Thursday, April 05, 2007

Taking a contrarian view on Rudy

And no, I have no intention of defending his comments or anything like that. However, I don't think that this is the definitive death rattle for his campaign, though it may well be a rallying cry for social conservatives to recognize that, wishful thinking aside, Giuliani remained true to his principles when it comes to issues like abortion. What I don't think, however, is that this current gaffe is the sound of his campaign imploding.

That said, my sense is that I think that Giuliani is in rapid damage control mode right now to kill this issue before anybody finds out about it. As those of us who are political junkies often forget, a lot of people tend to be ignorant of Giuliani's position on social issues, an ignorance that I think he goes out of his way to encourage by generally not discussing these topics. That has worked for a time, but because Giuliani is running for an office other than Secretary of Defense at some point he is going to have talk about them. And I think that recent events show that the result when that occurs is unlikely to be pretty.

That said, I also think that Giuliani has a very dedicated base of supporters who will attempt to defend him on this issue with varying degrees of sincerity. You can see one of them attempting to do so here. Whether or not they will be accepted, time and polls will tell, but my guess is that the polling data will wax and wane on Giuliani at least several times before next fall depending on the pollster, state vs. national polls and so on. I suspect, however, that a lot of his core base of supporters (not the same as the majority supporting him, I think) are made up with people who chose to support him with open eyes knowing his social views and that as such they will remain loyal to him.

Another thing that comes to mind on a semi-related topic is the point that if Giuliani does become the Republican nominee, the Democrats are all but certain to use various NYC firefighter unions to sabotage his campaigns most compelling narrative of 9/11. This IMO is part of the danger of having a campaign that is so heavily dependent on a particular narrative for a single event, as John Kerry learned in 2000. I don't say this joyfully, but I think it is worth considering.

As I already posited in an earlier post, one of the reasons that I believe the GOP primaries are starting so early this year is because Bush is so weakened that many Republicans are looking for an alternate leader. I actually think that we have a pretty decent set of candidates (and potential candidates) on the GOP side, but something that everyone has to acknowledge regardless of their preferred candidate is that no one comes through two years of national politics completely unscathed and no candidate is going to come out of the GOP primaries a perfect white knight.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder says:

I don't think this event represents a death rattle for the Giuliani campaign. That will come, I predict, when Rudy is shown not to be particularly well informed when it comes to foreign policy matters. But I do think that Rudy has had his moment in the sun, and that his support will never be as high as it was, say, a week or two ago. Partially this is because Fred Thompson has taken away some of his support, and partially because it's beginning to dawn on people just how poor a fit he is with Republican primary voters.

torquemada05 said...

Well, I think the Fred Thompson thing may fade if he doesn't run or if he throws his support behind another (McCain, for instance, and I don't just say that because I myself support McCain). I think that Giuliani will continue to give a good stump speech on his leadership and other qualities that play to his strength, but that as soon as he gets himself into a situation where he is forced to address his social views things are going to get nasty.

For instance, when he says things like this:

The Republican presidential frontrunner Thursday reaffirmed his support for federal funding for some abortions, a position which puts him at odds with many conservatives. During a press conference at the State Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina, he said he didn't expect to win over 100 percent of the voters.

"If that's real important to you, if that's the most important thing, I'm comfortable with the fact that you won't vote for me," the former mayor said.


My advice for him would be to get comfortable if continues to express that kind of sentiment. I agree that a major foreign policy gaffe could sound the death rattle for his campaign, but I would say that a lot of conservatives can be a forgiving lot on that score. After all, a lot of activists appear anecdotally to still have a favorable opinion of Rumsfeld despite the fact that the primary reason we are seeing some tentative positive signs from Iraq has to do with the fact that Bush has agreed to allow General Petraeus to reverse nearly all of his preferred policies.

Victor said...

I think the Fambly stuff is gonna hurt Giuliani.

There is precedent for a divorced president -- Ronald Reagan. But Jane Wyman came from a different era; she was a Hollywood grande dame from an era where a woman knew how to behave like a lady. Not for her was the gossip/confession culture that we saw in ... well ... Monica: "so while I was blowing the president, he took this call from Bosnia and then I shoved a cigar up my whatsit," etc.

But that was then ... Donna Hanover already has used the New York tabloids against Rudy, his mistress and his gay friend, until she turned Gracie Mansion into an episode of "Three's Company." And Rudy's estranged son is gonna be have hi$ $ay to the national pre$$ also.

This stuff is all gonna come out, one way or another.

We'll also re-learn the phrase "Giuliani Time" though that particular Sharptonian lie aside, that at least is a substantive policy issue having to do with Giuliani's record as mayor New York. (I think this is the reason so many conservatives warm to Rudy -- he had all the right enemies as New York mayor and treated them with appropriate contempt).

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder says:

There was a fairly decent article on Slate.com yesterday about Rudy's mixed messages when it comes to the flat tax:

http://www.slate.com/id/2163559/

The article treats Rudy's "half-jocularity" as a political advantage, having all the benefits of flip-flopping without the nasty political downside. But if he isn't careful, this sort of tactic could really backfire on him. Rudy's whole strategy (to the extent that he has one ) with regard to social conservatives depends on them trusting him to do certain things with respect to judges and for being clear on what his positions are. He does himself no favors by being coy about where he stands on this or any other issue.