Senator Joe Lieberman will finally come clean on Monday, unleashing his inner-Republican to endorse the struggling campaign of Senator John McCain, according to several news reports. It is a bittersweet alliance for both men. Lieberman's move confirms his critics' longtime argument that he is a "Democrat in Name Only," while McCain looks desperate by leaning on backers beyond the G.O.P. base in the homestretch of a partisan primary.
My first thought was to wonder if anyone could really be surprised at this news? Lieberman remains a social progressive on many topics, but his hawkish foreign policy stand, among other issues, brought about the train wreck of his last campaign when his home state's Democrats ousted him, making him technically an "Independent" leaning Democratic. As the linked article points out, though, Lieberman is developing an increasing credibility problem.
During his 2006 reelection campaign, Lieberman emphasized that he would support Democratic candidates in 2008. "I want Democrats to be back in the majority in Washington and elect a Democratic president in 2008," he said during a televised debate in July. Lieberman promptly backtracked after his reelection, announcing this January that he was "open" to supporting a Republican or Democrat for president, depending "on a whole range of issues." By not even waiting to see who the Democrats nominate, now Lieberman is revealing that the issues aren't important to him, either.
I'm with David Schraub on this one. Will it make any difference? Probably not. Lieberman has pretty much taken the dubious place of Zell Miller in 2004. I find it doubtful that many Democratic voters around the country are suddenly going to say, "Oh? Joe likes McCain? Maybe I should give him another look!" I'm not sure what is stopping Lieberman from simply caucusing with the Republicans, or entirely switching his registration to the GOP. Perhaps his many, many statements about remaining loyal to "his party" would make it too embarrassing. Possibly he knows that the GOP wouldn't place him in any position of great power. Aside from his position on the war he doesn't have an agenda that wins any friends among conservatives.
But if you want one early prediction from me, regardless of who wins the presidency in 2008, if the Democrats widen their lead in control of the Senate, look for Joe to lose his committee seats in early 2009. Right now it's such a slim margin that Harry Reid needs Lieberman, at least on paper. If the majority margin goes up, Joe's value goes down and he will likely be receiving a probably well deserved slap that's been a long time coming.