Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gore Vidal on Bill Maher

Gore Vidal was on Bill Maher's show last night and he made a bit of a passionate statement on lost constitutional rights during the Bush era. Starts at about the 4:10 mark of this video, the last 6 minutes of the show, but the whole clip is highly entertaining.

He asks where was "the voice on television" speaking out about the loss of constitutional rights, besides himself. He seemed to be hearkening back to Edward R. Murrow's calling out of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. What is more frightening than the notion that no one was speaking out about the Bush administration's offences was that people were actually pointing them out the whole time. It took a while for the voices to multiply and create a tidal wave that led to Republican defeat. But you can certainly rattle off the names who were speaking in their own venues and with their own respective weight about what was happening (Olbermann, Turley, Balkinization, Cafferty, Horton, Greenwald, etc.). And there were lawyers in the courts pressing cases and winning (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, for example).

A lone Edward R. Murrow likely wouldn't have the same effect today. It would be one voice among hundreds, with the internet, thousands. The challenge is much broader, requiring media support, money, political organization, effective politicians. Not to detract too much from the honorable sentiment in Vidal's statement, but it is a point worth thinking about and which requires much greater depth than this blog post to analyze.

Oh, and enjoy the laughs as well, that's principally why it's posted here.