Friday, January 10, 2003

Lieberman is no 'Scoop' Jackson
What is this obsession with journalists comparing possible presidential contender Sen. Joe Lieberman and the late Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a former Democratic presidential candidate?
Ever since Lieberman appeared on the Democratic ticket with Vice President Al Gore, the Connecticut Senator has been compared to the imposing and impressive Jackson. Locally, both Scot Lehigh of The Boston Globe [a few months ago] and now Seth Gitell of The Boston Phoenix have made the same comparisons ["Lieberman’s tough road ahead"].
But neither seems to have a grasp of Jackson, and the late senator is probably turning over in his grave. Sure, the two have some things in common: Both practiced Judaism, were "defense hawks," considered conservative Democrats, and soon, presidential candidates. But that is where the similarities end.
Most people don’t know much about Scoop Jackson but political history writers of the 1970s have covered the guy pretty extensively. Jackson spent 43 years serving Washington State both in Congress and the Senate where he concentrated his work on creating national parks, fighting communism, and international relations. He was first elected to Congress in 1940 and then served in the Army during World War II, and was elected to the Senate in 1952 where he served 30 years. Jackson was also a two-time presidential candidate – toying with the idea in 1972 and going all out in 1976, where he raised millions of dollars and won the Massachusetts and New York primaries.
But unlike Lieberman, Jackson was a rabid union supporter and had backing from both the leadership and rank-and-file of labor during his campaigns. Scoop’s slogan in 1976 was "Jackson means jobs!" In fact, Jackson probably would have sold his mother into slavery before ever voting for NAFTA or GATT which sent good Democratic union jobs overseas. Not like Lieberman who has never seen a wage slave he didn’t love.
Also, Jackson was:
... a tenacious foe of totalitarianism in all its forms, continually broke with liberals on national security issues by supporting higher defense budgets and asking tough questions about arms-control treaties ...
as stated by The Washington Times back in August. Lieberman, in some ways, can be considered similar since he was one of the sponsors of the Senate bill authorizing Bush to use force against Saddam. But Jackson fought totalitarianism of all kinds, especially global communism, which makes these little skirmishes with Iraq and North Korea seem miniscule. Lieberman only stands up to dictators when it is suitable – to the benefit of big oil and military contractors – while ignoring tyrants when it benefits free traders and the import industrial complex.
And despite his long public service to the state of Washington, Jackson was never a sleazy Democratic insider. From Jules Witcover’s book "Marathon," on the presidential campaign of 1976:
For all his dedication, for all his expertise, for all his campaign resources, [Jackson] always seemed an intruder – a brash, single-minded guy who didn’t belong, who didn’t fit in, who had to knock doors down because they were so seldom flung open for him.
As well, Jackson was an old-styled Democratic liberal where fighting for the working man was the most important job of a senator. This is quite the opposite of Lieberman who has been a lapdog of the Democratic Leadership Council, the corporate and conservative wing of the Democratic Party, for his entire career.
Here’s hoping the journalists can get a little more creative in their comparisons – or find out a little more about our history.