Saturday, April 19, 2008

Barely Speaking: Gore, Lieberman Split Ways on Ideology, Positions


In one of my posts yesterday, when I mentioned Jane Hamsher's seething hatred for Senator Joseph Lieberman, I doubted that her opposition to Afghanistan (yes, she opposed that war too!) would have been evident had Gore-Lieberman been elected in 2000 instead of Bush (and had we still been attacked on 9/11).

So with that tidbit of an aside, I'm getting a kick out of
tonight's New York Times piece indicating that Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman have drifted radically apart from each other on the ideological spectrum.

Particularly interesting here is Gore's shift to the far left of the spectrum, away from the political moderation he was known for as a U.S. senator and vice president:

Imagine for a moment the Supreme Court had gone the other way in Bush v. Gore in 2000. We would now be in year eight of the Gore-Lieberman administration. Well, maybe not the Lieberman part.

There’s nothing new about friction between a president and vice president (Franklin Roosevelt and Henry Wallace and Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey are but two examples) or between failed running mates (John F. Kerry and John Edwards are only the most recent). But rarely have two members of a presidential ticket gone in such starkly different directions as former Vice President Al Gore and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman. It is tempting, for fans of counterfactual history, to play out what kind of drama might have emerged in a White House under that ticket’s auspices.

Not only have Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman staked out diametrically opposite positions on the Iraq war, Mr. Gore went so far as to endorse one of Mr. Lieberman’s presidential rivals in 2004, Howard Dean, largely because of his opposition to the invasion. Mr. Lieberman is campaigning for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona.

The two men barely speak.

As Mr. Gore steadily migrated leftward from his roots as a hawkish, centrist New Democrat, Mr. Lieberman lurched to the right, so much so that he now makes common cause with Republicans, at least on the war.

Mr. Lieberman strayed so far from the Democratic fold on Iraq that his own party disowned him in 2006, supporting an antiwar candidate, Ned Lamont, against him in the Connecticut Senate primary. Mr. Lieberman, who ran as an Independent and kept his seat, said last week that he was considering a prime-time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention this summer. And although he disavows any interest in running for vice president again (“Been there, done that, got the T-shirt”), it is not inconceivable that he could become the first person to lose the vice presidency on both major party tickets.
Perhaps the Times hopes to rekindle speculation that John McCain's going to tap Lieberman as his running-mate. Personally, I'd love to see it, but McCain's had enough problems with the conservative base already, and he doesn't need to alienate the Malkin-Rush talk-radio axis, as those folks still haven't come around completely since McCain wrapped up the nomination.

Now, secretary of defense or state's another story! William Cohen, a Republican served as Bill Clinton's secretary of defense, so it's not like there's no recent bipartisan appointment precedent.

But no need to worry about that now. The speculation's that Lieberman's going to give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention, which I expect would be generally well-received by GOP delegates and voters (on the war issue, at least, bolstered with a few scathing attacks on his erstwhile Democratic partisans), so perhaps that might ease the way toward a top cabinet post in a McCain administration.

And what about Al Gore?

He's certainly reached the pinnacle of celebrity and policy acclaim with his Academy and Nobel awards. He's got this new climate change agenda taking off, so he's going to be right in the middle of all the global warming debates forthcoming in the next few years.

Now, if he can just work out the contoversies in his own personal carbon-trading regime then perhaps he might have a bit more respect!

(See, "Al Gore’s Personal Energy Use Is His Own 'Inconvenient Truth.'")

Photo Credit: New York Times