1/30/10

Forward Horror Story: How Senator Joe Lieberman Encouraged Sarah Palin with Rav Soloveitchik's Philosophy


Did you hear us scream? That's what we did when we read, "When Lieberman Taught Palin About Rav Soloveitchik" by Gal Beckerman in the Forward's Bintel Blog.

That break in the silence of our blog writing came when we saw the quote that Gal pulled from the new book Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

Ordinarily, we don't believe in ghosts and aren't moved by horror tales. But in this case we could easily imagine our revered teacher not just turning in his grave, but actually jumping out of it when Joe Lieberman told over his philosophy to Sarah Palin.

"Lieberman, you moron, shut up," would be just about what we could hear the Rav's ghost shouting as loud as he could. "Can't you see that Palin is מעשוגע meshugge," the Rav continued in my horror scene as his spirit loomed over Lieberman's, one Joe trying desperately to save the soul of another. "לויף אַוועק" - "Run away," the Rav cries out, in my vision.

"And besides," the Rav chastises Lieberman, "you don't understand one word of my philosophy."

Beckerman observes about the bizarre scene from what we call our imagined film, A Nightmare on Chelm Street:
It involves Palin’s breakdown of sorts, in the days leading up to the vice presidential debate, and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew. John McCain’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, had asked Lieberman to visit Palin and buck her up at a moment when her debate prep was going disastrously (For one thing, she kept calling her opponent, “Senator O’Biden” for some inexplicable reason):

The situation was wildly unconventional already: a Democratic senator being imported into a top-secret lockdown to assist a Republican vice-presidential candidate whose mental stability was in question, now Schmidt asked Lieberman to perform another unorthodox intervention.
This is the citation from the Mark Halperin and John Heilemann book (someone misspelled Soloveitchik):
“You’re both very religious,” Schmidt said. “Go in there and pray with her.”

As it happened, Palin had already been prayed for that day. A group of Republican congresswomen had offered their blessings via conference call with her. But Lieberman went back and took a less direct tack, providing Palin with Talmudic wisdom. Invoking the influential Orthodox rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik, he spoke about the covenant of faith, which is the relationship between God and man, and the covenant of destiny, which is what men make of themselves.

“Look,” Lieberman said kindly, “you gotta be saying to yourself, ‘What am I doing here? How did this happen?’ This is your moment to really make it count for something.”

Palin seemed touched. “Joe,” she said. “I can’t figure any other reason I’m here except that I was meant to be here.”
Okay, so after reading that, I knew exactly how people feel when they go the movies and see a horror show that really gives them the creeps. The whole story makes no sense to us. For instance, did Lieberman offer up "Talmudic wisdom" instead of prayer because Palin,  "had already been prayed for that day"? Does Joe think Sarah has a "covenant of destiny"?

Scary, rally scary, because both Palin and Lieberman have power and popularity and both have acted in ways that some see as patently insane,  מעשוגע meshugge. Palin quit her governor's job right in the middle. Lieberman was VP candidate as a democrat, then leaves the party. Nutty stuff. Unstable, idiosyncratic, terrifying.

Yet, some of the comments at the Forward blog are funny, go look. Don't try to "figure" out the "reason." Those jokes were "meant to be" there.

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