Gore Vidal is our American Cicero. He has valiantly stood as our golden shield of republican virtue against the brassy sword of empire yielded by plutocratic militarists and their vulgar plebeians.
For decades he has, in the noble tradition of his stoic grandfather, Oklahoma Senator Thomas Pryor Gore, eloquently spoken truth in the face of power. When in 1933, FDR confiscated the people’s gold, Thomas Gore said, “Why that’s just plain stealing, isn’t it Mr. President?” Vidal has confronted every presidential rogue’s administration, from Truman to Bush, with the same damning admonition concerning our essential rights and liberties, confiscated by the National Security welfare-warfare State.
As our most distinguished man of letters, he has produced a body of work unequaled in breadth and scope.
In his latest composition, Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, which joins his earlier, Palimpsest: A Memoir, Vidal, with characteristic grace and acerbic poignancy, sums up his life, loves, tragedies, and triumphs — and that of the reckless, feckless civilization he sees dying before his fading eyes.
Once a rather conventional Left-Liberal critic of the American duopoly, Gore Vidal, in the late 1980s, metamorphed into a quixotic gentleman of the Old Right. As with his literary predecessor Albert Jay Nock, author of The Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, later-day expatriate Vidal lived much of his life abroad. This made him a more disinterested and reflective observer of the foibles and follies of American civilization.
And like his paleolibertarian forebear Garet Garrett, author of The People’s Pottage, Gore Vidal, in his brilliant essays and historical novels, has cataloged the death of the American Republic and the rise of the Anglo-American imperial colossus, from the salad days of Teddy Roosevelt and Cecil Rhodes, to the present Tofu era of George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
Through it all, Gore Vidal has remained a man of incorruptible character, conviction, and principle.
January 8, 2007