On Gore Vidal's Face
Debatism vs. Fag Affect
It’s not one of the iconic images of the 1960s, but it should be. More so than any of the headline-grabbing moments of the 1968 Democratic Convention held in Chicago — the billy-club pigs, We Miss You Bobby, the banner of the Viet Cong, peace fingers, Mayor Daley and Get The Hell Out — it was the Ghost of Liberalism Yet To Come. You’ve never seen anyone so pleased to be called a queer on primetime. It foretold victory.
It was Gore Vidal’s face. More correctly, Gore Vidal’s face after ten debates, ten debates spent scouring the skin of his adversary, the rising face of the conservative movement, William F Buckley. Much mourned; listen to the contemporary Never-Trump podcast The Bulwark, you’ll hear Buckley’s name invoked as a nostalgic spell, as if calling him back to restore the conservative movement with his charms. Well-spoken and well-spoken-of, well-educated, WASPy if not waspish. So unlike the homelife of their own Republican God-King, the demagogue Trump.
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