Friday, August 22, 2008

McCain-Lieberman 2008?

As I noted previously, the selection of Joseph Lieberman as John McCain's running mate would probably cause a revolt at the GOP Convention in Minneapolis. The safe choice is Mitt Romney, who - for all is flaws - would energize the Republican base, and would probably be the ultimate salve in healing whatever scars are left over from the primaries.

What I didn't note is that I'm secretly favoring a Lieberman pick. Naturally, for me, as a dreaded "neocon," McCain couldn't possible select a better running-mate than an Israel-backing war hawk
who has denounced the Democratic Party as beholden to netroots extremists. If McCain really plays the "Maverick" in tapping the Connecticut Senator, let's just say, with apologies to McDonald's, that I'm lovin' it!


I found a pleasant surprise in
the Wall Street Journal's essential endorsement of Lieberman yesterday:
Our own view is that Mr. Lieberman would make a fine Secretary of State, and that, given the political risks, making him vice president would probably be too great an election gamble. But Mr. Lieberman's national security credentials are first-rate, and we've known him long enough to remember his opposition to an income tax in Connecticut, and his support for lower capital gains taxes, school vouchers and private Social Security accounts. Liberated from having to run as a Democrat, he might recall those policy instincts.

We have no doubt he'd be a better vice president than many oft-mooted Republicans, including some of those who are favorites of the anti-Lieberman alarmists.
Lieberman's also solidly conservative on moral issues - recall in the 2000 presidential camapaign, the Senator took issue with the Hollywood film industry's infatuation with sex and violence, and in 1998 Lieberman denounced former President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky as "immoral."

Yet, for all of Lieberman's conservative assets, it's hard to dismiss
Captain Ed's observation that his selection as veep "will convince an already-skeptical GOP base that McCain is a RINO."

speculation's swirling over a potential Lieberman pick, and what's surprising is the warm reception the idea's getting in some for the deepest corner's of the right-wing universe.

For example,
National Review's Rich Lowry supports a McCain-Lieberman ticket as part of a one-term pledge for a McCain administration (McCain, of course, should never pledge to serve one term, as he'd be a lame-duck from the moment he took office). Also, Dan Schnur, McCain's national communications director in 2000, is making the case for McCain as well:

Speculation has grown in recent days that Mr. McCain is still considering Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic-turned-independent senator from Connecticut, as a potential running mate, which frames the two sides of John McCain in stark relief. On one hand, he is an unconventional politician who has made a career out of violating partisan and establishment norms. But he is also a strong conservative, not just on the national security issues on which he and Mr. Lieberman agree, but also on economic and social policy matters on which Al Gore’s former running mate is well to the left of center.

Mr. McCain is also a very visceral politician, someone who works best with those with whom he has close personal ties. That type of comfort level is critically important to him, so Mr. Lieberman’s presence next to him would undoubtedly make him a much more effective candidate and more successful president as well.

Even though Mr. Lieberman has largely isolated himself from congressional Democrats by becoming an independent, his political history allows Mr. McCain to plausibly make the case that he is reaching across party lines with the selection. And there’s no doubt that the current crisis between Russia and Georgia puts a premium on Mr. Lieberman’s foreign policy experience and underscores his support for Mr. McCain’s approach to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the most important benefit that Mr. Lieberman would bring to the ticket is that it would allow Mr. McCain to be a maverick again. There is nothing that John McCain treasures more dearly than his nonconformist reputation, the idea that he’s a different breed of politician. Even as he makes up ground in the polls, pulling even or slightly ahead this week, he has done so by running a very effective, yet extremely conventional campaign. Make no mistake: John McCain would rather be a president than a maverick. But in his ideal world, you have to believe he’d like to do both.
I'm sold, personally, except I dread a long post-Labor Day war with the Coulter-Malkin-Limbaugh axis of evisceration should McCain throw the conservative base under the bus with a Lieberman selection.

Most of all, however, I want to win, and
as Ronald Brownstein notes, bipartisan "unity tickets" haven't done well historically, so I'm going to say again, "better safe than sorry."

For more on that, see "
Republicans Worry That McCain Pick Will Rile Party Base."