So now that the election is over, and I am (slowly) removing the political catheter from my arm, I find myself returning to my normal pursuits of science, nature and basketball ... but I still pay more attention to politics than I had in the past. And one of the things I have been paying the most attention to is the political fate of Joe Lieberman.
Though I am strongly liberal, as a Jew, I was inordinately proud when Lieberman ran with Gore in 2000, despite the fact that Joe holds some fairly socially conservative viewpoints. I felt like he increased the profile of Jews in public life in a very positive way, and showed that a) we are a valuable, vibrant group within America who contribute very positively to public life in the USA and b) that we are not a homogeneous mass, as many of Liebermans' views, particularly his foreign policy views, differ from large portions of the Jewish population.
This last year, I was as disgusted with Lieberman as I was proud in 2000. Senator Joe did not just continue his move to the right, something that was happening to him anyway. Nor did he simply support a good friend who he genuinely thought was the best choice of the country. No, he fell, rather plummeted, from intellectual grace, parroting many of the crazy baseless, unsupported and plainly stupid attacks on the democrats and Barack Obama that were trumpeted by the insane, right wing of the Republican party. What is sad about this to me is that Judaism, of which Lieberman is one of the most public representatives in the USA, puts an extremely high value on education, debate and dissent ... I mean you have all heard the popular refrain, "2 Jews, 3 opinions."
So to see Lieberman pushing the bigoted, baseless, intellectually bankrupt ideas that Obama is a radical, marxist, terrorist, or that Democratic control of the government should cause tremendous fear, is not just disgusting in its own right, it is a betrayal of his, and my, religion, and I was ashamed to see it. In my opinion is it fine and reasonable to disagree about policy and politics, to argue about how to effect change and to discuss and even get angry about important issues. But to see someone with Liebermans' stature, a very public, high-profile Jew, surrender his reason on the altar of political expediency is terribly depressing.
So now what? If you don't know, the Democrats are debating removing Lieberman (who is currently an independent who caucuses with the Democrats) from his committee chairmanship (which I agree with) and/or simply throwing him out of the Democratic caucus (which I do not agree with). The debate about Lieberman, in many of its facets, is summed up nicely here, by Rachel Maddow