A LOOK AT LIEBERMAN; THE NOT-MUCH-WEAKER SEX

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Here in the Hub of the universe, it's easy to see all the petty little fractures that define New England life, but from afar, we all start to look alike. A case in point is in the new George, which refers to US Senator Joseph Lieberman as a "Yankee moralizer," even while focusing on his practice of Orthodox Judaism.

Michelle Cottle's profile of the Connecticut Democrat is not unlike the magazine's take two months ago on Arizonan John McCain: highly principled, admired on both sides of the aisle, touted as timber for national office. In Lieberman's case, though, the office in question is the vice presidency.
 
He cemented his claim to ethical purity during the Year of Monica when he became the first Democrat in the Senate to denounce President Clinton's morals. But particularly on campaign rectitude, a McCain cornerstone, Lieberman seems vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy. He first won public office by using attack ads in a bruising primary, and although he and his opponent are good friends now, it took Ed Marcus years to get over the sting. And Lieberman reached the Senate by portraying the somewhat pompous Lowell Weicker as a hibernating cartoon bear in a campaign that drew national attention for its viciousness. Weicker had pledged not to go dirty, and by the time he finally responded, it was too late.

Lieberman purports to see no contradiction. "My ads were tough, but they were factually based," Cottle quotes him as saying. "We didn't go over the line. It's all slash-and-burn now." Factually based? Does that mean Lowell Weicker really is a bear?

As for his potential for national office, Cottle says a key question is "the Jewish thing," but suggests that his "religious credentials would prove an enormous plus." To bolster her point, she turns to Norman Ornstein, whom she describes by philosophy (libertarian) but chooses not to describe by religion (Jewish). Does anyone else think there might be a better source for predicting how a Jewish candidate would fare with conservative Christian voters than a Jewish analyst?

The most obvious division of the species is between men and women, although that distinction is knocked down a few pegs this week in Time's cover story, written by Barbara Ehrenreich. It turns out, according to new research, that women are just as tough, just as strong, and just as randy as men are.

Time says this isn't just research, it is dogma. It says the term "feminist" has long been dismissed as too dainty, and offers up "femaleist" in its place, summarized as "Yes, we are different -- wanna make something of it?"

Some of the findings in Time's report:

- PMS isn't just another way to say "cranky woman." Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Angier, in her vanguard treatise "Women: An Intimate Geography," suggests that many women experience it as a state of "heightened activity, intellectual clarity, {and} feelings of well-being." Menopause is being recast: "Hot flashes" are now "power surges."

- "Biology is a sexist `ideology,' not a science, and Darwin {is} just another dead white male with an ax to grind."

- Men are bigger, but they're not necessarily meaner. Laboratory data show women can proudly claim they are just as willing to deliver an electric shock as men are. And archeologists have found evidence of woman warriors 2,500 years ago.

- "If women are the innately more monogamous sex, why the widespread and fanatic efforts to get them to keep their legs crossed? In fact, there may have been an evolutionary advantage to sluttiness."

To one of the inhabitants of Mars, these points seem well founded, and, certainly, the truth will set us free. But it's still hard to understand -- completely, anyway -- why it's a victory to finally establish that women are just as vicious and sleazy as men are.

It doesn't all have to be about comparison and competition, of course. Buried on Page 100 of the March issue of Health is a wrenching tale of loving sorority told by Dorothy Foltz-Gray, who was born a twin but has been left alone by the horrid slaying of her sister by a deranged gunman.

Foltz-Gray captures their closeness with this anecdote: Her sister once arrived late at Logan Airport to pick up Foltz-Gray for a visit, and greeted her by saying, "Oh damn. I didn't want to miss a single minute." Foltz-Gray effectively, affectingly, tells of the "line down the center of my life" that the slaying drew, and of how she has persevered.

One doesn't expect such depth amid all the advice about herbal massage, staying thin, and looking and feeling fantastic, but there it is.