ST. PAUL – The most militantly conservative Republican National Convention in the history of the republic cheered itself hoarse Tuesday night for a pro-choice, pro-civil rights, pro-labor, pro-environment champion of anti-global warming initiatives who hailed the accomplishments of Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Such are the vagaries of this strangest of all national conventions that it was a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus who finally focused the attention and energy of the gathering on the campaign to prevail in what he described as “no ordinary election.”
And such are the vagaries of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman’s strangest of all political journeys that the man who just eight years ago accepted the Democratic nomination for the vice presidency on Tuesday night, endorsed a Republican candidate for president with whom Lieberman disagrees on many issues and a Republican candidate for vice president with whom he disagrees on almost every issue.
What gives? It comes down, pretty much, to Iraq.
Lieberman, who serves as an independent but identified himself to the delegates as a Democrat, shares McCain’s commitment to the neo-conservative approach to foreign policy that McCain suggests may require a hundred year commitment to the occupation of the Middle Eastern land.
“What we need most is not more party unity in America but more national unity! Especially at a time of war, we need a President we can count on to fight for what’s right for our country — not only when it is easy, but when it is hard,” argued Lieberman. “When others were silent, John McCain had the judgment to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq. When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion and support the surge, and because of that, today, our troops are at last beginning to come home, not in failure, but in honor!”
While that statement was inaccurate – Obama never voted “to cut off funding for our troops on the ground” – it was the applause line of the night.
The delegates, alternates and assorted hangers-on loved Lieberman not just for endorsing their ticket but for attacking the Democratic standard-bearer. The senator had once declared that he would not attack Obama – a colleague who barely two years ago identified Lieberman as his political mentor – did not hesitate to echo McCain campaign talking points about the Democrat’s supposed inexperience.