What did Lieberman's victory really augur?
Two pundits read the tea leaves at the in the wake of Joe Lieberman's senate victory. (Hat tip: Roger Simon) Just what does it suggest for the Presidential race in 2008? The first pundit, Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute writing in Real Clear Politics, thinks it augurs well for John McCain. Brown thinks Lieberman gambled that Democratic voters were further to the center than its party leadership -- and won. He conjectures that Republican voters are further to the Left than party activists, and that therefore an anti-party but pro-war candidate like John McCain will cross the finish line first, whatever his party may think of him. But Reliapundit thinks Brown is focusing too much on the "maverick" part of the equation. It is the "liberal" component that is important, and in that respect, Rudy Giuliani may have the advantage.
I think the fact that both candidates appeal to so-called centrists/independents who pick-and-choose from among each party's platform is trivial. WHY!? Well, Lieberman's margin over Lamont doesn't portend a McCain victory, but a RUDY VICTORY: It shows that a liberal hawk is a very appealing candidate for parts of the GOP and the DNC and the "moderate" independents.
McCain is not a liberal hawk - he is pro-Life and pro-tax cuts. Sure, he is anti-gun and for campaign finance reform (which hinders free speech), but he is really rather conservative - too conservative for many MANY Lieberman-type voters. Rudy, though, is truly a liberal hawk: he is anti-gun; pro-gay marriage; pro-abortion; and virtually pro-illegal immigation. Lieberman shows that this Rudy-esque combination is truly very appealing.
But that's only how punditry sees the Lieberman lesson playing out on the right side of the political equation. On the Left side of the equation, Reliapundit predicts the Lieberman fiasco will have exactly zero impact on the Democratic Party nomination process. They will ignore it. "I seriously doubt that the Democrat Party can nominate a hawk - liberal or centrist. They will nominate someone more like Lamont than like Lieberman, and THAT is the sad-but-true bottom-line of this story."
One commenter whose name escapes me, predicted that the 2006 midterm elections would be a loss for the American public whichever political party won. Maybe he was right. The outcomes predicted by both Peter Brown and Reliapundit both describe are eerily equivalent to the Republicans nominating a candidate from a "third party" -- someone outside the system -- without actually creating one. And that only makes sense if the public is sick unto death of both parties, though Reliapundit argues that only the Republicans are chastened enough to realize it. Roger Simon has argued that there is something different about the 2008 Presidential election that transcends its raw monstrosity. Besides being a billion dollar election in a time of war there is the sense that it is a kind of crossroads; that this particular Presidential contest constitutes (in that wonderful Churchillian phrase) a hinge of fate. But maybe that's putting it too dramatically. Let's wait and see.