Jewish World Review August 11, 2000 / 10 Menachem-Av, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- I BARELY had a chance to get down my first swallow of coffee early Monday morning when the phone rang. It was my sister.
Sister : “Hey! Did you hear? We might have a Jewish Vice President!”
Me : “Uh, well, yeah, I heard that Gore will be choosing Joe Lieberman for his running mate.”
Sister : “So, aren’t you excited? That means we might have a Jewish President!”
Me : “Wait a minute. Slow down. You’ve gone from Vice President to President in two seconds -- Al Gore is still the Democratic candidate running for President, remember?”
Sister : “Yeah, but the Jewish guy ... uh, what’s his name?”
Me : “Joseph Lieberman.”
Sister : “Yeah, him. He would be President if something happens to Gore, right?”
Me : “Look, I’m voting for Bush. Do you want Gore? Do you want to see him become President?”
Sister : “Well, no ... but ... shouldn’t we vote for the Jewish guy? I mean, what should we do? He’s JEWISH!”
About an hour later we got a call from my wife’s sister in Brooklyn. She was euphoric over the big news. “Joe Lieberman! It’s fantastic! Just think --- we might have a Jewish President.”
Before this morning, she was unsure of who to vote for, or if she would even vote at all. A lifelong Democrat, she certainly wouldn’t vote for Bush, and she really couldn’t stand Gore either. But that was yesterday. That was before Moses came down from the mountain called Capital Hill. Now she’s voting for Jewish Joe. My whole family was going nuts.
“He’s JEWISH!! JEWISH!!” All day long I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from otherwise normal, rational Jews. It was so bizarre. It reminded me of the scene in the original Frankenstein movie when Colin Clive yells, “He’s ALIVE! ALIVE!!” after seeing the monster move his little finger.
Ever on the ball, the media immediately went out to Jewish neighborhoods to get the “Jewish reaction.” Sticking microphones in the faces of eighty-five year old Jewish people in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles they posed the hard-hitting question, “How do you feel about Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, being chosen as the running mate to Vice President Gore?”
What did they expect these people to say, “I’m against it?”
Yes, the consensus is in -- many Jewish people are happy to see one of their own on a Presidential ticket --- whether they agree with his politics or not -- or whether they even know who he is or not. All they know is that he’s Jewish, and that’s enough. It’s called “tribal voting,” a form of “group think.” As it is, for many Democratic Jews, voting Republican has been akin to converting to Christianity. The Lieberman factor has only intensified this feeling.
Later that day I spoke with my mother.
Mother : “So, we’re going to have a Jewish man in the White House. Isn’t that nice?”
Me : “Ma, have you ever heard of Joseph Lieberman?”
Me : “Ma?
Mother : “Yeah?”
Me : “How much do you know about Joseph Lieberman?” Mother : “Well ... he’s Jewish, no? Everyone on television is saying he’s Jewish.” Me : “Yes, he’s Jewish. So what? Meyer Lansky was Jewish, too. What does that mean?”
Mother : “Can you imagine? A Jewish President!”
Me : “Ma, he’s not running for President. Al Gore is running for President and I’m voting for Bush.”
Mother : “Oh. So, you’re not voting Jewish?”
My mother was actually trying to make me feel guilty for not voting for the nice Jewish
man. Oy vey -- it’s going to be a long, hard
JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.
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