Split the Ticket?

Lieberman has endorsed McCain.

This certainly increases the possibility of a McCain Lieberman independent ticket. As I’ve often said, I can’t imagine McCain winning the GOP nomination. Like Lieberman, he’s burned too many bridges for his party to ever truly forgive him.

A number of people have floated the McCain/Lieberman Independent ticket. I think it’s plausible, but I’m not sure McCain would go for it. With their position on the Iraq War, a McCain/Lieberman ticket would only pull votes away from the Republican candidate, which would only help the Dem. nominee. It’s hard to imagine McCain working to put either Hillary or Obama in the White House. McCain might conceivably want the VP nomination, and could bully the party into giving him that spot on the ticket, but is that what he really wants?

Generally speaking, the left is more likely to split the ticket than the right. Nader’s run in 2000 gave Dubya the election, and his run in 2004 certainly hurt Kerry. As a result, the far-left progressives hold a lot of power over the Democratic party. The moderate candidates, like Hillary, have to tread carefully lest they alienate the hard-line progressives. If they do, they could face an independent campaign that would devastate the Democratic ticket.

Gore/Nader.

Nader is too invested in his maverick giant-killer role and will happily run again. I find it mystifying, as it seems to elevate self-righteousness over results, but Nader’s done it twice and will–I’m sure–do it again. But Nader’s effect in 2004 was much reduced, and would likely be further reduced in 2008 unless he partnered with Gore.

An independent “Green” campaign would force the Democratic candidate to move far to the left, and would cost the campaign a lot of moderate voters. But more importantly, I think a Gore/Nader ticket could pull as much as 5% of the popular vote, which would certainly cost the Dems the election–again. The big question, of course, is what does Gore want for not running?

Is he happy as the Nobel-Climate guy? Is he done with Politics as such? Does he want to be an ambassador? Rep to the UN? I don’t think so. Gore isn’t a Nader. Gore isn’t content to sit outside and throw stones. I think Gore wants the White House, and the question is how to get it. An independent campaign puts a Republican into the white house and Gore could then run again in 2012. If his image holds up, he could be a front-runner again.

Or Gore could hold out the threat of an independent campaign to force the Dems to give him the VP nomination. That gives the Dem. ticket a better chance at keeping the green progressives in line, and (if the Dems win) it sets Gore up as a 4-term VP, and the walk-away winner of the nomination in 2016.

Some people have argued that Gore is too old — he’s 59 — and that he won’t want to wait until 2016 for his bid. I’m not so sure. Gore seems pretty hale and hearty, and 67 isn’t that old for a Presidential candidate. Of course, if he doesn’t want to wait, he could run this year and set himself up for 2012.

Vice President Gore

Now that Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize for starring in a documentary, the net is abuzz with speculation about whether or not Gore will enter the 2008 Presidential race.

He won’t. As many people have pointed out, Hillary Clinton’s lead is unassailable and Gore’s Nobel, while very pretty and very shiny, won’t translate into the kind of money he’d need to run. However….

As I said a while back, I think Gore will be the VP nominee. I don’t think he particularly relishes that role; after all the accolades he’s received this year, playing second fiddle to the Clintons (yet again!) will be a difficult pill to swallow. I also think that Hillary will resist that nomination if only to further differentiate her candidacy from her husband’s presidency. But I do think she’ll offer and that he’ll accept. Since that seems contradictory, let me explain my thinking.

Hillary needs to create a distinction between herself and her husband in the primaries so that she doesn’t lose the progressive vote entirely. There are significant blocs of democrats who still resent Bill’s efforts to move the party to the middle. Hillary will need to stay to the left of her husband to win the primary. But in the general election, Clinton nostalgia (prosperity, relative peace, saxophone solos) will be a positive. Even the sex scandals will be blunted as Hillary can turn those scandals into personal triumphs. Essentially Hillary needs to keep left during the primaries and then suddenly swing back to the middle for the general election. But that swing to the middle could end up angering the progressive left — and it’s the hard left progressives that have given the last two general elections to Bush by jumping ship and voting for Nader. Gore, especially now, could blunt the Nader challenge and convince many of the hard line eco-progressives to vote the ticket. So despite Hillary’s misgivings, Gore offers her something no other candidate can. She gets to stay middle and court nostalgia with a Clinton/Gore 2008 campaign and she gets to stay left and piggy-back on Gore’s progressive credentials (Obama might hold some progressives to the ticket, but would drive more moderates away).

For Gore, it will be a matter of swallowing some pride, biting the bullet, and keeping his focus long-term. Gore could be a huge nightmare for the Democratic party. If Gore wanted to, he could run on the Green Party ticket (maybe with Nader) and guarantee the Dems a loss in 2008. But he can’t win the Dem nomination outright this year (maybe he could, but the fall-out would be so fractious that the party would be left in tatters). Gore can be a spoiler in 2008 if he wants to, but he can’t be president in 2009. However, if Gore swallows his pride, accepts the nomination for VP and runs arm in arm with Hillary, he positions himself to be the no-question Democratic nominee in 2016. Sure, that’s eight years away, but Gore is young; he can wait. The question for Gore is does he want to run for President in 2016, or does he want to run in 2012? If he plays spoiler in 2008, he can run in 2012, but he’ll run against a Republican incumbent. If he signs on with Hillary, he stands a good chance of running in 2016 as a four-term VP.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before….