John McCain tried to upstage Joe Lieberman at the party in honor of the latter’s retirement held at Ambassador Michael Oren’s residence on Thursday night. The Republican senator made a valiant effort, starting off with the “major announcement,” as he put it, that he’d be converting to Judaism.
The decision didn’t come out of any great love for the religion, he hastened to tell an audience whose Jewish dignitaries, in addition to the guest of honor and the Israeli ambassador, included Defense Minister Ehud Barak, White House Chief-of-Staff Jack Lew and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
“It’s just that I’ve had to, for so many years, put up with all the bulls--t,” he explained, “that I might as well convert.”
He listed the some of the BS, starting with the “Shabbat elevator,” asking Cantor whether he’d ever had to spend a half-hour trying to go up or down. The elevator stops, he said, and nobody’s there.
McCain then moved on to food. “If there’s anything if I never see again in my life I will die a happy man, it’s salmon,” he said to some knowing nods. “Why does every f----g kosher meal have to have salmon?”
But when Lieberman took over the microphone from his long-time Senate buddy, he was able to deliver the best line of the evening.
“What a night this has been for me and for the Jewish people. Because tonight we gained John McCain,” he declared. “And may I say to you John, your entry into the covenant was a lot less painful than mine.”
Lieberman also quoted to considerably laughter someone else’s line in acknowledging former vice president Dick Cheney’s presence: “There are three stages of life: youth, middle age, and gee – you’re looking good!”
Lieberman than shifted over to a more serious tone in which he thanked the assembled for the evening and expressed gratitude for the privilege he enjoyed as a four-term senator from Connecticut.
And as Lieberman bid his adieus, so must we here at National Zoo. It, too, has been a privilege blogging about the Middle East and Jewish angle in Washington during the presidential campaign. But since that campaign is over, our time, too, has come to an end.
- Hilary Leila Krieger and Rebecca Anna Stoil
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