Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Observations

1. It turns out that Tiger’s leg injuries have taken him out for the year and have career-threatening potential. The other golfers are pygmies compared to him, and I regret saying ambiguously negative things about him.

2. Lieberman is resurfacing as a McCain VP possibility. I assume that someone will tell Mac not to go with his gut on this. Even the convention, with good reason, would rebel against the choice of a liberal Democrat.

3. More promising is the very Hawkish and Jewish Rep. Eric Cantor, who has a very consistently conservative voting record. It’s not true that he’d get Mac significantly more Jewish vote. But right now he appears to be the most formidable Republican politician in VA--a state Mac will need to win that’s quickly trending Democratic. (Gilmore is down 30 to Warner.)
Cantor also seems quite able and looks young and nerdy in a good way. Does he he have the stature and/or eloquence to escape the boring category? The written versions of his speeches are very short on nuance and poetry. Still, my 10 minutes of research suggests that Cantor is at least worth discussing (as Fred Barnes has done). My tentative conclusion is that he’s no Bobby J.

4. I have to say that Mac’s new enthusiasm for offshore drilling does not seem very authentic.

5. The betting by some today is that Obama will pick Biden--which would be seen as a solid choice of an experienced man by a candidate confident of victory.

Discussions - 19 Comments

Dear Professor Lawler,

On what domestic economic issue does McCain show authentic enthusiasm? Certainly not health care, the Bush tax cuts or expanded energy production. I'm not saying that McCain is unconservative (though his original opposition to the Bush tax cuts seemed much more sincere that his recent conversion). McCain has a twenty plus year record of being basically a conservative vote in Congress. Its just that McCain seems to have no passion for these kinds of issues and it shows. McCain also has a courtly streak that can work against him. Its probably one reason why McCain is not trying to tie Obama to (Obama supporter)Senator Dodd's troubles with Countrywide. McCain knows it would be a cheap shot, but that wouldn't stop other politicians. One question nags: Would McCain be this courtly if his opponent was Romney? McCain has tended to be more politically bloodthirsty when his opponents were to his right.

If McCain picks Lieberman after growing on his off-shore drilling position . . . well, that will make his new position look pretty inauthentic. But McCain is nothing if not practical and $4/$5 a gallon gas is a pretty good reason to change your mind. He can easily say that it's not longer possible to afford his earlier position. Most people are not in a frame of mind to disagree or be particularly worried about authenticity in light of these hard facts. Environmentalism of the fanatical sort is going to get very expensive. As it does, it will become the province of those who shop in boutiques . . . and elitist. McCain can say he's more for retail environmentalism.

As for Biden for Obama . . . now that would be something fun. The plagiarist with the orator? Will the top of the ticket have to copyright all of his speeches as quickly as they come out to protect them from his own VP? Think only of all the gaffes Biden will bring with him . . . oh, that would be delicious! The trouble with Biden from our point of view is that he's like a really ugly dog that is so ugly he's cute. I don't mean that Biden is ugly in his physical appearance. I mean that his bumbling, brusque, and obnoxious manner is so bad that it's almost schtick. He's Chevy Chase funny. Impossible, even if you want to hate him, actually to hate him. He's so reliable for a good belly laugh that you're almost grateful to him . . . like Robert Byrd.

Julie, That's right...we're used to and comfortable with Biden--including with all his warts etc. Nobody really hates him or takes him that seriously.

Well . . . "not serious" is probably not what Obama is striving for in his VP choice. So I'd say it's unlikely. But God . . . would that be fun!

I would think that Obama is looking for two things in a running mate. 1st would be gravitas and especially foreign policy experience. Biden gives Obama that. 2nd would be caution (for lack of a better word). Obama would be looking for someone who will not say or do anything embarrasing. Biden is not so good here. He can't seem to keep his mouth in check when it gets going. It probably would be ok, but why take a chance? A better choice would be Evan Bayh. He has almost all of Biden's strengths, none of his weaknesses and even has some executive experience to boot. Plus, Bayh has prospered in a very red state. That doesn't mean Bayh would flip Indiana to Obama (he wouldn't), but it shows Bayh can reach out to voters who are not part of the Democratic base.

I don't recall you posting anything ambiguous or negative about Woods.

As for Eric Cantor, he runs a good staff. I've spent some time speaking with his top staffers, and they've demonstrated that they're more often right than wrong, far more often right, than wrong. A guy who can pick out decent staff shows promise, and after this administration, cobbled together from the Rockefeller Republican administrations of the Ford and first Bush presidencies, ----------------- which of us is left with any remaining doubt about the importance of making good staff picks.

All along I said it would be Biden or Richardson, regardless of who led the Democrat ticket. Both Hillary and Obama lack all kind of experience, but in that Republicans can be expected to try to exploit foreign policy concerns, ---- it made sense to try to secure that flank by tapping Biden.

And as for Richardson, --------- he's Hispanic, and it's obvious what he would bring to the table.

Readers of this blog should oppose offshore drilling. High oil prices are creating a movement against left turns. (See here:,1889,1493,00.html)

I'd think you'd all be pleased.

In regards to 8, high oil prices recently sunk the per share price of UPS, no left turns or not. The no left turns policy of UPS is actually a good example of AI leading to smart business. UPS is just trying to show people that they are being as high tech as possible to reduce fuel costs and comfort investors. If UPS dips lower on oil price fears one might consider the contrarian buy of the stock if one also thinks that high fuel prices will lead to less conventional shopping and thus more online shipping via UPS. That is off the cuff 5 second thinking(not even 10 minutes!) and not serious stock recommendation...

Now I bought Lieberman stock from Clint, and if it has appreciated considerably I might sell some of it back to Dr. Lawler, or I might ride it out a little while longer. I still think it has strong fundamentals, but if I could sell enough to hedge the cost of my initial risk and be freerolling on strong upside then I am game. Note that I bought Hillary Clinton previous to Texas+Ohio and sold when Reverend Wright made his second set of comments, that others believed might sink Obama.

Of course this is also why I believe in the wisdom of shading states as leaning rather than firmly in a column. I dig what Julie says in 2, but notice that Lieberman is actually a pick that muddies the question of determining authenticity and Loyalty. I still think that it works on a lot of levels for McCain, especially in light of comment 1 which is prevelant view even among those who shop at Wal-mart. Don't underestimate all the good things McCain picking Lieberman could do for his image. Also note that Lieberman might be punished rather harshly by democrats in the future, he is a man without a party.

Next they'll take on the left handed as equally inefficient.

My DNC-programmed brother, a Jewish Connecticut resident with strong ties to Israel, classifies Lieberman as a Benedict Arnold and positively loathes the man. Its absurd, even scary, since my brother voted for Lieberman in both the 2006 Dem primary and general election, and, as far as I know, Lieberman has not changed his substantive position on anything since then. However, as the Dem Party has moved left on the war, Lieberman's refusal to move with them has rendered him a pariah (whereas in 2004 he was considered a goofy nonconformist).

I just mention this as a demonstration of Lieberman's current standing in the Democratic Party, even among voters in his own state who used to identify with him. And also as an illustration of the insane partisanship of the Democrats today, who evidently regard deviation from the party line on any issue (except maybe gun control, if you're from certain parts of the country) as a hanging offense that obliterates all past service and friendship. One reason (among others) that I don't think McCain should pick Lieberman is that doing so would likely boost turn-out - for Obama.

I think the pick of Eric Cantor would make McCain competitive in another area: The young vote and the internet. The distrust of McCain by conservatives, his age, and his disparaging remarks about the internet translates into no competition for Obama in this important medium.

Cantor would make the McCain team competitive in this medium and beyond. Cantor has been one of the Republican House pioneers in using the internet to communicate. His conservative record could energize young conservatives who are either sitting on the sidelines or criticizing McCain.

A group of conservatives are using the internet to promote McCain, sign the petition.

Warning: The following deterministic account is in service to my own intellectual curiosity, it is also quite incomplete and in progress.

Dr. Lawler thinks that the convention with good reason would rebel against the choice of a Lieberman, this particular nugget of wisdom is not to be tossed aside lightly, in fact it is to be counted on as largely inevitable.

DJF interestingly points out that DNC-programmed people hate Lieberman. He also expresses outrage at the insane partisanship of democrats today.

To be perfectly fair to Obama one would have to read the Audacity of Hope carefully...but lets take a relevant passage "Not surprisingly, there are activists who insist that Democratic senators stand fast against any Republican initiative these days--even those initiatives that have some merit--as a matter of principle."

Now what is going to happen at the convention? George Bush is going to be honored for his service to Republicans, and McCain no matter who he picks will hardly in my guestimation be able to create a lot of momentum.

I suppose that being social scientists a lot of you know that the vice president doesn't add that much to the ticket(the integrity of being able to calculate this being somewhat in question.)

Comment 12 suggests Eric Cantor, but I object on the grounds that only insiders know who he is, and if you think insiders are the ones who are currently paying attention, then you are right. If you think insiders are the people who can generate momentum and internet buzz...well then you know little of facebook or Myspace, but you aren't completly wrong: Chiron still exists. Being a pioneer in the internet market in terms of controlling ideas, is like being a pioneer in the corn market, you might have some clout, but you can't set market price. The internet makes everyone a "price taker".

Think bigger people, I was awakened by Hegel, Obama and Dr. Lawler's strange use of the word "Libertarian" that justly confounded Kate, Dr. Mosier and myself, but I came to understand that what was ment by this was really just what Hegel calls "critical consciousness" and critical consciousness is in battle with "way of the world" which Hegel means in every single possible way to mean everything from church, state, Zeitgeist, establishment.

The key momentum generator is critical consciousness running up against authority+establishment.

Now you don't have to make this argument from Hegel, and perhaps I would be better off not doing so, since Toqueville warns against it, but dropping names and putting strange spins on thinkers is the Machiavellian way. In point of fact this argument has nothing to do with Lieberman yet, except for the fact that I would suggest that McCain is already framed as a candidate, and will continue to be framed by forces beyond the control of any party machine. I would advise that any attempt to make McCain look like something he is not will be seen as establishment/authority negating critical consciousness. In fact I don't see any pretty picture comming from a convention that isn't in an uproar after the obligatory praise of Bush. I also don't see any spirit comming into McCain if he feels that he has to compromise himself to the way of the world of the party. McCain himself is a fighter, and will push back, he naturally hates conservatives more than liberals simply because he feels most pushed around by them. The fact of the matter is that we hate the factions in our party the most because they are the forces that we blame as other for creating the way of the world that is not in keeping with our own critical consciousness. McCain is not a divine being. If conservative commentators keep hammering McCain, or if he keeps thinking that they are do you expect the smile on his face to look sincere when he says: friends?

A question for the Eric Cantor boosters:

I don't doubt that Cantor is smart, knowledgeable, affable, and principled. But if he's such hot stuff as a politician, why hasn't he run for the VA Senate seat? Or for governor? And, with all due respect to Howard (#12), I don't think the election result in November is going to turn on whether McCain succeeds in energizing politically engaged young conservatives.

Also, if McCain wants to use the internet effectively (and he should), his campaign should hire an effective internet staff (perhaps Cantor could recommend some people). Effective use of the internet and the choice of running mate are both important, but I don't see what one has to do with the other.

In general, one should guard against the natural tendency to project one's own preferences onto the electorate as a whole.

Lieberman is a "liberal Democrat"?? Please, be serious.

Mr. Scanlon (#21): Assuming that in the phrase "liberal Democrat" you are using "liberal" as a synonymn for "leftist," Lieberman qualifies as a "liberal Democrat" on every substantive issue, with the sole exception of his continuing support for the Iraq war -- a position that many of his fellow Senate Democrats (including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd) shared until they saw the partisan and personal advantage to be gained by turning against the war. I can't think of any other issue on which Lieberman even resembles a conservative, except maybe his call for a censure of Bill Clinton for his conduct with Monica Lewinsky, and Lieberman's silly complaints about "sex and violence" in moves. Both of the latter, I think, fall within the category of empty posturing.

The previous comment was a response to comment # 15 by Craig Scanlon.

I should add that I seem to recall that Lieberman once questioned leftist orthodoxy on affirmative action, but he promptly dropped this position when he was selected as Gore's running mate.

I don't have an answer for Craig in 15, but my point is that what drives internet debate and noise is the question of determining how one would label someone like Lieberman.

"I should add that I seem to recall that Lieberman once questioned leftist orthodoxy on affirmative action, but he promptly dropped this position when he was selected as Gore's running mate."

Good point DJF but notice that once again we are back to questioning if a politician must or should constrain his political opinions to party orthodoxy, so we are firmly inside the "consciousness vs. authority" portion of the Hegelian Dialectic.

The question is if the political positions of politicians actually represent what they/we believe or what they/we would have us/them believe they/we believe.

On the other hand what they personally believe is critical consciousness and what they would have us believe they believe is what ends up being party orthodoxy/authority.

So the question is, in what way does the choice of VP itself represent an effort on the part of Republicans to reign in the critical consciousness of McCain, which in actuality represents his only honest claim to being Maverick?

Comments on original post: 2) I agree. McCain should not pick a liberal Democrat, and Lieberman is one much more often than not. It's just that he has a more classy way of being a liberal. Which says more about the majority of other liberal politicians than about Lieberman's desirability as a veep or a veep candidate. 3. If Cantor can bring more votes in Northern Virginia, he's worth a look. But Ohio is still more important. 4. It may be hard for McCain to develop a clear message on energy, but he's better than the Democrats and it's the kind of issue on which he's comfortable going after his opponent. It's also beginning to look like a voting issue for some otherwise-undecided people. In addition, the party can carry this one for him to some extent. It's even capable of improving our "brand," which also helps McCain. 5. Biden is somewhat more sensible on foreign policy than many other leading Democrats. But when one hears him on TV or reads quotes from him -- especially when one sees him in Senate hearings -- "solid" is hardly the word that comes to mind.

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