Prior to the 2008 election, never did I imagine that my Jewish community would be targeted by manipulative propaganda designed to make my family and others like mine afraid. Never did I imagine that such a campaign would be tacitly endorsed by one of the most prominent and visible Jewish members of the Senate. And yet, Joe Lieberman's actions in the 2008 presidential election violated something far beyond the feelings and concerns of one ethnic community. They poisoned the civic traditions on which this country was founded and which remain the only possible path to a viable future.
For two years, the Republican Party falsely accused Barack Obama of hastening the genocide of the Jewish people--while Sen. Joe Lieberman uttered not one word of rebuke. Even worse, Lieberman gave this sick Republican Party strategy his seal of approval by campaigning for John McCain, in the course of which he repeatedly echoed the lie that Barack Obama was somehow dangerous to Israel. I watched in horror as the Jewish community where I was raised, and
where my family still lives, was riddled with fear and anxiety as a result of the sadistic GOP propaganda pumped into Jewish newspapers during the Presidential election.
But beyond unprecedented fear in America's Jewish community, whose sense of security was manipulated by these smears, the result of this Lieberman-endorsed propaganda was a sudden burst of hard-right nationalism from the Republican Party political base, including violent rhetoric the likes of which this country has never witnessed in a Presidential campaign.
Lieberman's disgusting abuse of Holocaust memory and his betrayal of the trust of the American Jewish community--all in the name of political gain--will stand as an historic blight on the history of the U.S. Senate. Nothing can change that. But, in light of what he did, if Harry Reid allows Lieberman to continue to hold authority over other Democrats in the Senate, by retaining his committee chairmanships, then the shame of Lieberman's immoral behavior in the 2008 election will surely stain the Democratic Party.
Stripping Joe Lieberman of his committee chairmanships will not by itself repair the damage done by GOP smear campaigns that invoked fear of genocide in American Jewish communities. But if the Democratic Party truly believes in restoring healthy, pragmatic civic debate in this country, then Joe Lieberman must be forced to step down from his positions of authority.
The challenges America faces at home and abroad will require a collective effort by citizens and elected officials from all backgrounds and every political persuasion. Joe Lieberman will, no doubt, play a role in that. Positions of leadership in the U.S. Senate, however, are not a prerequisite for working towards meaningful solutions. They are the rewards of service performed in the interest of the public good while in office--and by his actions in the 2008 Presidential election, Joe Lieberman forfeited those rewards.
(cross posted from Frameshop)