Friday, August 15, 2008

Republican Joe?

As the conventions fast approach , discussion heats up over who Barack Obama and John McCain will pick as their running mates. No word on who Mr. Obama might pick, but the rhetoric is heating up on the Republican side over whether Joe Lieberman will be Mr. McCain’s right-hand man, no pun intended.

In May, Jonah Goldberg suggested that the Connecticut senator should fit the ticket. No less of a talking head than Rush Limbaugh denounced the very suggestion as ridiculous. Mr. Lieberman is a long-time Democrat, recently-turned Independent who votes Democrat down-the-line, favors universal healthcare, and is barely to the right of Mr. Obama on abortion. So why would anyone consider this dyed in the blue Democrat a suitable running mate for John McCain?

The War in Iraq sums it up. John McCain coasted to the Republican nomination by touting how he supported the idea of the “surge” long before President Bush ever implemented it. But, Senator McCain continually claims that the invasion of Iraq itself was the right course of action, the occupation was merely bungled. This claim says to some people, “Even though there have been no signs of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and even though they represented no existential threat to the United States, the invasion was still the right course of action.” What is startling is that Mr. McCain’s position on Iraq and his continually aggressive stances against any country that implies it has a role to play in the world, is what passes for foreign policy expertise.

Mr. McCain has been aggressive and belligerent during the recent crisis between Russia and Georgia regarding the break-away province of South Ossetia. Hostilities broke out a week ago when Georgia fired the first shots against Russia. Almost immediately Senator McCain was banging the drums about Russian aggression and, along with talk radio and the “National Review” crowd, insisted that the Cold War had been re-started.

This reaction to an insignificant secession dispute properly illustrates why John McCain is considered by many to be a competent commander-in-chief. It is not because he possesses any of the diplomatic prowess of a Dwight Eisenhower, but because his default position is to be aggressive and threaten America’s military action against any entity that does not promise complete fealty to us. How does that illustrate Senator McCain’s fitness to be commander-in-chief? Enthusiasm and willingness to sacrifice American troops is not a sign that the aforementioned person will use them rationally and prudentially.

This Russia-Georgia conflict also illustrates why Joe Lieberman makes for the obvious choice for John McCain. They are war buddies. No, Mr. Lieberman did not fly with the senator over North Vietnam, but has stood by the administration and the Israel Firsters that manipulate American foreign policy. Even though Joe Lieberman has drastically opposing opinions on the environment, the right to life, and healthcare, he makes the natural choice for someone who is determined to be a war president. Mr. Lieberman supports continued American military presence in the Middle East, including war on Iran.

A McCain-Lieberman ticket would be one that would be doomed to failure because of Mr. Lieberman’s liberally orthodox positions already mentioned. The only reason Republicans would want Joe Lieberman is for his constant support of American Empire. Fortunately for conservatives, his social positions alone could cause a walk-out at the convention. By all reasonable measures, the McCain-Lieberman ticket would go down to an historic defeat. Unless lightning strikes or Reverend Wright reappears, and Senator McCain becomes President-elect McCain, then the blazing defeat will come in the following four years. If two quagmires in the Middle East are not enough, the third one in Iran will do it. The American military and the American dollar are near bankrupt as it is. What would another unwinnable Middle Eastern war do to both?

John McCain and Joe Lieberman both represent what has gone wrong with the Republican Party in the past eight years. The party completely abandoned its principles about spending, the size of government, the historical Republican position of non-interventionism (or at least prudent internationalism), and personal responsibility. These conservative Republican values ring true for more Americans than those who vote for Republicans. It would seem advantageous for John McCain to pick someone with whom conservatives might be able to identify.

Perpetual war is now the chief article of the Republican faith. If Joe Lieberman is not in the middle of the discussion, then Tom Ridge is, another pro-abortion advocate, but he gets consideration because of his war position. The Republicans could pick a running mate that represents fiscal conservatism, believes in judicial restraint, and will be a warrior against the slaughter of the unborn. In a year that Republicans desperately need to avoid becoming politically irrelevant, is this the best they can come up with? This is a year where the Democratic-controlled Congress cannot muster an approval rating of 10% and conservative Republicans should be able to stomp them with their more resonant political values. How can Joe Lieberman bring anything to the Republican ticket except more support for endless wars? John McCain has had a nearly impossible task of proving that he has some conservative credentials. Is this how he plans to convince conservatives that he is one of them?

Besides, aren’t there already enough Democrats on the Republican presidential ticket this year

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