Lieberman's Uneasy Balance
humorist Charles Farrar Browne (under his sobriquet of Artemus Ward)
once commented, "My pollertics, like my religion, be of an
exceedin' accomodatin' character."
The same could certainly be said of vice-presidential candidate
Joe Lieberman, whose politics and religion can apparently accommodate
him and one another splendidly, much to the dismay of the left and
the irritation of the right.
The American public's first intimation of Senator Lieberman's easy
morph between being a Serious Political Person and a Serious Religious
Person came, of course, just over two years ago on September 3,1998,
when he stood before the Senate and sternly addressed Bill Clinton's
transgressions the President has admitted to are too consequential
for us to walk away and leave the impression for our children and
our posterity that what President Clinton acknowledges he did within
the White House is acceptable behavior for our nation's leader….
It is wrong and unacceptable. I am afraid that the misconduct the
President has admitted may be reinforcing one of the most destructive
messages being delivered by our popular culture – namely that values
are essentially fungible," said Senator Lieberman.
We now know that all this was apparently some carefully calculated
bluster designed to show the American public – some of whom
were understandably leery about the idea of the Big Boss schtuping
the help and then vociferously lying about it – that the Democratic
party is really, really serious about this whole Famlee Valyews
thing that Republicans keep droning on and on about. Senator Lieberman
held the Senate in thrall as he played his role of Serious Religious
Person; when he took his seat for the vote, however, he "walked
away." This, in spite of the fact that his scathing remarks
about the President could have made Jack the Ripper seem like a
fine fellow in comparison.
Al Gore's choice of Lieberman as a means of combating Clinton Fatigue
was a wise one: here we have a man who can really talk the talk
and make an excellent impression on the scandal-weary citizens of
the country who might still be a bit squeamish about voting Republican.
Presidential hopeful George W. Bush claims to have Jesus in his
heart, and Jesus tends to make voters nervous because of the whole
dying-for-the-sins-of-the-world thing, because most don't really
feel that they have any sins that they need to be saved from. As
an Orthodox Jew, there's no fear that Joe Lieberman will make Al
Gore uncomfortable by talking about Jesus. Indeed, when Lieberman
recently responded to his critics by saying that the Constitution
grants us the right of "freedom of religion" rather than
"freedom from religion," Al Gore felt free to warmly affirm
his running mate's thoughtful assessment of the historic document.
But sometimes Lieberman's two personas trip him up. It's a sorry
sight when Serious Religious Person falls flat on his face in front
of the politically expedient outstretched foot of Serious Political
The Senator recently enthused about a Medicare prescription drug
plan that "serves the spirit of the Fifth Commandment, which
demands that mothers and father be honored," according to an
Associated Press news release. In consideration of his remarks about
the President on the Senate floor, could this comparison be more
disturbing? Here is a candidate that thinks nothing of using God's
Holy Word as a tool to forward a government-funded program, and
never mind the fact that only two Commandments down is a stricture
about adultery, followed by "You shall not bear false testimony."
In Lieberman's view, it would only be right for us all to embrace
this Medicare legislation as a way of being godly people: The President
himself gets a free pass in spite of making hash of the Commandments.
This could remind one unpleasantly of Al Gore's comment that the
President has made "mistakes" when he was asked about
Clinton's alleged rape of Juanita Broaddrick.
There is something deeply flawed with this sort of reasoning.
What is wrong here is that God seems to truly have no place in Senator
Lieberman's plans for the future if he is elected along with Baptist
Al Gore. What Lieberman is practicing is not godliness, it is religion – an
adherence to a set of rules in order to satisfy a minimum standard
of behavior, absent of a desire to actually know God and obey His
word out of personal devotion.
Great care must be taken when making observations about another
person's faith. But when that "faith" is so often compromised
(as in was, in the opinion of so many, by Lieberman's decision to
support the legalities of the American genocide called "partial-birth
abortion" with his senate vote) one has to wonder what – or who – is
being served by these frequent quotations of scripture. More plainly,
whose agenda is Lieberman trying to forward? God's? The Democratic
With that question still unanswered, I must concur with Barry Lynn,
who serves as the head of Americans United for the Separation of
Church and State. Mr. Lynn recently commented, "[Lieberman's
frequent remarks have] gone way beyond what is appropriate for the
political season. Your ability to understand Scripture…is not
McKinney is a political writer whose work regularly appears in several
Internet journals. She takes great pleasure in exposing the politically
correct for their lack of logical thought.