The Magazine

Gore Vidal’s Fan Club

What, exactly, did they admire about the man?

Aug 13, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 44 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
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How could such an inversion take place? The Personages might be working for a world-girding conspiracy run by the Mossad, I don’t know, but there’s a simpler explanation, too. Buckley was right, but in the wrong way; and Vidal was wrong, but in the right way. From the 1950s, before Ike had even left the White House, Vidal was announcing that the right-wingers had seized the Republican party from the sensible members of a generation before; a generation later, the right-wingers had seized the party from the sensible members of a generation before; and so on, for half a century. In his world “the generals” were always two ticks away from declaring war and imposing martial law; the theocracy would be arranged before the decade was out; he saw the dying embers of capitalism; and the dark curtain of fascism was falling even as you were reading his words. 

Try keeping that up for 50 years! No wonder he was a hero to the Personages. For them too every day is Groundhog Day, bringing fresh news from the day before about what won’t happen tomorrow. His career must stand as a great reassurance. If you’re wrong in the right way, all will be forgiven, until everyone forgets that there was ever anything to forgive. 

Andrew Ferguson is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard.

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