Writer Jonathan Chait of The New Republic has a Semitically inflected theory of what explains Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and his seeming compulsion to throw a wrench into the Democratic policy agenda whenever he can—most recently, in the case of health-care reform. (Last night, Lieberman told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he would not, as expected, support the current bill.) Many folks on the left, Chait notes, are positively dumbfounded by Lieberman’s refusal to support what Democrats consider to be sensible reform, especially given that he is typically thought of as moderate-to-liberal when it comes to domestic matters. So, grasping at straws, liberals accuse Lieberman of letting his personal grudge toward Democrats (many of whom supported Democratic nominee Ned Lamont rather than Lieberman during the 2006 Senate race) to influence his actual vote. But Chait offers this elegant and concise alternative explanation for Lieberman’s moves: “Lieberman isn’t actually all that smart.” And why is this fact difficult for liberals to acknowledge? “I suspect that Lieberman is the beneficiary, or possibly the victim, of a cultural stereotype that Jews are smart and good with numbers,” Chait hypothesizes. “Trust me, it’s not true.” (Probably worth noting that Chait himself is Jewish.) “If Senator Smith from Idaho was angering Democrats by spewing uninformed platitudes, most liberals would deride him as an idiot. With Lieberman, we all suspect it’s part of a plan.” Why Are Jews Liberals? Maybe only the smart ones are.
Understanding Joe Lieberman [The Plank]