Though much of the 2008 presidential campaign is still technically ahead of us, the fact is, Arizona Sen. John McCain seems all but certain to win the GOP nomination. Give the plucky war hero some credit. You could've stuck a fork in his campaign just a couple of months ago. Like him or not (and I don't), the guy's a survivor...whether it's enduring 5 years of torture as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war, or as a presidential candidate. After a highly contentious and losing effort in 2000 against the leader of the real Axis of Evil (Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzalez), 2008 finally looks like John McCain's time in the political sun. And if the scrappy Senator chooses Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate--as I suspect he will--I believe he will not only win the Republican nomination, but also the big prize next November. Democrats should be afraid. Very, very afraid. Against either leading Democrat--NY Senator Hillary Clinton or Illinois Sen. Barack Obama--this would be an unbeatable ticket.
To be sure, a McCain/Lieberman ticket would not only be attractive to run-of-the-mill Republicans, but to conservative Democrats and independents alike. On the religious front, Lieberman would likely draw the Jewish vote, as well as evangelicals, who adore his piousness. And Old Joe is an already vetted, proven entity. Remember that former veep Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 with Lieberman on the ticket. That was eight years ago. Cut to '08, and the big question is this: are voters in the United States--a country unfortunately still riddled with racial, religious and gender discrimination and prejudice--while clearly accepting of a Jew in the White House, ready to elect a Black or a woman? This is not to say that Clinton or Obama cannot win in the general election. But the simple fact is that Republicans and independents are not going to vote for Clinton. And while Obama might fare slightly better with some left-leaning independents, the bulk of these renegades will clearly go to McCain. This landscape presents a steep uphill climb for either Democrat.
Now let's look at McCain for minute. We know he's tough. We know he's a war hero. And while he's without question a military hawk, he does have a deep respect and concern for our servicemen and women, given his own battle scars. Unlike our draft-dodging president, who never knew firsthand the pain and suffering of war, the odds are McCain would think long and hard before sending our troops into battle. And as a relentlessly tortured POW, he also has an unwavering respect for the Geneva Conventions, and was an aggressive opponent of former Attorney General and torture-monger Alberto Gonzalez. This makes him a very attractive choice among the national security crowd. Ditto for Lieberman.
On the fiscal side, while he's certainly not put forth any ground-breaking economic proposals (his recent stimulus plan is "long-term based" and actually quite weak), he is a pro-growth, smaller-government, free-trader who initially opposed the Bush tax cuts but now favors them. Again, these positions will certainly appeal to Repubs, conservative Dems and the highly coveted indies.
And while I for one don't buy into this myth, he's somehow earned the reputation as a moderate, which he is anything but. Not militarily, not fiscally, and certainly not on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Yet all of this has been tempered by his much-revered rebel status. Someone who marches to the beat of his own drummer. While he's indeed sucked up to, and backed down from, Bush and others on many occasions, this independent cred, and that of Lieberman, could really resonate among voters fed up with Bush, politics and politicians in general. Stack up this ticket against "more Clinton years," as many Republicans and Democrats loudly lament, and you can see how easily it could be for McCain to be our 44th president. And by putting Lieberman on his ticket, McCain, in my opinion, becomes a shoe-in.
So, how real is this threat? A new Los Angeles Time/Bloomberg poll released Thursday has Clinton at just 46% to McCain's 42%. With 10 months to go until the election, and with what we know of McCain's record as a fighter and survivor, these are very scary numbers.
On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Thank you.