Lieberman's Speech Continues The Disaster

John Podhoretz - August 17, 2000 - New York Post


Justice4JP does not endorse or oppose any candidate in the Presidential elections. Justice4JP does however see it as our responsibility to the public to reveal how any candidate's position on the Pollard case is a reflection of that candidate's commitment to the truth, or alternately a reflection of his willingness to subvert principles of honesty, justice, and fair play to political goals. See Justice4JP Aug. 16 Media Release.

JOSEPH. Lieberman. Spoke. So. Slowly. Last. Night. That. I. Expected. Him. To. Make. This. Promise: "No child should be left behind, and by the time I'm finished with this speech, no American should be left awake."

Lieberman was so dull that he was entirely eclipsed only 20 minutes later by the sprightly and loving performance of Karenna Gore Schiff. It's a mark of how unserious our politics has become that a daughter should second the nomination of her father.

And it's a mark of how much trouble Gore is in that he needed his daughter to remind Americans that he is not a block of wood, but a person who loves and cares for his children - as though that's a great accomplishment.

Even so, Karenna did her family proud. A star was born last night. Unfortunately for the Democratic ticket, the star wasn't Joe Lieberman.

The vice-presidential nominee, who has spent 10 days fleeing from his own convictions, last night fled from the eloquence of his speech on the Senate floor two years ago denouncing Bill Clinton's immorality.

Hanging around Al Gore seems to have reduced Lieberman to baby-boomer solipsism: In this speech, as in so many of his speeches these last 10 days, he treated his elevation not as the assumption of a solemn responsibility but like he won the Lotto.

He said marrying Hadassah had made him "the luckiest guy in the world," and said "Mom, thank you, I love you, and you and I know dad would be proud tonight."

Excuse me, but what does all this sentimental Oscar-acceptance-speech junk have to do with running the country? Precious little, and you didn't hear Dick Cheney blathering like this two weeks ago. Cheney went right at the Democrats, offered concrete details about the Republican alternative and preserved his personal dignity.

Lieberman actually said little that was concrete about exactly why America should choose his ticket over the Republicans and surrendered the affect of modesty that has always made him an uncommonly attractive politician for the drippy excesses of Clintonism.

He attacked Bush's stewardship in Texas and said Al Gore was good for the environment. He made a joke about how Republicans only want to put new calendars in old classrooms but failed to tell America why the Democratic plan was better.

Mostly, he praised Gore for being a nice person. He said that when his then-6-year-old daughter met Al Gore, she said, "He must be a daddy." Maybe his daughter said that, and maybe the Democrats think America needs to hear it because the nation feels so little for Gore - but it has nothing to do with governance.

He also insisted Gore was a brave person, which he proved by - how else? - choosing Joe Lieberman. He repeated a troubling refrain from last week by praising Gore's "courage" in selecting him.

At a campaign stop in Atlanta on Friday, Lieberman said of Gore: "This is a man of courage! He showed it by picking me to be with him!"

See, because in case you haven't heard, Lieberman is Jewish. And in case you hadn't heard, his wife is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. And if you haven't heard by now, you will.

The flaunting of Lieberman's ethnicity is beginning to get tiresome - no, not only tiresome, but offensive. It's no wonder Lieberman has flip-flopped on affirmative action, because Lieberman has now decided to present himself to the Democratic Party and the nation as an affirmative-action pick.

The last thing American Jews need in 2000 is for the most prominent Jew in the country to assert his right to special privileges because of his (and my) people's troubled history.

  • Return to Lieberman page