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Gore Vidal and the Unfinished American Revolution

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Cross-posted from The Nation


Gore Vidal loved America in the way the best of the founders did.

Indeed, he seemed at times, to be the last of their number -- a fierce defender of the purest, most revolutionary of ideals at a time when the contemporary political class prattled on about constitutional principles they neither understood nor valued. (At the bicentennial, in 1976, Time magazine featured a cover with Vidal in historic garb, an honor that delighted him sufficiently to earn a place for the cover on the wall of his Italian villa.)

Vidal, who has died at age 86, was a great man of letters: an author (Julian, Burr, Lincoln, The City and the Pillar), playwright ("The Best Man") and National Book Award -- winning essayist (United States Essays, 1952--1992) on the literature of his native land and the world. To this he added status as a life-long challenger of the Puritanism that he regarded as the ugliest of American tendencies.

But I knew Gore as a political champion, who ran inspired campaigns for Congress, who demanded that presidents of both parties be held to account for high crimes and misdemeanors, who maintained a faith in democracy so deep and abiding that he called for a new constitutional convention to set right what was done wrong at Philadelphia and to realize the Jeffersonian requirement of revolutionary renewal. He was, as well, a scorching debater on topics political, as William F. Buckley learned to his chagrin in 1968.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about politics (more...)
 

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Vidal's stature and mentality was Mark Twain. If t... by Gentry L Rowsey on Thursday, Aug 2, 2012 at 9:41:19 AM