Wide World of Quotes > Gore Vidal Quotes


Gore Vidal
American novelist, essayist, critic and polemicist
(1925-2012)



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I'm all for bringing back the birch. But only between consenting adults.
-- Interview on The Frost Programme, 1966

Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.
-- Quoted in: Sunday Times Magazine, 16 September 1973

A triumph of the embalmer's art.
-- On Ronald Reagan, in: The Observer, 26 April 1981

Democracy is supposed to give you the feeling of choice, like Painkiller X and Painkiller Y. But they're both just aspirin.
-- Quoted in: The Observer, 7 February 1982

It's a country evenly divided between conservatives and reactionaries.
-- On the United States, in: The Observer, 16 September 1984

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
-- -- Quoted in: Emmy, May 1991

In almost every case [where the United States has fought wars] our overwhelming commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights has required us to support those regimes that would deny freedom, democracy and human rights to their own people.
-- The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (1992)

The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity -- much less dissent.
-- The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (1992)

Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman President everything will be all right. But it won't be. Any individual who is able to raise $25 million to be considered presidential is not going to be much use to the people at large. He will represent oil, or aerospace, or banking, or whatever moneyed entities are paying for him. Certainly he will never represent the people of the country, and they know it. Hence, the sense of despair throughout the land as incomes fall, businesses fail and there is no redress.
-- The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (1992)

On 24 August 1814, things looked very dark for freedom's land. That was the day the British captured Washington DC and set fire to the Capitol and the White House. President Madison took refuge in the nearby Virginia woods where he waited patiently for the notoriously short attention span of the Brits to kick in, which it did. They moved on and what might have been a Day of Utter Darkness turned out to be something of a bonanza for the DC building trades and up-market realtors.

One year after 9/11, we still don't know by whom we were struck that infamous Tuesday, or for what true purpose. But it is fairly plain to many civil-libertarians that 9/11 applied not only to much of our fragile Bill of Rights but also to our once-envied system of government which had taken a mortal blow the previous year when the Supreme Court did a little dance in 5/4 time and replaced a popularly elected president with the oil and gas Cheney/Bush junta.
-- "The Enemy Within", essay first published in The Observer (London), 27 October 2002

To read the full text of "The Enemy Within", click here


About Gore Vidal

He is the most Swiftian writer we have in his savage pessimism about the human condition, his unresolved paradoxes, his hatred of hypocrisy, corruption, and the kind of patriotism which means nothing more than 'persuading a man to kill a man he doesn't know'.
-- Victoria Glendinning on Gore Vidal, 1999


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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