The American press
is currently having a field day
talking about the pros and cons
of Joseph Lieberman
as the Democratic
candidate for Vice President
. Most of the time they're just busy talking about how revolutionary
it is to select an orthodox Jew
for the second-highest political office in the nation. Once in a while, you'll find them talking about how the anti-Semites
are already filling up the political online discussion forums
with anti-Lieberman drivel
Speaking for myself, I'm a Protestant Christian of German descent, so I have no vested interest in seeing a practicing Jew in the White House. But from what I've already heard about Lieberman, I think he could be the greatest thing that could possibly happen to the executive branch in the post-Clinton era.
It's not because Lieberman was the first Democrat to speak out against Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky as "immoral". It's not because he spearheads a movement to minimize the sex and violence America's children are able to see on daytime television. And it's not because he observes the Saturday Sabbath religiously, so much so that he once declined to attend his own nomination at a Democratic convention during his Senate run. But all of these things stem from the real reason Lieberman is so admirable: he's a rigidly moral man, and a politician at the same time. How often do you see that sort of thing happen?
Every couple of years, Hollywood turns out another political movie about an astonishingly ethical politician, or an unethical one that unexpectedly has a change of heart. "Bulworth", "Dave", "The Distinguished Gentleman" and "The American President" are all recent successes following this trend. This popular trend shows two things: first, that Americans as a whole believe that a moral politician is an oxymoron, and second, that they would like nothing better than the chance to elect a President, Vice President, or Congressperson whom they confidently feel they can trust.
Well, this year they finally have that chance. Whether or not you agree with orthodox Judaism, it's indisputable that Lieberman is a man who adheres to his conscience, even if his political career may suffer for it. (Not that it has, yet. But you have to admit that publicly denouncing your own party's leader is a pretty gutsy move.) The fact that Al Gore has selected him indicates that Gore wants to move as far away from Clinton's infamous philandering as he possibly can.
Even before Clinton took office, the Republican Party made "family values" its number-one crusade in getting votes. Well, they've been out-valued this time. Lieberman is about as moderate as they come in this country; he votes and speaks according to his conscience, not his party's line or his re-election campaign's advice. If there was ever a chance to put the political hypocrisy of Clinton's presidency behind us forever, this is it.