Another deliciously ill-tempered screed from veteran gadfly Vidal (Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, p. 398, etc.), perhaps our fiercest homegrown critic of American imperialism in general and the current administration in particular.
In this gathering of pieces from the Nation, the Times Literary Supplement, and elsewhere, Vidal amply reveals just how deeply ticked off he has been by recent developments. The judicial appointment of “the charmingly simian George W. Bush” to run the front office is by now old news, but it proves, Vidal insists, that corporate America is really in charge of the whole show. The failure of American intelligence to foresee the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in his eyes, speaks mostly to the general stupidity of the “oil-and-gas Cheney-Bush junta,” which neglected to pass on to us ordinary citizens mayday warnings that had emanated from “Presidents Putin and Mubarak, from Mossad, and even from elements of our long-suffering FBI.” The weird fact that representatives of the Taliban had toured Texas oil facilities shortly before Osama bin Laden arrived on the scene, evidently with an eye to striking a mutually beneficial deal for a new pipeline across Afghanistan, and the equally weird fact that said Talibanistas had hired a niece of former CIA director Richard Helms to handle their PR, are two more items on the seemingly endless list of things that annoy Vidal. American support for Israel, the death of the old American republic and its replacement, along about 1950, with “the National Security State,” the refusal of mainstream historians to admit the possibility that the Japanese had a point in bombing Pearl Harbor—he enumerates these aggravating items point by point with caressing venom. That Vidal is fonder of sermonizing than logical argument, of assertion rather than cold data, is no matter: this is trademark Goring and unforgiving: woe to its unfortunate target.
A pleasure for those convinced of the present ruling elite’s deep-seated flaws and deeper evils, and tasty food for thought even for the doubtful.