SLEEPING THROUGH VIDAL
by Ron Kenner
American Reporter Correspondent
Los Angeles, Calif.
LOS ANGELES -- I don't mind admitting that I slept through a good part of the Gore Vidal-Arianna Huffington chat that packed UCLA's Royce Hall Saturday.
And I ought to admit, in fairness, that I couldn't hear well from the rear of the noisy auditorium.
But what I did hear the two say was considerably better than most of today's mainstream media. Quips from both of the ultra-sophisticates - like Vidal's comment that "The only regime change we need to worry about is our own" made the event well worth attending.
Gore Vidal thinks a good Democrat team for the presidential elections would be Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania.
Arianna Huffington says the current phenomenal opposition to President George W. Bush could set off a landslide in 2006 and 2008 - if (and it's a big if) a major candidate offers clear opposition to the War in Iraq.
The two notables, appearing on first day of the highlight event of the annual Los Angeles Times' Festival of Books, were hoping aloud - but not overly optimistic - that the Democrats will find that clear voice.
But even a clear and intelligent voice won't help all that much if the media - the corporate-owned media, as Vidal described it - doesn't report it.
As one failure of the media, Vidal observed that "every civilized country in the world" has a working national health-care plan, invariably superior to the American health care system that too often charges more and provides less.
The big story, the two agreed, is that the absence of national health care hasn't been adequately reported.
One big surprise was that Vidal, in acknowledging that he is a "born-again atheist," nonetheless says he's becoming something of a creationist. This is because, the historical novelist explained, "We've gone from George Washington to George Bush" - making a monkey out of Darwin's theory of evolution, he said.
Vidal also said American citizens "get nothing back" for their taxes, but diplomatically left it for the audience to decide whether the the government is making monkeys out of all of us.
In another trenchant observation, Vidal asserted that "You can't have a third party without a second," suggesting that Left-minded activists move beyond timidity and take over the Democratic Party.
Huffington, concurring fully, and also in opposition to the War in Iraq, reaffirmed the need for a candidate with a clear voice opposing the war and to Bush Administration officials that got us into it.
I slept through a number of other good quips, no doubt, from Arianna, but she was obviously on the same wavelength with Vidal and in good form. She said two big issues the Bush administration should answer for -- and that Democrats should focused on - are Iraq and New Orleans.
At the close, Vidal, not as young as he used to be, rose from his wheelchair, with Arianna rising from her seat to join him. The audience gave the two an enthusiastic standing ovation.
American Reporter Correspondent Ron Kenner is a former Los Angeles Times Metro reporter.