Gore Vidal on What Americans Should Be Thankful For

November 23, 2007

TRNN Replay: At the end of Eisenhower's reign, the president did something extraordinary: he warned us about himself

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TRNN Replay: At the end of Eisenhower's reign, the president did something extraordinary: he warned us about himself



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Story Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: It’s Thanksgiving week in the United States, and families across the country are getting ready to sit down to their turkey dinners. To tell us what he thinks Americans should be thankful for�or not�we’re joined by Gore Vidal in Los Angeles. So, Gore, tell us what you think Americans might want to be thinking about, this Thanksgiving.

GORE VIDAL, AUTHOR AND POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what we’re going through could not be worse for us. The dollar has crashed. The dollar has crashed against the Canadian dollar, which, you know, was always a joke for us. The Euro as risen. And suddenly we are no longer the great currency, and we’re something like $25 trillion in debt.

JAY: If you go back to Thanksgiving in the mid-, late 1940s, during the time of McCarthyism, another period where certainly the media and outspoken people were hard to find. How do you compare? What was it like back in those days?

VIDAL: McCarthy was just one stupid senator from Wisconsin who’d got loose. We had a cowardly president, Eisenhower, but he was a very good president in the sense that he did try to represent the country. He tried to represent our institution. At the end of Eisenhower’s reign, he did something extraordinary: he warned us against himself. That doesn’t happen often with dictators, whether they are allowed or not allowed. We allowed him to be dictator because he’d done a good thing during the war, operating in London, operating and trying to keep all of the British and the American and so forth troops together. But he had realized he was a real conservative. He realized the harm that his regime was doing and the regime that had produced him, which was World War II continued. What did he do as he was leaving office? He warned us against the military-industrial complex. And he said, �My fellow Americans, you’ve got to realize that this comes with a price. Their control financially over everything in our country, from the universities to the civilian economy to the military. This is bad news for the United States. There are no voices speaking out.

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