Friday, March 16, 2007

Well, look at it this way ...

In response to the following comments in the combox, primarily by Kathleen:
I guess my larger point is that in terms of real politics, "to believe that Giuliani will keep the pro-life base happy" one is required only to believe that he will appoint justices like scalia, and Giuliani has all but said he would do this.

but if the "pro-life base" petulantly insists on holding out for some candy rainbow scenario wherein a president outlaws abortion with the stroke of a pen, or if the "pro life base" petulantly insists on just having the right type of guy in the white house (like bush 41, who was pro life and appointed ridiculous judges) then the 'pro-life base" is childish and unrealistic and doesn't deserve to be kept happy.

I agree with this for the most part, but for the reasons stated by myself and Josiah previously we do not believe this to be the case regarding Giuliani. Part of my own reason for this is that we are not dealing with a relatively blank slate here or even an individual who was mildly pro-choice. Giuliani was vocally pro-choice (and socially liberal on other issues) and he deliberately stressed that both during his time in office and afterwards when asked about his views on these issues. To me, that establishes a track record and that is one of the criteria that I judge a politician on when considering whether or not to vote for him. You will note that I have been more than willing to accept Mitt Romney's shift in his views. Giuliani simply hasn't been persuasive in this regard given his past track record, and as such I think I'm justified to retain my skepticism.

Kathleen continues:
i don't get why anyone disbelieves him (well, I do get it, they like to borrow trouble and feel aggrieved, but anyway...). Giuliani would not be a national candidate if he were not mayor of NY, and he would not have been mayor of NY if he hadn't given a sop to the ultra ultra liberal base there. It's 15 years later, and I don't care what he said to get elected mayor of NY, frankly.

in any case Giuliani could think abortion is the greatest thing since sliced bread but Roe is terrible law, given that he is a (smart) lawyer. whether someone likes the reasoning behind Roe and whether he likes abortion are 2 different questions. people don't seem to be understanding that.

Giuliani may think that Roe is bad law (most serious law people, even a lot of liberals, seem to), but whether or not he would want judges who would overturn it is another matter. As far as Giuliani not being a national candidate if he wasn't mayor of NYC and having to adopt his positions as a matter of political necessity, the same could be said for Mitt Romney. Yet conservatives have accepted him as one of their own whether or not he wins the primary, and I think that might tell you something about the two.

She concludes with:
I think the arguments that Giuliani can turn a blue state into a red state or that Giuliani is the only one who can beat Hillary clinton are facetious. the fact is this: people liked what they saw of the man on 9/11 and people have heard how effective he was as mayor in NY. frankly I think his 9/11 performance counts for more, and I think that alone could take him to the top.

not to mention that Giuliani arguably has a better, more visceral understanding than any other national candidate of the effects of terrorism. when he said 9/11 was beyond his worst nightmare, he wasn't kidding. someone like that is going to act in the face of a threat, not turn away from it and pretend it isn't real.

Actually, a lot of Giuliani supporters are pitching in conservative media and on conservative forums those two arguments. Didn't John Podhoretz basically write an entire book outlining the argument that Giuliani was the only candidate that could beat Hillary? As I said (and I think the polling data to date supports this), Giuliani is a strong candidate and a strong leader, which is why I think that many conservatives are drawn to him, especially given the political impotency that currently characterizes the Bush administration. However, they are quite unfamiliar with his views on other topics and at some point he (like his counterpart Obama on the Democratic side who has received similar adulatory praise on the basis of single speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention) is going to have to talk about them if he wants to become the GOP presidential nominee IMO.

As far as Giuliani having a better understanding of terrorism, I would in my partisanship for McCain dispute this. Of the GOP candidates, only McCain and Gingrich have offered substantive constructive criticism of the current administration's conduct of the war on terrorism, particularly regarding what I view as the disastrous policies pursued by Secretary Rumsfeld and others in Iraq. McCain's views on Iraq have basically been adopted by the Bush administration (and Giuliani, IIRC) as its own concerning the surge, which he has been advocating at least as far back as 2004-2005 and which is now producing practical real-world results on the ground in terms of reducing violence in Baghdad and having sufficient troops to fight al-Qaeda and Sadr. One of the reasons that I support McCain is that he ascertained what I see as a more correct strategy for Iraq and fought for it alongside Joe Lieberman long before it was popular with the White House.

My partisanship aside, I think that all of the current GOP candidates with the exception of Hagel would be acceptable for the purposes of the war on terrorism. Certainly they have all supported the Iraq war at a time when the short-term and politically expedient thing to do would be to come out against it, which speaks well of them. I hope this makes at least some sense to you.

As for Victor's thoughts:
Here's the other difference between Ronald Reagan and Giuliani -- electoral-strategery-wise. Reagan expanded the GOP *without alienating the then-existing base* and/or *without sacrificing a chunk of it to gain a larger chunk elsewhere.* The Reagan Democrats came to him.

Still, the comparison with Reagan is intriguing in the following way. Reagan was a divorced man with a partly-estranged family who, as governor of California, had signed both the nation's most-liberal abortion law and loosest no-fault divorce law. By 1980, he said he had come around on abortion. But there was still little reason beyond rhetoric that "the Religious Right" should have trusted him. Particularly since he was running against an evangelical.

I bolded the part that I think is most significant. And as far as Reagan having a turn around on abortion in 1980, this is basically what Mitt Romney argues has happened to him. If Giuliani made a sincere pitch to that regard, I think that he would be accepted by a lot of supporters as sincere for a variety of reasons ranging from pragmatism to a pious political myth. Thus far, he has made no indication of doing so and the idea that he is even open to the idea certainly isn't the message that his pundit supporters have been sending.


paul zummo said...

Perahaps we can be comforted by Fred Thompson's potential candidacy, which would make all of this moot, if preliminary indications of his popularity are accurate.

Donald R. McClarey said...

National Review Online has the transcript and an audio recording of a radio commentary that Thompson made regarding the surrender Left's question "What Would Gandhi do?" Run Fred, run!

Anonymous said...

Josiah says:

I'm not sure I get Rudy's national security appeal. His heart is clearly in the right place on the issue, but I would think the last six years have taught us that just having your heart in the right place isn't enough. He has virtually no foreign policy experience, and his speeches on the issue consist mainly of platitudes. Why he should be considered not only the best on the issue, but so much better than the other Republican candidates so as to justify overlooking his social liberalism, is beyond me.

paul zummo said...


Wise beyond your years you are. Many seem to assume that Giuliani's social liberalism (which is slightly exaggerated) is his only liability. And if you look past that, the theory goes, he's the best guy for the job.

Based on what? Listen, I am second to none in my admiration for what Giuliani did for my native city. He think he brought the right set of managerial skills required to be mayor of the largest city in the country. But how does that translate to his presidential skills?

New York City is larger than about 4/5 of the states, so his management of a city that large is nice. But there's still a difference between being a mayor and being a governor. So who's to say he has the managerial competence to be President - an issue that is unfortunately overlooked every four years. Our overvaulation of ideology is another issue, but I think it's something else to consider.

And as Josiah says, Giuliani's heart may be in the right place regarding the war, but what expertise does he bring the table to make us think he would be able to make the right strategic decisions? There aren't any. People like Glen Beck are fond of saying that only one issue matters to them. I won't begrudge them that passion on the issue, but where is the case that Giualiani is the best guy for the job even if the war on terrorism is the only thing that matters?

As might be clear from these and other comments my ambivalence about the man being worthy to be President is clearing up. I'm not ambivalent anymore, just opposed. And his pro-choice position is not the sole or even main reason why.

kathleen said...

Paul zummo says, essentially, "I don't like Giuliani because ... a city is not the same thing as a country! and he has no foreign policy experience!" ooookay. oh, and his speeches on foreign policy "consist of platitudes". (like 99.9% of all political speeches, but again, ookay)

actually in NY city policy and foreign policy happen to converge surprisiingly often -- e.g. giuliani threatening to turn the UN into water-view condos. that argument counts as foreign policy in my book, and a foreign policy i happen to like.

Anonymous said...


As someone who tentatively supports Guiliani at this time, let me warn all of you from personal experience about radio and blog pundits and their support (i.e, shilling) for various candidates.

Nearly four years ago, we in California recalled Gov. Gray Davis. As you all know, Ah-nolt Schwarzen-dummkopf won that election, thanks in no small part to the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Medveds et al -- none of whom live in California -- electronically stumping for him.

Perhaps the most obnoxious shill on Schwarzen-dummkopf behalf was Hugh Hewitt, a nationally syndicated talk-show host and blogger who believed that Schwazen-dummkopf was the Second Coming of Reagan -- all because he mouthed Milton Friedman's economic philosophy for a PBS TV series!

Among the candidates obscured by such shilling was a conservative state senator, Tom McClintock, who has won legitimate respect from all corners for his thorough understanding of the budget mess in Sacramento, as well as for his integrity.

But among the shillmeisters (Hewitt chief among them) came the phrase, "McClintock can't win." As a result, a decent, honorable, courageous, knowledgable man lost to someone who, as it turns out, made California's economic condition worse by his reliance on bonds and his questionable economic policies. Morever, Schwarzen-dummkopf has proven himself to me a man w/o principles or a basic philosophy, only a desire to hold power and please people.

Don't listen to these bastards. Look at the situation yourselves and vote your consciences.

For the record, I canvassed for McClintock for three days -- once under a precinct captain, twice on my own.

paul zummo said...

Paul zummo says, essentially, "I don't like Giuliani because ... a city is not the same thing as a country! and he has no foreign policy experience!" ooookay. oh, and his speeches on foreign policy "consist of platitudes". (like 99.9% of all political speeches, but again, ookay)

Kathleen once again demonstrates her impeccable straw man skills.

To paraphrase Darth, Mark Shea has trained you well.

And let's not forget the misattribution, as it was actually Josiah who said that Giuliani speaks in plattitudes.

But Giuliani really really hates the UN, so obviously he's fit for command. Well, yeah I agree with his sentiment, you're going to have to do better than that.

paul zummo said...

you all know, Ah-nolt Schwarzen-dummkopf won that election, thanks in no small part to the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Medveds et al -- none of whom live in California -- electronically stumping for him.

I think Rush was rehabbing at the time of the election, but if he wasn't, he sure as hell wasn't backing Schwarzenegger.

Otherwise your points about Hewitt stand. Any respect I had for the guy went out the window after his endless whoring for Miers.

kathleen said...

No, I'm really not going to have to do better than that. Giuliani transformed a city of 8 million plus people, a lot of whom hated his guts (and still do -- and the right people hate him).

the city is bigger, and more important, than most countries. don't forget the trade center was bombed in 1993. i think Giuliani, having been mayor of the city which was the premiere international target for almost all his tenure, is pretty well versed in national security policy.

the mayor of NYC is a higher-profile national figure than any governor, certainly the governor of NY. also, Giuliani as mayor was an executive -- therefore arguably he is more cut out for an executive position in federal government than a federal *legislator* could ever hope to be. as former NYC mayor he is certainly at least as qualified as any governor of a state like, oh, arkansas.

Paul Zummo said...

Look, there's no way I would ever downgrade Giuliani's role in cleaning up New York, though even I have to question a little how one man can be responsible for all that happened. Credit also goes to Bratton and Kelly, the police commisisoners.

But it's one thing to lead a city like New York, and another to lead the Nation. New York's got something like a $40 billion budget and an endless array of city agencies (I know, I worked for one). But that still doesn't approach the level of the federal bureaucracy. Of course, no state does either. But is the city of New York's government structured like a state or the national government? Not exactly. Even if we look at judges, it's different. Giuliani couldn't just appoint judges, he had to choose from one of three that a panel selected for him. That doesn't argue for or against him, it is just fact.

But even if we acknowledge the massiveness of the NYC government, what do we know of Giuliani's leadership style that would lead us to believe he'd be an effective president? He's forceful, and not politically correct. I liked the fact that he didn't give a s@#$ what others though of him. But what works for managing a city like New York doesn't necessarily work when you're in the national spotlight, and when you're trying to solicit advise from the cabinet.

And what does he know about foreign policy? He has strong opinions, but strong opinions aren't a basis for trusting a person's potential commander in chief creds.

Long story short, in order to compensate for ideological weaknesses, we have to believe Rudy possesses some unique qualifications in other areas. His lack of foreign policy experience doesn't necessarily disqualify him, but it doesn't help him stand out from the rest. If the only issue that matters is the war, why must we assume that Rudy is any more fit to lead that war effort any more than the rest? Leaving abortion and other issues aside, why would we have more confidence in him as CoC than, God help me for saying this, McCain? Rudy boosters are going to have to do a better job at explaining this other than asserting it.

kathleen said...

paul, after reading your post i'm more convinced than ever the Giuliani is *uniquely* qualified to be an effective leader. you sound like you want someone to get a PhD in being president at "Being President School" before taking office.

Paul Zummo said...

My point, simply is that we spend not nearly enough time discussing the managerial competence of people running for president, which actually bolsters your point somewhat. If a person's ideology does not agree with mine, I have to look at other things which might present him as a good candidate. But if said person offers no proof that his administrative skills are sufficient to overcome ideological problems, then I have no reason to vote for that person.

So, Kathleen, can you identify just one reason Giuliani is uniquely qualified to be CiC, other than he hates the UN and is strongly pro-war, qualities just about all the other GOP candidates possess?