Monday, December 05, 2005

Lieberman to Defense? McCain Alliance?


... They know what Bush likes ... (image via

One of the interesting scenarios being bandied about during the Sunday chat show usual suspects -- McLaughlin, Washington Week in Review, Matthews -- is that Senator Lieberman, a hawkish Democrat, might be tapped to replace Donald Rumsfeld at the Defense Department. Respected CBS anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Scieffer's sources say if Rumsfeld goes, then Lieberman is "in."

This is intriguing stuff, as Lieberman is a former Presidential candidate and Vice Presidential party nominee. There is also blogosphere grassroots buzz that the moderate Connecticut Senator may face a Democratic primary challenge by angry progressives wishing to punish Lieberman's workings with the "Gang of 14." Lieberman's vote on Judge Alito to the Supreme Court will be something to keep your eyes on.

Senator Lieberman, as you may remember, was once considered as a Homeland Security head by the Bushies. If the Senator's "Joe-mentum" has been entirely exhausted within the Democratic Party (For further reference: see Lieberman's quixotic 2004 primary challenge as a Centrist), a career capper at Defense under Bush might be just what the doctor ordered. And, of course, it would make his mother quite proud.

At a Council on Foreign Relations event a few weeks ago for Gary Rosen's new book, Francis Fukuyama offered his thoughts on Rumsfeld. Fukuyama argued, intriguingly, at CFR that the bungling of the post-war cleanup in Iraq was due to the Secretary of Defense's highly personal "reading" of the Bosnia War. Fukuyama, to be sure, knows how to find the clitoris of a room full of Machiavels.

Bosnia, according to Fukuyama, had a great effect on Rumsfeld's consiousness; as a result, the Secretary of Defense, immensely averse to the prospects of a quagmire, prepared the troops -- ill-prepared the troops -- for only the briefest of sojourns. And then, as we all know, reality caught up with him. Blame Bosnia.

More interesting than a shuffling at Defense and the dark night of the soul Rumsfeld experienced over Bosnia, IMHO, is speculation that Senator John McCain may be draped with the diminished Bush mantle.

We wonder what Karl Rove -- a man who has no love of all things McCain -- has to say about this development. There are advantages to this for Bush because: a) McCain, an Iraq War true-believer, if embraced as the 2008 Bush legatee, would surely continue on to prosecute the Iraq rebuilding process, with great gusto, thus ensuring the Dubya legacy, b) McCain, with the Bush right firmly behind him and strong built-in moderate support, would be a lock for the party nomination and, ultimately, virtually unbeatable in the general election, c) McCain proved useful in 2004, working the moderates for Bush and *allegedly* turning down Senator Kerry's eccentric cross-party Veep offer in the thick of things, and, d) McCain's positive press from the admiring Chattering Classes would rub off -- somewhat -- on the President, who has not only abysmal approval ratings, but, what with the "propaganda" allegations, is facing mega-disapproval from editorial boards and newsrooms across the country at a crucial moment in his Presidency.

Of course, Karl Rove, McCain's arch-nemesis, who wanted to make -- with newly brought-in registered Evangelical Christians, aiming for a Conservative majority for the Ages -- would block this move (Or, for that matter, Cheney, the anti-McCain). Then again, if Rove and Cheney were to get caught up in the ongoing Fitzgerald leak probe ... their opinions on the matter might be ruled as irrelevant.

We liveth in curious times.

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