Senator Sent Mixed Moral Signals

August 10, 2000 - Jim Dwyer - New York Daily News

The disparity between Joseph Lieberman's words and his actions reveals a moral ambiguity that does not jibe with Lieberman's new identity as the "moral conscience" of the Senate. Lieberman's actions reveal a pattern of inconsistency and opportunism, of which the Pollard case is but the tip of the iceberg. - Justice4JP

Of the four national candidates for public office — Gore, Bush, Lieberman,Cheney which one has made a name for himself by preaching against obnoxious material on the public airwaves?

Answer: Joseph Lieberman.

Part two.

And of those four, which one was the regular guest of a radio talk show host who described blacks as screeching, multiplying maggots; who called the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. a "scumbag," and who said he feared that Commerce Secretary Ron Brown might have survived a plane crash?

Answer: Joseph Lieberman.

Lieberman may never have asked anyone to call him the "conscience of the Senate," but that's what the new wrapper says on his packaging. "Conscience" is the hot new thing that the Democrats are in favor of, even if no one is particularly sure how it is supposed to work or what you do with it.

A few years back, Lieberman lit up the skies by complaining in the Senate that President Clinton had behaved like a rutting pig. Now, this may seem to most human beings like a fairly routine case of stating the obvious. In Washington, though, it qualified him as a brave and bold visionary.

Whatever Lieberman's other virtues, being publicly disgusted by Clinton is the prime credential he carries to the Democratic ticket.

Lieberman also has championed the idea of labeling TV shows and giving parents a chance to control what their kids watch. Since much TV programming is an open sewer, that seems like a solid idea.

Warning labels don't work unless they're used. And Lieberman himself ignored ample notice that he was appearing on a radio show that was firmly planted in the swampiest grounds of racism and bigotry.

Four years ago, Brown flew on a trade mission to the former Yugoslavia with many fine people who wanted to help rebuild after the war. The plane crashed. In the first reports, there was some talk of a single survivor.

In New York, talk show host Bob Grant discussed the crash. He had a "hunch," he said, that the survivor was Ron Brown.

"Maybe it's because, at heart, I'm a pessimist," said Grant.

Well, it's a point of view.

A few other pellets of Grant's lacquered manure were given heavy publicity at the time:

"I can't take these screaming savages, whether they're in that African Methodist church, A.M.E. church, or whether they're in the streets, burning, robbing, looting. I've seen enough of it."

Hanging up on a black man, he said: "Get off my phone, you creep, we don't need the toilets cleaned right now." Shutting off a black female caller, he said: "I don't need the windows washed today."

On the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the verdict of Grant is that he was "a scumbag ... this liar, this fake, this phony."

"You see," Grant once told a caller, "if they didn't observe Martin King Day, there would be trouble from the savages."

This kind of stuff had been going on for years, with many politicians, for whom microphones are more addictive than crack, stepping over the filth to speak with Grant. Among his regular political callers were Christie Whitman, Rudolph Giuliani and Joseph Lieberman.

When Ron Brown died in 1996, though, Grant's crack about him finally cost him his job at WABC. But it didn't cost him Lieberman, who continued trotting over to Grant's new venue at radio station WOR.

On Aug. 8, 1997, a little more than a year after the public disgrace of the Ron Brown incident, Grant was still discussing Brown's personal foibles. Then he took a few phone calls and triumphantly announced that he had Joseph Lieberman on the line.

"Senator, it has been a long time since we have talked, but I get an opportunity to view you on C-SPAN," said Grant, alluding to hearings in Washington. "How's it going?"

"It's good to talk to you," said Lieberman. "Mom is still listening. I wanted to get that out of the way right away." Both men chuckled. They chatted about a campaign finance investigation, and Grant praised Lieberman.

"Will you come back to the phone very soon?" said Grant.

"Bob, I will," said Lieberman. "Have a great weekend."

"Will you give my regards to your mother?"

"I will," promised Lieberman.

Just last week, Rick Lazio visited the Grant show and was given the host's benediction. A statement was issued by Lazio's opponent for the Senate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Is there anything [Lazio] won't do to win votes?" asked a Clinton spokesman.

A good question.

We phoned the Gore-Lieberman campaign to ask whether Lieberman was still going to visit the Grant show. No one had an answer. The price of being a public moralist just went up.

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