Gore Vidal has always struck me as a bloody nightmare, someone I'd absolutely hate having to be around, yet someone with keen insight. In a wide-ranging interview with Times Online, he offers the following sunny observations.
On the future of the United States:
"We'll have a military dictatorship fairly soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together. Obama would have been better off focusing on educating the American people. His problem is being over-educated. He doesn't realize how dim-witted and ignorant his audience is."
On President Barack Obama, whom he supported for president after switching from Hillary (whom he now believes would have been better):
"I was hopeful. He was the most intelligent person we've had in that position for a long time. But he's inexperienced. He has a total inability to understand military matters. He's acting as if Afghanistan is the magic talisman: solve that and you solve terrorism. We've failed in every other aspect of our effort of conquering the Middle East or whatever you want to call it...[I retain optimism in Obama] because he doesn't lie. We know the fool from Arizona is a liar. We never got the real story of how McCain crashed his plane and was held captive."
On Obama's handling of health care:
"He fucked it up. I don't know how because the country wanted it. We'll never see it happen...Maybe he doesn't have [a wider vision], not to imply he is a fraud."
On the Republicans:
"Obama believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it's a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred—religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word 'conservative' you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They're not, they're fascists."
On Edmund White's play Terra Haute, based on Vidal's "supportive" correspondence with terrorist Timothy McVeigh ("a true patriot, a Constitution man"):
"He's a filthy, low writer. He likes to attack his betters, which means he has a big field to go after...That play implies I am madly in love with McVeigh. I looked at his writing and all he writes about is being a fag and how it's the greatest thing on Earth. He thinks I'm another queen and I'm not. I'm more interested in the Constitution and McVeigh than the loving tryst he saw. It was vulgar fag-ism."
On his fellow Americans:
"Does anyone care what Americans think? They're the worst-educated people in the First World. They don't have any thoughts, they have emotional responses, which good advertisers know how to provoke."
On Katharine Hepburn, who complained of her role in Suddenly Last Summer that she was "far too healthy a person to know people like this":
"She had Parkinson's. She shook like a leper in the wind."
Not exactly agreeing with him on every point, but his harsh critique of Obama is fascinating (and a world apart from "where's that uppity Kenyan's birth certificate?"). I have to agree on Edmund White's writing, which I find tedious and as grim as sexual addiction, but I don't know if I can get past thinking favorably of Timothy McVeigh...!