Image: Salvador Dali, Premonition of Civil War
Let's Prove Gore Vidal Wrong; He Deserves That Precious Gift for His Long Life of Truth-Telling
By Richard Power
Let's prove Gore Vidal wrong -- not in his brilliant analysis of what has happened to our country, but in his grim assessment of our capacity to right the wrongs done.
Here are some excerpts from a recent Amy Goodman interview with Gore Vidal.
Vidal is one of the USA's greatest writers and a passionate and enlightened patriot.
I urge you to savor these excerpts and then continue on to the full transcript or better yet the audio at Democracy Now!
There is a chance that the American people can prove Vidal wrong this November -- by putting a young man who has taught constitutional law in the Oval Office and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Yes, the odds are slimmer than they seem on the surface.
Yes, the closer we move to real and meaningful change, the more dangerous the situation will become, particularly for those who lead.
But it must be attempted, and we may well succeed.
And if it is does succeed, and the Republic is put on the road to restoration, being wrong for once would be a wonderful gift for Gore Vidal to savor while he is still among us.
AMY GOODMAN: With a career spanning more than six decades, Gore Vidal is one of America’s most respected writers and thinkers, authored more than twenty novels, five plays. His recent books include Dreaming War, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace and Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia. His latest is a memoir; it’s called Point to Point Navigation.
Last week at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, I heard Gore Vidal would be there and afterwards went to his home in Hollywood Hills. We sat down in his living room, and I asked him for his thoughts on this election year and on the last eight years of George W. Bush in the White House.
GORE VIDAL: Well, it isn’t over yet. You know, he could still blow up the world. There’s every indication that he’s still thinking about attacking Iran: ‘And the generals are now reporting that the Iran are a great danger and their weapons are being used to kill Americans.’
I mean, you know, I think, quite rightly, the Bushites think that the American people are idiots. They don’t get the point to anything. There are two good reasons for this, is the public educational system for people, kids without money, let’s say, to put it tactfully, is one of the worst in the first world. It’s just terrible. And they end by knowing no history, certainly no American history. I didn’t mean to spend my life writing American history, which should have been taught in the schools, but I saw no alternative but to taking it on myself. I could think of a lot of cheerier things I’d rather be doing than analyzing George Washington and Aaron Burr. But it came to pass, that was my job, so I did it. ...
AMY GOODMAN: And so, here we are, moved into the sixth year of the war with Iraq, longer than the US was involved in World War II.
GORE VIDAL: Yes, incredible. That was such a huge operation on two great continents against two modern enemies. And we’re fighting little jungle wars for no reason, because we have a president who knows nothing about anything. He’s just blank. But he wants to show off: ‘I’m a wartime president! I’m a wartime president!’ He goes yap, yap, yap. He’s like a crazed terrier. And look where he got us.
I didn’t realize—I think I’ve always had a good idea about my native land, but I didn’t think that institutionally we were so easy to overthrow, because it was a coup d’etat, 9/11. The whole went crashing. And when we got rid of—when they got rid of Magna Carta, I thought, well, really, this wasn’t much of a republic to begin with.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, Magna Carta?
GORE VIDAL: Well, you know what Magna Carta means?
AMY GOODMAN: Explain it.
GORE VIDAL: Tell your readers, your viewers. It’s the basis of our law. Out of it comes the whole theory, practice, on which our—certainly judicial system is based: due process of law. You cannot deprive somebody of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, because that is a right, constitutional right. And that is—I mean, every proper American, that’s graved on his psyche, certainly was on mine. There wasn’t a day passed—I was brought up by my grandfather in Washington—hardly a day passed that he didn’t want to talk about due process. And he was blind from the age of ten.
AMY GOODMAN: Who was your grandfather?
GORE VIDAL: Senator Thomas Pryor Gore. A Mississippi family. His father had served in the Civil War, even though the Gores—they came from Mississippi, they were not secessionists. They regarded themselves as patriots. And the entire family was against going into the Civil War, but because their friends and neighbors did and honor required that they do so too, so they got killed off quite a bit.
AMY GOODMAN: Your grandfather was a senator from Oklahoma?
GORE VIDAL: He was the first senator from Oklahoma. Last year was the hundredth year of his election, 1907. That’s when he was elected.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re also cousins with another Gore: Al Gore.
GORE VIDAL: True.
AMY GOODMAN: What is your assessment of what happened in 2000?
GORE VIDAL: He was robbed. I don’t know him. I never see him. But within the family, I gather it was a great shock to him. He did everything right in life. He was the good boy and loved the Supreme Court and went by the rule of law, due process and everything. And then the Supreme Court bites him in the throat, because they have a lot of crooks on it. And I watched the Dred Scalia the other day on television. Did you see him?
AMY GOODMAN: No.
GORE VIDAL: Oh, he was saying, “Get over it! Just get over it!” He was talking to the liberals, and you know what awful people they are—and about 2000, about the interference of the Court in a national election, which is unheard of. It’s not their job. They’re not even supposed to be referees. They’re just—they’re doing something else. And he was a snarling: “Get over it! Get over it!” I felt, go back to Little Italy, you know? It’s a type I know very well from Naples. ...
GORE VIDAL: Yeah. So the coup d’etat comes out of this. They saw their chance. They—Cheney, Bush—they wanted the war. They’re oilmen. They want a war to get more oil. They’re also extraordinarily stupid. These people don’t know anything about anything. But they have this—there’s a thick piece of—sheet of—a thick series of actions to be taken, among others—I think one of them was to lock up every person of color in the United States in order to protect us from the enemy within. It was evil stuff. So they latched onto that. I guess Mr. Gonzales was already in place by then. And that was the coup d’etat. They seized the state. And from that moment on, they were appointing all the judges, they were doing this, they were doing that, they got rid of Magna Carta—I will not explain what that is a second time—and they broke the republic. ...
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think we’re going to pull out of this today?
GORE VIDAL: No, not today. Bush has arranged it so it can be dragged on for a long time now. And nobody has asked, is Petraeus a good general? I mean, he’s been given lots of stars, but that’s what an ignorant president would do when he wants a general to do things that maybe the general thinks are unwise. “You will get four stars for this, General.” That’s the way they play the game. ...
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think has to happen right now?
GORE VIDAL: It’s happened. We’re broke. Do you follow television, as they find out we’re running out of food? That’s never happened in my lifetime.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think there’s a way to fix this?
GORE VIDAL: A crash will do it. But that’s pretty extreme. ...
AMY GOODMAN: How do you want to be remembered?
GORE VIDAL: I don’t give a goddamn. Democracy Now! 5/14/08
For an archive of Words of Power posts on 9/11, Terrorism, etc., click here.
Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.
Gore Vidal, Amy Goodman,Magna Carter, Richard Power, Words of Power