, this was an unusually sickening display.

Happily, physicists assure us that there is no action without reaction.

There were still a few bright glimmers of something larger than a mere candidate of the Republican Party, but Mr. McCain seems to be in the terminal throes of a self-love that causes him to regard himself as a great American hero. From time to time, he likes to shout at us, “I have fought in many, many wars,” and, “I have won many of them,” but he has, so far, never told us which were the ones that he has actually won, since every war that he has graced with his samurai presence seems to have been thoroughly lost by the United States. Consistency is all-important to the born loser as well as to the committed liar.

So what little fame he has rests on the fact that he was taken a prisoner of war by the Vietnamese—hardly a recommendation for the leadership of the “free world”—and thus aware of the meagerness of his own curriculum vitae, for his vice presidential choice he then turned radically, in the age of the awakening to power of women, to an Alaskan politician; a giggly Piltdown princess out of pre-history.

Her qualification? She has once been mayor (or was it “mare”?) of an Alaskan village and later governor of what had been known as “Seward’s Icebox,” named for Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, who had over the misgivings of many bought all that ice from Russia.

One does get the impression that the senator from Arizona is living in a sort of echo chamber of nonsensical phrases, notions and unreality.

To further add insult to injury, as it were, he describes himself as a “maverick,” which one critic in the audience assures him he is not, anyway, like the great Maury Maverick, a New Deal congressman from Texas who was so dedicated to freedom that he allowed his cattle to roam unbranded, freely on the range—a tribute to a time when Texans were freer than now in the post-Bush era.

The critic in the audience said that he was no maverick in the usual sense on the ground that he was simply a sidekick. That just about sums it up: Sidekick to the only president we have ever had who lacked any interest in governance.

As we are going through a religious phase in this greatest of all great nations, I am reminded of Chancellor Bismarck’s remark about us Americans in the 19th century when he said: “God looks after drunks, little children and the United States of America.”


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By KDelphi, November 1, 2008 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

It was amazing to me to hear a representative of the Obama campaign , on CNN, say, “The great Ayn Rand….”

I did not DVR it, so I cannot say who it was , nor who they said it to. It was in regards to “not socialism”—maybe it was said to deflect from the “socialism” charge—I am one, and am tired of hearing how horrible socialists are.

That must be how Muslims felt when they denigrated them.

I heard Matthews say, “Stop pretending tha you want this election over! It has been the most exciting..”. I , for one, wil be VERY glad,Obama himself has wishes so also.

The only ones this long campaign is benefitting are the cable news stations.And it costs way too much money that could be used for better things.

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By Christopher Robin, November 1, 2008 at 9:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Vidal, 

Sorry to hear of your recent fall. I hope your on the mend. Not a way to observe one’s birthday by far.

Is there anyone honorable left in the Republican party? Who is above lying? If so, I think they most likely have been long driven out of the party by now.

Republicans are rapidly degenerating back into “The Know Nothings”  Sadly they’ve taken the rest of the country along for that humiliating ride, into the abyss.

And your references to 30’s politics is all to pertinent. Republicans show their true colors under stress, don’t they?

Speaking of quotes from the past… and what with Alan Greed-span and the trickle-down myth finally unraveling along with the entire world markets. It was a much earlier column of yours which I happened upon, that succinctly foretold the origins of this entire debacle.

Esquire  magazine, July 1961 Comment by Gore Vidal.

Gore Vidal review of “New Intellectual, subtitled The Philosophy of Ayn Rand”


” Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society. Moral values are in flux. The muddy depths are being stirred by new monsters and witches from the deep. Trolls walk the American night. Caesars are stirring in the Forum. There are storm warnings ahead.”

It’s a great column, which I couldn’t fit here in it’s entirety. I hope Truthdig considers reprinting the Ayn Rand review portion. It goes exactly to what is wrong at the heart of right-wing economic philosophy.

Thanks, and lets hope the gods of Diebold go errant and allowing democracy to work this time around.

The alternative is unthinkable.

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By 7thheaven, October 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To MackTN:

I think your right that criminal liable needs to be considered by the FCC to make talk show hosts take ownership of what it is exactely that they are accusing. As well as publications. Anyone ever see Absence of Malice? Where Paul Newman sets up those who conspire and the communications commissioner (Wilford Brimely)comes down hard on them! That is what needs to happen from this election cycle! People like Elizabeth Dole running campaign adds telling us that her opponent is “Godless”. Help us Lord!

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, October 30, 2008 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment

Everybody should watch this if they haven’t: Bill Clinton and Obama together at a midnight rally in Florida. Two great speeches, first Clinton and then Obama. Great stuff! Don’t miss it!

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By Caryl S. Foster, October 30, 2008 at 5:52 am Link to this comment

Second only to his long over-used tired phrase “My Friends”, most recently Senator McCain has with great energy and frequency declared “I’ve been tested!!”. Yet, while it is true that throughout his long life he has indeed been tested, it is also true that Senator McCain has repeatedly failed many of the great military, moral, and political tests he has been given as in his Low 10:

1) Finishing at near bottom rather than near the top of his Navy academy class. Proudly

2) Failure as a Navy Pilot crashing more planes than anyone else in his graduating class. Stuff happens

3) Failure to remain silent and instead giving up information to the enemy as a POW. Forgiven by your “Fellow Prisoners”.

4) Failing to get legally divorced from his first wife before getting married to his current wife. Not too sorry.

5) Failure to vote for the Martin Luther King Holiday only to weakly apologize for not doing so years later. Thanks for nothing.

6) Failure to vote in support of a myriad of veteran issues despite being a disabled veteran and consistently claiming great support of all veterans. Many veterans and veteran organizations say otherwise.

7) Failure to recognize that Iraq has never been the “central battleground” in the war against terrorism and only recently realizing that Osama bin Laden remains free in Afghanistan/Pakistan as a result. Al-Qaeda thanks you.

8) Failure to exercise political leadership by getting House Republicans to vote for a House Bailout Bill without earmarks followed by failing to be a Maverick when he voted for a Senate Bailout Bill with earmarks. A “Real Maverick” would have voted NO.

9) Failure to select a vice-presidential running mate qualified to serve as President on Day One if necessary. Me First, Country Second; and the

10) Moral Failure of choosing to employ the same sad cast of divisive characters that dragged him and his family through the mud in 2000 so that they could do the same against his opponent in 2008. How do you spell integrity?

Fortunately for Senator McCain, his opponent has passed the test of not using any of these major failures against him.

Senator McCain: You Have Been Tested and You Have Failed!

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By Inherit The Wind, October 30, 2008 at 4:38 am Link to this comment

mackTN, October 28 at 1:26 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

Republicans see these days as desperate times.

Joe the plumber endorses McCain warning that Obama would mean the death of Israel.

This morning, right wing radio described Obama’s middle-class tax cut as a stealth move for reparations for black people!  He’s trying to cover up the reparations by declaring the tax cut is for the middle class when in actuality he plans to take money from whites to give to blacks.


Thanks, Mack!  How can you listen to that stuff without throwing-up?  You have a stronger stomach than I do!

Let’s remember: Obama spells out a plan to give 95% of Americans who make less than $250k a tax cut.  Spells is out and writes it down.  Then these jugheads, led by their Jughead-in-Chief, McInane, says this means Obamas’ gonna raise everyone’s taxes ‘cuz he’s a “Tax-and-Spend Democrat”....Cognitive Dissonance Rules!

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By cyrena, October 30, 2008 at 2:50 am Link to this comment

mackTN writes:
“..This morning, right wing radio described Obama’s middle-class tax cut as a stealth move for reparations for black people!  He’s trying to cover up the reparations by declaring the tax cut is for the middle class when in actuality he plans to take money from whites to give to blacks…”
SHIT! Every time I think I’ve heard it all….
Yeah, I believe ya….I just don’t know if I could survive listening to even a word of the comments. Whenever I’m forced to listen to these crackpots, I get a genuine reaction..some sort of negative physical I vomit or whatever. It all started with GW. Every time he would show up on any TV in the house, it would send me into some extreme reaction. Eventually I moved up to being able to look at him, as long as I didn’t have to hear him at the same time. But after a while, I relapsed, and I’ve never recovered again. I just can’t listen to any of them.

So, that’s why I wouldn’t have heard this latest absurdity. But, I believe it. Holy Shit!!! I wish he WOULD give us some damn reparations!! I’m still waiting for my 40 acres and a mobile home. (mules are out of stock now). It ain’t gonna happen.

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By News Nag, October 29, 2008 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

VigDor, your hubris is only as great as your lack of perspective allows it to be.

Have you even read anything else Vidal has written?

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By Sepharad, October 29, 2008 at 11:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Piltdown princess, Man of the Past—keep it up Mr. Vidal, Happy Birthday, Many more and Keep on Writing.

I don’t think there’s been an essay or book by Vidal I haven’t read. (The only thing nearly as much fun as riding horses is reading.) Like his opposite number the late William F. Buckley Sr. (except that Buckley’s fiction was never up to his other work), Vidal is one of those thinkers who, compared to the usual run of authors, makes you wonder “Where have all the writers, all the words, all the wit gone?” The only problem with Vidal’s longer serious stuff is that the depth of his knowledge on any given subject, however profound or however grave, invariably is filtered through the man’s wit and thus feels so playful that it keeps one slightly insulated—even though he or she knows better—from the topic’s bleak reality. But hey—would that all writers have that problem.

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By ilse, October 29, 2008 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“a giggly Piltdown princess out of pre-history.

Her qualification? She has once been mayor (or was it “mare”?) of an Alaskan village and later governor of what had been known as “Seward’s Icebox,” named for Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, who had over the misgivings of many bought all that ice from Russia. “
Gore Vidal, you are a genius for creating satire, and
Oscar would have loved you for your wit and humor.
Hope your birthday next year will be better than this year’s.

A fan.

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By My Twitching Eye, October 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Vidal has described McCain in the way I have observed and yet there is more.  Then, he points to something that no pundit has done thusfar, and that is to say what war has McCain directly or indirectly won.

McCain mantra: Say it loud, say it often and it will become fact.

Thank You Vidal.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 29, 2008 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

Funny. I criticize Vidal for what I think is his childish tone, and POW! the post is zapped.

I STILL think Vidal is being insulting in a schoolyard way.  This is despite my contempt for McCain being equal to his.

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By michael roloff, October 29, 2008 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

that Gore Vidal is still in fine fettle and mettle.

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By Retired Auto Mechanic, October 29, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The congressman Maury Maverick was not the Maverick who “allowed his cattle to roam unbranded, freely on the range—a tribute to a time when Texans were freer than now in the post-Bush era”

The following short quotes, separated by asses-ter-risk, are exerpted from “THE LONGHORNS” By J. Frank Dobie
* * * * * *
Samuel Maverick, the legend goes on, was in 1861 the largest landholder in the United States and owned more cattle than any other man in Texas.  His ambition was to travel on his own land all the six hundred miles from San Antonio to El Paso and to stock it.  After the Civil War he had a logical claim to tens of thousands of the unbranded cattle—“maverick stuff”—though little good it did him.

But, no, another form of the legend persists:  In the beginning Maverick had nothing except “and old stag, a branding iron, a tireless perseverance, and a morality that was blind in one eye.”  The stag was more prolific than Tommy Simpson’s Scotch cows, which always brought quintuplets, and the branding iron worked faster than a billy goat.  A man had to get up early and ride late to do even a small share of the mavericking business when Maverick was on the range.  He became “one of the cattle kings” and was the bull of the woods in “bovine aristocracy.”

The word “maverick,” says one writer, comes from the name of a great cattle driver whose herd, consisting of many thousands, stampeded in a snowstorm at a mountain pass ten thousand feet above the sea and were so scattered that he could not regather them.  Their offspring came to be known as “Maverick’s cattle,” though he had no more power over them than Mother Carey had over Mother Carey’s chickens.
* * * * * *
But to get back to Samuel Maverick.  In 1856 he sold out his stock of cattle, estimated at the original number, four hundred head, at six dollars around, range delivery.  That is, the purchaser, one Toutant Beauregard, took the stock “as they ran.”  If there were more than four hundred head, he was the gainer; if less, the loser.  He hoped to find a considerable number of mavericks on Maverick’s range.

These were the last and only cattle that Samuel A. Maverick ever owned.  His unintentional contribution to the American language was more important, perhaps, than his honorable and useful part in Texas affairs; at least it has done far more to keep his name green, and it has made him a notable factor in the history of a business he really never entered.  ONE OF HIS DESCENDANTS, MAURY MAVERICK, recently published a book with the punning title, A Maverick American.  The word in time came to mean, as applied to persons, one who has separated himself from the herd, or a mere stray.

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By vigdor, October 29, 2008 at 7:39 am Link to this comment

Building up the Noosphere, is here:

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By hollyse, October 29, 2008 at 6:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Palin’s vehicle for name and wink-wink recognition using 2008’s election is characteristic of the Eve before her, a fossil fuel of temptation to those longing to warm up their cold and lost soul’s existence. Take a bite from the promising apple and all the fruit from her tree, in the Republican orchards, will be yours. The set up is the same.
Man came first (according to biblical encyclopedia) yet it’s the woman who lives longer and is by numbers in possession of greater wealth. This brings to mind a joke:  Why do Jewish men want to die before their wives?  Simple… Because they want to!  “Bye, Sarah and take all the rotten apples with you!”

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By vigdor, October 29, 2008 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

Writer Vidal is our field marshall of the political put down: “a giggly Piltdown princess out of pre-history.” No one could say it better.  However, at a time when all our coveted democratic institutions have been converted to instruments of rape and plunder by decadent capitalism, what is needed, desperately, to forestall collapse of the American experimental civilization is a transformation of the spirit. Vidal, has nothing to say about this fundamental need.  This isn’t about the put down or public policy, it’s about building up the Noosphere, a domain that rarely makes it into the vocabulary of the American leadership class.

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By Dey, October 29, 2008 at 6:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vidal gives life (vida) to words. Love and hope to see/hear much more of Gore Vidal, he has true understanding of the problems of this once great nation.

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By Pat Henry, October 29, 2008 at 12:20 am Link to this comment

Bubikon wrote: “A giggly Piltdown princess out of pre-history.  Pure poetry.”

I agree, but then ... I’m alliterate.  wink

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By Pat Henry, October 29, 2008 at 12:15 am Link to this comment

Happy Birthday, Mr. Vidal, (from a fellow Libra)! 

What a great piece!  Thanks dude.  You speak truth to power.

To say anything else would be to repeat the others who’ve commented before. 

Happy Birthday, and many, many more.

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By lew, October 28, 2008 at 8:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With any luck, in a week, the Republicans will be reaping the excesses an unbridled Rove and the party hierarchy, unfettered/unregulated by morality or integrity, has sown for the last 9 years.
As for Palin, forget Rottweiler, pittbull or pig, she’s proven herself every inch a “Dan Quayle with lipstick”!

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By thomyris, October 28, 2008 at 7:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i was just looking at McCain’s strange flat hole-in-the-head eyes the other day, and wondering how to describe them.  Mr. Vidal captures them perfectly. 

if people are so fixated on looks maybe it’s because we’re looking for clues, windows to that deadened soul

and of course because deep down we’re shallow

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By Xntrk, October 28, 2008 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Living on a volcanic island, I truly am older then dirt, as is John McCain, and apparently, Louise. Of course, Gore Vidal is also a member of the group, and now he tells us this is his Birthday month!

I don’t think it is McCain’s age that causes people to mention his looks, I think it is his damaged persona. He truly looks like the Portrait of Dorian Gray. Every photo shows more damage, as if he were disintegrating in the virtual pixellated world.

What I have noticed is that he has developed many more ‘lumps’ during this campaign. I had a dog who developed lymphoma. Lumps in the glands of the neck and face are one of the first symptoms.

Since he has not actually released his his medical records, who is to know? Half an hour with hundreds of records and no notes is a circus, not a release of information. And, his partner is no more forthcoming…

I was shopping this a.m. and mentioned the the ‘senior discount’. The checker then had to verify I am over 60. I told her to “try 71”. She replied: “Gee, you look Great!”

“Yeah” says the aging attractive woman. “As long as I don’t move!”

I think I have read all of Vidal’s novels - or most of them, there were a few I didn’t finish. But his language is impeccable. As for correcting his history and archeological comments, don’t even try.

A great writer uses words as the tools to sculpt his art. Poetic License truly exists for those who wield it as a scalpel to disarm their opponents.

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By libertarian, October 28, 2008 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vidal is too generous to say it but McCain is far from being too old for the job—he is merely fixed (like a defective laser) on fucking weaker countries until they bend to our will. As for military adventures, McCain is no crazier than Cheney-Bush. He would never attack Russia or any , even minor, nuclear State. As for Russia, one non-nuclear factor is that the Russian Sukhoi SU-37 high-altitude fighter, in pre-production status, is capable of wiping the floors with any US fighter-interceptor. McCain, as President, will be stuck with the same weakened military handed to him by Cheneybush as would Obama. McCains bullying focus will be forcing weaker nations to comply with our economic will. McCain, thus, is a coward.

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By thebeerdoctor, October 28, 2008 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

“Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want”

John Mayer, Waiting On The World To Change

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By WriterOnTheStorm, October 28, 2008 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

Yes the piltdown/palin thing was good, and the lipstick joke works pretty well too, substituting piltdown for pitbull.

But the better line for this reader was “McCain is a prisoner of the past.” This nation may indeed be at a turning point. Hopefully we will turn our backs on the American imperialism and American Exceptionalism that McCain so proudly yet so sadly represents.

Deregulation, trickle down, oil, symmetrical warfare, national triumphalism, corporatism, the me generation, hummers, McMansions, signing statements, the moral majority…

All repudiated. All fading relics. How long will we cling to them?

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By mackTN, October 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Republicans see these days as desperate times. 

Joe the plumber endorses McCain warning that Obama would mean the death of Israel.

This morning, right wing radio described Obama’s middle-class tax cut as a stealth move for reparations for black people!  He’s trying to cover up the reparations by declaring the tax cut is for the middle class when in actuality he plans to take money from whites to give to blacks.

Yes, this was on the radio for hours.  (Getting almost as much time as Obama’s coverup of his true birth origins.) 

And people wonder why we have skin heads?  People who campaign on lies should face criminal prosecution.

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By TAO Walker, October 28, 2008 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

So this must be what occurs when “God” looks the other way.  That waiting “accident” HAPPENS!


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By dotforwardslash, October 28, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks, Gore, for your comments.

Your work has sustained me, during bad and good times.  Somehow, I can’t quite fathom how the U.S. has gotten to this sorry state, what with W and Vice and the ugly notion of a Palin Presidency.  We soldier on. 

If all goes well, I look forward to the Obama Administration, and Gore Vidal’s continuing honest commentary.

The miserable psychic burden of velvet fascism may be ending, but the hardest work, RECONSTRUCTION, will begin.  (Reconstruction of ‘Merika after the second un-civil war).

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By Big B, October 28, 2008 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

Mccain’s recent trip to the dark side should surprise no one. He is, if anything, stereotypically american in that he seems to be willing to lie, cheat, steal, and yes even kill, in order to finish first.

We americans have for the past 100 years or so, thought of ourselves as the chosen people(sorry Israel, your sucking hind titty on this one) We had the biggest cars, the prettiest girls, and more guns than any other four nations combined. We went around kicking people in the nuts, and banging their girlfriends. But those were the salad days, and those days are over. Old Johnny wants desperately to return the US to our inherant role as “top dog, head honcho, big kahuna!” But Johnny needs to look in the mirror, as we all do. The weathered old face of america tells a story not of future glory, but of glory days, long gone-by.

Until americans can admit to the nations shortcomings, we will continue to flounder.

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Robert's avatar

By Robert, October 28, 2008 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

Pennsylvania GOP disavows inflammatory email

By RON TODT Associated Press

Oct. 25, 2008, 9:44PM

PHILADELPHIA — “Pennsylvania Republicans are disavowing an e-mail sent to Jewish voters that likens a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to events that led up to the Holocaust.

“Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008,” the e-mail reads. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let’s not make a similar one this year!”

A copy of the e-mail, provided by Democratic officials, says it was “Paid for by the Republican Federal Committee of PA — Victory 2008.”

It warns “Fellow Jewish Voters” of the danger of a second Holocaust due to the threats to Israel from its neighbors and touts Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s qualifications over those of Obama.

State GOP officials disavowed the e-mail and said the strategist who helped draft it had been fired.

“The Republican Party of Pennsylvania did not authorize that e-mail,” Michael Barley, communications director for the state party, told The Associated Press on Saturday evening.

Barley said a “correction” would be sent out to everyone who received it.

The e-mail was sent Thursday morning to 75,000 Jewish voters.

The McCain campaign also repudiated the e-mail. Spokesman Peter Feldman said Saturday night that McCain “rejects politics that degrade our civics.”

Political consultant Bryan Rudnick was identified as the person responsible for it. Rudnick, reached Saturday night, confirmed that he no longer works for the party, which employed him a few weeks ago as a consultant to do outreach to Jewish voters.

“I had authorization from party officials” to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. “I’m not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I’m not naming names right now,” he said.

The e-mail also accuses Obama of teaching members of the community group ACORN “to commit voter registration fraud” during his years as a community activist.

Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., said the e-mail was part of a “smear campaign” that was among the worst he had seen in his state.”

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By Louise, October 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment


“... why , do you think , that so much of the criticism of McCain tends to focus on his looks? I know that he is not particularly attractive, but, that is not what I dont like about him. Its his policies!”

Being old, I understand problems associated with age. If I get something wrong, I explain more than necessary. If I forget something, in spite of the fact that I’ve had to spend my entire life engaging in “memory training,” I feel a sense of panic, “oh my God is it happening?”

I cant run or I would fall over. But I don’t do little jumps to make it look like I would and could, if I had too. I wear glasses to see where I’m going. If I want to see where I’ve been I have to be careful turning or my vision might cause me to lose my balance.

But I don’t have a spittle problem. Or turkey folds at my neck. Or a blank stare or furious blinking associated with confusion.

And I realize nobody wants to hear about me. But being old, I know ages limitations. Point being, people study McCains appearance because he is old. They may not even understand that, but the oldness calls for behaviors that seem odd to those who aren’t.

Sometimes old people drool. When excess spittle collects in the mouth, the old person hanging onto their faculties develops a trick, pulling the excess back with a sucking motion as part of the process of taking a breath between words. This may not indicate senility or dementia, but it indicates gradual loss of control of bodily function.

McCain cant see well. That’s apparent by the squint, avoiding close eye-to eye contact, walking into others, walking in front of the camera, or whoever happens to be talking for him.

McCain cant move fast. That’s apparent by his peculiar jump start when approaching a crowd.

McCain has difficulty with his memory. That’s apparent by his need to repeat simple [albeit dishonest] talking points, and how quickly he forgets the name of the person he’s talking too. His memory problem is obvious by his replacing coherent details with “blah-blah-blah.” His supporters love it, because they have problems with details too.

McCain is slightly panicked, under the fixed, albeit uncertain smile. Because he, more than anyone understands the ticking clock that reminds him of approaching diminished capacity.

We study what he looks like, because, unless we are old, we don’t understand what we see. We pin on a physicle appearance, because we understand that.

Telling quotes from the article:

“... serious matters seldom break through to cliché-ridden minds.”

[McCain’s entire political career is based on cliche and innuendo. Does he live in fear of forgetting one?]

“Whenever Obama made a sensible point, McCain was ready to trump it with a gorgeous lie.”

[Lies are easy to remember. Coupled with the believe that lies gain truth and value if repeated over and over again, McCain appears to now believe his lies. Another characteristic of diminished capacity.]

“McCain is a prisoner of the past.”

[A past created in the fantasy of his nether world mind.]

“From time to time, he likes to shout at us, “I have fought in many, many wars,” and, “I have won many of them”

[The “ultimate out of touch” reality!]

“One does get the impression that the senator from Arizona is living in a sort of echo chamber of nonsensical phrases, notions and unreality.”

[An impression fortified by his excess movement, or non-movement, rambling or silence, strange little jumps, spittle sucking and blank or blinking eyes.]

“God looks after drunks, little children and the United States of America.”

Maybe McCain believes God sent him Palin to inject energy and sense into his nonsensical campaign. If so, that more than anything, indicates complete senility, possibly demensia is just around the corner.

We don’t need a president with limited capacity stumbling around in the Oval Office. Thats even more scary than his policies!

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By Ron Glaser, October 28, 2008 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Piltdown line is classic, but for the sake of accuracy, wasn’t Piltdown Man a hoax? Of course, Ms Palin qualifies as a hoax in the contemporary sense, but her concept of history precludes the prospect of an organism from an era prior to The Creation, ca 4000 BC, or whatever. Therefore, Mr Vidal’s assessment of Sarah is a tantalizing mixture of fabrication and rejection of science upon which both evolutionists and creationists can agree. Nonetheless, Ms Palin is an idiot.

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By Purple Girl, October 28, 2008 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

As a voter or a Candidate
If nothing else he’s Testing US. And I’m not sure exactly how we are doing.
Looking at the Obama Campaign and his supports, it probably looks pretty good from Above
But for every Yin there is a Yang, and McCains campaign is truely the Antithesis
Obama’s scope gets wider, McCains becomes more constricted.
Obama’s messege remains constant, Mac’s i sscatterred and incoherent.
Obama’s trying to end devisive rhetoric, Mac makes up more as he Goes.
Obama leads his spporters by example both in enthusiasm and even frustrations, Mac invokes Frustration and fear to build enthusiasm
The comparisons are stark and we now stand at a cross road. If nothing else God help US See the Way to Our Promise & destiny as the Beacon of Hope to the World. Give US the strength to conquer our Fears and Vote in the Best people for the Job at hand, Sens Barrack Obama and Joe Biden!

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By thebeerdoctor, October 28, 2008 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

re: sitting this one out

Your heroic analysis of John McCain’s campaign is ridiculous. The fact that Senator McCain embraced all of that ideological nonsense, that supposedly he opposed, only reveals what a grasping, groveling old man the candidate has become. That same candidate who once denounced the James Dobsons of this world, now employs their tactics. Even his millionaire wife has stooped to “spine chilling” comments about her husband’s opponent. The only thing honorable about McCain now is that he truthfully reveals he is completely without scruples. But asking that is perhaps too much, for the heroic enabler of the Vietnam conflict, who spent five years locked up for dropping bombs on peasants living in their own country.

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By Sitting this one out, October 28, 2008 at 9:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m not voting this year but I’ve always voted Democratic in the past.

But I have been reading, and I am shocked, shocked at how manipulated Americans are.  Once again, Rove is winning. 

First, some observations.  If you read John Anderson’s “Follow the Money,” Larry Beinart’s “Fog Facts,” or Thomas Frank’s “The Wrecking Crew,” you learn about the post-Nixon Republican party.  In one sentence, what Abramoff, Norquist, Gingrich, DeLay, et al., did was change Congress from a body that threatened big business with legislative sanctions unless they conformed to Congressional expectations into a body that sold tax and regulatory benefits to big businesses.  This innovation, which harkens back to the peddling of indulgences in pre-reformation Europe,has been, and is, the most lucrative governmental innovation ever invented.

Within the Republican party, one person stood out as a thorn in the side of these most corrupt practices.  That person was John McCain. 

So the architects of this cash machine have it in for McCain.

And Karl Rove is the mastermind of the attack.  In this round of elections, Barack Obama is not getting swift-boated, but John McCain is.

Rove Example #1, attack your enemy’s strongest credential:  the Sarah Palin pick.  John McCain’s strongest argument againt Obama is that he has had more experience in dealing with issues facing America than the neophyte Obama.  The Palin pick took that strength.

Rove Example #2, trample all over the enemy’s strengths.  McCain’s strongest personality trait, a trait common to fighter pilots, is his great charm. This trait has been virtually invisible during the campaign.

Rove Example #3, misrepresent the enemy’s past, and raise questions about his character.  In the world of fighter pilots, it is not shameful to graduate at the bottom of your class or to crash expensive airplanes; these actions show you have the “right stuff.”  But taken out of that milieu, they shock.  Frankly, McCain’s cultural background is just as exotic to most Americans as Obama’s.  And the Rove machine will not let us forget it.

Rove attack #4, the rumor.  This Rove technique is being used against Obama, and it was used to great advantage against McCain in North Carolina in 2000 (the “black child out of wedlock” deception).  In this campaign, McCain’s wife’s drug addiction and his treatment of his former wife are being expanded and elaborated upon.

What annoys me is that Rove (or whoever) uses these techniques again and again and no one calls them out.  The poisoned discourse in the press and among the liberal media as reporters and partisans amplify these Rove inventions has helped me justify my intention not to vote.  As Jim Hightower says, “where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?”

My sense is that McCain, who is not stupid, has decided to put country first and bring down the Republican party with him in an historic loss.  If the Republicans are in full retreat come November 5, my kudoes go to that old soldier, John McCain, who was willing to crash his campaign to save America.

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By Doug Tarnopol, October 28, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Mack, here’s the Vidal/Buckley debate, or at least the key part:

More here:

Here’s Buckley’s memoir of this moment: (this won’t open on my ‘puter, but it looks like it works with other people’s….)

And here’s Vidal’s:

Funny stuff.

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By Doug Tarnopol, October 28, 2008 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

And, yes, he’d probably spit at me for sounding unintentionally patronizing, but so be it! smile

This is why I love Vidal: Palin as “a giggly Piltdown princess out of pre-history.” That, my friends, is comic gold.

Finish that Mexican War book—we need it.

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By Spiritgirl, October 28, 2008 at 7:04 am Link to this comment

I’m soooo happy, not to be in the Wizard of Oz country anymore!  These last 8 years of domination by people that don’t really care about this country, about incompetent hubris a—holes, that didn’t have a vision or a clue!  It is almost over, and John McShame is just that a Shame!  His Rovian Playbook should have been burned up, but what it really shows is how old, desperate, and stuck he is!  What it really says is if you hated what’s happened over the last 8 years, just look out for 4 more!  His pick of Sarah Paleface, shows exactly how much he is trying to court the rabid right-wing of his party!  These are the same people that he denounced for being intolerant a few years back!  He has since bowed and scraped to get into their good graces, and in doing so has lost the respect of many!

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By mackTN, October 28, 2008 at 6:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By the way, who here remembers Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley covering the Democratic Convention in Chicago?  I wish it could be replayed, especially the moment when, a frustrated Vidal, attacked Buckley calling him ...“crypto-Nazi.” 

Does anyone remember that entire insult?

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By Fahrenheit 451, October 28, 2008 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

Gore, as always applies intelligence to any subject.  However, I’ve yet to read a comment that quite nails it like this one from a previous thread by sistersuperior;
sistersuperior, October 24 at 8:09 am #

November 4th will be nothing less than a national
IQ Test.
Amen to that!

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By thebeerdoctor, October 28, 2008 at 4:15 am Link to this comment

Always great to read the hilariously precise thoughts of historical novelist Gore Vidal. I hope he is mending well from his recent accident.

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By KDelphi, October 27, 2008 at 10:38 pm Link to this comment

I am just asking—and I am a Socialist (Obama is NO Socialist!), so, no fan of McCain.

But, why , do you think , that so much of the criticism of McCain tends to focus on his looks? I know that he is not particularly attrative, but, that is not what I dont like about him. Its his policies!

But it is rare that I’ve read an article about him that doesnt mention , his teeth, his “beady eyes”, his “crunchy face”.lol—sorry.Do you think that it is “age-ism”? Or, just that people dont like him and, so, he looks “worse ” to them. You know, the people you think are ok, until you get to know them. Or , the ugly guy you end up marrying!! LOL

Just musing, folks.

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By lolita, October 27, 2008 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Began reading the article, not having noticed who the writer was,  began to enjoy myslef, experiencing fun with the abstract visuals etc….and then saw “who done (wrote) it”.....thank you Gore Vidal…an IndoEuropean transplant to the US, having believed in the questioning values of this country, then shocked beyond belief, these past few years,  but, yes, now some hope…and your books, insights, angles, humour, frankness and forthright tone in your writing, have kept me ‘sane’!! Thank you

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By mackTN, October 27, 2008 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

this topic can,t be pounded on enough.  i am astounded by the outright lies promoted and repeated, virtually unchallenged by the press.  Even when their faces are rubbed in the proof exposing the lie, they persist without taking a breath.  U can’t intimidate them—they know that lies will gain points for them.

What’s even more disturbing is how many people believe these lies and repeat them line for line on the local right wing radio shows.  many of these people are themselves hurt by the policies and views of bush mccain—-like joe plumber—but swallow the lies and distortions, internalize them, truly believing that mccain has a plan that will benefit them.  They have been taught to beleive that 95% of working families must protect the wealthy by continuing to bestow them with tax breaks & credits at their expense because as laura ingraham put it “they might decide to become something one day.”

yes, it is disturbing to witness so many deceived so easily.  But what,s really unforgivable is the commitment of mccain palin to teach this to their supporters and reinforce it so negative a context that it gurantees needless divisions &:ostilities.  These people are so furious that a muslim terrorist could become president when he,s not even a citizen that they could…spit.

More shocking?  The right wing organization knows these are lies.  talk about patriotism.  using supporters to advance one,s own personal obsession to be named president no matter what it costs.  No matter what divisions and resentments occur as a result.  They haven,t even presented their own plans for need of daily distorting Obama.  These lies rise to the level of high crimes and they should be held accountable for the disservice they,ve committed against the country.

When u can’t campaign without deceit and divisive tactics, be prepared to flush ur country down the toilet.  This is not what i expected from a war hero and a patriot trained to put country first.  shame on them.

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By Jimmy Jalapeeno, October 27, 2008 at 9:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Beautiful piece, and thank you for including the recognition of the real Mavericks, who were and are nothing like McCain.  It was actually Maury Maverick (not Murray) who was the fine progressive politician; and it was his grandfather who eschewed branding of his cattle leading to the term “maverick”.  Interesting to me, though, is that a maverick was simply an unbranded animal which was assumed to be the property of the Maverick spread, not a rugged individual who determined his own fate.  Maybe McCain is a maverick after all… nobody has any doubt about to whom he belongs.

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By ocinemod, October 27, 2008 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Did I hear something about a burial? Break out the champagne!

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By NoOneYouKnow, October 27, 2008 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If McCain were being honest, which is the whole point, he would trade in “maverick” for “depraved.” But, Mr. Vidal, these are interesting times, aren’t they? I think McCain is the basis for a great novel.

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By Louise, October 27, 2008 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment

What a great write!
And funny, oh my. smile

Definately a pass around!

Thanks Vidal

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By Bubikon, October 27, 2008 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A giggly Piltdown princess out of pre-history.  Pure poetry.  Finally a political commentator who still recognizes a crypto-Nazi when he sees one, albeit 40 years later.

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By Big B, October 27, 2008 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

But how does god feel about drunken american children?

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