Frederic Raphael

What will the oracle answer?

by Roger Scruton
Continuum, £12.99, pp. 196, ISBN 0826464963

Two reincarnations of the Old Oligarch – alike in deploring The Way We Live Now, different in emphasis and style – jostle for the moral high ground. Gore Vidal’s diagnosis of global schism centres on the US and its (mal)administration. Like a liberal, Enlightened mutation of bin Laden, Vidal doubles for Coriolanus and tribune of the put-upon plebs. Exiled from what he takes to be his patrimony – the good, old US, based on the Bill of Rights – he points out that bin Laden was first a CIA protZgZ (but never the first) in Afghanistan, the recent devastation of which was ‘like destroying Palermo in order to eliminate the Mafia’.

Vidal’s blind grandfather, Senator Gore, is once again the paragon; the upstart G. W. Bush but the latest thick-witted, well-heeled hijacker to have bought the White House. Other routine villains make guest appearances: the New York Times, the Trumans (Harry and Capote), Pat Robertson, Gerry Falwell, etc

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