Feuds: Wasted Talent

From their polar positions, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. see themselves as witty, wily intellectuals magnificently equipped to interpret (respectively) the left and right of U.S. life. Except when they confront each other directly, the notion is not entirely absurd. But when they fence on television or in type, bitchiness erodes their polish and learned discourse dissolves into tantrums.

Millions saw this happen when ABC-TV engaged the two to comment daily on the national political conventions in 1968. A heated argument over the clash of cops and demonstrators in Chicago...

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