An ailing columnist rises from his sickbed to throw a shudder of horror through conservative America. Could Maverick be so out of touch with his own base that he needs a Democrat to clue him in? And if so, if Liebs is sincerely convinced the ticket would be doomed, why doesn’t he pull the trap door on himself and issue a Sherman statement?

Politico imagines the VP debate between him and Biden. Joe One: “I support a woman’s right to choose and I’ve worked hard for organized labor my entire adult life.” Joe Two: “Me too!”

Reports of strong support within John McCain’s presidential campaign for Independent Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the Republican candidate for vice president are not a fairy tale. Influential McCain backers, plus McCain himself, would pick the pro-choice liberal from Connecticut if they thought they could get away with it…

Lieberman surely doesn’t know that much about Republican politics, but he has close Republican friends. One of them prevailed on Lieberman to tell McCain that a McCain-Lieberman ticket would be a disaster for all concerned, and especially for the GOP…

McCain’s top strategists argue that the Bush coalition that won the last two presidential elections is dead and must be replaced by a new one that extends to the left, as Lieberman would.
Bush strategists disagree, asserting that McCain is getting around 90 percent of the old Bush vote and can win the election with a few moderates added in.

The Republican operative who urged Lieberman to dissuade McCain from picking him believes that there is still a very useful role for the maverick Democrat in this campaign: as McCain’s secretary of state. While an announcement in St. Paul of Lieberman as vice president would bring groans from the assembled Republicans, placing him at the State Department would evoke a standing ovation.

I assume the only reason we haven’t already heard McCain promise centrists that Lieberman and other Dems will be in his cabinet is because he’s saving it for his acceptance speech. As it is, though, I’m starting to worry about the pro-choice VP meme seeding doubts among social cons. It’s like the Hillary/PUMA drama, albeit in a more limited way: Even if McCain ends up doing the right thing and picking a pro-lifer, there’ll still be that tiny minority convinced that his heart’s desire lies elsewhere. Then again, how many people are following the news closely enough to know that a pro-choicer is in serious contention? Twenty percent? Ten percent? And if he picks Romney or Pawlenty, what percentage of that will hold the Ridge/Liebs flirtation against him anyway? Five percent? One percent?

Meanwhile, Kay Bailey Hutchison’s hometown paper floats her as a possible dark horse. Appealing to women, loads of experience, brimming with Texan Republican authenticity. Exit question: What could go wrong? Exit answer: Houston, we have a problem.

Update: Jonathan Martin says the Hutchison talk is hot air.