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It Is Just The Vice Presidency

The Wall Street Journal pushes back against the Joe Lieberman-induced panic rippling through the conservative base. The editors write:

Meanwhile, the Republican blogosphere is erupting over rumors that Mr. McCain might choose Mr. Lieberman as his vice president. Our email box is full of panicky reports that the Arizona Republican is giving it serious thought, and that this would doom Mr. McCain’s chances in November. Mr. Lieberman is pro-choice on abortion, he’s a liberal on this or that, and in any case isn’t there any Republican who could fill the bill? Or so goes the anticipatory outrage.

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.

This strikes me as entirely on the mark. But I think the shift in fortunes in the race in McCain’s favor may weigh against a Lieberman pick, even if the other GOP choices are less impressive. With McCain pulling into a dead heat and Democrats in semi-meltdown mode, there is less reason for McCain to take a risky gamble and more reason to believe that he can, on his own, appeal to disaffected Democrats and independents. In the end it might just not be worth the agony and the risk of a convention blow-up just at the point at which McCain is hitting his stride.

And if the alternatives to Lieberman seem less compelling and less intellectually vibrant, one should keep in mind: it’s just the vice presidency. If McCain gets elected, there will be plenty of room in the cabinet for Lieberman (at State).



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