Without ever saying so, Vidal also manages to suggest that everything is political, though in a very different, non-postmodern sense. The clarity and elegance of his prose, for example, make a political point: that a critic with public purposes has rhetorical obligations, above all transparency. More generally, to a sufficiently sensitive and knowledgeable critic, everything will appear intelligent or unintelligent, skillful or shoddy, graceful or graceless, truthful or mendacious. In each of these pairs, the latter is--not immediately, perhaps, but ultimately, in some measure--a threat to our common life, our res publica. Intellectual virtues are civic virtues; intellectual vices leave the citizens vulnerable to superstition and demagoguery. There is, of course, no more sense in trying to legislate the intellectual virtues than the moral ones. But one can propagate intellectual virtue, first of all by example. This is Vidal's abiding contribution to American politics.
The prevailing American superstitions are: one, there is a Supreme Being, omnipotent and benevolent; two, some sexual predilections are more natural than others; and three, there is no class system in the United States. No one who denies any of these things can be elected to high office. As a patriot, Vidal naturally has no patience with this affront to our civic intelligence. Some of his most memorable onslaughts on our national delusions are included in Selected Essays.
Read more via www.thenation.com