Joe Lieberman, Independent Senator from Connecticut (although, oh, he does still caucus with the Democrats in the Senate) explains his position supporting John McCain today in the Stamford Advocate. Lieberman says McCain is “really a reformer” who is not bogged down by partisan politics.
You’ll recall that in January Lieberman and McCain co-authored a well-written piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal regarding the success of the troop surge in Iraq. Lieberman is co-chair of McCain’s Connecticut campaign along with US Representative Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut).
At this point in the election process, it is important, in my opinion, for conservatives to support the Republican Party, including the candidate for President. I support McCain in this election, while I will still continue to promote conservative positions even when they contradict McCain and/or the Party positions.
I have a lot of respect for Joe Lieberman, and commend his work in supporting bipartisan efforts to accomplish the critical tasks at hand. I find it dubious, however, for him to play both sides of the aisle so easily. Democrats are making a good show of distancing themselves from him in the midst of his support for McCain, and perhaps he is simply trying to sort out his philosophical views, with motion to the right, but I would find it much easier to entertain his support if he would completely sever his ties with the Democrats and make a solid commitment to stand with Republicans not just on the issues that he already supports, but as a solid party member and promoter.
I suspect that Joe’s mind is a bit unclear due to McCain’s tendency to lean left. McCain and Lieberman are likely able to work together more because the two of them already operate in the middle, with their foundations from each side. Compromise of the sort found in moderate political philosophy is beneficial when trying to bring the best of both worlds together, but let’s face it: when you must do what’s right on a national scale, you have to think about the long-term implications of your vision and decisions. The left will never do this well because they are always solving for the moment (not unlike the business world, which have lead to the problems we are having with the economy right now). The right will tend toward solving for the long-term, ensuring growth, discipline and a vision for future decades to ensure stability.
Although I appreciate good legislation born from bipartisan efforts, I cannot support the idea that there can ever be a coalition voice between the parties. The goals of the right and left, represented (albeit not consistently) within the Republican and Democratic parties, are substantively different and frequently at odds with each other. Attempting to draw the two together as if they could operate as one is a Pollyanna dream. And frankly, where there is value on the left that is being missed on the right, I think it much more valuable to go through the effort of discussing the positions and reaching the best conclusion together. The discourse on issues does substantially more to help everyone understand the various positions, impacts and risks much better than participants from both sides reaching a hasty compromise because “bipartisanship” is considered the panacea. It’s hard work to talk issues out. But talk them out we must lest we lose our way.
As the article in the Advocate states, Lieberman is still sitting on the left with regard to taxes and the economy, supporting both the unlikely value of the economic stimulus package and higher taxes. And seeing that, it’s hard to think that Joe’s party jumping is anything less than an effort to play both sides in order to keep his job in Washington and pedal his influence into the White House, even if by proxy.
Update: I just checked, and I have to give Joe credit, he did vote in favor of the moratorium on earmarks last week.