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From the Left: What about Joe?

Lieberman, that is, not Biden. It’s a complicated question for us Jews to contemplate, isn’t it? Or maybe it’s just me who finds him problematic, even disturbing; to a degree, anyhow. But hey, he’s certainly not your average Joe. So let’s see why, and start with looking on the bright, shiny side of the coin. Here’s a successful Jewish American politician; a modern orthodox who’s a senior USA senator; a strong supporter of Israel, of course; and lastly, but not least, the first Jewish person to be chosen as a Vice President candidate in the history of the United States of America!

We Jews can certainly do with more people like him. And yet—when you flip the coin—a somewhat darker, more disturbing picture immerges. In the Democratic Primaries held in Connecticut in 2006 he lost to Ned Lamont, an up-and-coming young candidate, who was supported by left lining organizations opposed to the war in Iraq. But our Joe, a supporter of Bush and his Iraq war, did not back down. He put on a new jacket, declared himself an independent candidate, and indeed won the elections. (Maybe Hillary should’ve used that trick.)

But the question before us is what did he really win. And are we, the Jewish people, on the winning—or losing—side of things because of his actions. Like the biblical Joseph, he wears a coat of many colors. His democrat colleagues in Congress certainly didn’t like his shenanigans, bird-on-a-wire kind of standing in the Senate. (By a large margin, most Jews in America consider themselves Democrats.) It was reported lately that at a meeting of all Congressional Democrats, Mr. Lieberman came in uninvited, as if to participate. All, even some of his old friends, ignored him as pariah. You can understand why: here’s a man who was one of the leaders of the party until recently, and eight years ago was Al Gore’s running mate. But when that meeting was held, he was on the short list to become John McCain’s running mate. And should McCain win, he most likely will get a senior cabinet position.

To sprinkle more salt on the Democrats wounds, he gave a major, “attack-dog” address at the Republican Convention. In fact, had Obama opted to go with Hillary and not with Biden—a crucial mistake in my humble opinion—McCain may well would’ve chosen Lieberman to run with him, and not tracked all the way to Alaska to find an obscure woman Governor to be his Veep. As reported by the New York Times, it was “a wild play that he made after conservative activists warned him that he would face an all-out revolt in the party if he chose who he really wanted — Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.” Ask yourself why did they object, and you begin to understand why I’m writing this column and raising these troubling questions.

Of course, you can defend Lieberman and say that he stands on principles; and that he sticks to his guns by supporting an unpopular war and his old friend John McCain. I overheard other innuendoes: a power-grabber, a turncoat and such. It’s unfortunate, but in regard to our Joe, you do hear some anti-Semitic overtones. Hence what so disturbing about his flipping sides so easily. In closing, here’s some food for thought. It was quoted by Newsweek that Paul Begala, a former adviser to President Clinton, said this about Lieberman and his agreeing to speak at the Republican National Convention: “If you’re hanging off the edge of a cliff by a rope, you don’t want to look up and see Joe Lieberman.” See what I mean.

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