Lieberman: a morally superb pick

With much less fanfare and media titillation than when Gov. George W. Bush announced Dick Cheney as his running mate two weeks ago, Vice President Al Gore offered Joseph I. Lieberman the other half of his ticket Monday. The Connecticut senator accepted the invitation without hesitation. Although a bold and wise move, Gore’s choice of Lieberman might not completely distance the vice president from the current administration’s unfortunate past, an obvious intention of the almost unanimously respected pick.
As the first Democratic senator to openly condemn President Bill Clinton for his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky, Lieberman could either blunt the Republican assault on Gore’s connection to Clinton’s sexual scandal, or he might encourage fresh attacks. The tone throughout the Republican convention last week indicates the likelihood that Clinton’s lack of morality will be a major campaign issue.
Lieberman’s criticism of Clinton on the Senate floor might help protect his and Gore’s campaign from Clinton’s immoral stain — an effect Gore was undoubtedly aware of. But Lieberman might also highlight Gore’s undying devotion to Clinton during the scandal, despite its seamy revelations.
Lieberman’s legislative voting record — which the Bush camp says more closely matches the Texas governor’s than Gore’s — has sometimes leaned conservative, a tendency that might alienate core Democrats. He has supported private-school vouchers and has been critical of some affirmative-action programs, two laudable stances that demonstrate Lieberman’s moral-driven, rather than strictly partisan, ideology. Gore vehemently opposes vouchers and is a strong supporter of affirmative-action legislation.
The Bush camp’s warm response to the Lieberman pick indicates how respected the first Jewish vice-presidential candidate is. His untainted integrity might even help distance the Democratic ticket from the Clinton administration.