Saturday, April 30, 2005

Angry Arab and Unpopularity Contests: Whenever I speak to mainstream establishment groups--and I often do, like World Affairs Council, I feel out of place. I feel like a drunken at a Ramadan Iftar, or like a clothed person at a nudist colony, or like Bush at a scientific convention, or like Ahmad Chalabi at the annual meeting of Transparency International, or like John Bolton at the UN--wait, he is heading to the UN. OK, forget about the last one. It is just that such gatherings often operate within the parameters of "differences" between the two parties, but not more. I felt that today. In fact, I could tell my audience's disapproval of me this afternoon. The chair of my panel said after a very tepid applause after my talk (on the "Bush Doctrine and Lebanon") that this was due to my bleak prognosis and not to my presentation per se. He was trying to be protective. He did not know that I relish my audience's disapproval. While I would never run in popularity contests, I would seriously consider running in unpopularity contests, and would hope to win too.