Gore vidal essays online


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Claude J.

Gore Vidal

Bernard F. Dick--Gore Vidal: The Entertainer 6.

Robert F. William H. Pritchard--Vidal's Satiric Voices Samuel F. Pickering--Living Appropriately: Vidal and the Essay Thomas M. Catharine R. Richard Poirier--Vidal's Empire Louis Auchincloss--Babylon Revisited Donald E. Pease--America and the Vidal Chronicles And there we were taken to see this strange little old lady standing at the end of a room.

Well, there was no bowing or scraping for us. So we marched down the room just behind the chamberlain, a eunuch, like one of those in that book of yours, Justinian , who slithered on his belly toward her.

After he had announced us, she gave him a kick and he rolled over like a dog and slithered out. She couldn't recall.

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I had my impression that she rather like the way the empress treated her officials. The heart having its reasons, Alice saw fit to conduct a long affair with the corrupt Senator William Borah, the so-called lion of Idaho, who had once roared, "I'd rather be right than president," causing my father to murmur, "Of course, he was neither.

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Where had the money come from? To keep us out of the war. Descendents and their connections often look rather hard and hurt at the mention of her. For those well-placed by birth to do humanity's work, she had no patience if they were - ultimate sin - unhappy. A woman I know went to discuss were her a disastrous marriage; she came away chilled to the bone. These things were to be borne. What did Eleanor feel about Franklin? That is an enigma, and perhaps she herself never sorted it out. He was complex and cold and cruel so many of her stories of life with him would end, "And then I fled from the table in tears!

He liked telling her the latest "Eleanor stories"; his sense of fun was heavy.

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A romantic, Mr. Lash thinks she kept right on loving him to the end a favourite poem of the two was E. But I wonder. Certainly he hurt her mortally in their private relationship; worse, he often let her down in their public partnership. Yet she respected his cunning even when she depolored his tactics. Mencken the Journalist Extracts from "Gore Vidal United States Essays " by Gore Vidal ISBN , Page Curiously enough, of all those good and bad Americans who shuddered at the sudden sharp wind from the east known as communism, Mencken, as early as , figured that there was no way that communism could ever set up show within our alabaster cities, much less take sickle to our fruited plains.

Mencken's reasoning is exquisitely sound: "That Americans, in the mass, have anything properly described as keen wits is surely far from self-evident. On the contrary, it seems likely that, if anything, they lie below the civilised norm. But the more one reads Mencken, the more one eyes, suspiciously, the knuckles of his countrymen, looking to see callouses from too constant a contact with the greensward. For this sense of collective security, the individual must sacrifice himself in order "to belong to something larger and safer than he is," and he can "work off steam within prudent limits.

Beyond lie the national taboos. Beyond lies true independence and the heavy penalties that go therewith. But Mencken was obliged to live a lifetime in such a society and so, unlike the French penologist, he can present data from the inside of the slammer. They stand around nearly every subject that is genuinely important to man: they hedge in free opinion and experimentation of all sides. Consider, for example, the matter of religion. It is debated freely and furiously in almost every country in the world save the United States," but here the critic is silenced.

We protect the status quo, and so make steady war upon revision and improvement. Europe doesn't fear our military or economic prowess, rather it is Henry Ford that gives them the shivers. By Americanization it means Fordization - and not only in industry but also politics, art, and even religion. The lust to standardize and regulate extends to the most trivial minutia of private life.

Mencken also adverts to the Scopes trial of that year, whose verdict forbade the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution in the schools of Christian Tennesee. This trial convinced thoughtful Europeans that Americanism was "a conspiracy of dull and unimaginative men, fortuitously made powerful, against all the ideas and ideals that seem sound to their betters," leading the Europeans to suspect "that a nation cherishing such notions and feelings, and with the money and the men to enforce them, deserved to be watched very carefully.

They have long since got past the stage of sitting respectfully at the feet of the West.


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In all the fields of human endeavour save theology, politics and swine justice they are showing the way to their ofay mentors. They have made important durable contributions to knowledge in each and every one of the exact sciences, and they have taken such a lead in trade and industry that the only way left to beat them is to murder them. Periodically, "good" citizens band together and elect to office political opportunists who are presented to the public as non-politicians. Briefly, things appear to be clean. But of course bribes are still given; taken.

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Nothing ever changes nor is there ever going to be any potentially dangerous question: Is the man who gives a bribe as guilty as the man who takes a bribe? For decades Vice President-designate Nelson Rockefeller has used his family's money to but and maintain the Republican party of the State of New York while his predecssor but one, Spiro Agnew, was busy taking money from various magnates who wanted favors done - men who differ from the Rockefellers only in degree. Yet the Agnews are thought to be deeply wicked if found out while no sign of Cain ever attaches itself to their corrupters.

It is a curious double standard - rather like those laws that put the hooker in jail for selling her ass while letting the john go free with a wink. But then we are a godly people and, as Scripture hath it, it is better to give than to receive. Blessed then are the Kennedys and the Rockefellers who buy directly or indirectly the votes of the poor and the loytalty of their leaders in order that public office might be won, and pesonal vanity hugely served.

A politican in coming forward takes things as they are. This population is too hopelessly split up into races and factions to govern it under universal suffrage, except by the bribery of patronage, or corruption. As far as we know, Robert Moses did not take money for himself like Tweed or Agnew. He was more ambitious than that. Wanting power, Moses used the people's money to buy, as it were, the Board of Aldermen over and over again for forty-four years during which time, if Mr.

Caro is to be believed, he was, without peer, the fount of corruption in the state. Many look nervously for shelter, and Goldwater, in the name of old-time virute and ruggedness and self-reliance, offers them refuge beneath the venerable great roof of the Constitution. True or not, his simplifications are enormously appealing and, who knows, in a time of crisis he might seize the prize. Bit I make no predictions.


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I would only recommend to Goldwater Cicero's warning to a fellow political adventurer, in a falling year of the Roman Republic: "I am sure you understand the political situation into which youy have. Kennedy who was being smeared as an altogether too active heterosexual as well as the glad beneficiary of his wealthy father's ability to buy elections and the majority leader of the Senate, Lyndon Johnson who was known to take cash for any political services rendered.

In the background was Harry S Truman, whose campaign for election in nearly ended before it began. Unable to pay for the train in which he was to whistle-stop the country, giving hell to the rich, Truman turned to his crony Louis Johnson and asked for money quick. Johnson got the money from the "China Lobby," and ever after the grateful President loyally served the cause of Chiang Kai-shek.

All of this was common knowledge to most of us who were involved in the life and politics of Washington, DC. New Statesman, May 4, Of General Eisenhower, who despised by Ike vice president he was, Nixon wrote in Six Crises : "Eisenhower was a far more complex and devious man than most peoploe relized" - a truth not generally known even now. Then comes the inimitable Nixon gloss: Eisenhower was complex and devious "in the best sense of those words. Nixon's chroniclers have their work cut out for them, because he is simply too gorgeous and outsize an American figure for any contemporary to put into clear perspective.

To understand Nixon's career you would have to understand the United States in the twentieth century, and that is something that our educational, political, and media establishments are not about to help us do. After all: no myth, no nation. They have a vested interest in maintaining our ignorance, and that is why we are currently stuck with the peculiar notion that Nixon just happened to be the one bad apple in a splendid barrel.

That fact that there has not been a good or serious president since Franklin Roosevelt is ignored, while the fact that Nixon was corrupt some of the time, and complex and devious all of the time, in constantly emphasized in ore to make him appear uniquely sleazy - and the rest of us just grand. Yet Nixon is hardly atypical. Certainly his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, far surpassed Nixon when it came to mendacity and corruption. But the national myth requires, periodically, a scapegoat; hence Nixon's turn in the barrel. Esquire, December Homage to Daniel Shays Extracts from "Gore Vidal United States Essays " by Gore Vidal ISBN , Page Ultimate irony, the middle American still tends to believe that he is living in a Jefferson I society when, in fact, he has been for some decades in a Jefferson II world, allowing an imperial-minded elite to tax him in order to wage a holy war against something called communism.

Fortunately, there are now signs that they don't make suckers like that any more. The taxpayers' revolt has begun. A dislike of all politicians is in the land. Word is out that the rich don't pay as much, proportionately, to maintain their empire as do the middle-income people. They hat socialism and communism and all the things good people are supposed to hate, but they are also beginning to wonder just why they have to give up so mch of their income to fight those very same Commies Nixon likes to dinw with in Peking and Moscow.

That fact is that our present governors are not very bright, and this may be our salvation. In they absent-mindedly gave us a president whose schizophrenic behaviour and prose style "This is not an invasion of Cambodia" is creepily apparent to even the most woolly-headed yeoman. Now thre new books provide useful information about the small group who own the United States, how our economic and foreign policies are manipulated, how members of Congress are bought, how presidential candidates are selected and financed. The mold that cast the mind of C. Wright Mills was not broken at his flesh's departure.

Another such mind was promptly cast and labeled G. William Domjoff those first initials and middle names are reminiscent of a generation of three-named Episcopalian clergymen.

Gore Vidal, 86, Was Writer, Polemicist and a 'Public Scold'

The subjects of those books are exactly what their titles suggest.

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