Campaign 2008, Politics

The Case For Lieberman

Bill Kristol makes the case for Sen. Joe Lieberman as McCain’s VP:

Lieberman could hold his own against Biden in a debate. He would reinforce McCain’s overall message of foreign policy experience and hawkishness. He’s a strong and disciplined candidate.

But he is pro-abortion rights, and having been a Democrat all his life, he has a moderately liberal voting record on lots of issues.

Now as a matter of governance, there’s no reason to think this would much matter. McCain has made clear his will be a pro-life administration. And as a one-off, quasi-national-unity ticket, with Lieberman renouncing any further ambition to run for the presidency, a McCain-Lieberman administration wouldn’t threaten the continuance of the G.O.P. as a pro-life party. In other areas, no one seriously thinks the policies of a McCain-Lieberman administration would be appreciably different from those, say, of a McCain-Pawlenty administration.

What Kristol doesn’t seem to understand is that the pro-life position of evangelical and Catholic voters is not a political one. It’s a moral position. They believe as a first principle that the termination of an innocent human life is morally unconscionable and government should not sanction such atrocities. A stridently pro-abortion candidate is going to be a non-starter, or at the very least will have a very tough sell.

Sen. Lieberman is a brave man and a patriot. He was right on the war, and his steadfastness is greatly appreciated. However, he is a doctrinaire liberal on nearly every other issue, and in a close Senate it is possible that he could break a tie vote. He should have a seat in a McCain administration, but not as the number two man.

Campaign 2008, Politics

Lieberman To Endorse McCain

The Weekly Standard is reporting that Sen. Joe Lieberman will endorse John McCain tomorrow morning. No doubt this will throw the Democrats into paroxysms. Then again, the way they treated Lieberman, it’s unlikely that he would endorse anyone on the Democratic side.

The big question is what this means for McCain. He has the backing of the Des Moines Register and the New Hampshire Union-Leader—which may help him, but it also tends to remind Republicans that he’s the media’s favorite Republican. That doesn’t help him all that much.

Still, McCain was widely seen as out of the race this summer, and now he’s in a position to surprise us all. The best position to be in is the “anyone-but-Huck” camp, and Romney, McCain and Thompson are all in the running for that position. (The other big story is the collapse of Rudy Giuliani’s campaign—although it’s far too early to call him done.) When it comes to the war, McCain is one of the strongest advocates for victory and can claim that he was right about the failures of the Rumsfeld era. When it comes to economic issues, McCain is one of the strongest fiscal conservatives and one of the best position candidates on pork. On social issues, McCain has a solidly pro-life record.

The albatross around McCain’s neck is immigration, but if he can push forward a plan that makes anything looking like amnesty as a distant second to securing the borders that may help him. Indeed, that’s exactly the strategy that McCain has been pushing for a while now.

This race is wide open right now. McCain could be one of the beneficiaries of a race in which any candidate could have an opening. The fact that he can get things pushed through a hostile Congress may work to his advantage, especially in the general election.

In 2003, the Democrats went with “electability” as their mantra. While Kerry was a weak candidate, McCain is not. McCain has the benefit of giving the GOP a real shot at picking up a sizable percentage of independent voters, and he’s right on most of the key issues, and persuadable on the others. McCain has some real momentum behind him now, and as 2003 demonstrated, the guy who’s languishing in the single digits can become the frontrunner overnight…