TCS Daily

Al Gore, Our Christmas Fruitcake

By Henry I. Miller - December 24, 2003 12:00 AM

The New York Times editorialized that more medical information about Vice-President Dick Cheney should be made public because where the president and vice-president of the United States are concerned, "privacy concerns are less important than the public's confidence that its leaders are fit." [22 December]

Fit? Fit? Where were the Times' concerns about the fitness of politicians in the face of Al Gore's obvious personality disorder and poor reality testing while for eight years he was a heartbeat -- and later, a few electoral votes -- away from the presidency?

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.

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. Gore himself dismissed Will Happer, a senior scientist at the Department of Energy, because he refused to ignore scientific evidence at hand that conflicted with the vice president's pet theories on ozone depletion and global warming. Similar incidents occurred at the departments of State and Energy as civil servants were hounded out of government, moved to less visible positions, or replaced by other officials during interactions with the White House for their own "protection."

On personal as well as public issues, Gore demonstrated repeatedly that he had difficulty in discriminating reality from fantasy. He claimed, for example, that he and wife Tipper were the model for the novel, "Love Story," an assertion that author Erich Segal denied. Then, there was the (in)famous instance when Gore implied that he had been responsible for creating the Internet. He also 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 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.
Gore's patronizing, apocalyptic and overwrought "Earth in the Balance" offers 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.

The New York Times' neglect of mental aberrations in the man who for so long was so close to the presidency is yet more evidence of their highly selective sense of propriety.

Perhaps the Times is not concerned about psychiatric disease in politicians. Or perhaps it just specializes in the "illnesses" of Republicans.

Henry Miller is a physician and 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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