Four More Gore!

1. Sometimes you learn new things. Christopher Buckley, in his obit of Gore Vidal, offers one likely reason why father William F. Buckley didn’t throw a punch at Vidal in their immortal exchange. He sets the scene:

If you look closely at the footage of the 1968 TV contretemps between WFB and Vidal, you’ll see WFB trying to rise out of his chair at the moment of maximum heat. If you look very closely, you’ll see him physically straining, but something holding him back.

This leaves readers wondering, What exactly was that “something” that held WFB back? Answer:

A few days before, [WFB] was sailing in Long Island Sound when a Coast Guard cutter zoomed past his sailboat, knocking him to the deck, breaking his collarbone. During the Chicago debates, he was wearing a clavicle brace. It’s possible that the brace prevented the moment from being truly iconic.

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Gore Vidal Didn’t Stay Plastered

News of Gore Vidal’s death has started the cycle of remembrances and recriminations. Real Clear Books has linked to both and likely will link to more as the week grinds on.

Roger Kimball writes that he found Vidal’s novels “unreadable…where they were not comically repellent” and complains specifically of “the jejune pornography of Myra Breckinridge.”

I didn’t dip deeply enough into the man’s work to render a broader judgment but did make the attempt to get through Live From Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal at one point. That was a mistake. It was supposed to be a send up of the New Testament but was so poorly done that it wasn’t worth the effort to finish.

Vidal is most famous for his feud with William F. Buckley. They were doing dueling commentary for ABC on the 1968 Democratic Convention and Vidal called Buckley a “crypto-Nazi.” He later claimed it was a verbal flub. He had meant to call Buckley a “crypto-fascist,” which would have been So Much Better.

Buckley’s response has been reduced to this statement: “Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi, or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.”

That cuts out cross-talk and fails to catch the full fury of the exchange. Watch it below. You can see Vidal taunting Buckley and Buckley leaning forward and only just stopping himself from throwing a punch:

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