Gore-Lieberman Grudge Match

No one talks about Joe Lieberman as a running mate for John McCain anymore — but they should. I was as convinced as most that Lieberman wouldn’t make sense. Given McCain’s well-documented difficulties with the Republican party’s conservative base, it seemed senseless to nominate a social liberal. But a Stuart Rothenberg column changed my mind.

But wouldn’t social conservatives, in particular, go bananas, since Lieberman is moderate or liberal on most issues other than Iraq? He supports abortion rights, generally votes with organized labor and is an unapologetic environmentalist. Conservatives would revolt, wouldn’t they?

Probably not. While there would be the usual fist-pounding from some “movement conservatives,” their anger at the selection would quickly dissipate when they saw the fury unleashed by liberals and Democratic bloggers.

I think this is exactly right. Then there is the small matter of Lieberman’s support for the surge strategy.

Wouldn’t the selection of Lieberman only emphasize Iraq and McCain’s support for the surge, making an unpopular war even more front and center for McCain?

Of course, but does anyone really believe that Democrats won’t wrap the surge around McCain’s neck if that’s in their interest? It doesn’t matter who McCain picks for his running mate. Even if he picks a governor from Minnesota or South Carolina, McCain owns the surge already.

And imagine if Obama goes on to choose Al Gore as his running mate, for all the reasons advanced by Michael Grunwald in 2006. He’s certainly a far stronger pick than Kathleen Sebelius. The danger is that a Gore pick could make Obama look like a lightweight — Bush looked shrewd when he picked Cheney, to be sure, but we know have that ugly precedent in mind. Obama has other strong options, including Ted Strickland, Ed Rendell, and Tim Kaine. But Gore would be a game-changer.

Which would lead us to the Gore vs. Lieberman vice presidential debates. What a pleasure that would be to watch!