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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rudy Runs Aground

I've had an open mind about Rudy Giuliani's candidacy - in fact, I've been very taken with his proven leadership skills. His pledge to appoint strict constructionist judges to fill Supreme Court vacancies went a long way toward nullifying my distaste for his history of opposing pro-life policies. But his latest position on this issue has badly damaged his position on my scoreboard:

Giuliani to Support Abortion Rights
After months of conflicting signals on abortion, Rudolph W. Giuliani is planning to offer a forthright affirmation of his support for abortion rights in public forums, television appearances and interviews in the coming days, despite the potential for bad consequences among some conservative voters already wary of his views, aides said yesterday.
We'll see if Rudy Giuliani is asked about this during tonight's GOP presidential debate.

Of course, what makes Rudy attractive is his performance as mayor of New York City, which you can read about in a book by Fred Siegel, The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life. Without a doubt, he displayed great courage and energy in turning that city around. In reading the book, three points emerge:
  1. New York City was in such a sorry condition that the citizens were willing to accept that the liberal experiment had largely failed and that common sense governance was once again needed. Rudy was elected into this desperate environment, one in which even Democrats were willing to deal in exchange for a return of law and order.

  2. A significant reason that Rudy Giuliani was able to turn NYC around was because he had Democrat allies in city government who worked with him rather than against him. Specifically, Speaker of the New York City Council, Peter Vallone Sr., agreed with much of what Giuliani was trying to accomplish and generally supported Giuliani's means of getting things done.

  3. Giuliani was (is) an incredibly energetic and bold leader. The man and the moment were simply perfect for each other. New York City was open to being saved; Giuliani was the savior they needed.
The impression of Giuliani the Leader that emerges from the book is rather more mixed than one might expect. The environment that a President Giuliani would step into in 2009 would be nothing like that which he faced as the newly elected mayor of NYC in 1993. Rather than defeated and discredited, the liberal experiment continues apace at the national level - the socialist utopian dream is alive and well, and its purveyors are quite confident in its eventual triumph. And as we have seen during the Bush presidency, there are very few Democrats willing to work constructively with a Republican president.

As conservatives, we want to see significant movement on entitlement reform, tax code reform, border control, military procurement, market-based health care options and the like. One would like to think that, because of his success in transforming NYC, Rudy Giuliani would be just the guy to lead the charge to transform America. And perhaps he is. That's certainly what he's selling, and I'm intrigued by his enormous potential.

But it would be unwise to look at his record as mayor and simply assume that he could work the same sort of transformation at a national level. The forces supporting the failed status quo are dug in; Rudy would have to fight them for every inch of ground. And he could count on zero support from across the aisle. Under these conditions, it is a real question whether he would, as president, experience any more success than our current president in moving the conservative agenda.


Blogger Frake said...

You are too kind. Rudy blew it.

Social conservatives, like ourselves, wanted to believe that Giuliani would support strict Constitutionist judges to the Supreme Court so we could overlook his pro-choice record. I even heard him say this should be a States’ Right issue, as it was before Roe v. Wade – even that would probably have been acceptable to conservatives.

There are so many ways that Giuliani could have played this issue without changing his philosophy or appearing to be an opportunist flip-flopper. Social conservatives, in my opinion, wanted a reason to believe in him. All he had to do was give them one. He failed to give us a reason. He blew it.

My guess is that someone in the Giuliani campaign is advising Rudy to stick to his beliefs – don’t appear as a flip-flopper; don’t let the sharky MSM smell blood in the water; survive the primary and the general election is yours to win. Risky, but not a bad strategy.

Personally, I don’t think this strategy will work. No presidential candidate of either party can win the general election, let alone the primary, with the support of the base. Within the Republican Party, social conservatives make up the largest voting block – they are the base.

My prediction is that it’s going to come down to Romney and Thompson (if/when he gets around to announcing).

5/15/2007 6:52 PM  
Blogger Frake said...

Oops! I meant to say "without the support the base".

5/15/2007 10:11 PM  
Blogger Thrifty Scot said...

I suppose you're right, but it's hard to write him off so easily. He's taken on so many of our enemies and won (NY Times, NYC race baiters, union thugs) that it's hard to bid him goodbye.

5/15/2007 10:31 PM  

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