Indiana Daily Student

Students discuss Jewish VP nominee

Last year, when history professor Irving Katz led a discussion, "Will there ever be a Jewish President," he said it's a possibility, but a remote one.\nKatz, a self-proclaimed elections expert, again on Tuesday led a discussion about politics and the possibility of Joseph Lieberman, a Jew, taking the nation's second-highest position. If Al Gore and Lieberman win, it'll make Lieberman the first Jewish vice president in history.\nThe group addressed the possible effects of a Jewish vice president, the role of religion in the elections, and the effects of having a devout Jew. Co-sponsored by CommUNITY Educators and the Hillel Student Foundation, about two dozen students showed up at the McNutt Quad Flame Room. \nCUE coordinator Melissa Lounsberry, a senior, said the buzz of the issue helped bring out a large crowd.\n"I didn't expect so many people," she said. "It's something that's very much on the American conscience. I hit a nerve and people are definitely interested in it and want to find out more about it."\nKatz compared Lieberman's role to that of earlier Catholic politicians, including John Kennedy, the first Catholic president of the United States.\nHe said many Americans were skeptical of Kennedy because of his religion, but that Kennedy relieved any skepticism because he kept his religion private. \nFreshman Bradley Snyder said the country's different, and now it's the quality of the candidate that matters most.\nSnyder also said Lieberman's religion might have helped him because it would "shake things up," he said. \nFreshman Daniel Kuperstein agreed with Snyder but added that choosing Lieberman ' the first Democratic Senator to criticize Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal ' helped Gore distinguish himself from Clinton. \n"It had little to do with religion," Kuperstein said. "It had to do with him separating himself from Clinton. He's well respected throughout Washington with Republicans and Democrats. In this time, as long they let their intentions known, it doesn't matter."\nIf the Gore and Lieberman ticket win, it will also be the first time a minority takes the second highest seat in the world and that's ray of hope for other minorities, said freshman Adam Friedman.\n"It's a good thing for Jews," he said. "If Gore were elected, it'd give other minorities a chance at the presidency."\nWhile the group largely agreed having a Jewish vice president is irrelevant, senior Jenny Terri worried prejudice attitudes could creep in, especially if national tragedies occur or the economy fails.\n"It could be a good or bad thing. If things start to go wrong, it could reinforce stereotypes," she said.\nThe media's role in the election was also discussed. Members of the group largely agreed that the media have been biased toward the Gore campaign. \n"I feel it's biased against the Republicans," Kuperstein said. "They do show a more positive light on Gore. It's sad because it's a double standard."\nToward the end of the discussion, Katz addressed religion in politics. Both Gore and Republican nominee George W. Bush have made religion part of their campaigns. He cited examples such as Bush declaring a Jesus day and saying he Jesus is his favorite philosopher.\nWhen asked, Gore said when he is confronted with a situation, he asked himself, "What would Jesus do?" \nKatz warned the group to be careful and remember that politicians want to be elected.\n"People use words, but is it really sincere?" he asked. \nHe also reminded the group that Americans vote for the president, not the vice president, but said it didn't underscore the gamble of putting Lieberman on the ticket.\n"It's definitely a risk. It's a different America," he said.

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