Following the serial claims by right-wing pundits that former Vice President Al Gore is mentally ill -- which came in the wake of Gore's May 26 speech about America's Iraq policy -- Henry I. Miller, M.S., M.D., in a June 1 National Review Online commentary, "diagnosed" Gore with "Narcissistic Personality Disorder."
As Salon.com associate editor Mark Follman noted in a June 2 "Right Hook" column, Miller initially cited New York Post columnist John Podhoretz's May 27 column, in which Podhoretz stated, "[I]t is now clear that Al Gore is insane." In his June 1 NRO commentary, Miller wrote, "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."
Miller "let loose" what Follman described as "a litany of psychology-speak buzz phrases to make his case against Gore." Miller listed the "diagnostic criteria for this malady" -- which, he wrote (quoting from an unnamed authority), includes "a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)"; "[being] preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love"; "requir[ing] excessive admiration"; and "lack[ing] empathy."
According to Miller, "Gore demonstrated his grandiosity repeatedly. Who can forget his notorious claim that he had been responsible for creating the Internet?" Miller was referring to Gore's 1999 statement, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet," which the Republican Party distorted into a claim that he "invented the Internet" -- a distortion that many in the media then treated as fact. But Miller interpreted the "creating" language itself as evidence of what he apparently believes is Gore's tendency to exaggerate his achievements. In fact, as The Nation's media columnist, Eric Alterman, pointed out in his 2003 book, What Liberal Media?:
...Gore, as much as anyone else (and perhaps more) really did take the legislative initiative in helping to bring to birth the Internet. Gore was a major supporter of the technological research that helped convert the military communications system, Arpanet, into what is now the Internet. Vinton Cerf, often called "the father of the Internet" and even Newt Gingrich, have vouched for Gore's key legislative role in helping to shepherd the Internet to life.
In addition to citing Gore's 1999 Internet statement, Miller appeared to base his "diagnoses" primarily on Gore's science writings, especially his 1992 book Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, rather than on what he characterized as "Gore's recent anti-Bush administration tirades." Miller described the pro-environmentalism book as "patronizing, apocalyptic, and overwrought ... manifest[ing] many of the diagnostic criteria listed above, offering disturbing insights into its disturbed author."
Miller is a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution. According to Hoover's website, Miller's research "focuses on public policy toward science and technology, especially pharmaceutical development and the new biotechnology. His work often emphasizes the excessive costs of government regulation and models for regulatory reform."