early and often

Joe Lieberman Momentarily at the Center of the Political Universe

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Eight years ago, Joe Lieberman was a few hanging chads away from being the Democrat vice-president. But the jowly senator from Connecticut has come a long way since then. He now finds himself at the center of two campaign firestorms: In the first, he’s facing an intense outcry from Republicans who fear John McCain will choose him as his running mate (or that chatter could be an elaborate ruse, as John Heilemann theorizes). Lieberman, while hawkish, is still fairly liberal on most issues — especially abortion, which, if you haven’t noticed, is kind of an important issue to many in the party. Second, Democrats are furious that Lieberman is speaking at the Republican National Convention. Lieberman should probably enjoy the Joementum while it lasts.

• Gail Collins jokes that it’s “important that voters be confident that [McCain is] backed up by an experienced and qualified vice president prepared to step in and do the exact opposite about everything except Iraq.” Of course, Lieberman is “capable of dumping everything he has ever believed in and assuring the anti-choice, anti-union, anti-government folk that he is on their team.” [NYT]

• Byron York notes “all those issues — pretty much every single domestic issue — on which Lieberman and McCain have voted on opposite sides,” and suggests making Lieberman Defense Secretary instead. [Corner/National Review]

• Chuck Todd and friends offer that the reason the “Lieberman-for-VP chatter is more serious than some think” is because “[i]n one fell swoop, McCain could lower that following-Bush’s-policies number by quite a bit if he picked just one of the two sitting senators who actually ran against Bush as a Democrat.” [First Read/MSNBC]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board thinks that “Lieberman would make a fine Secretary of State, and that, given the political risks, making him vice president would probably be too great an election gamble.” Then again, there’s “no doubt he’d be a better vice president than many … some of those who are favorites of the anti-Lieberman alarmists.” [WSJ]

• Thomas Schaller finds the “thought of a McCain-Lieberman ticket … nauseating,” though it’ll be fun to relish Lieberman’s terrible speaking style, and it would be “delicious” to watch him “lose again in a bid to become a heartbeat away.” [War Room/Salon]

• Russell Berman reports that Congressman Peter King has turned the argument of pro-lifers “on its head,” making the case that it’s better to get a pro-life candidate elected — even if it takes making a pro-choicer his running mate — than allow a pro-choice candidate to become president. Lieberman’s critics “would be the ones morally responsible” if Obama won the election. [NYS]

• Sam Stein writes that Lieberman’s decision to speak at the Republican National Convention is “being met with deep consternation among Democrats and is compelling leadership to reassess his political assignments and future within the party.” In the past, the Democrats’ slim majority has forced them to “swallow their pride and stomach his behavior.” However, whether Lieberman uses his speech to “attack Barack Obama’s patriotism, which he has done in the past, could go a long way in determining how the Democratic Party handles the situation going forward.” [Huffington Post]

• Greg Sargent predicts that “threats towards Lieberman — public and private alike — will continue coming exclusively from Dem leaders who have exactly zero direct influence over what actually happens to him.” This includes Rahm Emanuel, who’s “willing to whisper that Joe Lieberman just may — may — face consequences.” [TPM Election Central]

• Michael Kranish says Lieberman “sits in a position of extraordinary power in the presidential campaign, simultaneously courted and detested by members of both political parties.” He notes that Lieberman could potentially swing Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania towards the GOP with Jewish support, with which the Republicans have had “increasing success.” [Boston Globe]

• Jason Zengerle now considers Lieberman “a man without a political home.” Democrats hate him, and his “only use to the Republicans is as a sideshow act.” Meaning he’s fine for the “symbolic honor” of speaking at the convention, but not for vice president. [Plank/New Republic]

Related: Heilemann: McCain’s Pro-Choice V.P. Bluff

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Joe Lieberman Momentarily at the Center of the Political Universe