On YouTube, a segment of an interview with Gore Vidal for the Academy of Achievement has been posted. Looks like it's more testing for the Gore Vidal Now pages perhaps?
Gore Vidal tells of an apocryphal pilgrimage each April 12, the anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt's death at Warm Springs, Ga. The trek, organized by the Dutchess County New York Republican Central Committee, supposedly wends its way up the old Albany Post Road from Poughkeepsie to Springwood, FDR's beloved Hyde Park home. According to Vidal, the mythic mission is meant to reassure twitchy Republicans that the 32nd president still rests in something approaching peace at the Hyde Park Presidential Library -- that he has not risen for some new 21st century "rendezvous with destiny."
Richard Rapaport writes of the never-ending battle between the spirit of a capitalism regulated by big government--as represented by FDR's legacy and admirers--and unfettered capitalism and a small government--as represented by Herbert Hoover's legacy and admirers.
By the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg, it was nearly impossible to know from the commemoration why the war had happened or who had won. The year was 1913, and the President was Woodrow Wilson, the first Southerner to hold the office since 1850. Wilson had been a historian before entering politics, and his book A History of the American People was tinged with Lost Cause interpretations. He described the Ku Klux Klan as "an empire of the South" created by men "roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation." It was no surprise, then, that his remarks at Gettysburg completely avoided slavery. Instead he chose to talk about "gallant men in blue and gray ... our battles long past, our quarrels forgotten."
April 12, 2011--the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sumter. Gore Vidal termed our republic "The United States of Amnesia," and in a well-crafted dramatized manner makes clear in his novel Lincoln that while slavery was the main cause of the Civil War, on a day-to-day basis during the war, slavery was rarely the overwhelming issue inside military headquarters and The White House. There was much going on, and situations and motivations were complicated for nearly every historic actor of the bloody drama, whether it was Lincoln himself, Sec. of War Stanton, Sec. of Treasury Chase, or even one actual actor named Booth.
In his novel Hollywood, Vidal also touches on President Wilson's sympathy to the "Lost Cause" school of interpretation about the Civil War mentioned in the Time magazine article linked to above.
The FBI treated an unidentified ABC News journalist as a confidential informant during the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Center for Public Integrity's John Solomon and Aaron Mehta report
Some new information related to the Oklahoma City bombing has come out. Vidal's controvesial (and widely mis-read) essay "The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh" concerns the bombing and argues that McVeigh had clear reasons--whether one agrees with them or not--for doing what he did, and was not simply a crazed killer. He also argued that more was going on than meets the eye, and that government officials might have known more than they let on. Vidal did not excuse what McVeigh did, and has repeatedly stated that he sides with the victims.
At 7:00 p.m. on April 7, there will be a screening of No Dinosaurs in Heaven with a question-and-answer session featuring Dr. Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) at Zora Space, 315 4th Avenue, in the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn. Tickets are $10. For further information, visit the Zora Space website's page for information.
At 7:00 p.m. on April 8, there will be a "Celebrate Science" event featuring Dr. Scott and excerpts from No Dinosaurs in Heaven, plus wine, cheese, and....billiards! It's at the Salmagundi Club (est. 1871) at 47 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Attendees will receive a DVD of the film and be entered in a raffle for art photography from the Grand Canyon.
At 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, Dr. Scott will be speaking on "Why We Still Have to Take Creationism Seriously" at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, in the Baruch Performing Arts Center (Mason Hall in the Lawrence and Eris Field Building), 17 Lexington Avenue (at 23rd St.) in Manhattan. Tickets for the conference (which runs April 9 and 10) are $95, with discounted rates for one-day tickets, students, and members of NYC Skeptics and New England Skeptical Society.
Ayn Rand has lots of fans, including former Fed chair, Alan Greenspan (he of "I’ve found a flaw [in my ideology]. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact") and Rep. Ron Paul (he of "the once and future Republic of Texas" address at a 1995 Ludwig von Mises Institute symposium on "Secession, State, and Economy").
But Gore Vidal isn't such a fan.
From his 1961 short commentary in Esquire:
This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest, and to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak of the "freedom is slavery" sort.
She has declared war not only on Marx but on Christ. Now, although my own enthusiasm for the various systems evolved in the names of those two figures is limited, I doubt if even the most anti-Christian free-thinker would want to deny the ethical value of Christ in the Gospels. To reject that Christ is to embark on dangerous waters indeed.... [I]t is gratuitous to advise any human being to look out for himself.... To get people to do needed things is the perennial hard task of government, not to mention of religion and philosophy. That it is right to help someone less fortunate is an idea which has figured in most systems of conduct since the beginning of the race. We often fail. That predatory demon "I" is difficult to contain but until now we have all agreed that to help others is a right action. Now the dictionary definition of "moral" is: "concerned with the distinction between right and wrong" as in "moral law, the requirements to which right action must conform." Though Miss Rand’s grasp of logic is uncertain, she does realize that to make even a modicum of sense she must change all the terms. Both Marx and Christ agree that in this life a right action is consideration for the welfare of others. In the one case, through a state which was to wither away, in the other through the private exercise of the moral sense. Miss Rand now tells us that what we have thought was right is really wrong. The lesson should have read: One for one and none for all.
Ayn Rand’s "philosophy" is nearly perfect in its immorality....
In Max Fisher's Atlantic column, "In Arming Libyan Rebels, the U.S. Would Follow an Old, Dark Path," he rightly points out that America does not do soul-searching well, and quotes Gore Vidal's famous description of America as "The United States of Amnesia." Fisher's clever here; one would presume that Vidal would oppose President Obama's intervention in Libya--now being radically scaled back and handed over to a largely Franco-British effort. But does the intervention fit the bill as the sort of quasi-imperialist American meddling Vidal so detests?
Yes, but probably also no.
President Obama acted without Congressional approval. This surely can't please Vidal who has always been quick to warn from the political left about the dangers of federal and presidential misappropriation and abuse of power. In Lincoln, Vidal dramatizes the 16th President's unconstitutional suspension of Habeas corpus and his imprisonment of journalists in order to silence them. Vidal has championed the Posse Comitatas Act, including in his controversial (and widely misread) essay, "The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh." And there is criticism of and concern about the US's actions from both the political right and left. (E.g., George Will's, "Uncertainties Cloud Action in Libya" and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is seeking to defund the Libya action.)
Humanitarian reasons are cited by President Obama for US military action in Libya. Most of the modern military actions to which Vidal has objected occurred in the name of defending American lives or stopping the spread of Communism, though he takes pain to point out that throughout America's history we'd been keen on military actions, and there have been nearly 250 of them. (Vidal cites the Congressional Research Service's report, "Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798 - 1993.") Surely not all of those were necessary! But, Americans seems to like them, especially American Presidents.
President Obama's administration seems determined to prove that US military intervention does not have to lead to "mission creep," can be multilateral and executed after UN approval, and needn't actually be about new US military bases or American commercial opportunities, especially for Halliburton.
In general, Vidal would probably find Fisher's warnings entirely apt. But, only time will tell if the actions in Libya prove to be more of the same or--as an action not of continental territorial expansion, imperial island-grabbing, a world war, or the Cold War--it is sometime like a "kindler, gentler" version of an ongoing and still very ill-defined so-called, "war on terror" or something else. Whatever it ends up being, Vidal would surely point out that it's nothing entirely new, since many of his essays and his novels including those set in antiquity (Julian and Creation), demonstrate that even though history never exactly repeats itself, the ambitions (and fears) of politicians and rulers and the nature of power are basically the same in every age.