Acclaimed author Gore Vidal died Tuesday morning at age 86 from pneumonia complications. Vidal will surely be remembered and heralded as one of the most prolific authors/essayists/playwrights in American history, but as the Atlantic points out, he was also a “man of politics.”
As an openly-gay liberal, Vidal attempted multiple times to run for national office, losing a 1960 U.S. House election in New York and a 1982 Senate race in California. He was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush‘s foreign policy, and a vocal opponent to an American tradition of what he saw as “imperialism.”
In the wake of Vidal’s death, The Atlantic reminds everyone of a particularly interesting moment from Vidal’s political life: In 1968, ABC News invited Vidal and conservative icon William F. Buckley to serve as analysts during the network’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention. After days of aggressive debate, the two began engaging in openly hostile personal attacks. During a discussion of the 1968 DNC anti-Vietnam protesters displaying a Viet Cong flag, Buckley compared the demonstrators to Nazi appeasers. In response, Vidal told Buckley to “shut up a minute,” and went on to say: “As far as I’m concerned, the only sort of pro-crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself.”
An increasingly agitated Buckley shot back: “Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.”
Ah, those idyllic days of yesteryear, when politics was an artful, civil match akin to fencing.
(h/t The Atlantic)
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