Why do American politicians of the Democratic flavor take such solemn pleasure in trashing their country before foreign audiences? Is there some upcoming election for Global Emperor, with all the primaries in Arab nations?
Never mind Jimmy Carter, who can be counted on to bad-mouth the United States regardless of the venue. No, it's guys like Bill Clinton and Al Gore who truly mystify. The speaker's fees can't be that great.
Most ex-presidents or ex-veeps keep a respectful silence after leaving office, but these redoubtable Citizens of the World appear keenly needful of back pats from the Davos clique. Perhaps they're so gosh-darn patriotic that they feel compelled to protest the dark night of fascism descending on America, a land so steeped in secrecy that Dick Cheney can drop a guy on a hunting trip and call the ambulance before he rings up the Washington press corps. They have to speak out! It's tough love!
But it takes a certain sort of person to believe that the Arab world is impressed and seduced when a luminary of the West apologizes. It takes a cotton-candy-headed progressive who believes that a weak America will be more loved than a strong one, and hence more successful. The composition of the applauding audience doesn't matter; they're all just another manifestation of the brilliant chap he sees in the mirror every morning.
Clinton was in full weather-vane mode in Qatar last month, denouncing the infamous Danish cartoons. "So now what are we going to do?" he asked. "Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice?"
Well, if history is a guide, the Europeans can probably multitask and handle both. But if there's any anti-Islamic prejudice waxing in the Old World, it may be a response to the throngs with placards demanding a Holocaust for Havarti vendors.
Still, that was nothing compared to the utterances at the Jeddah Economic Forum of Clinton's former No. 2, Gore. Whatever wax they use on the Saudis' marble floors, Gore's forehead was shiny with it by the time he was finished.
As an Associated Press account of the speech put it, Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. Yes, indeed: The infamous internment of September 2001, when the government indiscriminately shoveled millions into camps ringed with flaming trenches. Or "FDR-villes," as they were known, in deference to the strategy's founding father.
Gore noted that some of these fellows had been picked up on "minor charges of overstaying a visa." "The former vice president," the dispatch noted, "said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications."
Of course! The best way to atone for our baseless paranoia is to let Saudi citizens waltz into the country with no more than a wink at the passport inspector. That's how Gore distinguishes himself from George W. Bush's approach: He wants to be nicer to the paymasters of madhouse madrassas.
Bulletin: According to a Center for Immigration Studies report, 48 foreign-born al-Qaida members were involved in domestic terrorism in the last 10 years, and 25 percent were illegal aliens. Mohamed Atta at one point violated the terms of his visa.
Good thing we didn't "indiscriminately round him up." Thank the stars he wasn't held in "unforgivable conditions."
In the subsequent Q&A, Gore declined to discuss the Israeli problem, lest he rile his hosts. Telling the Saudis to drop all the Jew-hatred cartoons while a guest on their soil? Not done, old chap.
It would be nice if any of these fellows had the spine to stand straight instead of crumpling in a posture of supplication -- a position now common to the erstwhile defenders of tolerance and free speech when they hear the ever-aggrieved "Death to Everything" mobs chanting in the streets below their tony offices.
It would be wrong, of course, to suggest that they're just fond of the 40 pieces of silver they get for showing up.
They're probably paid in euros.