Note: this post contains some material excerpted from a post written yesterday.
Bill Kristol, the doyen of neocon chatterati, has given his imprimataur to a McCain-Lieberman ticket in a column in today’s N.Y. Times:
…McCain…could decide that Obama’s conventional pick of Biden allows him to seize the moment by making a bold choice. He could select the person he would really like to have by his side in the White House — but whose selection would cause palpitations among many of his staffers and supporters: the independent Democratic senator from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman.
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.
“Bold choice?” Perhaps bold in the context of the conservative Republican voters McCain needs to carry in November who think of a Democrat as a cross between Count Dracula and Judas. But among the general election cohort, Joe Lieberman is about as bold a choice as that other Joe–Biden. One could even paraphrase Rambam’s epitaph (l’havdil): from Joe to Joe there is none like Joe.
Kristol seems to think that Lieberman will carry independent voters and even Hillary supporters:
Obama and Biden will try to frame the presidential race as a normal Democratic-Republican choice. If they can do that, they should win. That would be far more difficult against a McCain-Lieberman ticket. The charge that McCain would merely mean a third Bush term would also tend to fall flat. And an unorthodox “country first” Lieberman selection would reinforce what has been attractive about McCain, and what has allowed him to run ahead of — though not yet enough ahead of — the generic Republican ballot.
A Lieberman pick should help with ticket splitters…
And Hillary supporters could protest Obama’s glass ceiling by voting for John McCain and the Democratic Party’s 2000 vice presidential nominee.
Actually, were he to run again in Connecticut for senate he wouldn’t even win there. How is he supposed to help elsewhere? Lieberman is damaged goods, not just for traditional Democrats but for most centrist Americans. Maybe he’d attract the votes of those who support the Iraq war, but McCain already has the 100-year-war cohort locked up. And the notion that Hillary supporters, drawn to her as a pioneering woman candidate, would turn to an old, white, male Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum to redeem Hillary’s values is little short of preposterous.
But the most troubling aspect of choosing Lieberman is the recent news reported by Justin Vogt in The National that Lieberman, at last month’s Christians United for Israel gala, tacitly urged Israel to attack Iran. Considering Kristol’s column, it becomes even more urgent that Lieberman’s comments be more widely reported:
Though careful to say he hoped war with Iran could be avoided, the senator ended his address with a Biblically-coded call for military action against the Islamic Republic. According to the Book of Exodus, God was saying to Moses and the Israelites [at the Red Sea], ‘The time for prayer is over. It’s time for Israel to act.’”
…There comes a moment when faith and prayer must be followed by action right here on Earth,” Lieberman concluded. Coming on the heels of his dark warnings about Iran, there was no mistaking the kind of Israeli action Lieberman had in mind.
I think this speech justifies the question: does Lieberman see Israel as a U.S. surrogate? That is, a nation which has none of the strictures preventing it from taking actions Lieberman and the U.S. wish they could take. This raises another legitimate question: if McCain wins the presidency, will Israel will receive a green light to attack Iran? This is an issue the American people should know about in considering which candidate they vote for in November. If McCain wins, you can expect a nudge-nudge, wink-wink arrangement between his Administration and Israeli generals who’re fully prepared to teach Iran a lesson–at least in their minds. Whether they can pull it off is something about which even Israeli specialists and military analysts have raised serious doubt.
Do Americans really want a potential vice-president who communicates to Israel that it would be acceptable to attack Iran, and does so at a convention of religious whack jobs and wingnuts (read Vogt’s story if you don’t believe me)? And lest anyone argue that Lieberman hasn’t been picked for this post yet, I’d reply that Lieberman clearly has McCain’s ear and even if he isn’t vice-president, he will be a very close advisor (secretary of state or defense?) over the next four or, God help us, eight years should the Republican candidate win.
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