Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: 2004
October 21, 2004 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: 2004 - by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
posted by GriffX (25 comments total)
The most surprising passage of this piece was this, made even more poignant by all the bile and rage Hunter spewed at Nixon over the years:

Richard Nixon looks like a flaming liberal today, compared to a golem like George Bush. Indeed. Where is Richard Nixon now that we finally need him?

If Nixon were running for president today, he would be seen as a "liberal" candidate, and he would probably win. He was a crook and a bungler, but what the hell? Nixon was a barrel of laughs compared to this gang of thugs from the Halliburton petroleum organization who are running the White House today -- and who will be running it this time next year, if we (the once-proud, once-loved and widely respected "American people") don't rise up like wounded warriors and whack those lying petroleum pimps out of the White House on November 2nd.

Nixon hated running for president during football season, but he did it anyway. Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for -- but if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him.

posted by dogmatic at 1:57 PM on October 21, 2004

Super poignant.
posted by inksyndicate at 2:07 PM on October 21, 2004

god i love hunter. the man's been watching politics for a *long* time now, i really hope his instincts are right.
posted by christy at 2:09 PM on October 21, 2004

God I love Hunter. I hope he's right.
posted by daHIFI at 2:13 PM on October 21, 2004

Immediately after the first debate ended I called Muhammad Ali at his home in Michigan, but whoever answered said the champ was laughing so hard that he couldn't come to the phone. "The debate really cracked him up," he chuckled. "The champ loves a good ass-whuppin'. He says Bush looked so scared to fight, he finally just quit and laid down." . . . . the president has lost his nerve, and his career in the White House is finished. NO MAS.

We still love War.

George Bush certainly does. In four short years he has turned our country from a prosperous nation at peace into a desperately indebted nation at war. But so what? He is the President of the United States, and you're not. Love it or leave it.

HST still can produce some gems.
posted by caddis at 2:23 PM on October 21, 2004

I liked Hunter S. Thompson better when he was still a journalist, rather than a writer with a predictable bag of tics and turns of phrase, but this was a wonderfully refreshing hit of invective. And yeah, underneath all the baroque rhetoric, I sense the same despair I'm feeling, and I too hope that he's right. I remember the Nixon years as well, and that administration feels positively sane in comparison with this one.
posted by jokeefe at 2:25 PM on October 21, 2004

You know, I think Thompson at his peak was about as good as writer can get with the English language. Campaign Trail '72 is one of my all-time favorite books, and the collections of his letters are pretty mind-blowing. But his current stuff, I don't know. It's entertaining, sort of like hanging out with your weird uncle, but nowhere near as great as it once was. He used to be insightful while he was being entertaining; now he seems to be doing his act again.

In a way, I think Thompson is doing exactly what Jon Stewart accused tucker Carlson of doing last week on Crossfire: performing theater and calling it political commentary.

Not trying to tear the man down. Like I said, at his peak, I think he was something approaching heroic. But I think the skills have declined. Still, thanks for posting this, he's still fun in his decline.
posted by COBRA! at 2:27 PM on October 21, 2004

Does he have two unfried braincells left to rub together??
posted by konolia at 2:28 PM on October 21, 2004

He can still manage to distill it down to the essence though:

The question this year is not whether President Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but if the American people want it that way. That is what this election is all about.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 2:31 PM on October 21, 2004

Does he have two unfried braincells left to rub together??

I think he has lots of them, but finds it to his advantage to play the crazy-man character.
posted by COBRA! at 2:32 PM on October 21, 2004

There's a persona, a mask. But that was some of the best Hunter stuff I've read in a good long while.
posted by raysmj at 3:09 PM on October 21, 2004

His sportswriting is little more than calisthenics, which is kind of a shame, because at his best, he was one of the most insightful (and inciteful) columnists I believe I've ever read.

Good to see he can still bear down and crank out a piece with some of the piss and bile that made him great in the first place.

He's been wrong before, but by all that is holy in this world or the next, I hope he isn't here.
posted by chicobangs at 3:09 PM on October 21, 2004

Thompson was at Book Soup in Hollywood the other night, Defamer.com recaps it for your reading pleasure.
posted by Lizc at 3:14 PM on October 21, 2004

Cool. Thanks.
posted by The God Complex at 3:22 PM on October 21, 2004

"It was horrible to hear him tell it," said the classmate, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. He lifted his shirt and showed me a scar on his back put there by young George. "He burned this into my flesh with a red-hot poker," he said solemnly, "and I have hated him ever since. That jackass was born cruel. He burned me in the back while I was blindfolded. This scar will be with me forever."
posted by quonsar at 4:15 PM on October 21, 2004

His Fear And Loathing collaborator Ralph Steadman did a great back cover to the Bush Junta book, too. (which I am still reading and enjoying a lot!)
posted by Peter H at 4:16 PM on October 21, 2004

I'm always amazed at HTS's life and the people he has known. Over at ESPN he has a great column about Geo. Plimpton. Just one of the many interesting characters he probably should have forgotten.
posted by jmgorman at 4:25 PM on October 21, 2004

I kinda wrote HST off a while back, but that was some quality vintage screed. Thanks for the link, and thank lomo for the truthtellers.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:29 PM on October 21, 2004

What a classic piece of invective. This one-liner was really more sad than funny, but for some reason it made me laugh out loud:

Thompson, long known for the eerie accuracy of his political instincts, went on to denounce Ralph Nader as "a worthless Judas Goat with no moral compass."
posted by psmealey at 5:31 PM on October 21, 2004

"I endorsed John Kerry a long time ago," he said, "and I will do everything in my power, short of roaming the streets with a meat hammer, to help him be the next President of the United States."

Man, it sounds like Hunter is getting a little soft in his old age.

/me takes up the meat hammer
posted by majcher at 7:37 PM on October 21, 2004

super-rich pansexual cowboys
Pansexual? As in they will have sex with anything or as in they will have sex with pans? Or maybe Pan. Or people from the panhandle. Possibly pansies.

Four more years of George Bush will be like four more years of syphilis

Classic. Who would want four more years of syphilis?

HST, I love you.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:47 PM on October 21, 2004

That'd be a great name for a band. Not Four More Years of Syphilis, but the other one.
posted by raysmj at 8:24 PM on October 21, 2004

I dunno, I'm kinda partial to Four More Years of Syphilis myself. There have been far more ridiculous band names.
posted by neckro23 at 8:52 PM on October 21, 2004

HST is a fascinating mix of media self-creation and good-old red-blooded American male. And yes he sure can write. It's hard to beat this sentence about how he met John Kerry: “He was yelling into a bullhorn and I was trying to throw a dead, bleeding rat over a black-spike fence and onto the president's lawn.”
posted by LeLiLo at 11:12 PM on October 21, 2004

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