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Joe Lieberman, 2000 © Joseph Sohm

The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: When a Politician Gives Their “Perspective”

Joe Lieberman, the former running mate of Al Gore, isn’t happy about the Iran deal.

Former Senator Joe Lieberman should have been Al Gore’s vice president of the United States, as the pair received a clear majority of the popular vote in the 2000 election and probably also won the state of Florida. History and the Supreme Court decided otherwise, as everyone knows. Although he is no longer a senator and holds no political office, Fox News invited Lieberman to instruct its audience about the folly of the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration — the deal President Donald Trump has promised to cancel.

To justify the pertinence of his point of view, Lieberman explained, “I give you the perspective of someone who was in the Senate for 24 years, worked with people in both parties…”

Here is today’s 3D definition:

Perspective (in the arts):

A constructed pictorial vision that accounts for the spatial relationships between all the objects in a scene, representing distance through relative size and implying the existence of a diversity of possible vantage points

Perspective (in politics):

My point of view, because I’ve been around

Contextual note

Joe Lieberman has never been a fan of truthful statements when they don’t comfort his “perspective.” For example, as late as 2011, to justify his 2003 vote in favor of invading Iraq, Lieberman “continued to insist that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction even though none were ever found after the invasion of Iraq” and that Saddam’s regime was “beginning really tactically to support the terrorist movements that had attacked us on 9/11 and today.”

In the Fox interview, Lieberman’s “perspective” allows him to make statements such as “they [i.e. Obama’s administration] gave them a hundred billion dollars which they’ve used to support terrorists.”

We sometimes forget that journalists actually have the possibility of confronting diverse perspectives to give their audience a better perception of the truth. As Mehdi Hasan recently pointed out, that doesn’t happen very often in the corporate media and even more rarely on Fox News. “Why is the U.S. media so spineless? Why can’t it stand up to the White House? Why can’t it stand up for the truth?” Hasan asks. The Fox journalist certainly knew — as did Lieberman himself — that the deal didn’t “give” Iran $100 billion dollars. It released Iranian assets that had been frozen by previous sanctions. Furthermore, the affirmation that the unfrozen assets served to fund terrorists has no basis in reality and doesn’t even make practical sense.

The magic of “perspective” for a politician lies in the fact that, for the media, it makes the distortion of obvious truth appear credible, as journalists equate “perspective” with the expression of an honest point of view.

Historical note

Had Gore been elected in 2000, Lieberman would have been not only the first Jewish vice president, but also the first to have manifested a stronger loyalty to a foreign country than to the United States. Whenever a US administration differed with Israel — which in itself is rare — Lieberman always took the side of Israel. Although no American politician would ever assume the label of Zionist, there can be little doubt that Lieberman, a politically-minded orthodox Jew, shares the Zionist vision of history. Only a few months ago, he declared that “Israel’s destiny is to be a light unto the nations.”

On the other hand, a “silent majority” of American Jews are not only not Zionist, but appear to be opposed to the ideas it represents, which many feel compromises their American identity. Their silence is partly due to the media functioning as a loudspeaker for recent administrations that have consistently all aligned their foreign policy in the Middle East with Israel.

To give some authentic perspective, we can go back to the 1960 presidential election, in which the Roman Catholic John Kennedy opposed the Quaker, Richard Nixon. Kennedy’s opponents claimed he would “take orders from the Vatican.” Imagine how Americans would have reacted if Kennedy had said “the Vatican’s destiny is to be a light unto the nations” or even if he made a similar claim for Ireland.

American exceptionalism seems to have sealed a pact with Israeli exceptionalism. The “shining city on a hill” covers the Americas and Western Europe. Israel’s “light,” which is “unto the nations,” is more particularly “unto” the nations of the Middle East.

Between the two they cover a good part of the globe, at least as far as source of light is concerned. They manage the rest — Asia, Africa, aka “the heart of darkness” — with the hundreds of military bases designed to reflect the light from those sources.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com