John, there are two divergent reactions to the potential for a Joe Lieberman VP pick. The first one is the expected cries of outrage from social conservatives, attempting to warn and threaten McCain from selecting a pro-choice candidate (either Lieberman or Tom Ridge). The other is the view that McCain has done such a credible job of gathering in the base and exposing Obama’s faults that the base won’t much care if Lieberman is the pick. The latter view is explained here. The reporter notes that conservative now see:
Obama as an arrogant and elitist radical – and his supporters as members of a mindless, celebrity-worshiping cult. That they still aren’t very fond of McCain really doesn’t matter; it’s more than enough (for them) that he isn’t Obama.
But Rich Lowry is the one to sketch out the terms of a deal:
To placate Republicans and maximize the political impact of his selection, Lieberman would have to join the ticket as part of a McCain pledge to serve just one term. Both McCain and Lieberman would promise not to run for president in 2012, removing any possibility of Lieberman becoming a successor or putting his imprint on the Republican Party. Their administration would be above electoral politics, a high-minded exercise in competent governance and bipartisan compromise. To assuage Republican fears of a Harrison/Tyler scenario, Lieberman would have to pledge, if he were to ascend to the presidency, to appoint constitutionalist judges and honor McCain’s domestic priorities.
Lowry views the potential for such a ticket as an act of desperation, a roll of the dice to get McCain into the White House.
I think there is something to all of these views, and the potential to re-ignite a battle with social conservatives is great. But Lieberman, like McCain, is in some sense the exception to most politicians currently in circulation. He is calm and thoughtful, defiant and indifferent to much of public opinion and able to translate complicated national security problems into easily understood rhetoric. And, as John points out, McCain respects him greatly.
The choice might create more problems than it’s worth, isn’t politically safe or very smart in some regards, and would shake up the GOP. Sounds like just the thing McCain would do.