The Joe Lieberman Conundrum

Did you hear? Joe Lieberman is going to be speaking at the Republican convention.

There is understandable anger toward ol' Joe from his former party. People call him a traitor to the party, particularly now that his name is being thrown around as a vice-presidential candidate for the alternate party. However, I've been leaning in a different direction.

I have been a part of the Democratic party my entire life. I don't necessarily call myself a Democrat, because frankly a lot of my own beliefs are much more liberal than those of the Democratic party. I would put myself under the umbrella of socialism, if I had to... the specific brand of socialism has yet to be determined, as a lot of my ideas are still in flux. But that's neither here nor there. The point is, I have as much rancor for Lieberman's abandonment of the party as the next guy. However, you have to consider the specifics of his departure, and his behavior since then.

Lieberman ran for re-election to his Senate seat in 2006, and lost to Ned Lamont, a fresh-faced up-and-comer who managed to snipe the nod from the Democratic party. Rather than bow out gracefully, Lieberman decided to run as an independent - and won. Impressive. Couldn't hurt that he got help from the GOP, and has been warming up to them ever since. However, it's important to consider that in a very close Senate match, while Lieberman has been shunned by his former party, he has not joined the Republican party either. This leaves control of the Senate to the Democrats - something Lieberman could change, but has not.

Further, Lieberman still holds many liberal positions, including pro-choice (which is such a major issue for a lot of Republicans). Additionally, he's continued to vote fairly Democratic on a lot of issues... not completely party lines, but he's often a pretty safe bet for major party issues.

Next, consider that John McCain would face a rebellion from amongst his closest voter bloc if he named Lieberman as his VP. The biggest Republican talking heads have said that they would not turn up to vote if he chose a pro-choice VP, and Lieberman is certainly that. While it seems unlikely that this is going to happen, Lieberman's close support for McCain seems unlikely to really sway a lot of people his direction - Democrats don't have much respect for Lieberman, Republicans were going to vote for McCain anyway, and while Lieberman is an independent, independents are far from a unified bunch. They include essentially anyone that doesn't fall into Republican or Democrat, and often already have their chosen champion (Nader, Barr, etc.) Does Lieberman, who certainly does not jump away from the mainstream very often, really stand much of a chance at usurping the position of leader to many independent voters? I would have to say no.

So in summation, Joe has lost the support of the Democratic party, is a tolerated outsider to the Republicans, and an unimportant voice to the independents. What does he really stand to accomplish? Well, it really seems like the most he could do is be a thorn in the side of a few Republicans by trying to drift into their ranks while simultaneously holding liberal views that many of them will not accept. At best, he could further splinter an already divided GOP, but more likely he'll do absolutely nothing.

Good on ya, Joe.