Side-by-side diaries from the first Jewish candidate for vice-president and his wife chronicle some laughs and some letdowns, but no regrets.
The Liebermans take refuge at every opportunity in platitudes about faith, freedom, diversity, and other perceived “only in America” attributes, but no one can say they don’t come from the heart. The couple’s account of the harrowing emotional roller coaster that the Democratic national campaign was for them also displays a regrettable tendency to inject well-worn Seinfeldian humor whenever there’s a lull in the action. There are, however, some genuinely funny moments. Witness the Lieberman tribe walking its dutiful mile and a half to Sabbath services in Connecticut interspersed with a Secret Service platoon whose members try to blend in by wearing those white silk skullcaps usually reserved for gentile guests at weddings and bar mitzvahs—until somebody points out that they stand out like a bunch of, well, Secret Service guys. There are few political surprises in Joe’s recounting: Bush surprised Gore in the TV debates, he feels; gun-owning Democrats were a big vulnerability; and he still believes his ticket would have taken Florida and thus the presidency had all the votes cast been counted. The only time the senator shows any real rancor, however, is in condemning Ralph Nader (“once my hero”) for falsely lumping mainstream Democrats with Republicans as running roughshod over the environment on behalf of big corporations. Hadassah’s narratives seem fresher than her husband’s, and quite revealing about the energy-sapping triviality of the spousal role in a national campaign. She loves her Joey and truly respects Al Gore as presidential material, but couldn’t she please, after all, have her own airplane, even if it’s just a little one?
Heavy on affirmative experiences; light on political insight.