Friday, July 13, 2007

The Glory Of Biases

A green color, passed through a bias prism, is seen as red.

We all have biases, but some cherish them more than others. U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman has become a target in the blogsphere for progressives who wish to advertise themselves as such by sporting their biases.

Rejected by his party in a primary, Lieberman ran as an Independent in the general election – and won, much to the dismay of left wing Democrats who favored Ned Lamont, an anti-war Democrat from Greenwich nudged into the race by ex-Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker. At bottom, all politics is personal because, unsurprisingly, it involves persons, many of whom are unwilling to lay aside their biases for the public good.

Weicker was defeated by Lieberman in a hotly contested senate race. A few years later the sleeping bear was back again wielding a bludgeon, a left wing fellow from his old hometown, against his former rival. Since Lieberman’s defeat of Lamont in the general election, progressives in Connecticut and its environs have not stopped hammering Lieberman. Their intension is to drive him, through vitriolic attacks, from the political square. So far, this has not worked because a) Lieberman is stubborn, something – perhaps the only thing – he has in common with Weicker, and b) he does not wish to see Israel, hardly an object of affection in the Middle East, go poof in a nuclear plume. As I write, determined jihadists and others – the president of Iran comes to mind -- are plotting its destruction.

One of the principles Lieberman has clung to fervently during his career in the senate is that Israel must survive. That principle, evidently, is stronger than the gravitational pull of his party. For this reason, some on the left have derisively called Lieberman “the senator from Israel” – meaning his true allegiance is not to the genuine interests of the United States but to those of a foreign country. The last time we heard a charge of this kind was during John F. Kennedy’s presidential race, when it was alleged that Kennedy was the Pope’s man. Kennedy disassembled that roadside bomb by seeking out those occasions in which, by taking positions unaligned with those of his church, he could demonstrate his independence. All Connecticut’s Catholic politicians have followed this road to political success without deviation, even on those occasions in which public agreement with orthodox Catholic opinion would be popular among non-Catholic groups, such is the fortitude of the state’s Catholic politicians.

Lieberman is not a religious quisling. He is quietly Jewish in the same sense that Hillare Belloc, once running for a seat in the British parliament, was brazenly Catholic.

On the stump, Belloc was confronted by and anti-papist who accused him of being in the pope’s pocket.

Belloc pulled some rosary beads from his pocket, shook it at the lady and said, “Madam, do you see these beads? I pray on them every night before I go to bed, and every morning when I arise. And if that offends you, Madam, I pray God He will spare me the ignominy of representing you in Parliament.”

Lieberman is too much the gentleman to put matters in such stark terms. But one senses he feels the lash and resents it. And, as Nietzsche well knew, nothing so stiffens the spine as resentment, unless it be the kind of love that bound Belloc to the cross on his beads or the love of things Jewish – including Israel -- that animates Lieberman.

It must be said that no love was lost between Belloc and politicians:

Here richly, with ridiculous display,
The Politician's corpse was laid away.
While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged
I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.

On the other hand, what Belloc detested most in politicians was their shifty natures, their impermanent dispositions. True affections can find no home in impermanent places:

Fame to her darling Shifter glory gives;
And Shifter is immortal while he lives.

Whatever else critical may be said of Lieberman, he does not shift with the alacrity of, say, his compatriot, Sen. Chris Dodd.
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