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God Help America! Norman Mailer Interview

by Norman Mailer Monday, Nov. 15, 2004 at 9:01 PM

Reagan understood what America needed, `spin'. Hearing that we are healthy was more important than being healthy. Bush and his advisor Rove expand this insight one dimension by acting as though our security were extremely endangered.


Does the United States threaten to slide into pre-fascism under Bush’s leadership?

Interview with Norman Mailer

[This interview originally published in the Austrian on November 5, 2004 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

[The great old man of US literature and gallant figure of the US left Norman Mailer fears the worst after Bush’s re-election. The best-selling author (“The Naked and the Dead”, “American Dream”) was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize and lives in Brooklyn, New York.]

Bush’s victory will take its honorary place in the long list of unforgettable ironies of American history. Speaking here about the lies, manipulations and intellectual mediocrity of the post 9/11 years is futile. First, we must recover from the shock that neither the experience of the worst evil nor our abhorrence of that evil prevented its realization.

Der Who are we? What is the condition of Americans?

A glance at our film stars could be helpful. The liberal left was supported by actors like Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson who speak of America’s cynicism and the betrayal of our ideals. However the values of America’s political middle have shifted: away from Gary Cooper’s decency to John Wayne’s selfish warrior type. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s emergency marks the temporary climax of this development. During his enormously acclaimed appearance at the Republican convention, “Arnie” communicated to Americans on the strength of his bodily presence: If the desire for a dictator should ever arise, I have the hardest chin since Benito Mussolini! Deceptions will soon no longer be necessary. We are in transition from the era of spin to the era of the chin.


Remember, 243 Marines in Beirut were mangled in a terrorist attack in 1983 in the original time of spin. Two days later, Reagan sent 1200 Marines to Grenada 300 miles from Beirut. The (election) campaign was already over when the invasion troop was upgraded to 700 men.

The US army lost 19 men. 49 soldiers and 29 construction workers from Cuba died on the Grenadian side. Communism in the Caribbean was thereby shattered (disregarding the little exception Castro). After the blitzkrieg victory over the hostile rabble, Reagan was in the right mood to finally declare at the urging of his followers that America had erased the shame of the Vietnam War, of giving in. Reagan understood what America needed: “spin”. Hearing that we are healthy was more important than being healthy.

Bush and his advisor Rove expand this insight one dimension by acting as though our security were extremely endangered. As an empire we are the nouveau riche. We rake in money to cover up how ill at ease we are in this role. The saddest statement that can be made about the US is: While we slowly move toward fascism (possible if a greater depression occurs or a dirty bomb explodes), we increasingly fall into a situation where we not only expect but long for catastrophe.

We have become a guilty nation. Deep in the interior of our national consciousness, we realize the little contradiction in which we are caught. On Sunday we love Jesus. The rest of the week we pray for our bank account. We should not trust anyone who tells us how good and pure we are and that he will protect us. – For Bush & Co. 9/11 was a jackpot. That George W. gave up drinking was probably the only heroic act of his life. But US citizens must now pay for that.

God help America! Perhaps we haven’t earned it but we could really use a little help from above right now. Bush is deeply convinced that he will not be deserted in the hour of the devil’s raging. His error is only that he thinks God’s Son speaks through him.

Thus we are obviously living through a whole kaleidoscope of ironies. Presumably the worst is still ahead. Perhaps the Greek gods will watch over our fate and no longer Jesus or Allah. They were pioneers on the connection of fate and irony.

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