Joe Lieberman, the Yankee Tartuffe

by ROSS VACHON

In the Stalinist universe, the central drama was always a ritualistic staging of a theatrical spectacle, in the truth of which no one believed.

Senator Joseph Lieberman (D–Connecticut), is American Democracy’s equivalent of that spectacle. The swirl of cathode tube confetti which greeted his entry into America’s Presidential Sweepstakes glittered intermittently throughout the month-ago photo-op,coverage that resembled in its lightness–the way the story of a wayward zoo hippo might have been reported. There was a je ne sais quoi quiescence to the coverage, as well. The imprimatur of Great White American Man upon an orthodox Hebrew man appeared calibrated to escape much notice, the lighting which surrounded Lieberman was pastel. Or was the second scotch & milk I nursed at a Malibu tavern playing tricks on my mind? Bar TVs played at both ends, yet no one looked, and the drink ice refracted no conspiracies. That the Senator chose to formalize his candidacy at his Stamford boyhood alma mater, was fitting. It was there that young Joe Lieberman caught his first whiff of Potomac fever. "Washington, Jefferson, Lieberman…" He would study, and he would learn. And, when called upon, he would answer.

Platitudinous, moralistic, cuddly-wuddly, blotchy, and off-pink cheeked, Senator Joseph Lieberman is, for all appearances, a shyly confident, not quite fine figure of a man. Like all humble preachers, his reticence is guarded, wisdom held in reserve. I saw a taped broadcast not long back of the Senator addressing a church congregation, somewhere. At first glance the worshippers seemed as hushed, penitent, and glad to be there as any gathered in Reverend Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. But, a hint of beleagurement swayed off these uncertain pilgrims, as if some game-show cr! owd had traipsed in mistakenly to a considerably more somber event. Their body language was more uneasy than expectant. Something was amiss. As though these folks had been wheedled and cajoled into greeting Joe Lieberman as man of deep faith, a Rabbi, even, who knows.

Cameras cut to the Senator at the pulpit, like he owned it. His bland demeanor concealed a feral readiness, and the orthodox vestment–his coffee-grey tailored suit, proclaimed him as the anti-Schuller, an unresplendent prophet. An unspoken, but implicit message: "Why, in the Hebrew faith, dear people, flash is considered inappropriate, drab is the thing. We Jews are a solemn tribe, my friends, never drawn to the light. Que sera, sera, whatever we are, we are."

The picture of earnestness, he began a hand-wringing exercise, chubby, interlocking fingers kneading doughy palms, relentlessly, montonously, and voila–the maestro was ready. Then, dripping with piety, he lowered his head, and in low, irregular tones, the Senator’s dispensation of saintly wisdom, and unvarnished truth commenced. His sing-songy, constipated whine unsettled the congregation, but Lieberman’s voice has circus calliope rhythms. And, as the sermon built, the calliope softened the dirge. It was all the encouragement he needed. A schmaltzy exhibition designed to win converts one at a time, lest panic set in. TV anchors were whispering mid-sermon that Joe was rolling, and the Senator had that spry look only carnys get with a tent full of rubes. I just knew he’d worked this circuit before.

Coyly, he measured their gaze, one dirty-angel forelock astrew. Cooing sounds emerged sotto voce, metronomic trills designed to tranquilize us all before prayer. Then, the Senator broke the meditative quiet with a limpid nod, a solicitous, Shandling-esque smile. Had he settled the crowd? Who could really tell? I’d wait for Ben Wattenberg, wise old Ben–to get a good read. My black cat Noriko, had her tail up in the air, and it formed a question mark. Sure, the old Buddhist trick, but I’d wait for Ben, nonetheless.

And, mirabile dictu–there he was, on PBS no less!: "Joe Lieberman is quality goods." It was heartwarming. Ben’s owlish smile said: "And, if weren’t for the goyim, who’d buy retail?", and I knew I’d done the right thing waiting for Uncle Ben. "Quality goods." Word up, Ben said it. And, although it was reassuring that Joe and his wife Hadassah got Uncle Ben’s White Housekeeping Seal of Approval, my checkbook remained unopened. What had this "quality goods" done for the 2000 Democratic ticket, I wondered, t! hat warrranted a step-up into the bigtime? Ben was mute.

But, on CNN, Howie Kurtz picked up the slack, remarking cheerily that: "Senator Lieberman was a real boost to the ticket." Was it true? Or a suburban myth? Alas, I found it was the latter…

In truth, Gore’s fortunes plummeted once Lieberman signed on. For all the "Shecky Lieberman" talk, his kibbutzing with Conan O’Brian & Co., VP candidate Lieberman’s impact on the voters was nil. Gore/Lieberman fumbled the entire South, including Crazy Al’s home turf, Slick Willie’s Arkansas, and Democratic stalwart West Virginia. And, the clincher–the debate which introduced them nationwide, it was Lieberman’s klutzy, lamentable performance which allowed Dick Cheney to win the day. A button-down automaton was able to comer across as a kinder & gentler version of cranky "Mr. Wilson", from "Dennis The Menace". Mr. Kurtz was a most unreliable guide.

So, as Ed Muskie’s tears well in the grave, the questions must be asked: Who’s selling Senator Joseph Lieberman ? Who’s buying? Who’s crying? Who is this King to be?

A Connecticut Yankee Of Sorts In The Bush King’s Court, Joe Lieberman is the embodiment of classic literature’s most infamous fraud, French playwright Moliere’s TARTUFFE. A pious, mealy-mouthed man of the cloth, whose mock-faith, and rank hypocrisy conceals an enormity of sin, Joe Lieberman is a twenty-four carat charlatan. Hark the angels scorn.

The sound of one mass media hand clapping in the forest, heralding this new Tartuffe as Presidential timber, echoes every time he pops his head out of his shell. The cool hum of his Presidential persona is calculated to muffle glee or distaste . He is the air-conditioner in the room, silently filling the room with pleasantries and zephyrs. Joe’s a Pisces (February 24, 1942), so it should be no surprise his plan of conquest is by submarine. Kerry, Edwards, Dean, Kucinich are land animals. Joe’s a slip-streamer, he’s sub-aquatic. A few days after Stamford, he cruised into Israel. Fast curr! ents. Once on dry land, Aqua Joe struck quickly, in a canny six-point maneuver:

1) Confab with Sharon

2) A "no mas" hint on settlements

3) A stern look, then a happy face at the photo-op

4) Back in the Homeland

5) Statements: #1–"Attack Iraq!", #2–"Wait to attack Iraq."

6) Wait and see attitude

Afterwards, Aqua Joe submerged, again. Looking through the periscope, he spyed Kerry running this way, Edwards running that way. Slow and steady, 5 knots for now. Just like his seven years in New Haven. When he ran for Yale student-president, Joe let campaign manager Bill Clinton run the ship. Joe’s moves were below deck. Always below radar.

His political rise was exquisitely timed. William F. Buckley had aligned himself ever closer with Jewish neo-cons in the eighties, he’d seen the writing on the greenbacks, and he warmed to the idea of helping Connecticut Attorney General transform into U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman, the Democrat would run as a right-winger challenging Weicker on his positions on Cuba (too liberal!), and Israel (too independent!). Lieberman outspent Weicker by millions, and his generous supporters formed a four-point grid of fascism, greed, hatred, and extremism that is his bulwark today:

1. Zealous wacko Cuban-Americans. Beaucoup bucks to Joe.

2. Zealous wacko Zionist-Americans. Joe is their boy.

3. Greedy Pharmaceutical and Insurance Companies. Go Joe!

4.Weapons of Mass Destruction Manufacturers. Such a patriot!

That is Joe "The Enron Democrat" Lieberman’s base. He is the Democratic Leader of the rich’s successful class war against the poor and needy. He is the corporate oligarchy’s Main Man Democrat. He convinced Clinton to pass through Welfare reform. Lieberman’s pride is stoked by it. In defending it, he always takes care to toss a few sops out about how he personally took care to make it go down gently, "helping the helpless", things like that.

His work on behalf of shielding Enron’s mega-ponzi scheme from shareholder and legal scrutiny robbed many more thousands of Americans of their life savings. "The Patriot Act" was conceived by Joe Lieberman. He wishes to protect the richest Americans from any future tremblings of the poor and dispossessed. Lieberman has worked assidulously throughout his career to create an America in which 5% live like Saudi Royalty, 15% scrape by, and the other 80% are forced to beg or steal.

It is why Lieberman has always championed the death penalty, "three-strikes", and the "war on drugs." Imprisoning or eliminating poor people of color, and white people of disadvantage is Joe Lieberman’s domestic agenda. Privatizing Social Security is his idea of assisting the elderly. Doubtless, Joe will be seen walking old ladies across the street. After they cross, they’re on their own.

Joe Lieberman, in short, is the Anti-Democracy Democrat. He is the friendly fascist, the polite totalitarian, the man whose loyalty to a foreign country is unquestionably deep, and destructive. Using America to annihilate the neighbors Israel won’t make peace with, is the sina qua non of his foreign policy. His assurances of patriotism are kept to a minimum. Why lie, when the media will do it for you?

In sum, Senator Joseph Lieberman is a traitor to America, its Principles, its Liberties, and its Values. He is an insincere, hypocritical, morally repugnant, venal politician, who worships the almighty dollar, and craves the highest office in the land. He aims to win, and his chances are better than you think.

The next time he gets on his knees to pray, just remember this:

Joe Lieberman pretends to be a very good man. He’s anything but.

ROSS VACHON is an actor-producer based in Los Angeles. Pleased about the new call for cinematic French villians, his email is: ROSVAC@msn.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman