Lieberman Becomes The Zell Miller of 2008

The big story today is that Joe Lieberman is planning to announce an endorsement for John McCain tomorrow on the Today Show. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise as Lieberman already indicated that he might endorse a Republican who shared his views on Iraq. Perhaps Lieberman can even get McCain to take back his claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

Lieberman and McCain do differ on a number of issues but supporting McCain as opposed to the other Republican candidates might make sense for a former Democrat who supports the war. McCain might be the least objectionable Republican candidate as at least he opposes torture, does not deny the problems created by climate change, has tangled with the religious right, and isn’t as xenophobic as many other Republicans on immigration.

It does show how pathetic the Republican choices are when a candidate can stand out for supporting compliance with the Geneva Conventions and not denying the consensus of scientific thought. Such characteristics should be among the minimum requirements before a candidate can be considered, not characteristics which cause one to stand out within his party.

The big question is whether Lieberman’s endorsement will help McCain any more than Zell Miller helped the Republicans in 2004. Following McCain’s endorsements from the Union Leader and Boston Globe his chances do look a little better in New Hampshire than they looked a couple of months ago. Possibly Lieberman’s endorsement will improve McCain’s standing among independents and help him achieve an upset. Should this affect a sizable number of independent votes it might also help Clinton in the Democratic primary should New Hampshire independent voters decide to vote for McCain as opposed to Obama.

I imagine that there will be a number of attacks on Lieberman in the net-roots. As an independent, I do not object to the idea of a Democrat supporting a Republican if they made the better candidate so in principle I cannot object to Lieberman’s endorsement on partisan grounds even if I disagree with his views on the war. If Arnold Vinick of The West Wing was real and running as a Republican, I might vote for him as opposed to any of the Democrats now running. The same might be true if the Republicans still had any socially liberal members who had a shot at winning the nomination.

Life long Democrats would have more reason to be upset with Lieberman for betraying their party. Under normal circumstances someone who had a long career in the Senate thanks to party support might be expected to support the party’s candidates. Once many Democrats opposed Lieberman and denied him the nomination when he last ran for reelection we cannot expect Lieberman to show partisan solidarity which was not provided to him. We can continue to object to Lieberman on the issues, especially his support for the war, but we can’t have it both ways and object to his endorsement of a Republican as a violation of party unity. However, should the Democrats win a larger majority in the Senate in 2008 they might fairly reconsider whether Lieberman is one of them when determining committee assignments.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    Ryan says:

    Should this affect a sizable number of independent votes it might also help Clinton in the Democratic primary should New Hampshire independent voters decide to vote for McCain as opposed to Obama.

    I just saw this on FreedomDemocrats, too. I’m torn. Is a McCain endorsement good news or bad?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’m not sure that it will be enough to get very many voters who were going to vote for Obama to vote for McCain instead. First we’ll have to see how Obama does in Iowa. If he wins in Iowa then he will probably win in New Hampshire regardless of how McCain also does.

  3. 3
    Badger3k says:

    You do realize that Lieberman lost the democratic nomination and ran as a pseudo-democratic independent, don’t you? He had no support since the Democratic Party was supporting their nomination for his seat. Lieberman has been the Zell Miller of the party since before he was re-elected. If the democrats get more of a majority that they can afford to drop Lieberman and his threats to become and independent (or a Republican, IIRC he made both threats), he will drop to the dirt where he belongs. Of course, that assumes that the Democrats elected have more spine than the current crop.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    “You do realize that Lieberman lost the democratic nomination and ran as a pseudo-democratic independent, don’t you?”

    Yes, that is implicit in the post above.

    If the Democrats pick up more seats in the Senate I wouldn’t be surprised if they deny him his committee chairmanship. It might depend partially upon how active Lieberman is in supporting the Republican nominee, especially in the general election.

    It doesn’t matter much with regards to Lieberman in terms of reelection, if he plans yet another term. He’s already shown he can be reelected as an independent.

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