The most ubiquitous joke flying through cyberspace currently is: What's the difference between Al Gore and a puppy? Answer: After five weeks the puppy opens its eyes and stops whining.
For good or ill, the focus of my syndicated radio talk program has been dominated by the never-ending story of election 2000 -- and I'm certainly not the Lone Ranger.
In the midst of all the procedural "what ifs?" (e.g., the U.S. Supreme Court, Florida legislature, or the possibility of a congressional showdown) and the now-routine atrocity du jour (discounted military absentee ballots, determining voter "intent," Scotch-taped chads, eaten chads), I was suddenly reminded of something I've had posted on my website for about eight years, a small collection of items lifted from various textbooks and psychology classes. Originally I posted it to the site to illustrate the startling similarities between Bill Clinton, and certain talk show hosts, with clinical definitions.
In a personal communication from psychologist Schreibman to author H. Cleckley dated Feb. 10, 1986, he observed, "There are psychopathic personalities in the highest echelons of government, and even within religious hierarchies in America. You can't just assume that a person with the title judge or hospital orderly got there honestly and won't manipulate the hell out of you."
When I first saw that I immediately thought of a whole bunch of politicians, government officials, and usual suspects with renewed suspicion.
I have often (too often) reverted to observing that "Some people just don't want to be confused with facts that contradict their preconceived opinions." It is a given that some folks will blindly continue to defend the indefensible, regardless of overwhelming contradictory facts.
Al Gore's defense of the indefensible appears to us neophytes as indeed pathological. We hear he has no "exit" strategy because he has apparently convinced himself he need not ever concede. His circle of advisers gets increasingly smaller and smaller as fewer and fewer are willing to proclaim, "The emperor has no clothes."
In "The Mask of Sanity" H. Cleckley wrote, "It must be remembered that even the most severely and obviously disabled psychopath presents a technical appearance of sanity, often with high intellectual capacities and not infrequently succeeds in business or professional activities for short periods, some for considerable periods. Although they occasionally appear on casual inspection as successful members of the community, as able lawyers, executive or physicians, they do not, it seems, succeed in the sense of finding satisfaction of fulfillment in their own accomplishments. Nor do they, when the full story is known, appear to find this in an ordinary activity."
The "Characteristics of Psychopath (Sociopath, Anti-social Personality Disorder)" is a fascinating clinical list. I am certainly not an expert. Like most of you I am an interested and concerned observer. We don't want to become like the patient who suddenly discovers they have all the symptoms they read in some medical journal and immediately assume they have some rare disease. However -- partly as an academic exercise and partly as a function of noting that if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it could very well be a duck -- let's run down the list and see what if any of the characteristics seem to apply to Al Gore and/or Bill Clinton:
Glibness/superficial charm: For both Al Gore and Bill Clinton the answer is yes. Both exude a glib/superficial charm, although both men are reported to be mean-spirited, with explosive tempers. Admittedly Clinton is by far the more charismatic and charming.
Grandiose sense of self-worth: For both Al Gore and Bill Clinton the answer again is yes, you betcha by golly! Indeed Gore's unbridled petulance appears to some to be grounded in some divine right.
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom: Again in both the case of Gore and Clinton the answer is yes, but different. Gore's needs appear to be more grounded in wonkism, whereas Bill's solution to potential boredom reportedly is more (arguably much more) sexual.
Pathological lying: Hell's bells, yes and yes! Both Gore and Clinton have demonstrated not only a propensity for habitual, chronic, and consistent lying, they both seem to lie more out of habit than necessity. The list of confirmed lies is epic and more suited for scholarly books than opinion columns (besides we don't have the space here, and most of the lies you already know).
Conning/manipulative: Again, both the president and Armand Hammer's second-generation lackey have demonstrated a conning and manipulative nature. However, again, honest evaluation must concede Clinton is far more skilled and successful. Gore may have learned and honed his talents at the knee of the master, but Clinton is world class; Gore lacks the inherent natural ability and skills.
Lack of remorse or guilt: Absoflippinglutely! Clinton still has yet to really apologize for his gross indiscretions with Monica. He still apparently really believes that whole impeachment episode was nothing but partisan nastiness and evidence that even paranoids do get chased. Gore continues to defend the vote count absurdities that increasingly resemble an Ionessco play. I'm still waiting to hear his response to congressional inquiry into his conduct with Chernomyrdin regarding the Gore-McCain Act finesse and his side deals with the Russians not to inform Congress.
Shallow affect: Yup! This goes for Gore, Clinton, Lady Macbeth (Mrs. Senator-elect Clinton) and most of the hangers on/sycophant socialists who continue to defend the indefensible.
Callous/lack of empathy: Examples require another very long list. Yes for Gore and yes for Clinton. Read Ward Connerly's book, "Creating Equal" or the WorldNetDaily Q&A.
Parasitic lifestyle: Both Clinton and Gore have made careers out of taxpayer-supported jobs. Clinton had a brief stint as a law professor and Gore did time as a bad reporter positioning himself for politics. Clinton has lived off other people's money and Gore has done the same while supplementing it with the inherited spoils of communist complicity.
Poor behavioral controls: Hello! Clinton is a poster boy for "poor behavioral controls," and although Gore may be marginally better at bridling his tragic flaws, he too seems incapable of taking the harshest and most well intended advise and counsel of his supporters. Look to the second presidential debate in which he was obviously advised not to expose the mean-spirited, petulant arrogance he did in the first debate. He tried -- he really did try to control his inherent nastiness and just couldn't resist the natural temptation of being his own man.
Promiscuous sexual behavior: Despite the rumors, Gore gets a pass on this characteristic. Clinton owns this and remains undisputed winner and champion.
Early behavior problems: Again, Clinton overshadows Gore. However, frankly not enough is either known or written to attribute this characteristic to either man.
Lack of realistic, long-term plans: Duh! Arguably both Gore and Clinton have clearly established and planned long-term plans. However, "realistic" is a horse in another garage. The inability to acknowledge very specific restrictions and impediments to blind ambition seems to some to suggest a "lack of realistic long-term plans."
Impulsivity: You betcha! In the case of Clinton the impulsiveness is reportedly a function of increased blood flow south of his belt. With Gore it is the embarrassing habit of self-aggrandizement and spontaneous manufacturing of facts never introduced to reality.
Irresponsibility. From "wag the dog" military excesses to provide political cover in the case of Billy-Jeff to Gore's Russian and INS/voter manufacture finesses, both men have demonstrated a penchant for the hipshot abuse of power under the color of authority.
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions: Oh boy! The characteristic personifies the essence of both men.
Many short-term marital relationships: You can split hairs and claim both men have long-term marriages -- if you really consider Bill and Hill's partnership a marriage.
Criminal versatility: You could say unless or until all potential court actions are concluded this could not be confirmed or denied. However, as Democratic Party pollster Pat Cadell said on "Hardball with Chris Mathews" recently, "I'm a liberal Democrat. I started in Florida politics. I worked for George McGovern. I worked for Jimmy Carter. I've worked for Ted Kennedy, Mario Cuomo. ... But I have to tell you, at this point it's hard to believe that my party, the party that I've belonged to since my great, great grandfather ... has become no longer a party of principles, but has been hijacked by a confederacy of gangsters who need to take power by whatever means and whatever canards they can say."
I'm not an expert -- just an interested observer like most of you. However,
if it walks like a duck, and swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck,
it is safe to presume it is a duck.