Feature

Who Lieberman helps, and hurts

And what Lieberman gains, and loses, from speaking at the GOP convention

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, has been confirmed as a speaker at this year’s Republican convention, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial, and it’s hard to tell for whom he “is causing more heartburn these days—Democrats or Republicans.” Democrats are furious over the betrayal, but the “panicky” GOP “blogosphere is erupting over rumors” that McCain might choose the pro-life Lieberman as his running mate.

It’s hard to avoid the Lieberman-as-VP speculation, said Ed Morrissey in the blog Hot Air. “Lieberman may not be the worst choice, but he’s close to it.” He won’t bring aboard independents, and he’ll permanently snuff out any Republican enthusiasm for McCain.

Still, Lieberman would probably be McCain’s top VP contender if he were “making the decision in a vacuum,” said Stephen F. Hayes in The Weekly Standard’s The Blog. McCain “is more comfortable with Lieberman than any of the other VP finalists,” and they see eye-to-eye on McCain’s top issue, Iraq. So GOP base notwithstanding, Lieberman “is still under very active consideration.”

“Lieberman’s only use to the Republicans is as a sideshow act,” said Jason Zengerle in The New Republic’s The Plank blog. And let’s hope he realizes, when he gives his speech at the GOP convention, “that the delegates cheering him on are the same people who’d be rioting in the streets if their party ever gave Lieberman anything more than a symbolic honor.”

At least until the election, Lieberman can count on being “simultaneously courted and detested by members of both political parties,” said Michael Kranish in The Boston Globe’s Political Intelligence blog. Democrats may loathe him, but they need him to maintain control of the Senate. And otherwise hostile Republicans think he might win over “other independent-minded voters—a bloc that McCain likely needs to win in November.”

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