I’m in full agreement with Ezra—McCain is going to go with Lieberman as the VP pick. I largely agree with his reasoning—McCain’s only chance at winning is distinguishing himself from the crazy wingnuts (of which he’s a member of good standing) that have dominated the Bush administration, and for the low information voter, especially, the fact that he picked a former Democrat will show he’s such a moderate guy. To quote Ezra:
More importantly, he amplifies McCain’s most broadly popular qualities, and gives McCain the best chance to muscle into the downscale independents and elderly Democrats who aren’t sold on Obama but mistrust the Republican right. He lets McCain telegraph an ideological ambiguity and shift towards a policy agenda that’s about process, about “reaching across party lines and getting things done,” rather than about sops to the conservative base.
In sum, McCain can only win by hoodwinking the public, as Bush did, and dressing up the crazy wingnut wolf in compassionate/moderate sheep clothing. Lieberman can help.
Of course, the concern for McCain is that a Lieberman pick will alienate the base. I strongly disagree. The first rule of the conservative base is that they are born sheeple, which is why they are conservatives. They’ll vote how their authority figures, from talk show radio hosts to ministers, tell them to vote. Of course, the fear in American elections is always voter apathy—a lot of people “support” a candidate and don’t bother to vote, especially if they have doubts. So getting the base to the polls is an issue for the McCain campaign. But I suspect they’ll be fired up about the Lieberman pick.
The wingnut base is basically three groups of people:
1) Military fetishists with strong racist tendencies
2) Dudes with masculinity issues that work them out by demonizing liberals
3) People with massive psychosexual issues that work themselves out by being paranoid about gays and loose women, defined as any woman who exerts control over her own fertility.
There’s significant overlap, of course, but many wingnuts are ascending on one over others. But the main thing is to address the base’s priorities, and I think Lieberman does that in spades. On #1, well, he’s a hawk, so the military fetishists can look forward to many wars that they can watch from home and feel very powerful and strong because of it. On #2, well, Lieberman delivers. They have a great story to feed the liberal-haters about how Lieberman pissed off the hated liberals so much that they kicked him out of the Democratic party, which will sound to a liberal-hater like getting rejected by communists.
The 3rd group is the wild card, and Ezra thinks that Lieberman’s pro-choice status will hurt him with the anti-choice nutters. I’m actually in disagreement. I think it can totally be finessed. It’s true that a lot of people are anti-abortion, but not hard core anti-choicers, but those people tend to vote on other issues anyway. We’re talking mainly about the hard core anti-choicers, who might boycott if they perceive both tickets as too soft on sluts. But because the hard core people are mainly motivated by misogyny and a depraved fear of sex—and because they have a long history of willingness to grab at straws—I think they’ll easily be finessed by highlighting Lieberman’s vicious statements about rape victims who wish not to become pregnant by their rapists.
Look, that’s some bona fides with the crazies—Lieberman actually ranked rapist sperm over human women as rights-bearing beings. He might be pro-choice in his votes, but he shows the proper contempt and hatred for women, especially penetrated women, and that’s going to go a long way. What to normal people is an appalling lack of empathy will come across as a perfect straw for the nuts to grab onto.