John Kerry's sophomoric outburst of F-word profanity, apparently intended to woo the teenie-bopper vote, and Wesley Clark's braggertly use of the S-word, to cow imaginary impugners of his battlefield valour, both are interesting primarily as potential specimens for a psychiatric seminar; but, another candidate's speech patterns deserve far more political curiosity: Why doesn't Joe Lieberman use the G-word anymore?
Candidate Al Gore chose Lieberman as his 2000 running mate, amidst Democrat Strategists' fears that the Democrats had "lost God" to the Republicans, and the consequent felt need to reclaim the Party's affinity with voters of faith. So, America met a Vice Presidential Candidate who could scarcely complete a sentence without mentioning God. Lieberman's G-word profusion was comical to anyone who pays close attention to politics, but to the occasional and casual observer Lieberman seemed a soothing antidote to fears of Democrat hostility to religion.
Since I have no window to look into Senator Lieberman's soul, I won't attempt to ascertain whether he was sincere in his obsessive use of the G-word in 2000; but comparing Lieberman's current speech patterns to three and one-half years ago, I can pronounce the Senator completely cured of God-speak.
Now, is Lieberman's former God-consciousness a condition from which one should want to be cured? Evidently that depends on who one is trying to impress. In 2000, a God-fearing general electorate, suspicious of Democrats' attitude toward people of faith, might have been comforted by Lieberman's identification with them, but the Democrat Left-wing Activist Base that chooses the Party's Presidential Nominee would hardly be so accepting of a Candidate who professes that his actions are hedged by a sense of accountability to God.
While there is nothing reprehensible about a candidate emphasizing different issues before different audiences, the very point of Lieberman's G-word mania in the 2000 campaign was to illustrate to the American People that he is a man motivated and restrained by his faith in and accountability to God. This intimation had considerable success in winning the trust of religious voters, so since Lieberman has now lost his taste for the G-word, we may reasonably inquire whether he was being insincere in 2000 or now? A man who makes pretensions about his faith in God is a fraud, unworthy of anyone's confidence; on the other hand, if Lieberman was sincere then and now, we must conclude that the candidate no longer looks to Heaven for his guiding light, in which case Americans of faith have no particular reason to trust him.
Perhaps some day a reporter on the Lieberman campaign trail will get around to asking the Senator whatever happened to the G-word. The change in Lieberman's vocabulary from the 2000 campaign to this one is at least as telling as the more rigorously reported foul language of Kerry and Clark.