Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Case For Lieberman

I endorse McCain for president.

You can all get off your pins and needles waiting for that piece of news. As an official endorser, and a blogger, I am required to have an opinion about the best Vice Presidential candidate to join the ticket. With that in mind, I endorse Joe Lieberman to be the Vice President of the United States.

In my mind, there were two questions I needed to reconcile. The first is the question of electability, the second of qualification. On both counts, for reasons both obvious and not, Sen. Lieberman is the man. Here's why:

The splash effect

While polls suggest that the election is surprisingly close, there is no question that McCain needs to do something to change the equation. One cannot continue to trail one's opponent by four points and expect to win on election day.

Typically, studies demonstrate that the bottom of the ticket has little impact on the overall result. Of course, this has as much to do with the desire to play it safe (think Al Gore and Jack Kemp) as any voter apathy with respect to the candidate. A bi-partisan selection by either candidate would have generate quite a bit of buzz, and McCain has been sorely lacking in buzz factor to date.

The Geography Myth

The one thing we can glean from past elections is that the home state of the Vice Presidential candidate has no impact on support for the ticket. Arguments that Romney will help McCain in Michigan are not founded in reality. A Texas-Wyoming ticket has taken the closest presidential elections in decades. Lieberman won't give New Hampshire or Connecticut to McCain, but neither will anyone else.

Expose the radicals

That said, geography will certainly factor into this decision. McCain's team is surely interested in putting Michigan in play for November. In order to win the state, his aides surely feel he'll need some portion of the Muslim vote, a demographic that broke for Bush in 2000 (!). Nominating Lieberman, a Jew will, in practice, constitute a write off of Michigan's Muslim Community.

So let it. In fact, have Joe Lieberman campaign in Dearborn, and let American watch the fireworks. What better way to visually articulate or present international crisis than to have the congenial Senator speak against a backdrop of swastikas and "Death to Israel" signs. The dude with a torch in his hand? He's for the other guy.

The Jewish Vote

At present, Barack Obama does not have a "Jewish" problem. This constituency has been reliably Democratic for quite some time. Frankly, they have established a track record of voting against their own interest, even as the neo-conservative ranks have gained Jewish members. That said, would the community turn down an opportunity to support one of their own?

Even modest gains in the Jewish vote would be sufficient to shore up Florida and Ohio, while putting New Jersey in play. A tidal wave of support could even help deliver Pennsylvania. Further, while Sens. Feingold and Kohl won't be endorsing McCain, Lieberman's presence on the ticket might be enough to convince them to stay quiet in Wisconsin.

The Bi-Partisan Case

Yeah, Lieberman and McCain don't agree on too many of the issues. That said, they agree on the proper response to the most compelling threat to international stability, and their support of the war on terror has been principalled and absolutely correct. Selecting a Democrat reinforces the point that McCain is going to keep his eye on the ball here.

While it is true that Lieberman will have a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, any legislation that passes is going to require substantial compromise anyway. On abortion, the key to banning the practice lies within the makeup of the Supreme Court. Does anyone think that Lieberman would vote down a McCain nominee in the unlikely event of a split vote?

Rather, I think McCain will have more success maneuvering conservative judges through the Senate. The fight over judges has been a losing battle for Democrats because most people aren't rabidly pro-choice, and because the president has made a compelling case that judges are non-partisan. With a Lieberman selection, McCain's non-partisan bonafides will be unassailable, which means he'll win the fight or the Democrats will lose in 2010.

The Obama Response

Depending on whether McCain announces his choice first (though I strongly think he should wait until the Republican Convention), Obama will be in a tight spot. Rumors are circulating that Obama would select Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Hagel is very conservative on every issue that isn't the war, and I'm not sure that will fly. For the far-left, opposition to the war is a proxy issue for the hatred of other conservative ideals. Given the propensity of the screwballs to go scorched earth (see: Nader, Ralph), is this a risk worth taking?

More likely, Obama will forfeit his plan of picking a Virginian, and pick some sort of military veteran, or, worse for him, Joe Biden. Either way, it will force his campaign to change plans, and to take a risk it did not want to take.

The other guys

Let's face it. Republicans aren't popular right now. That means that the pickings are slim. Selecting allows McCain from having to choose among a lackluster crop. Mitt Romney has been a great fundraiser, but isn't a great campaigner. Further, Romney's Mormonism will require a cease-fire with regard to talking about religious affiliations. Obama's 20 years of pretending to attend a Black Panther church will keep on giving if religion and past affiliations are on the table. Further, Jeremiah Wright has forced Obama to keep quiet about his faith, which has been a powerful(ly manipulative) tool for influencing Christian moderates.

Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska. So is Ted Stevens. Democrats were supremely effective in utilizing scandal to direct attention away from, you know, what they actually believe about stuff. Her selection would be ridiculous. Similarly ridiculous, though less egregiously so, would be the selection of a business leader. Voters will be holding business leaders accountable for the present financial crisis. Stay away.

That leaves Tim Pawlenty, who I will not throw under the bus here. Pawlenty would be a fine choice in the fine tradition of safe candidates. Further, Minnesota might just be quirky enough to vote for it's native son. That said, I'm not convinced he moves the needle. As I said, he is a safe choice.


While it is unlike me to endorse a Democrat, and I certainly have problems with his ideology, I would urge John McCain to add Joe Lieberman to the presidential ticket.


Blogger soup said...

yeah, I wouldn't have a problem with Lieberman on the ticket, but a couple of things...

Any Jewish votes gained would probably be canceled out by the loss of evangelical votes.

McCain is also already going to have a difficult time to motivate the base enough to volunteer for him. Lieberman would not help the grassroots efforts.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Actually, evangelicals are pretty useless grassroots voices anyway. That said, they tend not to sit on their hands. I think Obama will be a very polarizing figure, and will drive the vast majority of evangelicals to the polls for McCain.

It is also worth noting that converting a vote is worth twice the value of getting someone to the polls. If 1,500,000 Jewish voters switch to McCain, and 1,500,000 evangelical idiots decide to stay home because Dobson told them to, then this is still a net gain of 1,500,000 votes.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Jerad said...

It was interesting and insightful until I got to "pretending to attend a Black Panther church."

Also--don't you think a pro-choice VP would discourage at least twice as many voters from the GOP base as it would convert reliably Dem Jewish voters?

10:43 AM  
Blogger sauce1977 said...

Forget Jewish and Muslim. Go after the 12 percent non-affiliated.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark Darling is a mother fucking cult leader, DUDE.

9:26 PM  

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