McCain-Lieberman: party pooper or the winning ticket?

Back when John McCain was rallying toward, but had not yet clinched, the Republican nomination, conservatives trying to stop him sought to make much of his alliances with Democrats: e.g. McCain-Feingold (campaign finance reform), McCain-Kennedy (immigration) and McCain-Lieberman (global warming). The attacks didn't derail McCain, and as it turns out, his crossover appeal may be precisely what wins him the White House. Hence, fresh calls for McCain to drive the point home by choosing Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent, as his running mate.

Lieberman has said he's not interested in running for vice president again, but he hasn't stopped campaigning for McCain, and there's no question they enjoy each other's company.

Ultimately the question for McCain is whether he sees his veep pick more as a way to reassure conservative skeptics or more as a way to attract swing voters. Just having the debate, meanwhile, makes clear that the Democrats aren't the only party with a deep fissure.

David Brooks wrote about the McCain-Lieberman "party" back in 2006. Rush Limbaugh has long made clear that it is not a conservative party. It might be the George W. Bush party. Others might term it, more optimistically, the victory party.

(AP photo by Gerald Herbert)