While Germany is still trying to come to grips with Sunday's elections results (scroll down for postings on the topic), why not take a brief detour to our regular column "Pro U.S. sentiment in the German media".
Which makes him the ideal interviewee for German journalists eager to present the ugly face of conservative, capitalist, religious America.
Aspekte, a cultural TV program on ZDF - one of Germany's two public TV channels -, has undertaken the odious task of proving beyond reasonable doubt the wicked psychology of the Bush administration before and after hurricane Katrina. This interview with Gore Vidal, segments of which were broadcasted on September 9, 2005, is a masterpiece of biased, anti-American journalism.
(Since the original video of the broadcast with Vidal's statement in English isn't available yet at Aspekte's web site, Richard Bartholomew re-translated for us the German version of the interview back into English. Therefore, the English version presented here does not conform to the actual wording of Vidal or Jens.)
Civilization’s broken Levee
George W. Bush and Hurricane Katrina
In what condition does the famed American civilization find itself when the state fails its most essential duty to protect the lives of its citizens? Do the blessings of American society accrue only to the rich and successful today? Are Washington’s mighty so focused on world politics that they’ve lost sight of reality in their own country? Tilman Jens discusses it with American author Gore Vidal at his home in Italy.
Tilman Jens: Mr. Vidal, were you surprised when you saw the chaos in American society after Hurricane Katrina?
"Chaos in American society" - this sets the tone of the interview.
Gore Vidal: No, I used to live in New Orleans. ... People always talked about what would happen if the levees broke, what would happen when the water rose. That went through everyone’s mind. Of course that doesn’t go through the US administration’s mind because they don’t have a mind for it to go through.
Tilman Jens: You mean, they didn’t know?
Jens trying to appear surprised...
Gore Vidal: We’re really just a bunch of impulses and the first among them is normally the impulse for preemptive war. But there could be no preemptive strike against nature. Because it was nature itself that threatened us and destroyed one of our cities. We’ve seen that we have an administration that had no plan, no emergency plan. For the last fifty years we’ve threatened the whole world with a world war… Now we not only see how vulnerable we are, but also that we have an administration that is impervious to all reality. The weather really has changes all over the world. We sit here in sunny Italy and it’s hotter than it’s ever been before during this season. Anyway the weather’s changed. Everyone knows that.
Vidal just proved global warming. Probably heard it from a nighbour: It's hotter than "it's ever been in Italy during this season". Period.
Tilman Jens: Is the catastrophe, a starving New Orleans, also a symbol for today’s American society?
The default interpretation of the German intellectual elite.
Gore Vidal: I don’t believe it’s a symbol. It just reflects the fact that you can get elected president if you just show your distaste for African Americans in such a way that it can be downplayed. You don’t have to shout, you can just quietly talk about “welfare mothers” who trade in their food stamps for a couple of bottles of bubbly. That’s all you have to do to get elected president. Hatred of the under-classes, every under-class, but mainly the blacks, is a constant with us. That’s now dramatized and the whole world can see it because we let them fall and pushed them under water.
Next on German public tv: How George W. Bush personally drowned black children.
Tilman Jens: What did the president do in this situation? George Bush came for a very short visit to Louisiana…
Just in case Vidal wouldn't remember...
Gore Vidal: Well yeah, they call that a “photo opportunity” – a photo op. And that’s what he wanted. You can’t turn to him for any kind of leadership, because he doesn’t have any.