always dangerous when politicians claim to be doing God’s will. So, as the
novelty fades from Al Gore’s selection of Joseph Lieberman, journalists should
ask some probing questions about the ticket’s conspicuous piety.
the years, Republican policymakers have been fond of saying that they rely on
divine guidance. Cementing his alliance with fundamentalist Christian groups,
President Reagan loved to perform at high-profile prayer breakfasts and the
like. All too often, political leaders — especially conservative ones — have
tried to blur the separation between church and state.
the Gore-Lieberman campaign has launched itself with a very public display of
devout posturing. For them, the Old Testament has become fine grist for the
centrist mill. The New Democrats are morphing into New Theocrats.
the formal announcement of his selection for the V.P. slot, Lieberman declared
that Gore "has never, never wavered in his responsibilities as a father, as
a husband and, yes, as a servant of God Almighty." The vice president stood
a few feet away, beaming.
in the current political milieu, private beliefs and personal prayer aren’t
sufficient. To really do the trick, faith must be flaunted. What good is
religiosity if you don’t wear it on your sleeve and get a lot of good press?
laud Lieberman as someone of impeccable morality, a judgment echoed by countless
reporters and pundits. Yet a strong argument could be made that he promotes
extremely immoral policies — if we look beyond such matters as sexual behavior
and public profanity.
all accounts, Lieberman is personally nice. But he is politically cruel. For
instance, his scrupulous morals do not extend to Iraq, where several hundred
thousand children have died in recent years due to the U.S.-led sanctions that
he enthusiastically supports.
junior senator urges quick deployment of the perilous "missile
defense" boondoggle. And this Bible-quoting moralist has continued to push
a wide range of new multibillion-dollar weapons systems, which just happen to
mean huge revenues for the arms manufacturers that have fattened his campaign
coffers. For military contractors, Lieberman is a visionary prophet for profits.
Al Gore is truly "a servant of God Almighty" can only be a subjective
matter. But the guy he chose for his running mate is certainly a devoted servant
of Dollar Almighty. Few Democratic members of Congress are more eager to
undermine the public sector. Lieberman wants taxpayers to subsidize vouchers for
private schools. He has been outspoken in support of partially privatizing
contrast to his media reputation as a consumer advocate, Lieberman joined with
only three other Senate Democrats in 1995 to put a cap on punitive damage awards
in product liability cases. He’s on record in favor of slashing capital gains
taxes. Like Gore, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, he is a fervent backer of
NAFTA, the World Trade Organization and other devices for globalization on
world’s poor people rank quite low in Joe Lieberman’s universe of values. As for
Palestinians, his brow does not even furrow for them. A down-the-line supporter
of Israel, he has proved to be comfortable with the systematic violations of
human rights in occupied territories, underwritten by billions of dollars from
the U.S. government.
may be a committed Orthodox Jew in his personal practice, but in his role as a
public spokesperson he has gone far away from the best aspects of the Jewish
tradition," Rabbi Michael Lerner points out. "He has none of that
prophetic voice that leads Jews to criticize our own Jewish community and Israel
in the name of Torah values. He has none of that Jewish sensitivity to the
oppressed that would place their needs above the needs of the wealthy."
most other senators, Lieberman has built his career by serving the interests of
the rich. Now that he looms very large on the national political stage,
Lieberman is well-positioned to further corporatize the Democratic Party. Lerner
is on target when he comments: "Lieberman is likely to accelerate the
process in which the two major parties seem to be merging into one pro-business,
pro-wealthy, elitist and morally tone-deaf governing force."
men on the 2000 Democratic ticket represent a new theocratic style. Eager to
evoke Judeo-Christian unity, they make a show of rejoicing in shared monotheism.
But judging from policy priorities, the one god that they most revere is Money.
media outlets keep praising Joe Lieberman as a paragon of moral virtue. But
actions speak much louder than pious words. He is a disaster.
Solomon is a syndicated columnist. His latest book is "The Habits of
Highly Deceptive Media."