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What to make of McCain’s Joe-mentum

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A few thoughts on Joe Lieberman’s decision to jump the mechitzah to back John McCain for president:

1) If McCain manages to win the GOP nomination, suddenly Lieberman will find himself back in the V.P. derby. Talk about flashbacks. But, hey, if we’re having another O.J. trial, why not another Lieberman run. Of course, this time around Lieberman would seem like plain vanilla given that the Democrats seemed poised to nominate a woman or an African American for the presidency (and don’t forget Bill Richardson’s push to be the first Latino on a major national ticket).

2) No doubt plenty of Democrats and liberal bloggers will be pouncing on this endorsement, claiming that it is the final straw. It’s certainly true that he is an outspoken supporter of the Iraq invasion and often seems more interested in attacking Dems over their opposition to the war than to the Bush administration’s handling of it. That said, it would be a mistake to view Lieberman’s as an act of political betrayal.

Democratic voters gave Lieberman the heave ho in Connecticut’s primary last year. Lieberman won as a third-party candidate and declared that he was an “Independent Democrat.” The deal was that he would caucus with the Dems – allowing them to control of the Senate – and in return he would maintain his seniority and get the committee chairmanships he had coming. Even if Lieberman were to endorse Bush for a third term, who cares? As long as Lieberman doesn’t hand the Senate back to the GOP, Democrats should be happy.

3) Lieberman has not been shy about criticizing his own party. But, in the end, his endorsement is not so much about dissing Clinton or Obama, as rewarding a good friend who stood by him when he was out on an island after losing the Democratic primary. Besides, by making the announcement on the eve of the primaries, any bounce from the gesture will come at the expense of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani – not the Democratic candidate in November.

4) Lieberman has always occupied a strange spot: In 2000 he became the symbol of American Jewry’s full-fledged political arrival – but on many levels he is completely not representative of American Jews. Most Jews are secular or liberal in their religious views/practices, believe that the Iraq war was a disastrous idea and couldn’t disagree more with Lieberman’s mantra that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from religion. Now it turns out that Lieberman isn’t even on the same page with most Republican Jews, most of whom seem to prefer Giuliani (here and here).

UPDATE: Ned Lamont, the man who beat Lieberman in the primary but lost to him in the general election, issued a statement slamming Joe’s endorsement of McCain. Lamon’t main point is that during the campaign last year, Lieberman made it sound like he would be endorsing a Democrat for president:

To be fair, that comment was made during the Democratic primary. So jumping on Lieberman over it is sort of like rejecting a marriage proposal and then accusing the spurned lover of adultery when he starts looking around.

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