Time for Gore Vidal to Step Off the Stage?

A recent Vidal interview leaves the provocateur with few remaining supporters

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Gore Vidal, eccentric public intellectual extraordinaire, has long been a darling of the left, though often surrounded by controversy. In recent years, prompted by increasingly bizarre on-screen appearances, some have wondered: Is the aging man of letters is getting a little too wacky even for his fans? If response to a recent Vidal interview at the Atlantic is anything to go by, the answer is yes.

Vidal opined on a number of subjects, but what got the blogging world fired up were his remarks on Roman Polanski. Asked what he thought of the case, he responded: "I really don't give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of?" In the uproar that followed, some bloggers predicted that Vidal's "ultra-leftist" political views would insulate him from attack. But as responses come in across the political spectrum, the message is clear: enough is enough. Vidal may be a wit and a friend of the Kennedys, but pundits now think it's time for him to retire.

  • 'Provocateur'? "The Atlantic," writes John Nolte at Big Hollywood "describes Gore Vidal as 'a sharp provocateur, as irascible and irreverent as ever.'" Nolte thinks this too kind: "I'm assuming that's some kind of internal Atlantic-code for 'twisted old has-been degenerate desperate for attention.'" Nolte suggests Vidal is "innoculated," however, and "will face no real ... consequence," being a "Leftist."
  • This Goes Beyond the Usual, says Newsbusters' Collean Raezler. "Plenty of celebrities issued crazy statements in their efforts to defend director and rapist Roman Polanski but none went as far as ... Vidal did when he labeled Polanski's victim a 'young hooker.'"
  • Reminder: The Man's a 'Truther' The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, accused by a reader of "picking on" Gore Vidal for his antisemitism rather than his actual argument, responded with a reference to Vidal's conspiracy-theory mongering about September 11: "I was picking on Gore Vidal because he blamed the victim in a case of proven child-rape. The main reason I find him vile, though is that he is a 9/11 'truther.' Which I think is a good reason not to like someone."
  • Someone Save this Senior Over at the Huffington Post, Ryan Davis is aghast: "Doesn't someone have power of attorney? Isn't there anyone concerned with this guy's vanishing legacy?" Davis says he stayed silent through Vidal's litany of "stupid things about Obama" because "[h]e's old and prone to saying anything that will get his name in print." But calling Vidal "completely inconsistent" during the presidential primaries, Davis chronicles the titan's fall from intellectual coherence:
What's even worse is that since Sept. 11, 2001, Vidal has been a leading "intellectual" of the 9/11 Truth movement, giving countless interviews to lunatic fringe correspondents like Alex Jones. He'll tell anyone who will listen about how George Bush personally planned 9/11. Seriously, Google has 140,000 pages on Vidal's paranoia.

So please, legit reporters--stop asking this demented man questions. It's over.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.