Socking it to ’em

The internet seems to be full of violent right wing US personages setting about certain of the more liberal sort way back in the 60s and 70s. When men were men, you know. Libertarian slipper-tongued Catholic Evangelist William Buckley was particularly keen  on this, and famously set the trend by threatening to sock Gore Vidal. Here he goes. Watch how he gives a suave little swivel of his face, as if he’s telling a joke about Proust.

But what he actually says is, “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I will sock you in your goddamn face, and you will stay plastered.” Vidal looks pretty pleased about it. But Buckley was only just warming up. A year later he had a pop at Chomsky, sounding by now, even more like Darth Vader after a course of elocution lessons.

Less homophobic hatred, but less cultured violence too. “I’d smash you  in the Goddam face,” smiling all the while like he’s coaxing marshmallows from a Care Bear . Chomsky smiles too. Then Buckley says something nonsensical, and Chomsky says something clever. But Buckley still has a nicer voice. Honey gargling Vader beats slowed-down Woody Allen any day.

Two years later again and Gore Vidal’s back. This time winding up Norman Mailer, who comes up with the most amazing line I’ve ever heard. See if you can say this out loud and feel like you still command the moral high ground. Mailer manages it.

He says: “We all know that I stabbed my wife ten years ago; we do know that Gore. You’re playing on that, now come on.”
“Let’s just forget about that,” says Gore, sounding pretty charitable under the circumstances.
“But you don’t want to forget about it; you’re a liar and a hypocrite…” insists Mailer.

Watch and hear what happens next. The host is Dick Cavett and the hard-ass teacherly woman that intervenes is Janet Flanner. My favourite line in the whole thing is “I’ll take the two chairs if you will all accept finger bowls.” Has anyone ever found out what that means?

Happy Friday everyone.

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~ by David Thorley on February 18, 2011.

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