Thursday, July 29, 2004

# Posted 8:37 PM by Patrick Belton  

LIEBERSPEECH: Clark raised the roof, but for one of his three supporters at the London caucus, Lieberman raised our hearts. First, the obvious criticisms of Senator Lieberman. Namely, he's short and has a comparatively large head. He's also humble. These have proven unpardonable sins in presidential politics, even for someone who keeps kosher in the Senate dining room.

Now about his speech. His included the only pro-war utterance of the convention, couched safely in praise of the troops. 'We must support our brave and brilliant troops - the new greatest generation - who have liberated Afghanistan and Iraq from murderous tyrannies, and who are fighting tonight in both nations to defeat terrorists and allow free and stale governments to grow there.' Clark evoked a 'pantheon of the great wartime Democrats' (along an odd several-minute-long standing ovation for the flag), but Lieberman uses the DLC language (see below) of 'muscular and idealistic internationalism', 'Wilson's commitment to make the world safe for democracy,' and Harry Truman's anti-communism. The difference, if I'm not overdrawing it, seems to be between Clark's using a succession of what political scientists call valence terms - things that everyone is for, such as a pantheon of great leaders, and Lieberman's evocation of substantive principles that could conceivably undergird a coherent, idealistic, muscular Democratic foreign policy.

Of course, neither Lieberman nor Clark will be in the White House, so the distinction doesn't really much matter except as a subject of curiosity. All that matters at the moment is what Senator Kerry believes. But it's still an interesting contrast. And damn, would Lieberman have made a wonderful president.
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