Norman Mailer Brawled With Bush to the Bitter End

This post, written by John Nichols, originally appeared on The Nation

There is much, much to be said of Norman Mailer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world-class rabble-rouser who died Saturday at age 84.

But the pugilistic pensman would perhaps be most pleased to have it known that he went down swinging. The chronicler of our politics and protests in the 1960s with two of the era's definitional books--1968's Armies of the Night and Miami and the Siege of Chicago, did not rest on the laurels--and they were legion--earned for exposing the dark undersides of the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

He went after George Bush with a fury, and a precision, that was born of his faith that all politicians--including 1969 New York City mayoral candidate Norman Mailer - had to be viewed skeptically. And, when found to be lacking, had to be dealt with using all tools available to a writer who had pocketed two Pulitzers, a National Book Award, a George Polk Award, a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation and a global prominence rarely accorded the pushers of pens.

Mailer did not hesitate to suggest that Bush and his compatriots were setting up "a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America" and he saw the war in Iraq as an imperialistic endeavor destined--as all such attempts are--to diminish democracy at home.

"Iraq is the excuse for moving in an imperial direction," Mailer wrote on the eve of the conflict. "War with Iraq, as they originally conceived it, would be a quick, dramatic step that would enable them to control the Near East as a powerful base -- not least because of the oil there, as well as the water supplies from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers--to build a world empire."
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