The Beauty of Keeping Lieberman in the Mix

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Aug 19, 2008 10:20 PM
News reports say that John McCain is keeping Joe Lieberman in the running for VP.

That's fine with me.  Not because I think McCain will pick Lieberman -- if he does, he's so openly disrespectful of the policies and priorities of his base, and so dismissive of his need for their support, that his judgment  is in question. 

McCain surely understands that his VP pick will send a huge signal to the base about where he sees the GOP going.  It doesn't even make sense for someone who's identified himself as an admirer of President Reagan and as a "conservative" to choose someone who could comfortably run with Al Gore eight years ago. 

But keeping Lieberman in the mix, even as conservatives like me reiterate our strong opposition to a Democrat as veep on the Republican ticket plays well for McCain.  It's designed to send a message to independents -- just as his supposed openness to a pro-choice running mate was supposed to reassure PUMA's.  He's using the veep process to re-establish his credentials as a "maverick" who may not always toe the GOP line, without actually moving left on any policies . . . and if talking up Lieberman helps him in Florida, he's not averse to that, either.

At least, I hope that's what's happening.  And I hope that if and when McCain wins the presidency, he remembers that the allegiance of independents can be fleeting -- and isn't the basis for a stable governing coalition.  But with someone as left -- and as inexperienced -- as Barack on the other side, there's nothing to do but take my chances with McCain.