Playing Against Type

ÁÎ×Ó¹â Henry C.K.Liu ¹ù¤l¥ú hliu at
Mon Aug 7 22:29:37 MDT 2000

                 The Secret of Their Success
                 Like Kansas' Daniel Glickman, Lieberman won in
                 a traditionalist Christian state partly by playing
                 against type

                 By Gregg Easterbrook

                 Joe Lieberman got his start in politics in 1982 by
                 elected attorney general of Connecticut, a state where
                 politics has for generations been dominated by old-line

                 Protestant Yankees doing battle with Catholic
                 descendants of 19th-century immigrants. So how did a
                 Jewish candidate prevail in that mix?

                 Let's look first at how another Jewish politician,
                 Glickman, ran and won in another nearly all-Christian
                 state, Kansas. The Kansas electorate, according to the
                 Almanac of American Politics, "has always been
                 dominated by white Anglo Saxon Protestants."
                 Traditionalist to boot--it's the state that produced
                 Landon, the anti-New Deal Republican presidential
                 candidate of 1936, and most recently produced Bob
                 Dole, the anti-Clinton candidate of 1996. Yet a quarter

                 century ago, Dan Glickman won one of the state's seats
                 in Congress, and not from the university-town district
                 Lawrence, either--he hails from Wichita, which is about

                 as white-bread as cities get.

                 Glickman, a local trial attorney, ran as a conservative

                 Democrat. He was against big government, riling his
                 party by opposing many of President Jimmy Carter's
                 programs. Glickman was also a stickler for government
                 ethics, advocating the hard line in cases involving
                 government waste or fraud. Over the years, he voted
                 with conservatives as often as with liberals--for
                 instance, Glickman favored the Gramm-Rudman deficit
                 reduction act, detested by most Democrats and one of
                 the big ideological crunch bills of the 1980s.

                 That is to say, Glickman neutralized objections to his
                 faith by playing against Jewish type. He wasn't the
                 free-spending liberal voters might have expected from
                 a Jewish candidate: Rather, hailing from a conservative

                 state with conservative values, he presented himself to

                 voters as slightly right of center. And that was fine
                 the citizens of Wichita, who might have had doubts
                 about a liberal Jew, but were happy to cast their
                 for a relatively conservative one. Glickman held his
                 seat from 1976 to 1994. Today he is Bill Clinton's
                 secretary of agriculture, and beloved by heartland

                 To win in Connecticut, Lieberman followed a similar
                 strategy. In his attorney general's race, he offered
                 himself to voters as a strict, almost square,
                 by-the-books guy. Once in office, he became popular
                 by doggedly prosecuting crooked car dealers,
                 questionable charities, and even a supermarket chain
                 that misrepresented the value of coupons. Running for
                 the Senate in 1988, Lieberman shunned the standard
                 image of the northeast Jewish politician by favoring
                 death penalty and the moment of silence in schools,
                 while opposing new taxes. Lieberman's opponent, the
                 Republican Lowell Weicker, openly complained during
                 the 1988 campaign that it was somehow unfair of
                 Lieberman to run as a hard-liner Jew, rather than a
                 tax-and-spend liberal.

                 Once in office, Lieberman did not change stripes. He
                 favored capital-gains tax cuts, made joint appearances
                 with William Bennett to call for higher moral
                 and was one of the few Democrats--Al Gore was
                 another--to vote in favor of the 1991 Senate resolution

                 that allowed President George Bush to launch the Gulf
                 War. Through the 1990s, Lieberman became a leader
                 in the New Democrat movement, which sought to shift
                 the party moderately to the right. In 1994, Connecticut

                 citizens reelected him to the Senate, with 67% of their

                 vote, one of the biggest margins in state history.

                 So Lieberman and Glickman became successful
                 politicians in mainly traditionalist Christian states
                 by playing against type. Both also were always very
                 open about their religion, referring to it often to
                 sure people knew--which also deftly created the sense
                 that you'd feel guilty about opposing them because
                 people might think you were anti- Semitic. At the end
                 the day, they both won from Christian states because
                 they were qualified and deserving. That they did
                 well on them, and on the voters too.

                 Gregg Easterbrook has been a contributing editor at
                 Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. A senior editor
                 of The New Republic and a contributing editor for
                 Monthly and Washington Monthly, Easterbrook is a
                 two-time winner of the Investigative Reporters and
                 Award and a distinguished fellow of the Fulbright
                 Foundation. He is the author of several critically
                 acclaimed books, including "Beside Still Waters:
                 Searching for Meaning in an Age of Doubt."

More information about the Marxism mailing list