Monday 5 May 2008

Even his blind spots

are illuminating

Gore Vidal, the 82 year old American novelist and the Democrats elder statesman was interviewed on Australian television over the weekend and he commented on the current political situation in the US. I find him learned, funny and exceptionally clear-sighted. Or maybe that's just because I tend to agree with him. What do you think?

Here's part of the transcript -

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Gore Vidal, you've watched Democratic primaries for decades now: so just who do you think will be standing on the podium in Denver in just a couple of months time accepting the Democratic Party's nomination.

GORE VIDAL: It's almost a toss of a coin now. They set out to wreck Senator Obama and it's just been a royal mess all the way through. Of the two, I prefer her, in the sense that she knows more what she's doing. His mishandling of the Reverend whatever he's called doesn't bode well for a conduct of, you know, difficult negotiations. So, that is a mess.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: How do you account for this situation - this real mess - for the fact that these two very able candidates have been able to take part in this knock down, drag out contest? How do you explain that?

GORE VIDAL: Dare I say ambition? It is - she's quite experienced and I would feel contented with her as President. I don't know about him. He's inspiring, but then many people can do that. Even in a vacuum, they can inspire you, sort of. He doesn't know how rough it is. You know, all those things that she was saying about him, which everybody thought she was being mean-spirited and so on and exaggerating the perils of the Republican machine - she wasn't. These are dreadful people. You know, this isn't real politics. What you've got here is something - a war machine has been let loose on the world by Mr Bush and he's going to see to it that after he leaves office, the United States remains at war. And he set it up so that there'll be all kinds of things going wrong, all sorts of revenge to be taken. And I think, you know, what is it Tacitus said? "They made a desert and they called it peace."

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: The Democratic Party itself is charged with the very important task of knocking heads together, making this less of a mess, getting super delegates to pledge and the like. Why have they been seemingly standing on the corners, on the edges of this debate, ringing their hands?

GORE VIDAL: The Party machinery has not worked since 1945 which is when the United States conquered the world rather absent-mindedly, and we ended up with Japan, we ended up with Germany and we'd won everything there was worth winning in the world. Since then, there has been no plan, no brain to the party, Truman was the beginning of the end and he made - he started the Cold War. That's mostly his doing. And then you had a bunch of public relations people posing as the Republican Party. As bad as the Party is, it's not really quite as bad as these people like Karl Rove, that you may have heard of out there in the Pacific, who was a man who understood how to smear people. He was a merchant of slime. So, everybody was somewhat wounded by his long stay as the counsellor to George W. Bush. So, we are left with a kind of wrecked Republic. Bush saw to it, with his curious little Attorney General Mr Gonzalez. They left us with really no Bill of Rights any more, which means no Republic. And, we are sort of naked to the world now. And nothing can make any sense because everything is dislocated. Then they trot out McCain, a man who's only distinction is his plane was shot down. Well, many other people have had their plane shot down. He's introduced as a great hero and a great patriot. In a well run military - which we haven't had for quite some time, thanks to George Bush - in a well run military, he would have been court martialled for losing his plane and five years a prisoner, I'm weeping for him. Oh, God, how brave he was! Did he volunteer to be a prisoner? Who knows? He's a weird enough figure and all he can do is babble on and on a lot of nostrums that are just so dated. I mean, he sounds like cobwebs when he speaks.

To read the rest of his interview click here.


  1. Hello, Lylly!
    Great post.
    Have a nice day

  2. Well, where to start? I know you said you agree with him so I won't be negative. I will say that several of the comments he made absolutely infuriate me, not in a political sense because I am not a blind follower of any party, I think for myself, but I am angry as an American. These people who go overseas (either in person or by interview) and make these kinds of accusations with no chance for rebuttal don't realize the damage they do to the credibility of the U.S. There have been so many examples of this, where celebrities or former politicians or whomever go, unchecked, on a rant about all the things they think are wrong with America. Problem is, it's only their personal view and almost never reflects the true opinion of the majority of Americans. I would only ask you to take several of the points he made and research them for yourself, through articles and publications which give both sides an equal opportunity to state their case, before you believe this. So many of his remarks are so easy to disprove, and that's why over here we don't even hear his name mentioned, much less his opinions. Even the left knows his view of things is too radical, so they don't let him speak for them. And as for Clinton, the exact opposite of what Vidal said is true over here - BOTH sides think he is hurting her campaign and wish he would just shut-up and go away. This has been a big issue over here for weeks.

    I hope I haven't been ranting, and I certainly respect your right to choose what to believe, but think about some of the things he said, i.e. Truman actually started the Cold War.?!?! I think the Soviets had a heck of alot more to do with it than Truman or anyone else did. And Bush actually made sure to put into place several events to ensure failure so we would continue to go to war? That's just insane, even if you're not a fan of Bush. They (Bush haters) always do the exact same thing - they blame everything (including hurricane Katrina) on Bush because they hate him so much. And I understand, somewhat anyway, why they hate him (I'm no fan, either) but their standard tactic is to turn everything around and blame it on Bush. Go back and read that part of the interview again, he was being asked about the democratic party and the two dem candidates, and he turned the whole interview into the standard far-left "Blame Bush and we will look good" interview.

    I think you may have given me some inspiration to post an article about this very thing, those who know they don't have support for their wacky views here so they go overseas and seek to damage this country's reputation and international standing because they hate the current party in charge of the government. I should have plenty of source material.. ha-ha.

  3. David Santos - thanks for visiting. I think its an interesting post too.

  4. Matt – I always appreciate your responses and thanks for remaining so polite even though you feel very strongly about this. I bet you were busting to say more…and had to contain yourself. I like Vidal's train of thought and I apologise if I am just getting myself in more hot water here, but...

    First, the US administration's reputation has already been damaged badly over the level of deceit re the Iraq War. Not the American people, the Bush Administration. In the same way the Blair (UK) and Howard (AUS) Administrations did as well. I was ashamed of my politicians. We have new governments and you will soon too. Things will be less negative as a result. Vidal's style is different, sure, but the themes of what he is saying I totally agree with. I don't read it word for word and actually believe that Truman started the Cold War (although the US dropped the atomic bomb and the arms race started) or that the US is a bad place (if I believed that, I wouldn’t visit there). I do not know about the history of the Democrats nor need to know that. I think Vidal uses language in a way to get a point across. He was asked for his opinion I guess. I think we should be allowed to criticise our own countries and governments and other countries too if it affects us personally and our futures. I do not assume he is speaking for anyone but himself.

    I agree with Vidal's take on Obama - he doesn’t discount him he just says he is too inexperienced and although inspirational, what else has he done? Second, I also do not believe Hillary is being mean spirited, either. She is running for one of the biggest jobs in the world. If you don’t know how to play the game then how will you cope with the perils of office (and its going to be bad). That is what politics is. Do we really think other world leaders and enemies will roll over easily. Third, he says that a war machine has been let loose on the world. I see it like that too - it’s a bad, bad thing. It is not going to go away and its impact is still to be really felt I think. Fourth, I think the US is definitely very much naked to the world now and that could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. What he says about Karl Rove is well known and discussed everywhere. In terms of McCain it’s probably hitting below the belt to talk about anyone’s war history but I think he was making a point (tongue in cheek) to suggest that what is he well known for other than this. As for Bill, that’s just his view I guess. I know that Bill has had lots of bad press because of his involvement then again so has Michelle Obama. And I still love Americans. I don’t judge the people based on their politicians, or their authors or celebrities, truly. Besides what do I know, I just come from the colonies where many people think Kangaroos hop down our city streets.

  5. Wait, I thought all Aussies really did have pet Roos in their backyards! Yeah, and all Texans wear pointed boots and ride horses to work. LOL

    I, too, think it is important for people to have the right (and the courage) to speak out against their own government if they feel things are not right, or at least could be improved. What would the U.S. be today if our ancestors never spoke out against England and the King's unfair taxation, etc? Great Btitain II, maybe. But why do the ones who decide to take their grievances to overseas audiences always have to be so vicious, and never just give constructive criticism? If you have issues with your own government then act like a grown-up and state your concerns in a mature, constructive way, which only makes you more believable. I have never seen anything like the phenomenon that is taking place with literally every, single bad thing that happens in this country being blamed on Bush. Again, I strongly disagree with a lot of things about him, and decisions he has made, but to blame 911 (saying he planned it), claiming he and his administration invented aids to get rid of black people, the death toll of Hurricane Katrina, the economy, gas prices, and everything else on him is just so ridiculous and immature. Sure he botched the heck out of Iraq but I would just point out that when the Allied forces wiped out Iraq's Republican Guard (with very little death toll and collateral damage), this entire country and most of the rest of the world celebrated that such a mass-murdering mad-man was finally dealt with. It was only after the insurgents turned the Iraqi people against the U.S. and started the mayhem that is now the Iraq war that everyone changed their minds. And why? Because no intercontinental ballistic missles with continent-destroying warheads were found? What did people really think "weapons of mass destruction" meant? He clearly had "WMD" which he used to visciously wipe out entire towns full of Kurds in the north. These types of missles and mustard gas canisters and such were found, as well as plans for making many other types of "WMD". People are so used to hearing about nuclear bombs and ICBMs with nuclear warheads that this is what they expected to find in Iraq. But I bet the Kurdish people would have a very different idea of what a WMD is. Just my opinion, but I never thought they would discover some fancy, high-tech nuclear missle factory. But why Bush refuses to address this issue and others which would shed light on the whole mess I'll never know. There have been so many soldiers return from Iraq and tell of unbelievable things they found (from plans for weapons, to propaganda videos detailing certain events that were to take place if Iraq and Afghanistan had not been invaded, and many other things that would at least help people understand some of the things that really were taking place over there, but Bush will not let them be released to the public. I honestly believe one day we will all be surprised when this whole mess finally dies down and people start writing their books about what they know. That's why I reserve judgment on the whole affair until I know everything - I have just heard too much (from both political parties, actually) to fully make up my mind yet.

    Anyway, it's funny that this kind of viscious public assault on our President's character only ever comes from the far-left. Did you ever hear anything like these attacks on Clinton when he disgraced our country with affair after affair, and then lied about it on national television, only to be caught red-handed and have to apologize? And he was the one who refused to take out Bin Laden when the CIA gave him his exact location and said "we have the team in place, we can take him out". He refused to deal with Hussein until the problem got out of control (and ANY U.S. president would have had to deal with him). But, other than calling for his impeachment, you just didn't see these kinds of attacks and blaming him for all of America's ills. I absolutely despised the man for the mockery he made of the office of President, but I still would never pray for his death, or talk about him in the way they talk about Bush. Anyway, sorry if I seem to be a Bush apologist - believe me, that isn't it - it just really, really tears me up to see what is happening to this great nation. And unfortunately I don't think any of the three candidates who will get the job are going to be any better. Yikes!

  6. Matt, does that mean you don't wear a cowboy hat and have a gun either? When people are disheartened they will tend to blame the government or anyone for everything I guess. Just human nature. To me the fact that Obama's cry for change has resonated with so many, says a lot. Regardless of the fact he hasn't filled in the dots, ever. People are hopeful of anything it seems. We are strange us humans. If we took politicians off the pedestals we put them on, the world would be a better place. I sincerely hope that the right person is elected at the end of the day. Because it sure is going to require a special group of people to pull through this. I think we could discuss this issue forever and never come to any conclusion. But hey, aren't we glad we live in the countries we do?


Thanks for your comments.