There’s a lot to be said about the politics of Al Gore’s badmouthing America before a mainly Saudi audience at the “Jiddah Economic Forum.” But others have done that well. What interests me more is why Gore would do something like that in the bosom (apt word that) of a regime where women are not yet allowed to drive and Freedom of Religion is about as remote as Alpha Centauri (and that’s only the half of it). The obvious is that he is a frustrated man who was inches away from the Presidency and now finds himself increasingly marginalized. And indeed he must say something dramatic to attract our (or anyone’s) attention. Call that the ‘narcissism argument.” To some extent it’s true.
But I think it’s more than that. I think Gore has a secret wish to implode. Al is no rocket scientist (no Internet jokes, please) but he is a reasonably intelligent man. Let’s assume he is aware, as most readers of this blog are, of Bin Laden’s pronouncements about the strong and weak horse. At least he must sense the great gulf between our culture’s response to self-analysis and theirs. For Wahhabi culture, such apology is nothing more than a display of weakness. Deep down Al must have some idea of the Saudi reaction to the statements he made. They would have contempt for him. And he probably wants them to. (I could go on with the self-loathing implicit in all this, but I’m getting way too psychoanalytic here.)
UPDATE: Perhaps next time Al should shout “Death to Denmark.” Then he’ll really get some support.