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Gore Vidal, American literary giant and Democrat insider, is publicly declaring he made a mistake in switching his support during the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama.
"I was hopeful," Vidal says of an Obama presidency. "He was the most intelligent person we've had in that position for a long time." Now, Vidal says in an interview published in the British paper, The Times, he was wrong and Obama is performing "dreadfully" as president.
Vidal says criticisms of Obama are mostly about his Afghanistan policies, which he says show the president is "inexperienced." He says Obama "has a total inability to understand military matters. He's acting as if Afghanistan is the magic talisman: solve that and you solve terrorism."
In his view, the United States should retreat from Afghanistan, and he believes Obama is getting bad military advice because "he believes the generals. Even Bush knew the way to win a general was to give him another star."
In contrast, he thinks Hillary Clinton would handle military matters better because she is a woman. "Hillary knows more about the world and what to do with the generals," Vidal tells The Times. "History has proven when the girls get involved, they're good at it."
Vidal says terrorism is a government-created fraud. The "war on terror" was "made up," he says. "The whole thing was PR, just like 'weapons of mass destruction.'"
Citing his father Gene Vidal, who founded TWA Airlines, he says of the war on terror: "It has wrecked the airline business, which my father founded in the 1930s. He'd be cutting his wrists. Now when you fly you're both scared to death and bored to death, a most disagreeable combination."
On health care reform, Vidal says that Obama mishandled the issue. "I don't know how, because the country wanted it. We'll never see it happen."
Vidal tells The Times he regrets moving back to Hollywood, after years of living in Italy. He says the United States has "no intellectual class" and is "rotting away at a funereal pace. We'll have a military dictatorship fairly soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together."
In general, he thinks that the White House is failing because "Obama would have been better off focusing on educating the American people. His problem is being over-educated. He doesn't realize how dim-witted and ignorant his audience is."
He says that another of Obama's mistakes is that he "believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it's a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred -- religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word 'conservative,' you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They're not -- they're fascists."
In giving advice to President Obama, Vidal cites President Lincoln, who "wrote to one of his generals in the South after the Civil War" 'I am President of the United States. I have full overall power and never forget it, because I will exercise it.' That's what Obama needs -- a bit of Lincoln's chill."
At 83 and in a wheelchair, Vidal's bitterness seems to stem from his own unfulfilled political ambitions. "I would have liked to have been president, but I never had the money. I was a friend of the throne. The only time I envied Jack [Kennedy] was when Joe [Kennedy, his father] was buying him his Senate seat, then the presidency. He didn't know how lucky he was."
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