Yes, the sins of the parties have been visited upon their candidates. But can Lieberman break McCain out of Bush’s orbit? So David Brooks argued last night on Jim Lehrer’s convention-night show [scroll down]:
I think […] tonight and especially the last couple nights puts a lot more pressure on John McCain, especially the vice presidential pick.
They are trying so hard to tie John McCain to George Bush, I think it incredibl[y] strengthens the case for him to pick Joe Lieberman. He’s got to show somehow he’s not George Bush.
And I think that — you take a look at the case that was made by Joe Biden tonight, that’s the obvious rejoinder.
I was sort of on the fence about whether he should pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate, but now I think it’s the clear answer to the very strong case that both Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden made, which is Bush-McCain, Bush-McCain. He’s got to show some difference, because they made that case pretty well tonight.
Plain as it is that Joe Lieberman, unlike the President, is a liberal Democrat, I’m afraid I see real trouble ahead for McCain if he thinks he can blast out of Bush’s orbit by picking his old pal Joe. As I put it in this week’s column at Culture11 :
John wants Joe in order to flout ideology; Joe’s neoconservative boosters want him in order to flaunt it. If McCain picks Lieberman, he will be unable to do so for his own reasons, and his campaign will become a contraption set to mangle him at the wheel. He will be sucked from the seat of Maverickdom into the sausage-grinder of a Movement.
Of course, the heavy subtext here is that McCain must pick Lieberman to show he isn’t Bush because, if he picks Romney, his body will be colonized and exploded by parasitic Bush breeders leaving their now-dead former host. McCain will wake up one morning with Romney standing beside him holding up a mirror and McCain will look into the mirror and see George W. Bush and then look past his new reflection at the guy holding it and see that Romney, too, is also Bush. Then he will start raving about amnesty and appoint Joe Lieberman his Goodwill Ambassador to the World, and he will lose like a stupid bet.
Maybe. Romney’s worst problem from McCain’s perspective is how flamboyantly he’s hugged the Bush administration during the primaries. But there’s another Romney. You remember. Cool, collected, sophisticated pragmatist. Problem solver. Still, that Romney’s been claimed, too, by the establishment conservative movement (as opposed to the neoconservative movement). McCain’s biggest problem overall is that two of his main choices will pull him into movements he isn’t a part of. Under the circumstances, he may be too weak to prevent that fact from screwing up his candidacy. Which is why I make the insinuation I do at the end of the column. Nonetheless, I do think McCain can win with Romney, but will go down like a cold air balloon with Lieberman.