None of that’s to say, of course, there’s no good reporting being done. Or that more Hunter S. Thompsons will save us from ourselves. But it certainly seems, as Taibbi writes, that “politics has stopped being about ideology and has instead turned into a problem of information.”
When people talk about “the next Hunter S. Thompson,” they’re often talking about the wanton hedonism described in Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis’s entertaining recent book, The Kitchen Readings: Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson (Harper Perennial). Take this passage, which describes Thompson snorting cocaine the way he says Clinton inhales French fries.
He proceeded to dump out a large pile of cocaine onto the top of each of the young lady's breasts . . . and bury his face . . . making loud snarfling sounds with liberal flashes of tongue. The pile of cocaine disappeared.
What we should be looking for is a writer — dozens, hundreds, thousands of writers — who’ll tell the truth the way Thompson rarely failed to. And do so using the kind of written language that gets people’s attention.
McKeen saw Gonzo recently. He was amazed. “There were people screaming and cheering,” he says. “You don’t see that kind of passion anymore in anything having to do with journalism. I don’t think you see anyone who has the combination of the kind of passionate anger, and the ability to use the language, as well as Hunter did. There are people who have one or the other, but they don’t seem to have that combination. And I don’t think there’s anyone who’s had [Thompson’s] effect on motivating people to be interested in politics.”
One of Gonzo’s most poignant epitaphs came from Pat Buchanan, of all people. (How great would it be to see Thompson sparring with him, a drunken pundit on MSNBC this election night?) “He flamed out too quickly,” Buchanan said. “He had so much more he could’ve given his readers — and himself.”
Mike Miliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.