Politics & Policy

Head Case

Al Gore is a sick man.

“It is now clear that Al Gore is insane,” John Podhoretz wrote in his New York Post column last week, after Gore’s recent anti-Bush administration tirades. “I don’t mean that his policy ideas are insane, though many of them are. I mean that based on his behavior, conduct, mien and tone over the past two days, there is every reason to believe that Albert Gore Jr., desperately needs help. I think he needs medication, and I think that if he is already on medication, his doctors need to adjust it or change it entirely.”

#ad#John is not a physician, but he’s half right. Al Gore appears to suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is not treatable with medications.

Consider the diagnostic criteria for this malady:

“A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts,” as indicated by the following:

‐”a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).” Gore demonstrated his grandiosity repeatedly. Who can forget his notorious claim that he had been responsible for creating the Internet?

Gore’s delusions also ran riot on issues of technology and environmentalism, such as his repeated endorsement of anti-technology tracts and criticism of technological advances, while a congressman, senator and vice president. His writings generally placed science and technology at odds with “the natural world” and by inference, with the well-being and progress of mankind.

‐”is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; believes that he or she is ’special’ and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).” These sorts of fantasies run riot in Gore’s Earth in the Balance, in which it is clear that he assumes that he, alone, has the solutions to the world’s problems, bold and dramatic measures that await the education and enlightenment of the public. And as vice president, Gore and his staff purged the federal government of any dissension or challenge to his view of policy, in a way reminiscent of the worst paranoid excesses of the Nixon administration. Vexed by people who weren’t sufficiently “special,” Gore simply got rid of them.

‐”requires excessive admiration.” A politician for virtually his

entire adult life–need I say more?

‐”lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others…shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.” While a senator, Gore was notorious for his rudeness and insolence during hearings. A favorite trick was to pose a question and as the witness began to answer, Gore would begin a whispered conversation with another committee member or a staffer. If the witness paused in order that the senator not miss the response, Gore would instruct him to continue, then resume his private conversation, leaving no ambiguity: Not only is your testimony unimportant, I won’t even pay you the courtesy of pretending to listen to it.

Gore once accused his political enemies of possessing “an extra chromosome,” a remark that infuriated the families of persons with Down Syndrome, which is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome.

Gore’s patronizing, apocalyptic, and overwrought Earth in the Balance manifests many of the diagnostic criteria listed above, offering disturbing insights into its disturbed author. In it, Gore trashed the empirical nature of science for disconnecting man from nature. “But for the separation of science and religion,” he lamented, “we might not be pumping so much gaseous chemical waste into the atmosphere and threatening the destruction of the earth’s climate balance.” He ignored that but for the separation of science and religion, we would still be burdened with the notion that the sun and the planets revolve around the Earth. (Recall that historians call the last epoch when religion dominated science the Dark Ages.)

It gets worse. Throughout the book, Gore employed the metaphor that those who believe in technological advances are as sinister, and polluters are as evil, as the perpetrators of the World War II Holocaust. He accused Americans of being dysfunctional because we’ve developed “an apparent obsession with inauthentic substitutes for direct experience with real life,” such as “Astroturf, air conditioning and fluorescent lights…. Walkman and Watchman, entertainment cocoons, frozen food for the microwave oven,” and so on. Makes you wonder why he bothered to create the Internet.

Gore’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder is one good reason that I wouldn’t want him to be president–or to live next door to me.

Henry I. Miller, a physician, is a fellow at the Hoover Institution. He was an official at the National Institutes of Health and Food & Drug Administration from 1977 to 1994.

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