Monday, August 25, 2008

Kristol: Pretzel Logic

William Kristol wraps himself around the possibility of John McCain choosing Joe Lieberman as his VP:

Lieberman could hold his own against Biden in a debate. He would reinforce McCain’s overall message of foreign policy experience and hawkishness. He’s a strong and disciplined candidate.

Anyone who remembers the vice presidential debate of 2000 when it was Lieberman against Dick Cheney wonders what Mr. Kristol has been smoking. It was Wally Cox versus Darth Vader. Joe Biden would clean his clock.

But he is pro-abortion rights, and having been a Democrat all his life, he has a moderately liberal voting record on lots of issues.

Now as a matter of governance, there’s no reason to think this would much matter. McCain has made clear his will be a pro-life administration. And as a one-off, quasi-national-unity ticket, with Lieberman renouncing any further ambition to run for the presidency, a McCain-Lieberman administration wouldn’t threaten the continuance of the G.O.P. as a pro-life party. In other areas, no one seriously thinks the policies of a McCain-Lieberman administration would be appreciably different from those, say, of a McCain-Pawlenty administration.

Would McCain-Lieberman have a better prospect of winning than the more conventional alternatives? If they could get over the early hurdles of a messy convention and an awful lot of conservative angst and anger, I’ve come to think so.

In other words, the only reason that McCain should choose Lieberman is to attract disaffected Hillary voters and querulous independents; once he’s elected, he’d be relegated to the basement of the White House. Yeah, that’s the kind of leader we really want to have one heartbeat away from the presidency.

What Mr. Kristol is really saying is that the Republicans are so desperate to win that they’re willing to choose a gadfly from the other party to make the sale. They can’t even find someone in their own party to do it.