What I and others regard as wishful thinking on the part of many of Giuliani's pundit supporters is basically the claim that his social liberalism, far from being a liability, will in fact serve as an asset that will help him to win big in places like New York state, California, and other parts of the coasts where the GOP does horribly nationally. I think that this is pure fiction myself and suspect that this is what it will translate to electorally if this is what anyone is seriously banking on. Some of Giuliani's most enthusiastic backers are making claims that this will enable him to create a new electoral majority, a la Ronald Reagan, that will allow the GOP to win in perpetuity. The general subtext to these kinds of claims is that while Giuliani will probably lose at least some support among social conservatives (those unwilling to vote for him because he is a strong leader and acceptable on the war) that this support will be offset by some kind of an influx of independent socially liberal professionals.
Well, maybe. What I think is a lot more likely is the scenario that Josiah sketched out in which a lot of the GOP base bolts when confronted with the choice of a Giuliani candidacy and what that means on the issues. Moreover, as I think Josiah correctly analyzes the problem as follows:
I don't know whether the GOP needs pro-life voters. They'e needed them in just about every election for the past 30 years. There's this meme going around that Giuliani is more electable than the other candidates, but I don't really buy it. If independant voters were mainly social liberals who were extremely hawksih, there might be something to this. But they're not. Just the opposite - independants (especially in the midwestern swing states) tend to be socially conservative but have soured on the Iraq war. Why a pro-abortion, pro-gun controll, pro-illegal immigration, pro-gay and pro-war candidate is supposed to be "electable" is beyond me, and I suspect that if Rudy does win the nomination, those people who are expecting Republican wins in California and New York are in for a rude awakening on election night.
My guess is that Giuliani's people don't see it that way. Certainly, many of his pundit supporters don't. A lot of them seem to sincerely believe that enough social conservatives will vote for Giuliani because of his leadership and the war that he really doesn't need to moderate his positions. My own assumption is that this is why they want to delay having Giuliani talk in detail about his social views for as long as possible.
how is it wishful thinking to suppose that the GOP nominee would act to keep its base happy, insofar as they wish to remain identified with the pro-life movement? you yourself said if they abandon that they risk becoming a "politcal non-entity". if you buy your own arguments, then, you'll see it's realistic thinking, not wishful thinking.
My answer would be that I think it is wishful thinking to believe that Giuliani will keep the pro-life base happy when you take into consideration his own views and the basic arguments that his campaign and their pundit supporters are currently making. These consist of a combination of claims that enough social conservatives will vote for him regardless of his positions on issues they care about because his leadership and the war for the dissenters to be electorally irrelevant. Some of his supporters have visions of carving out a new electoral majority, but there is a fine line between a vision and a hallucination. I guess we'll find out who wins there when the primaries are actually held.
One unrelated point that I would make is that there is a recurring mantra out there that only Giuliani can beat Hillary Clinton. I don't think that this true, especially given that whoever is the GOP nominee will be running unencumbered by the baggage of the increasingly impotent Bush administration (as this latest scandal over the firing of attorneys illustrates in all the detail of a slow-motion train wreck) whereas Clinton will have to deal with all of the baggage of her husband's own eight years in office from a candidate who is actually willing to fight back against her. That said, I don't think that the GOP should nominate any candidate solely because they can beat Hillary Clinton. That was exactly the kind of mentality that led the Democrats to nominate John Kerry last time around - he was the guy that all the polls said could beat Bush. I would just as soon not see the GOP repeat our opponents' mistake.