Best of Enemies Documentary Movie - Wow

Last night I watched the documentary Best of Enemies, about the 1968 political debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal.  Amazing.  The situation is not something you'd see today, as I think it was just too 'out there', and these two guys were, in my opinion, kind of on the extremes of the political spectrum.

William F. Buckley, Conservative Icon
The real reason you wouldn't see it today, is that they were two elites, really, and two guys that were probably more intelligent and not good at the soundbite like today's pundits.  Bill O'Reilly, for example, is not looking for the same audience William Buckley wanted.  O'Reilly shoots more for the working class old white person who is mad at hell that his common sense understanding of the world doesn't fit the way the world really works.  Buckley, I think, truly believed that there needed to be a a ruling class for the U.S., a group of competent, accomplished, pro-big business white guys that needed to run everything, because wealth, and everything else, would trickle down to the masses.

Vidal, on the other had, was much more of a liberal Libertarian than I had thought.  He didn't want to be ruled or managed by this bunch of uptight white heterosexuals.  But he did believe in Social Engineering, if I'm using the right phrase, and a re-distribution of wealth that wasn't quite Socialist, but more like what happens in parts of Europe, maybe more of a Social Democrat.

Gore Vidal, Smart Liberal Writer

Also, the pure hatred they had of each other, and the need they both had to not just refute each others politics, but to attack one other's character and worldview, it was amazing to watch.  It was a trainwreck, sort of, an accident you couldn't look away from.

And there's no doubt it is a touchstone.  It created The Pundit Class of 'journalists' as we now know it.  The talking heads on Sunday morning, the roundtable shows like the McGloughlin Report, they all owe a debt to this event.  ABC News thought it was saving a little money in not providing 'wall-to-wall' coverage of the Presidential Conventions that year, but what they did was change TV news forever.  It might have happened eventually, but more slowly, without the Buckley/Gore debates, but Fox News and all of the commentary-based 'news' programming today owe a debt to this unbelievable event.


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