Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Afternoon Lunch Reading: Gore Vidal on Obama, America's Decline, and The Dim-Witted Masses

Gore Vidal is one of my favorite essayists. He is so quotable and pithy. For example: "I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television." Talk about a life mantra. In the Times online, Vidal offers his incisive wisdom on Obama's failings, America's future, and the anti-intellectualism of the American people. Again, as I observe with no so small amount of disgust, given the rabble of the Tea Parties, the 50th percentile that is comfortable with its mediocrity, and a country that gave us George Bush (twice), are the masses indeed asses? Or is this respectable negro just a bit of an elitist?

Some quotables from Vidal's interview, "We'll have a dictatorship soon in the U.S."

On Obama's Afghanistan policy:

Last year he famously switched allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama during the Democratic nomination process for president. Now, he reveals, he regrets his change of heart. How’s Obama doing? “Dreadfully. I was hopeful. He was the most intelligent person we’ve had in that position for a long time. But he’s inexperienced. He has a total inability to understand military matters. He’s acting as if Afghanistan is the magic talisman: solve that and you solve terrorism.” America should leave Afghanistan, he says. “We’ve failed in every other aspect of our effort of conquering the Middle East or whatever you want to call it.” The “War on Terror” was “made up”, Vidal says. “The whole thing was PR, just like ‘weapons of mass destruction’. It has wrecked the airline business, which my father founded in the 1930s. He’d be cutting his wrists. Now when you fly you’re both scared to death and bored to death, a most disagreeable combination.”

On Obama's leadership:

Vidal originally became pro-Obama because he grew up in “a black city” (meaning Washington), as well as being impressed by Obama’s intelligence. “But he believes the generals. Even Bush knew the way to win a general was to give him another star. Obama believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it’s a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred — religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word ‘conservative’ you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They’re not, they’re fascists.”

Another notable Obama mis-step has been on healthcare reform. “He f***ed it up. I don’t know how because the country wanted it. We’ll never see it happen.” As for his wider vision: “Maybe he doesn’t have one, not to imply he is a fraud. He loves quoting Lincoln and there’s a great Lincoln quote from a letter he wrote to one of his generals in the South after the Civil War. ‘I am President of the United States. I have full overall power and never forget it, because I will exercise it’. That’s what Obama needs — a bit of Lincoln’s chill.” Has he met Obama? “No,” he says quietly, “I’ve had my time with presidents.” Vidal raises his fingers to signify a gun and mutters: “Bang bang.” He is referring to the possibility of Obama being assassinated. “Just a mysterious lone gunman lurking in the shadows of the capital,” he says in a wry, dreamy way.

And my favorite observation about the current political atmosphere and the American people:

Today religious mania has infected the political bloodstream and America has become corrosively isolationist, he says. “Ask an American what they know about Sweden and they’d say ‘They live well but they’re all alcoholics’. In fact a Scandinavian system could have benefited us many times over.” Instead, America has “no intellectual class” and is “rotting away at a funereal pace. We’ll have a military dictatorship fairly soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together. Obama would have been better off focusing on educating the American people. His problem is being over-educated. He doesn’t realise how dim-witted and ignorant his audience is. Benjamin Franklin said that the system would fail because of the corruption of the people and that happened under Bush.”

The entire piece can be found here.


macon d said...

Thank you, hadn't seen that. I've long been a fan of his commentary on American politics. And yes, also of how he says it.

MartiniCocoa said...

I listen to Gore Vidal and I tell myself to keep reading, embracing the good where I can find it and try to be emotionally strong for whatever comes next.

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

@macon--thanks, gore vidal is no joke, and i hope more folk give him the love he deserves. and listening to him talk is like wiping one's ass with smooth.

@star--i like your turn of phrase--embracing the good where I can find it--I am gonna have to adopt that mantra.