Well, Obama and his running mate, Biden, have one thing in common: Neither of them likes Clarence Thomas.
Obama picked Thomas when asked the one Supreme Court Justice he wouldn’t have appointed. Back at Thomas’s confirmation hearings in 1991, Biden was rivaled only by Paul Simon (the Senator, alas, not the singer) in his utter dumbfoundedness over Thomas’s cautiously-expressed sympathies for libertarianism and slender ties to Reason magazine. I’m afraid Biden’s furrowed brow, as he expressed his horror at the thought of trying to downsize any federal agencies (!?!?!), is furrowed permanently right into my memory. That’s one more reason to hope Obama-Biden doesn’t win in November — though that doesn’t make the thought of a McCain victory pleasant.
By contrast, if Obama had picked Midwestern and somewhat fiscally conservative Evan Bayh, not only would I be happier, but McCain might well have felt obliged to pick Midwestern and somewhat fiscally conservative Pawlenty, and the whole world would be a bit less scary (I say McCain might have felt obliged to counter the Midwest move since half the toss-up states are in the Midwest).
As it stands, maybe McCain will decide that the best way to counter two Senators is by adding another Senator to his own ticket — Independent Joe Lieberman (who he’s supposedly mulling). Nice guy though Lieberman seems, this would be a disaster from my political perspective. Lieberman would be the absolute, clinching proof — almost a living reductio ad absurdum — of the fact that Republicans have ceased to care about anything besides war and that conservatism as we knew it in the second half of the twentieth century is dead.
Lieberman has almost no conservative or free-market credentials to speak of besides war (and, like many Senators of both parties, sympathy for some global trade accords), unless you count the fact that he, like McCain (and David Brooks, the useless goon), shares the Teddy Roosevelt paternalist/reformer spirit that leads to things like wanting government to restrict violent videogames and go on other secular-yet-moralistic crusades to clean up the culture (McCain promoted state-level bans on ultimate fighting, for example).
And to those neocons who think that shrinking government’s not important anymore, just ensuring that government has a “conservative” tone — especially that it’s spending on security purposes — I can only say: You mean the same government that created a Department of Homeland Security that now funds anti-Zionist protests against hawkish Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes? That’s the big government that will supposedly execute your cultural agenda? Good luck with that. (And that’s Commentary noting the DHS irony, not me — here’s hoping the staff draws some non-statist conclusions from the example.)
The crowning absurdity, if we ended up seeing conservatives put Lieberman in office in November, of course, would be the fact that he was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000. (Remember 2000, the year that came before 2001?) If McCain dies in office and has Lieberman for a v.p., maybe President Lieberman could then summon his old running mate Gore to be part of his administration (I’ll bet he’d take EPA administrator — it’d be too embarrassing to pass up the chance, after being a hot air expert for so many years).
But Lieberman’s good for war purposes, some conservatives may still insist. Yeah, and Al Gore wanted more defense spending than Bush in 2000 — one of the reasons I voted against Gore. So maybe we should have put Gore and Lieberman in office in 2000 and saved ourselves eight years’ circuitous journey to the same location (leftist readers suddenly get happier).
Libertarian Party, anyone?
One more thought about a man who might once have been a plausible v.p. choice: John Edwards.
In the highly unlikely event that it should one day turn out that he’s been duped all this time into thinking that Rielle Hunter’s baby is his own, I know one place she might have gotten the idea for the scam: She (really) had a bit part in the 1987 comedy Overboard with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, in which Hawn plays a rich woman named Joanna who refuses to pay her working-class maintenance man Dean (Russell), so as this online summary puts it…
…when Joanna falls overboard and gets a bad case of amnesia, Dean takes advantage of the situation and, in a stroke of retributive genius, tells her that she’s his wife and the mother of his four unruly children.
That raises some complex ethical questions.
Less complex, in my opinion, is the question of whether Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer being in remission during the initial Edwards-Hunter affair makes him less appalling. I’ve seen many writers treat the situation as if that’s obviously the case — in other words, as if it’d be far more horrible to cheat on a dying wife.
Am I the only person (and believe me, I think cheaters and liars are monstrous even when unmarried) who thinks cheating on a dying wife is slightly more excusable than cheating on a healthy wife? I mean, if she’s dying, the cad can always say — and you mark my words, Edwards one day will — “I only wanted to keep her in the dark to spare her pain until she was gone, and now that she is I can make all this right by marrying my mistress, claiming the child that was mine all along, and asking for your vote in November.”
For more insightful political analysis, keep reading this blog this week during the Democratic convention (well, I mean, not all day long, but like once each day, maybe) — and for more sexual-ethics insights, be sure to read ToddSeavey.com during September, which will be “The Month of Sex” on this blog, starting as we’re going into Labor Day.