The Case for Lieberman
According to ABC News, Condoleezza Rice is actively lobbying John McCain to make her his running mate. The State Department has denied the rumor, but Rice has met with conservative leaders, given a speech on race, and appeared in Fitness magazine, all of which do lend some credence to this story. It is possible that Condi is attempting to get some attention for a vice presidential bid.
Of course, if Rice is trying for the VP slot, she will probably be disappointed. It’s hard to see what she brings to the ticket—she is a black female, but apart from that, she doesn’t add much. Her experience is primarily based on her familiarity with foreign policy, which is the issue that McCain is strongest on. In addition, she really isn’t very good at foreign policy—it wouldn’t be fair to describe the State Department’s recent performance as a disaster, but it hasn’t been very good either.
Iran is still developing nuclear weapons. They are still training insurgents to fight in Iraq. Israel and Palestine are still at war. The situation in North Korea hasn’t improved much.
All of those are difficult problems, and the fact that they remain unsolved is not entirely her fault. Still, they do remain unsolved, and Rice is in charge. If she wants to be vice president, she needs to get some positive results.
Apart from national security, Rice doesn’t appeal to many voters. She won’t win the social conservatives, since she is (quietly) pro-abortion. Her views on immigration probably won’t be an advantage, and she doesn’t have any sort of record on taxes to appeal to the fiscally conservative wing of the party.
McCain has almost certainly considered all these points, and the speculation regarding a McCain-Rice ticket is probably nothing more than rumors. (Matt Drudge linked to the story, which gave it instant credibility, and Rush Limbaugh mentioned it in passing). McCain will almost certainly pick someone else for his running mate.
There are few people in politics more unpredictable than John McCain, which makes any attempt at guessing his running mate difficult. However, there is a strong case to be made that Joe Liebermann could get the nod.
McCain and Lieberman are far apart on most issues. McCain is pro-life, while Lieberman supports abortion. McCain supports a smaller federal government, while Lieberman supports a welfare state. The only issues on which they agree are the war, amnesty for illegal immigrants, embryonic stem cell research, a resistance to waterboarding, and a belief in global warming. All of which are, come to think of it, pretty significant issues.
Maybe McCain and Lieberman aren’t so far apart. Still, they are more different ideologically than most running mates usually are. They have one real point of similarity—they both enjoy going against the prevailing ethos of their party.
Lieberman was forced to run as an Independent because of his support of the Iraq war. McCain embraced amnesty for illegal aliens when most conservatives strongly opposed it. McCain values his reputation as a maverick. It would be consistent with McCain’s mentality if he decided to run with a fellow maverick.
Furthermore, Lieberman is a friend and political ally of McCain. Lieberman endorsed McCain when things looked bleakest for him. He has campaigned with McCain, and traveled to the Middle East with him. McCain may very well decide to reward Lieberman’s loyalty with a VP slot.
McCain may very well pick another candidate than Lieberman for his running mate (and even if he wanted to, he would face significant pressure from the GOP leadership). However, given the friendship and support between the two, and McCain reputation as a maverick, this union cannot be ruled out.