Lieberman on McCain's foreign policy, almost
Confession: I like exploring the nuts and bolts of foreign policy. So when I heard the University of Minnesota was hosting an event examining what a McCain administration's foreign policy would look like – featuring late addition Sen. Joe Lieberman, who would answer reporters' questions – I jumped.
We could get into Iran policy! Did Joe really think military action was appropriate, necessary, or possible? What about Israel? Why did Joe walk a more hawkish line than most Israeli citizens? Or North Korea. Did he really want to count out the diplomacy that he used to support when dealing with hostile nations?
But I was disappointed. Because the term “late” addition was apt.
There were other big shots on the panel, all McCain advisors. One was Bud McFarlane, who was key in the development of Star Wars. Another was an ambassador, Richard Williamson. But they'd have to hold down most of the actual talk. As Williamson rattled off his top three priorities for McCain, Lieberman rolled in, 40 minutes late, and announced he'd have to leave early.
Naturally, Holy Joe got the spotlight.
With highwater trousers exposing leg flesh above the sock line, Lieberman's “thinking” pose causes him to resemble Dana Carvey's “turtle” character from The Master of Disguise. Policy-wise, he spoke in broad generalities, pining for the days of a “more muscular” foreign policy, saying that “if Hubert Humphrey were still a leader in the Democratic Party, I would not be at this convention.”
It's comforting to know that tiny man's Napoleonic fantasies and insecurity over being snubbed by Democratic voters in a primary drive crucial policy decisions. Seriously. “Muscular?”
If I was waiting for specifics, then I still am. The vast majority of foreign policy discussion centered around the need for free trade, probably because scenario-based saber-rattling isn't going to play in Peoria these days. I kept waiting for Iran to come up, or North Korea, or ... anything but trade, really. I'm still waiting.
He did, predictably, hit on terrorism. Even that was a dodge, though, as Lieberman's solvency mechanism involved (wait for it) expanding trade. We need, he said, to recruit hostile states into the World Trade Organization. The WTO lifts you up by your bootstraps and you drop your Kalishnikov, I guess.
But Lieberman prattled on for a few minutes, took two (and only two) softball questions, and then bounced, ignoring all media inquires on his way out the door. “We've got a tight schedule,” explained one of his handlers. Recruiting terrorist states to join the WTO, no doubt. Or maybe just to the next photo op.