Joseph Lieberman is horrified by the degradation of the popular culture, he has spoken out clearly and loudly against vile song lyrics and the sex and violence on daytime TV, and he should continue speaking out as the vice-presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.
It may be surprising to some that Al Gore has chosen one of the foremost Senate voices against decadent entertainment as his running mate, but it is a good choice, in part because of the needed focus on such issues, but for other reasons, too. Unlike some of the other possibilities Gore was reportedly considering as a VP pick, Lieberman is a moderate. He has been a supporter of business and defense and a proponent of fiscal restraint and tax relief. He is simultaneously an advocate of strong environmental protections and tougher gun control.
As is true of George W. Bush's vice-presidential selection, Dick Cheney, Gore's choice is a man of maturity, someone whose personal style is both calm and deliberative. In his Senate career, he has seemed to be less partisan than Cheney was in his House career. He was, for instance, the first nationally known Democrat to criticize President Clinton for his conduct in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, although he did not come out for impeachment or conviction.
Lieberman happens to be Jewish, and it has been suggested that the fact makes him something of a political risk. Maybe. The bigots are forever with us, although their number seems in decline. Many religious conservatives may be drawn to him because, as an Orthodox Jew, he shares many of their concerns. He is so religious himself, in fact, that he has refused to campaign on the Jewish Sabbath. What is clear is that Gore, in choosing Lieberman, has broken a barrier that has long existed, and Gore deserves credit for that.
Mostly, in recent decades, it has been the Republicans who have been most outspoken on issues of moral decay, just as the Democrats have been the party doing the most to stress inclusion of all groups. This year, the Republicans have made inclusion a central cause, and with Lieberman as the party's VP candidate, the Democrats could well be more focused on moral matters. These are healthy developments.