Storied writer and historian Gore Vidal, in a lengthy interview published Wednesday by The Independent, had more than a few stones to throw at modern Americana.
Calling President Barack Obama "incompetent," Vidal predicted he will lose his bid for reelection amid the "madhouse" that is present-day politics. As for the political opposition, the iconic intellectual said that Republicans are no longer a party, having morphed into a "mindset," full of hate "like Hitler youth."
Speaking with writer Johann Hari, Vidal addressed dozens of key moments in American history, from "unnecessary" foreign entanglements to the coming-soon collapse of U.S. empire in the barren sands of Afghanistan. He called the 2000 election "stolen" by the Bush administration, then added they were "probably" involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.
The mention is not the first time he has assailed the government's public theory of the attacks. Vidal said in 2008 that 9/11 was "a coup d'etat" to overthrow the government, allowing the Bush administration "[to] make legal each and every breach of the constitution that [they] had in mind."
In a much lengthier extrapolation, "The Enemy Within," published by The Observer in 2002, Vidal argued the administration was complicit with the terrorists.
"Complicity," he wrote. "The behavior of President George W. Bush on 11 September certainly gives rise to all sorts of not unnatural suspicions. I can think of no other modern chief of state who would continue to pose for 'warm' pictures of himself listening to a young girl telling stories about her pet goat while hijacked planes were into three buildings."
In The Independent's piece, he also defended Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, as "a dedicated student of the American way" and "a noble boy" who lashed out so violently as a way of defending the Constitution.
In a 2001 piece for Vanity Fair entitled "The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh," Vidal elaborated on his correspondence with the Oklahoma City bomber, who claimed to have been in-part inspired to act by Vidal's writing.
Of the resulting media coverage after McVeigh's act of terror, Vidal damned popular belief. "There was to be only one story; one man of incredible innate evil wanted to destroy innocent lives for no reason other than a spontaneous joy in evildoing," he wrote. "From the beginning, it was ordained that McVeigh was to have no coherent motive for what he had done other than a Shakespearean motiveless malignity."
On the election of President Obama, Vidal told The Independent that he was initially optimistic, but after witnessing the administration at work he's relegated himself to despair. "[He's] incompetent. He will be defeated for re-election. It's a pity because he's the first intellectual president we've had in many years, but he can't hack it. He's not up to it. He's overwhelmed."
"[Obama] wants to be liked by everybody, and he thought all he had to do was talk reason," Vidal continued. "But remember – the Republican Party is not a political party. It's a mindset, like Hitler Youth. It's full of hatred. You're not going to get them aboard. Don't even try. The only way to handle them is to terrify them. He's too delicate for that."
Briefly touching on his time spent as a soldier stationed in Alaska, he called the state "the place where all the crooks in America went to hide" and a "frozen hell" that ultimately produced Sarah Palin, "the latest idol in America's long cult of stupidity."
Vidal added that because the president has never even heard a gun fired in anger, he is "bowled over" by the generals "who tell him lies and he believes them."
Challenged by the interviewer on the justification for Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Vidal went cold.
"[Roosevelt] taunted the Japanese so they would have to hit us, at Pearl Harbour, and they did," he said. "We have conveniently forgotten because we don't teach American history to anybody, but he sent an ultimatum to the Japanese telling them to get out of China, which they'd been trying to conquer for years. He was laying down the law to them, [saying they had to] surrender their rather proud nation's empire. And they said fuck you. And the next thing we knew the fleet was moving towards Pearl Harbour."
He further predicted that "Afghanistan will be terminal for the American empire," which he sees as a positive development. "To a better Republic," Vidal quipped before gulping down a glass of scotch.