Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCain Veep Pick Under Conservative Spotlight

Captain Ed suggests that Senator Joseph Lieberman would be a disaster as John McCain's pick as vice-presidential running mate:
The addition of Joe Lieberman will not convince independents that McCain is a maverick; it will convince an already-skeptical GOP base that McCain is a RINO.
I agree, and for the McCain camp to be seriously considering the Connecticut Senator raises questions about the campaign's strategic acumen. While the length and nastiness of the Democratic primaries may hold more prominence in the popular imagination, the Republican race demonstrated tremendous schisms over the direction of the GOP and the future of conservatism. With the presidential race now deadlocked (and McCain leads in today's Zogby poll), this is no time to rekindle voter resentment among the GOP base.

This morning's New York Times examines the potential for a conservative backlash if McCain bombs in the pick for a running mate:
Senator John McCain is facing increasing scrutiny about his selection of a running mate as some social conservatives expressed alarm on Tuesday that Mr. McCain might ask a candidate who favors abortion rights to join him on the ticket.

But other conservatives said that Mr. McCain, who has long been in step with the Republican Party platform in opposing abortion, was unlikely to be the first Republican presidential nominee in decades to select such a candidate. They said that Mr. McCain’s recent public flirtation with Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor who supports abortion rights, was as much to give the appearance that Mr. McCain had an open mind on the issue as it was an embrace of Mr. Ridge.

“I think there’s such sufficient understanding at the most senior levels of this campaign of the importance of the pro-family constituency that I’m very comfortable with how the selection process is proceeding,” one Republican strategist close to the campaign said. “I think social conservatives will be fine.”
I'm surprised that Tom Ridge, with his pro-choice record, is even a top contender for the veepstakes. His abortion record alone is a killer, but his mediocre record as secretary of the DHS gargantuan is also at odds with popular hopes for the return of small-g conservatism. Besides, his ramrod straight persona seems out of step with the McCain's style of light-touch banter and easy-going demeanor.

Abortion politcs has emerged as one of the hottest opportunities for the GOP to pick up independent pro-lifers, as Barack Obama's abortion radicalism has been on full display this week.

This development means that Tim Pawlenty should be considered a great possibility for the GOP. While there are some concerns on Pawlenty's cap-and-trade views, I doubt there's going to be a conservative revolt if the Minnesota Governor gets the nod.

Mitt Romney's getting a lot of speculation as well.

For the most part, a Romney pick would be the safest in consolidating the GOP base, and it would have they added benefit of pumping up the delegates at the Republican National Convention (recall the National Review endorsement, as well as Romney's backing in conservative talk-radio). A rousing nominating convention, which would follow the Democrats and the Obama-triumph-of-the-will INVESCO spectacle, would help dampen down enthusiasm for the Democratic nominee, a give the GOP a potentially longer-lasting bounce in the post-Labor Day general election kick off.

Joseph Lieberman should be a top pick for Secretary of Defense or State, but he has no business running along with McCain as the GOP vice-presidential candidate.