Tuesday, May 27, 2008


John McCain ultimately distanced himself from whack-job preacher John Hagee after it was revealed that Hagee had said the Holocaust was part of a divine plan, but his pal Joe Lieberman is doing nothing of the sort -- he plans to address Hagee's national summit in July.

Cheryl Rofer, guest-blogging at The Washington Monthly, says,

If you want to petition Joe not to go, you can sign up here.

Why the hell would we want to do that? I'm thrilled that he's going. Once you're a media pet like Lieberman, it's almost impossible to go so far over the line that you risk pariah status, but Lieberman is getting close, and if he keeps this up, maybe -- finally -- people who don't read lefty blogs will start to see that he's not the poor mild-mannered misunderstood menschy centrist he wants you to think he is.

I think there's a real possibility that he'll go too far. His trajectory is starting to look a bit like Ann Coulter's -- every criticism generates an even greater desire to provoke, and no apology is ever forthcoming.

The problem is, when you're provoking at this level of public scrutiny (i.e., if you're more mainstream than, say, Michael Savage), you eventually find yourself, like Coulter, regularly testing the limits, and eventually you go over the edge, with the mainstream press watching, because you're just in a unilateral rhetorical arms race. Coulter went over the edge when she started fag-baiting heterosexual Democratic politicians while declaring Jews "incomplete" Christians (along with attacking 9/11 widows and embracing McCarthy); Lieberman, I think, is just going to keep backing Hagee (and probably other Christian Zionists) ever more publicly while making increasingly strident McCarthyite attacks on Democrats until, by November, I expect to see him in the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal or on a Sunday talk show saying flatly, "Yes, I do think Barack Obama hates his country and would like to see it destroyed." His buddies in the media, like Coulter's, will continue to see him as not having gone too far, but it will be increasingly clear, particularly to Senate colleagues, that he's gone too far.

Or maybe he'll just keep ratcheting it up and get away with it. We'll see.


Meanwhile, on a sillier note, I want to point out an NPR story I heard over the weekend. It was built on an odd premise: sound clips of various well-known personalities were played, and listeners were asked to provide fanciful descriptions of the voices. One voice was Joe Lieberman's.

Here are the listeners' characterizations of Lieberman's voice:

A flat tire on a Segway

A soggy brown paper bag

A turtle standing on a stack of telephone books

A grease stain on a new silk blouse

Max White [the father character on the TV show Alf] reprimanding Alf for trying to eat the family cat, Lucky

The straining engine of a previously owned Yugo

An exhausted math teacher who needs to explain what a square is for the Nth time

A person suggesting we form another committee to look into a "mission statement" after a two-hour meeting

The fine, boring, important print in your insurance policy

Ben Stein being smothered with a pillow by Ralph Nader

A dog's squeak toy after the squeak has been removed

The cowardly lion's petite weaselly, older brother

A discarded banana peel

Like Gumby and Pokey were his speech therapists

But I'm sure they mean it all in the nicest possible way, Joe. Actually, no, I'm guessing they don't.

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