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Jewish World Review August 8, 2000 / 7 Menachem-Av, 5760

Don Feder

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Lieberman talks the talk, then takes a walk -- VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE'S choice of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman as his running mate shows the veep is terrified of the character issue.

In their choice of running mates, Gore and Gov. George Bush both tried to address their greatest weakness. As a former defense secretary, Cheney brings to the Republican ticket the military/foreign-policy experience Bush lacks.

Lieberman gives Democrats the semblance of moderation and adherence to traditional values -- the appearance, not the substance. When it comes to upholding Judeo-Christian ethics, Lieberman talks the talk then takes a walk.

When Clinton admitted that he'd had an "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky, Lieberman was the first Democratic senator to criticize the adulterer in chief.

Clinton's actions were "immoral and harmful ... (and) too consequential for us to walk away and leave the impression for our children today and for posterity tomorrow that what he acknowledges he did ... is acceptable behavior for our nation's leader," the senator heroically declared. But, ultimately, party loyalty counted for more than morality or the Constitution.

Presidential perjury didn't threaten "our government and national interest," Lieberman explained in rationalizing his vote against Clinton's removal. Other than treason, it's hard to imagine what could be more subversive of the national interest than lying under oath -- thus attempting to frustrate the course of justice -- by the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

Lieberman has a reputation as a centrist. But as a senator, on issues ranging from abortion to taxes, the middle of the road is not where he's at.

The National Taxpayers Union, which rates members of Congress on every tax and spending vote, gave Lieberman an 8 percent rating in 1999. On 144 votes, this celebrated centrist supported spending and opposed tax cuts 92 percent of the time. Last month, Mr. Moderation voted against abolishing the death tax and repealing the marriage tax penalty.

An Orthodox Jew, Lieberman is pro-abortion.

Agudath Israel, one of the largest Orthodox organizations in America, supports efforts to ban partial birth abortions. The devaluation of human life "is most strikingly evident in the context of partial birth abortion," Agudath's rabbis observe. "Indeed, depending on the circumstances, killing a fetus after it has partially emerged from the birth canal may more properly be deemed infanticide than abortion."

New York's Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan agrees, calling the hideous procedure "four-fifths infanticide." Joe Lieberman has consistently voted against a ban on partial birth abortion.

Elsewhere, he sponsored legislation to add sexual orientation to federal hate-crimes law and make homosexuality a protected category for civil rights purposes. Agudath notes that Jewish law considers same-sex relationships "deeply sinful (and) condemns them without qualifications."

While he may keep kosher and observe the Sabbath scrupulously, in the political realm, Lieberman has the same allegiance to Torah values that Ted Kennedy has to Catholicism.

Still, the senator at least pays lip service to public morality. ("We have too often deprived our public life of the best source of better behavior that the human race has -- faith in G-d, and the sense of personal accountability and responsibility that goes with it.")

Perhaps Gore will address the ways in which the Clinton years -- lying to the American people, illegal campaign contributions, smears and character assassination of critics, cover-ups from Whitewater to Waco -- reflect the values of personal accountability and responsibility.

Lieberman may have folded when it came to upholding the Constitution, but at least he never called Bill Clinton "one of our greatest presidents."

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate