Gore Vidal, Octocontrarian | The Nation


Gore Vidal, Octocontrarian

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Q: Are you predicting a coming military dictatorship? And that the American people would stand for that?

Click here to listen to Cooper's recent RadioNation special interview with Vidal.

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Marc Cooper
Marc Cooper, a Nation contributing editor, is an associate professor of professional practice and director of...

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At the biggest Democratic event of the campaign season, Obama argued that the coming election is a choice between the past and the future rather than a referendum on his first two years in office.

He'll probably fend off J.D. Hayworth, but in order to win he's lost most of his principles.

A: They'll stand for anything. And they will stand for nothing. I deal with a lot of European journalists who are very well versed in American politics. But they will ask me silly questions like, "So, Kerry didn't turn out very well. So who's the next leader of the opposition who can become President?" I answer, Well, first the New York Times won't interview him. He won't get on prime-time television if he looks like a winner. That's out. Or he will be made a fool of, like they did with Howard Dean when they amplified his famous cry. That was all done at CBS to make him look like a maniac. They are very resourceful! So if you have a media that is completely controlled by corporate America--or whatever phrase you want to use to describe our rulers--no information is getting through that is useful to the public. No White Knight is going to be acknowledged in the press or seen on television. He would have no way of connecting with the people. And this a permanent fact in our situation.... If there could be a viable opposition to the oil and gas junta that has seized power--all three branches of government, I think--it will have to be at the grassroots. Then you will have to find a way of publicizing through the Internet the White Knight--or the Black Knight, whoever comes along to save us.

Q: What are three or four main things the White Knight would have to say to motivate us, in your words, to keep the Republic?

A: First of all, we should be allowed to keep the money we earn. Because most of us are heavily taxed.

Q: That's what the Republicans say.

A: That's what they say, but they don't mean it. What they mean is, "We people who have money, we don't want our children to pay any inheritance tax. We don't want our huge incomes to be taxed. We don't want the profits of our big corporations ever to be taxed." And they've pulled all that off. When you run against them, you have to say the profits on corporations are going to be taxed. As they always were. The people understand this. And if they don't, you can explain it in ten minutes.

Q: What would the White Knight do with the military?

A: Cut its budget in half. That would save us a lot of money. We could rebuild a lot of levees. We don't need it.... We can't win a war anymore. They can't bring back the draft. We are at end times now for this regime. Just keep your fingers crossed we are not at end times for our country....

Q: One area where things seem to have improved in America concerns homophobia. Gay marriage can now be discussed in polite company.

A: I don't know that it much matters as a theme. Talk to anybody in the military and it's just as bad as when I spent three years in the Army during World War II and those suspected of same-sex activities were Section Eighted out or locked up. It was bad then, and it's bad now. An issue like gay marriage just keeps homophobia alive.

Q: So you're not an advocate of it?

A: No. I know to what purposes that issue is put.... You get an issue, like gay marriage, which doesn't concern 99.9 percent of the population, and you go on and on and on about it. Proving that the Democrats are all crazy, if not all queer. Someone wants to get married, fine. What's it to me?

Q: If we pick a point forty years ago, in the middle of the 1960s, when you were half your age, did you think then the United States would take the course it eventually did?

A: I never thought the President would dare to favor pre-emptive war. I never thought it would come to this, a sort of maniac for President who goes around attacking verbally and physically any country he wants. The ownership of this country has usually been pretty shrewd. They knew what they wanted. They don't want to pay taxes, certainly. They don't want people blowing them up in the night like 9/11. And if there ever was great cause for impeachment it would be over 9/11. Never been a case of negligence like that.

Q: You are not possibly suggesting that the Bush Administration allowed this attack to go ahead?

A: No. I'm not saying anything even close to it. If there had been some sort of wicked collusion between elements of our government and the 9/11 team from Saudi Arabia, in a country like ours, by now, at least two of them would have been on television talking to Barbara Walters. That's what kind of country we have. We can't keep secrets. No, it's unthinkable. Whatever was behind 9/11 was well worked out. And there isn't a brain in this Administration that could have worked out something like 9/11. Either to prevent it or to do it.

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