Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lieberman, The Nut

As I just explained, one of the heroes of my 20s, Senator Joe Lieberman, has turned into a real monster. This was apparent soon after the 2006 Midterms and, according to my social-psychological calculations, was the major trigger for is now 3 year long psychotic episode. There have been many effects, his endorsement of McCain and speaking at the RNC Convention are major league sins, but his recent behavior about health-care-reform is just unspeakable.

Repercussions of His Monstrosity

He's no longer my senator nor quasi-congregant, so why should I care? Well, besides my early ardent support (just see my blog posts from 2003-2006), he is probably the most prominent Orthodox Jew in the world. And because his behavior is terrible, it is a chillul Hashem. In a year following Madoff (and the Jewish *sounding* Goldman Sachs, a point for another time), we Hebrews are taking a major hit. Prominent pro-Israel schmucks like Lieberman contribute to the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, as well.

An Example

Many decent, moderate-leftists have been pillorying Lieberman over the past few days - and with good cause - because he has just killed the public option for health-care-reform. Mark Kleiman, of the Reality Based Community, states:
In 2000, when Al Gore selected Joe Lieberman as his running-mate, Jesse Jackson decided to throw a tantrum about it, portraying Lieberman as some sort of crypto-reactionary creep. My reaction at the time was that Jackson was acting like a jerk and helping hand the election to the Republicans.

Of course I had no idea how close the election would be; as things turned out, Jackson’s move was probably the difference between having George W. Bush as President and not having him as President, which means the difference between war with Iraq and no war with Iraq. So Jackson was, indeed, acting like a jerk.

But, as Joe Lieberman has amply demonstrated, Jackson wasn’t wrong.
Now, while I will write Kleiman and suggest to him that in 2000 Joe wasn't so bad, I feel torn about lending any credibility to Lieberman and his rishus. But the crucial point of Kleiman's post isn't the original author, but from one of his commenters Ed Whitney" who says :
"[Lieberman's] goody-goody sanctimony combined with regressive politics was captured by Calvin Trillin in The Nation in 2000. He wrote his contribution to the tune of "O Tannenbaum" that went in part:

Joe Lieberman, Joe Lieberman,
A Democrat who’s newish,
Joe Lieberman, Joe Lieberman,
We’re awfully glad you’re Jewish.
Though welfare kids may live on gruel,
At least you’ll always go to shul,
Joe Lieberman, Joe Lieberman,
Your Shabbas rides are fewish."
OK, got that? Some random blogger, in reminiscing about how bad Lieberman is, needs to quote treife-celebrating, Xmas-ogling, self-hating Jew Trillin to write an anti-Semitic jingle against Lieberman (in 2000!) set to a Xmas carol.

That's how chillul-Hashems work, my friend. And especially how Trillin - the terminal sinner - comes off as a better person than Lieberman, the Orthodox Jew. And I can't really argue that point now: Lieberman's actions are indefensible.

Defending Myself

His fall has been swift, in my mind and the shame I feel is mitigated by my feeling/knowledge that he wasn't always like this. I made a similar point when I had my final break with John Mamzer Edwards:
many people are correct only by chance. For example, the smartasses who said that John Edwards was *of course* cheating on his wife... basing their assertions on the sole facts that (a) Edwards was good-looking, and (b) they disagreed with Edwards' policies/profession/accent.

Not liking somebody, and thus attributing to the disliked person all sorts of crimes, does not make your criticisms prophetic. You just got lucky.

However, if you said that Edwards was a wife-cheater because of certain provable factors (e.g. you knew of some shady behaviors, you read in his book that 'cheating on your cancer-stricken wife ain't the worst thing a person can do', or if you personally slept with him), then - fine - you can be considered a perceptive prognosticator.

For the record, I didn't believe the rumors that Edwards was cheating on his wife because I didn't think that someone as successful as him (self-made multi-millionaire, young Democratic senator in a red-state) would do something so destructive and stupid. I mean, it was Spitzer-esque! And even then, I had some glimmering that Spitzer was a sexual-schkutz because he intermarried. Ya see, that's a provable indicator. Sex crime here leads to sex crime there. But Edwards? Why would someone running for president - someone who constantly references his wife's terminal cancer - have an affair on the campaign trail.
I feel the same way about Lieberman, and not just because I have counter-proof: what Lieberman is doing now is new and while his sanctimoniousness is a constant, and makes his wickedness especially galling (a holier-than-thou villain is hard to take), it is not his current crime. So those who say they were right for hating him in 2000 are deluded: his sanctimoniousness wasn't a crime then, nor now. His moderate-contrarianism wasn't a crime then, nor now. He's not being just 'contrary' now, he's being a Republican, and it's because his only friends now are Republicans (McCain, Graham - who, it should be said, are being shoved off by their own party).

So, Smarty Pants, What Happened?

When I lived in New Haven, I was told these main reasons for why Lieberman changed/was changing:
  1. In general, Joe is not the brightest bulb in the electric menorah. No, he's definitely not stupid - he's not in the Bush league (har). It was tough for a Jew to go to Yale in 1964; to quote the Wiki:
    "He received a dual Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Yale University in 1964 and was the first member of his family to graduate from college. At Yale he was editor of the Yale Daily News and a member of the Elihu Club. He later attended Yale Law School, receiving his law degree in 1967. "
    But he's not in the league of Bill Clinton or even Al Gore.

  2. He's not a Natural Politician = This needs to be added to the intelligence problem: he's not really an ambitious suck-up, like Bill Clinton, or a political legacy, like Al Gore or Chris Dodd. From what I heard, he became a politician because of a collection of friends, hangers-on, and especially because of his Mother. And that leads us to the most crucial reason for his fall from grace.

  3. He lost his Political Soul in 2001 and again in 2005: For these facts, you needed to be on the Connecticut inside, but basically Joe lost two people over that time, his political head and his political heart: Jimmy O'Connell in 2001 and his mother in 2005. I will let this Chicago Tribune story from 2006 give the details:
    But the chapter that started in November 2000 would not end, not only because of the presidential campaign, but because of personal tragedy.

    Since Lieberman first ran for the State Senate in 1970, Jimmy O'Connell was Lieberman's eyes and ears on the Connecticut ground, one of those political pros who seemed to know every Democrat in every town-and someone who could tell the boss where he may have to make a phone call or a diner visit to calm an angry town chairman.

    In December, 2001, O'Connell, 53, was found slumped in his car off an exit ramp off I-91 in Windsor, the victim of an apparent heart attack.

    Three and a half years later, Lieberman's mother Marcia died. Lieberman for years has taken comfort and advice from four strong women: Brown; his wife Hadassah; Washington chief of staff Clarine Nardi Riddle; and his mother.

    Joe and Marcia Lieberman were not only close, they were political soulmates. Marcia Lieberman had traveled the country with her son in his national campaigns, vigorously defending him before voters and reporters-and one of the few people able to tell the senator when things didn't seem right.

    After her death in March, 2005, Lieberman seemed different to his extended family, less inclined to dive into intraparty politics. Ornstein, for one, said he regular lunches with the senator stopped.
    All of that corroborates what I heard in New Haven, and it should be said, that the Tribune story was in August 2006 - before it became totally clear that Lieberman was cracking up.
To review: Lieberman, not super-intelligent and a bad-fit politician, had his career created and sustained by two people - O'Connell and Joe's mom - who both died between 2001 and 2005. What I heard was that O'Connell was Joe's political brain and Joe's mom was his heart.

Is it any surprise, then, that Lieberman seems to be a stunningly stupid politician - as his August 2006 primary performance showed - and also a person who has lost his neshama - as his Republicanism of 2008-2009 shows.

Makeh B'Patish: The Final Hammerblow

The primary loss of 2006 has been, correctly, credited as the moment when Lieberman The Good became Bizarro Lieberman. For any outside observer, it's when he felt that his true friends were not Democrats - who abandoned him - but his Senate pals McCain and Graham. But with the above data, you can see why 25+ year political veteran (10 years in State Senate, 6 years as state AG, 3 terms as CT Senator) felt betrayed by a political - not personal - setback. Because he's not a natural pol; he actually felt he had "friends" in politics; and since his political & moral compasses had, by that year, both died, he made decisions not as a politician but as an aggrieved, friendless, persecuted old weirdo.

So I do not regret supporting him in 2006 - before it became known how nuts he was; and possibly, had the idiot leftoids of the Nader Democrats not tried to kill him in '06, he'd be a friendlier ally right now (to paraphrase the ultra-fictional Omar: "if you come at the king, you best not miss.")

But since his opposition to Obama in '08, I've grown apart from him, and now I must repudiate him as a politician. It's not personal, Joe. But you're a chillul Hashem and you seriously need to do teshuva.

Pics have been used before by me, except the Palpatine one, which I've thought for years, and the Wonder Twins from here.


Anonymous said...

I think that attacking him personally shows the bankruptcy that is our legacy in the U.S. Don't like the policy go after the person. Attack the bastard until death.
Wow, what an example for the young people of this country. If I can't get what I want I am going to take it down with me. Nice. Great upbringing.

JC said...

I agree with you - unless you're criticizing me, then I disagree.

Cool Fusion said...

Really interesting insights into Lieberman's thinking. I've been at a loss as to how a senator who was once so good suddenly became so awful.

His betrayal on healthcare reform really stings.

JC said...

Thanks Cool, I appreciate the kudos.