Lieberman Is Acceptable to Me

When I took the readership's temperature on various VP picks, Joe Lieberman did not come out on top. Far from it. At 26% acceptability, he was at the bottom of the heap.

I was one of those 26%. To me, he wouldn't be the best pick, but he wouldn't be the worst either.

There is much to commend the "do no harm" VP calculus. Lieberman wouldn't be a "do no harm" pick. If you do the static analysis (is Lieberman better than, say, Rob Portman?) it's all wrong.

The difference is that any of the conventional picks don't help McCain with his #1 priority: winning the election. Despite narrowing the gap, McCain is currently about 3 points behind. He needs a better VP pick than Obama will come up with -- and unless Obama chooses Clinton, Obama's pick will be safe and milquetoast. Lieberman is the most obvious opportunity to shake up the calculus of the race. Picking him did something for Al Gore in 2000, taking him from a sure loser to a position of strength in the fall. A conservative VP on a losing ticket is still a losing ticket.

Lieberman's endorsement of McCain was a turning point in McCain's favor in winning the primary. Republican primary voters did not recoil in horror that a Democrat would give McCain his stamp of approval. Much the opposite. It's very possible someone else would have been the nominee had Lieberman not endorsed. It's easy to see how McCain would feel a deep sense of gratitude.

Win or lose, Lieberman as the VP nominee would have the practical effect of forcing him to switch parties sooner rather than later. If you want to notch a Senate seat and prevent a filibuster proof Obama majority, this is one way of doing it. As part of the Republican conference, he'd start voting as a party line Republican most of the time, though not always.

Now, to the caveats. I certainly wouldn't Lieberman to be President. Unless the worst were to happen, there is not much chance of that. Lieberman is 65, so there is a real chance he would embrace the Dick Cheney model. But moreover, the Republican Party would never give him the nomination. In a sense, conservatives would be better off with Lieberman than with a base demoralizing Ridge or Crist as the heir apparent.

As for being pro-choice, I think we need to make a distinction between a pro-choice Democrat and a pro-choice Republican. A Tom Ridge pick could signal that the party itself is abandoing the pro-life plank. But can you say that in the same way if the nominee is not a Republican? A Lieberman pick would say nothing about where McCain wants the party to go. Lieberman isn't about the Republican Party, and wouldn't really even be in it as the nominee. He would be Switzerland as far as internal party battles go.

I'm not saying Lieberman is my favorite pick. But if McCain wanted to build buzz and throw long to win, Lieberman would be the way to do it.

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Patrick, I couldn't disagree more my friend

With all this talk about the so-called "movement Conservatives" [most of whom are already being told to shut the heck up and vote McC because he ain't Obama], how much do you expect us to be willing to take?  We keep getting mentioned while we continue to be ignored in this mess.

Between K Lo and you guys and all the other pragmatists out there who "at least" still remember there are those of us far right-wingers out here that really would rather NOT have  had a moderate Republican nominated...but find ourselves now having had one shoved down out throats all the much are we really going to be expected to take?

You can explain away all that might be acceptable in Lieberman, but you can't expect the far right to accept this as a pragmatic alternative. Johnny Mac is already too far to the middle...Joe (love him though I might as an indy) only takes us a little right of Obama/Biden or Obama/Clinton.

No, Patrick...while the VRWC might be a fringe group these days, and therefore of much less importance to McCain's political aspirations, even WE have a line we are entitled to draw in the sand. Minus Iraq, a McC/Lieberman ticket smells an awful lot like goods we've been sold before...and a lot of us ain't buyin'my friend.

Forget Lieberman, awful idea - pick Newt

With all this talk about the so-called "movement Conservatives" [most of whom are already being told to shut the heck up and vote McC because he ain't Obama], how much do you expect us to be willing to take?  

Exactly so. Lieberman would be a horrible pick . Besides, this fatuous nonsense that you pick a VP to win only? What about to represent the party and nominee and be the potential president? mcCain's based dont want Lieberman in that position, nor any other liberal Democrat in that position. McCain would fracture the base, demoralize people no end, and for what? Bush's pick of Cheney was inspired precisely because he junked the conventional wisdom about a pick to help get him elected. Cheney was "ready to be President".

McCain has had great "MO" in the last 2 months. Did it come from mcCain 'reaching across the aisle'? Hardly. McCain has shifted right on drilling, as they issue has come to the Republicans.

McCain needs to pick a strong conservative leader who is "ready to be President".

Sometimes you need to go way outside the box to find the guy who has all that is required ...

I'd have him pick Newt Gingrich. No, it won't help him him get elected, but neither will any of the other picks. It will just help him govern.... which happens to be a wee bit more important.



I agree.

If Newt was his choice, I would at least know McCain cares more about putting together a responsible presidential team than winning the presidency itself.

Now I know many of you young know-it-alls think that is heresy, but that is what real leadership is all about, and that type of leadership is what Americans want and will support. Perhaps not by this election, but soon, and for many, many more elections to come thereafter.

But we all know he isn't going to do any such thing. Because McCain is not a leader. He is a "I'll support anything I think I will need to support to get me elected" sort of a fella. He is exactly the kind of "Republican" presidential candidate we conservatives have been duped into supporting for the last six elections. So I will say it again, and I'll even say it louder now: No Mas. No Mas. No Mas. 

 ex animo


For God's sake, David. . .

. . .you advocate a government takeover of the healthcare system, don't mind killing off a few thousand people if it means keeping McCain out of office, you've managed to get yourself kicked off of one Unity '08 board and two Ron Paul boards.  And you still consider yourself a Reagan conservative!

No!  You're just an idiot!

I stand corrected: McCain & Lieberman.

There is absolutely nothing I can say about your well thought out response to my post than to say -- after giving it careful consideration -- you, Patrick and all you liberal, progressive, Independent (whatever) Republicans, are absolutely right. Lieberman would be the far better and more wiser choice for McCain's VP than I had ever imagined. What was I thinking?

I stand corrected.

Thank you, Walt, for showing me the light.

ex animo


Sorry, Dave. . .

. . .but, any person who can advocate a nationalized healthcare system while trying to maintain that they're a "Reagan conservative", and then deigns to question the conservative credentials of anyone to the right of Ralph Nader deserves regular, emphatic derision.

It's like calling yourself a prohibitionist libertarian or a segregationist liberal.

Walt, you attack just like a liberal.

You have constantly criticized my health care solution for controlling costs, while offering none in return. So let me try to get you to respond like a true fiscal conservative and tell us why you think your health care plan will be better at controlling health care cost than mine -- apart from party dogma, that is.

ex animo


In order to call yourself a conservative. . .

. . .you need to start from the premise of LESS government, not more.  And, so, it seems to me that the best way to control health care costs while advocating a smaller government would be to start with deregulation

Once you get deregulation of health care services done, you establish health savings accounts, which allow people to pay for their health care while at the same time eliminating the middle man (health insurance providers), thereby eliminating a layer of bureaucracy, as well as a layer of profit seeking, creating more competition by providing an incentive for the consumer to seek better care for his dollar, and creating pressure on service providers to offer better services in order to compete for the consumer's dollar.

Offer tax incentives for individuals to purchase their own health insurance, rather than adding yet another layer of bureaucracy that comes with insurance that is sponsored through employer-based schemes.

Deregulate the insurance industry by allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines, rather than eliminating a huge amount of competition by virtually imprisoning consumers within state lines, which is a huge competitive disincentive for providers.

These are just a few steps that will lower costs.  There are many others that can be taken that would actually lower the overall cost of health care, as opposed to nationalizing the system -- something that has never, ever, in the history of mankind proven to be an effective way of improving delivery or lowering costs over time.

Those are all great ideas, Walt.

But none are new ideas. They have all been around for at least the last six elections, while we have all stood around and watched health care costs rise faster than inflation. Clearly, we have all preferred to talk about lowering health care costs rather than actually lowering health care costs.  I am sure the vast amounts of pharmaceutical and private health care providers' donations to our election process has nothing to do with the present costs of health care costs.

I believe the reason we haven't been able to actually reduce health care costs is because of the monopolist structure we gave the private health care providers when we closed down the Public Health Care system back in the 1970s.  To correct this structural flaw, we again need to create a dual health care provider system (one private, one public). Under such a system, we will have created the competitive structure that is necessary to allow good ideas such as yours to be implemented.

In conclusion, let me point out,  you can have all the bright ideas you want, but without the structural motivation to compel adoption, none will be adopted.   

ex animo


If McCain were going to motivate the base...

...wouldn't  he have done it already?

I am part of the demoralized base. But the VP pick will have no bearing on my enthusiasm for the ticket. I learned that lesson in 1996, when I was thrilled Bob Dole picked Jack Kemp. It didn't make a bit of difference.

Bush 41 picking Dan Quayle didn't make him a more conservative President. I would argue the same was true for Dick Cheney. Any impact he has had has been more because he is such a savvy operator rather than as a conservative.

There are many in the blogosphere who are, to put it mildly, soft McCain supporters. And yet the polls still show McCain picking up a greater percentage of Republicans and conservatives than Obama does with Democrats and liberals. Base McCain angst simply isn't registering in the polls.

What McCain faces is an enthusiasm gap. But that problem has become intractable, as far as the base goes, and the VP pick will make no difference. McCain isn't as charismatic or inspiring to the base as Obama is to Democrats. There's something to be said for the idea if you have lemons, make lemonade.

Patrick, we agree on that point to be sure

And the lemonade analogy is a fair one.

Suffice it to say we "soft on McCain" types out here in the 'sphere are going to have an interesting 4 years during which time we either do a better job of effecting change in the ranks or find a way to just quit "whining" about it and move on to other topics like Texas sunsets or rainbows in the east..

I would still vote for McCain. . .

. . .if Lieberman were on the ticket.  That's not the problem.  I was a McCain supporter starting in December, so it would be awfully tough for him to lose my vote.

The problem is that it took a major investment of personal energy to be a McCain supporter through the primaries.  And, I invested that energy on the basis that he was the right man for the times, and the belief that he was more conservative than he was getting credit for.  Hell, I made what will probably turn out to be lifelong enemies who were once friends because of my support for McCain, because I always thought that when it came down to it, he's a conservative at heart, and will wind up surprising his critics.

A Lieberman nomination would render me damn near defenseless among my fellow conservatives.  There's just no way that I'd be able to look them in the eye, and say, "Trust me on this one."

One of the things that is overlooked is that, even though McCain wasn't the choice of the most conservative members of the GOP, most of his support did come from conservatives.  And, those of us who went out on a limb for him burned a considerable amount of goodwill among their fellow conservatives in doing so.

I'm afraid Lieberman would take that investment of goodwill beyond the point of no return.  As much as I respect Lieberman as a statesman, I can't see myself being able to defend his selection with any sense of hope that it would do any good.  It would be somewhat like trying to build an anti-war movement around Pat Buchanan.

The Conservative Case for Lieberman


Interesting angle regarding how conservatives may (should?) view a Lieberman pick. If conservatives are lamenting the fact that McCain is the nominee, then maybe they should hope for Lieberman as Veep. This could ensure that McCain's mark on the future of the GOP will be limited (i.e. the Cheney you point out).They can then start now in shaping where they want the GOP to go, rather than be stuck a future standard-bearer that they don't like and are forced into challenging incumbancy 4 or 8 years from now.

Conservative Case for Lieberman

That's an oxymoronic thought-bubble about as impressive, genuine and long-lasting as "Big Government Conservatism", which worked about as well as Trump's football league.

Folks, please spare us these absurd cop-outs to a political expediency which is neither expedient nor politically wise. Just as mcCain was smart enough to tell Kerry no when he went bonkers, so too will lieberman say no to such nonsense.


I agree, again

I was going to respond to the dribble your post responded to above, but you did it much better than I ever could. So I will simply say: I agree, again, with your comments.

ex animo


One and done

To put this in perspective, Lieberman has a lifetime ACU rating of 16.38%. That means Evan Bayh has scored better (19.78%) over the course of his career. So in theory Obama could pick a more conservative senator to be his running mate.

As much as I wish we could dismiss this possibility of Lieberman as VP, anything seems possible. However, I think it only works in McCain's favor if he makes the promise to serve one term as president.

ACLU as a conservative barometer...

@RobertBluey Is an ACLU rating the only criterie by which you judge conservative-ness?

Rob can defend himself, but

there's a monstrous difference between the ACU (American Conservative Union) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).


Please clarify which it was that you were referring to.

American Consservative Union

I'm not sure if batterista is questioning my use of the ACU ratings as barometer or simply confused about the acronyms ACU and ACLU. Regardless, I know of no better source than the ACU ratings for judging conservativeness based on voting records.


When McCain and Lieberman appear together they look like an attractive ticket.  The image is a good one.

Lieberman could be a very effective attack dog on foreign policy/war.  And he could make voting for McCain palatable for a lot of people.  But off-setting that would be the fewer conservative/evangelical votes.

Of course, he and McCain are on the same cap and trade page.

I will vote for McCain regardless, I suppose.  But obviously we are at a nadir of conservative strength and a McCain/Lieberman ticket would telegraph that in bold headlines.

Non-conservative pundits would leap to their feet to proclaim the end of Reagan-ism (finally).  A sad day indeed.

Dumb And Desperate Move

I have to respectfully disagree with Patrick on a Lieberman VP pick.

I think the first thing a McCain/Lieberman ticket screams is desperation, that is not something a confident campaign would do.  There has never been a major Presidential split-party ticket in modern American history.  Are Republican policies that bad that we now have to put a Democrat on our ticket in order to beat a left-wing lightweight like Obama?

I also don't see Lieberman bringing in any aditional votes.  His one issue is Iraq,  I think those voters that have a hawkish position on Iraq are going to vote for McCain anyway. There will, however,  be alienation from the conservative base, as many feel McCain is too moderate, and bringing a VP that's to the left of McCain just seems to rub salt in the wounds.

Despite Lieberman's position on Iraq, he's still a pro-choice, pro-union, tax and spend liberal Democrat.  On issues not pertaining to Iraq, will Liberman voice his opposition?  Lieberman doesn't seem like someone who's going to do as he's told, he could really undermine McCain, both in the campaign and in the White House.

I'm glad there's one responsible Democrat that wants to win the war in Iraq, but it seems to me he's a one-trick pony that would enrage the base.  I would of course pull the lever for a unity ticket over Obama, but let's just say I have had my fill of McCain's "bipartisanship".  I could see this move being the straw that broke the camel's back for many Republicans.

McCain  really has a golden opportunity by putting Governor Sarah Palin on the ticket.  She'd bring a lot of moderate women back into the Republican fold, and she'd be loved by the base. 

McCain would get to make history, bring in additional moderate/independent voters, (also a healthy dose of Hillary! women), and please the base all in one VP pick.  Lieberman on the other hand seems awfully risky for the expected payout.


Lieberman is a sign of weakness

Senator Obama has his pick of a long list of competent Democratic VP candidates who understand liberalism enough to understand the results of their actions.  On the other hand, the Republicans are so weak that all of the potential VP candidates have major flaws with the biggest one that most of them refuse to be conservative.  The ultimate expression of the lack of talent in the Republican Party is talk about Lieberman, Romney, and Jindal. 

The talk of Lieberman should be a sign that the Republican party clearly is in collapse with little hope for the future is the Republicans have to nominate a liberal, big government Democrat for their presidential ticket.   It is also a sign how the incompetence of the current BUsh Administration has taint most Republicans.


Lieberman more valuable off the ticket

He gets plenty of press already returning fire for Mac. If it looks like he has something personally to gain from his election, this might be discounted.

I also question Patrick's read that the Lieberman endorsement helped Mac greatly in the primaries. First, Mac never got over 50% until Mitt quit, so it's possible Lieberman might have merely anchored McCain with the more moderate half of the party. Second, the places Lieberman was a clear plus (NH and FL) were places inclined to back "independent" style candidates. Having a Kyoto Treaty backer campaign in MI probably hurt McCain.

This gets to the point that other than abortion there are lots of other issues (climate change, guns & social security) where Lieberman's position is congruent with a moderate party line Democrat (. His enormous 2006 CT performance was due to the fact moderate R's and conservative unaffiliates realized the alternative in Ned Lamont was Michael Moore with a senate vote.   Watch Dems cynically target libertarian Republicans with the rest of Lieberman's agenda after the social conservatives snarl about hte pick. 

Were Lieberman from OH or PA the gain in electoral advantage might be worth the risk. He is not going to flip CT in my opinion and much as I this wouldn;t cause me not to  back Mac, I think it's on the wrong side of the risk/reward equation  



Un-Acceptable to Me

I'm sorry but Joe can't get pass the number one test for me. I will not support any canidate who supports or his vice presidental pick supports the taking of innocence life. I was not happy with Mac to begin with, since the cross over dems really gave him to us, I think I will just sit the election out if his pick is Joe 

Just As I posted the above comment

Just after I did the last comment, I go to Red State and wham, right in my face, Pro-Abortion Is Not An Option For Vice President . I could say it better.

Please see my comment in the above Cantor post

This is my belief of a nominee whocould be a nominee that could help McCain.  Another candidate who has been mentioned is Sarah Palin who I also like but I believe would better to remain as Alaska gov.


One good thing about a Lieberman vice president nomination .....

It would keep the field for the next nomination open for David Petraeus and/or Bobby Jindal. They wouldn't have to fight a Romney or Pawlenty or whomever with the Republican Party backing traditionally given to a sitting vice president. I think a Petraeus/Jindal ticket, or perhaps Petraeus/Palin, would be the strongest that we could possibly put forward next time around. 

I find it hard to get too exasperated by a Lieberman choice. If I had to choose a Democrat to be president, he would be it. He 's a good man, a responsible public servant, and much moreso than any of the Republican names, he would be instantly accepted by the public as a step-in president should that become necessary. He avoids the problem of having to explain to the public that if John McCain dies on Feb. 8, 2009, that their president is going to be somebody named Rob Portman.  

#1 priority is not getting elected

I respectfully disgree with the contention that winning the election should be McCain's #1 priority.  VP picks rarely if ever win anyone the Presidency, so McCain would do well to think less about which candidate is supposedly going to get him into the White House, and more about who he'd like to work with for the next four years if he ends up there for other reasons.

That said, it would be fun for Connecticut to have a Republican Senator, if only for four years.

Well the last GOP senator

Well the last GOP senator Conn. had was a flaming leftist by the name of Lowell Weicker who lost to Lieberman 20 years ago.  Interestingly compared to Weicker (who currently supports Obama) Leiberman looks like Reagan Conservative.


Weicker had disgusted so many CT Republicans by 1988

that William F. Buckley endorsed Lieberman.

My home district, which gave Bush 41 a 40,000 vote edge over Dukakis, went for Weicker by less than a thousand. Lieberman won by 10,000. CT conservatives elected Lieberman.

Bad news; On a lot of issues he doesn't vote better than Weicker did. Good news. he doesn;t use us as a doormat or a punch line like Weicker did.  

Then he got elected Guv as independent

This when he did the GOP a favor and left the party he got elected guv in 1990 as in independent.  When he gave Conn. its first state income tax.   Luckily after that he was so hated in your state that he didn't try to run for reelection in 1994.

You're out of your mind

With all due respect, Patrick, you are out of your mind 

Joe Leiberman is a left-wing Democrat  who happens not to be nuts on the GWoT.  If Sen. McCain is so contemptuous of the Republican Party that he's willing to tell the whole country he couldn't find a single Republican worthy of being his VP, then this Republican has no use for him, either.

This Is So Unlike Patrick

Your analysis is tortured and inconsistent. Today's New York Post had as its front page story a poll showing Obama and McCain almost tied. What is most striking is that the head to head results over the last months show that Obama has dropped but Mcain has statiscally not improved. McCain should be very concerned by this stuck in the mud phenomenom. He has yet to rally his base and  Lieberman won't help him do so.

What Jewish voters Lieberman would attract would also come to McCain with Cantor as his running mate. And the number of social and economic conservatives who would be turned off to McCain will be greater than the votes Lieberman would bring. Keep in mind how the Republican base rejected Giuliani because he had Lieberman values even though they amired him for other reasons.

Can you imagine the pr damage done at the Republican convention if McCain tries to ram Lieberman down the throats of the delegates?

The massive damage lieberman vp pick will do

Keep in mind how the Republican base rejected Giuliani because he had Lieberman values even though they amired him for other reasons.

That's a great way to put it. Of course Rudy had several conservative themes he was running. Lieberman is an out and out liberal. Rudy G. would be a better pick for McCain (but is also a not-great pick; it has the advantage, like picking Romney, that he's not in office and he's somewhat vetted; but the disadvantage is that the opp research is at the fingertips).

We can respect a man's integrity and his agreement on SOME issues while at the same time saying NO WAY to him in the White House.

NO WAY is Gore's running mate a suitable candidate on the GOP ticket. It's an instant loss of the election,  the destruction of RNC fundraising and party unity. You cant get much worse than that.

Maybe that was the point.. float that, so that we go "phew, Its only Ridge!" But wait a sec, Ridge is *also* a bad pick. McCain if he wins PA, will win it with the cultural conservative vote there, a pro-choicer steps on the whole storyline of how Obama is waaay out there on the pro-abortion wing.

McCain NEEDS a prolife VP. He needs it for the party, because it is the right thing, because it reflects his own views, and because it will help him win.

I'm hoping for Rudy Giuliani as the veep for McCain.

I'm hoping for Rudy Giuliani as the veep for McCain.  That would be perfect.  All Joe would have to do on the stump is say "McCain = Noun, Verb, POW" and "Rudy = Noun, Verb, 9/11". 

And the ads about Rudy?  Wow, sorry but I lived in NYC during the Rudy years.  Rudy has a pro-gay, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage record, and he has no foreign policy experience.  He's so deeply connected to fortune 500 interests and lobbyists that it would make McCain look like another GW patsy. He wasnt' even a good mayor.  It could easily be argued that the only reason the streets of NYC were cleaned up during his years as Mayor is because Joe Biden brought Republicans and Democrats together to pass the 1994 crime bill, putting 100,000 cops on the streets and starting an eight-year drop in crime across the country.  Rudy just rode the coattails on that one, some would say.

And lastly, just think about the pairing: two adulterers on one ticket?

What a romp that would be.  I'd sure like to see it.  Like watching a plane crash, train wreck and Death Race all at the same time.

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You can explain away all that

You can explain away all that might be acceptable in Lieberman, but you can't expect the far right to accept this as a pragmatic alternative. Johnny Mac is already too far to the middle...Joe (love him though I might as an indy) only takes us a little right of Obama/Biden or Obama/Clinton. The fact is harsh but true.

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