The Lieberman Factor

Joe Lieberman’s endorsement of John McCain will, of course, only further serve to underscore liberals’ deep, deep doubts about the “independent Democrat” from Connecticut. At the same time, I worry if it won’t underscore conservatives’ doubts about McCain as well. Nobody, after all, really doubts McCain’s commitment to a hawkish foreign policy — he was Bill Kristol’s choice in 2000 for a reason — and that’s all Lieberman’s endorsement really signifies. After all, Republican primary voters aren’t going to be attracted to the other things Lieberman could praise McCain for: his reasonable-for-a-Republican stance on global warming or zeal for certain forms of campaign finance restrictions and general habits of party disloyalty.

This does, however, seem to me like something of a blow to Rudy Giuliani’s credibility. After all, Giuliani is closer to Lieberman on several issues than is McCain — abortion, guns, gays, etc. And Rudy’s running as the ultimate hawk, the rock-solid guy on the one set of issues where Lieberman has really distinguished himself by staking out a far-right position. But Lieberman’s not buying it. As a consummate hawk, he sees a kindred spirit in McCain and presumably recognizes that Rudy’s brand of militarism is a kind of clown show; not insincere, but totally uninformed by any knowledge of the issues or the landscape whatsoever.