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‘This Place Is Broken’: The Gore Vidal Interview Part II
Posted on Mar 8, 2006
By Sheerly Avni
How was that marriage going in the ‘60s?
In the ‘60s, well, it got a big boost when Jack got to be president. Everybody out here was very pro-Kennedy. So it looked like a new generation had picked up the torch, and would “Bear any burden” - a pretty terrible inaugural speech, when you think about it. It was sort of a period of nostalgia: “Since You Went Away,” “Best Years of Our Lives,” it was putting a golden haze over WWII and perhaps over Korea, which had been a total mess. It was getting us comfortable and relaxed, homebodies at last, but really once again, to march and follow the flag, wherever it might lead.
That’s what Kennedy’s speech was about: We will bear any burden. To which the answer is, well, why? We’re not in charge of the world. There are a lot of places that we have no business bearing any other burden.
So does the marriage ever get rocky? In the ‘70s when you have start having these more acerbic films, you have people like Robert Altman….
Oh yes, and as Vietnam got worse, that was what the ‘70s were about, and the movies began to push back, and you have Altman doing it with satire wonderfully well, and quite a few others making their contributions, showing that war is hell… not too much picking of sides either.
Woodrow Wilson would have seen to it that we did.
And then we have Reagan….
“It’s morning in America,” he said - just as night fell.
And Clinton, the most telegenic president we’ve ever had.
Probably the most intelligent one we’ve ever had. It does not necessarily make him the very best, but certainly he was the only one who understood economics and could get up and explain it to the public—for example his first State of the Union. The teleprompter broke down, he did the entire speech from memory; now that’s over two hours of nothing but statistics and analysis. It was a brilliant coup of memory and showed that he thoroughly understood what he was talking about, he wasn’t reading.
What were some of his big errors?
Well, ending welfare as we have known it brought on disastrous effects. The business about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” whatever that was about. People who were interested in same sex in the services, so the officers were not supposed to ask questions and they weren’t supposed to give answers. This proved to be totally disastrous. And still is, to the extent that it’s enforced.
If Washington West is Democrat and liberal and Washington East is Republican, who gets custody of how the nation thinks?
Hollywood won’t. Washington East picks up all the marbles: They have the Congress, they have the courts, and of course they have the executives.
They also have the Christian right, making advances in Hollywood. What about that?
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