Why McCain won’t pick Lieberman

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images There’s been a great deal of speculation in the past few days over whether John McCain will announce Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his running mate on Friday. In a widely read column, the irrepressible Bill Kristol mused Sunday that “an unorthodox ‘country first’ Lieberman selection would reinforce what has been attractive ...

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592943_080827_mccain5.jpg

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

There's been a great deal of speculation in the past few days over whether John McCain will announce Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his running mate on Friday.

In a widely read column, the irrepressible Bill Kristol mused Sunday that "an unorthodox 'country first' Lieberman selection would reinforce what has been attractive about McCain, and what has allowed him to run ahead of — though not yet enough ahead of — the generic Republican ballot."

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

There’s been a great deal of speculation in the past few days over whether John McCain will announce Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his running mate on Friday.

In a widely read column, the irrepressible Bill Kristol mused Sunday that “an unorthodox ‘country first’ Lieberman selection would reinforce what has been attractive about McCain, and what has allowed him to run ahead of — though not yet enough ahead of — the generic Republican ballot.”

Liberal pundit Ezra Klein chimed in with some unsolicited advice for McCain: “Joe Lieberman is a dangerous pick, but he also has a huge upside.” McCain supporter Patrick Ruffini was less effusive, writing, “To me, he wouldn’t be the best pick, but he wouldn’t be the worst either.”

Henry Olsen of the American Enterprise Institute weighs in today in the Wall Street Journal, saying that while Lieberman’s hawkish stances on Iraq and terrorism are welcome, “the domestic issues on which Republicans and Mr. Lieberman have major differences are pressing and cannot be ignored”:

One must also contemplate the awful possibility that President McCain will not survive his term. Do Republican voters want to see a President Lieberman negotiate with a Democratic Congress on taxes, entitlements, judicial nominees and abortion? To ask this question is to answer it.

I think Olsen is right. It is inconceivable that McCain would pick Lieberman. Sure, he’s happy to let Al Gore’s former running mate stand next to him at campaign events and rip into Obama’s foreign policy. Happy to convey the image of a “maverick” willing to contemplate an unorthodox running mate and put country over party, McCain won’t tamp down the speculation. But when push comes to shove, he needs to pick somebody that rank-and-file Republicans want to see in the White House. And that person is not Joseph Lieberman. It’s not going to happen.

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