William F. Buckley
STAMFORD, Conn. -- Two years ago, Sen. Joe Lieberman and Vice President Al Gore met at a large hall in Stamford, Conn., to kick off their national campaign against Bush-Cheney. That bloodletting ("George Bush not only should not become the next president, he should be run out of the state of Texas" -- the speaker from the AFL-CIO) was done before 1,000 spectators and nine television cameras.

The kickoff on Monday for Sen. Lieberman's presidential campaign was done before 30 cameras at Stamford High School, in a hall so crowded, this reporter was not able even to hold his clipboard perpendicularly.

But then there was not that much to report. The candidate was charmingly introduced by the president of the senior class of the high school, an urbane young African-American who advised the assembly that he was greeting Mr. Lieberman as "one president to another president." The crowd howled, because young Joe Lieberman had been president of his class. Much later in the program, answering a question from a reporter, Sen. Lieberman reminisced that "in my campaign in 1960" -- he was stopped by laughter -- "I mean, in 2000. In 1960 I was campaigning for president of my class."

Joe Lieberman has been campaigning for many years, for state senator, for state attorney general, for the U.S. Senate, for vice president, and now for president. His speech at Stamford High School was a stumpish stump speech. He spoke of the meaning for America that he himself should have risen to his high standing from modest auspices as a Jewish schoolboy, headed for Yale, the Yale Law School, and now with visions of the White House in 2005.

He needed, of course, to bite into dissatisfactions with the reigning political administration, and of course did so. America is threatened at this moment in its history, he said, by terrorists and by a recession. As regards the former, he said he believed in a strong America, capable of meeting threats wherever they were launched, or regestating. He listed American engagements in the postwar period, in Berlin, Korea, Vietnam and, he added, "Iraq." For this indirect commitment to President Bush's announced intentions in Iraq he got slightly less than the applause volume he had been getting after every stanza of his routine obeisance to patriotism, duty, opportunity and, indeed, God. The proposed expedition to Iraq troubles some Democrats. On the matter of the recession, the only thing he did was to recite the routine dissatisfactions with President Bush's tax program.

William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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