Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 20, 2006
POLITICS: The Big "Mo"

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Last I checked my calendar, it is not 2008. It is not 2007. It's still 2006. Yet National Review, the magazine that for decades has sought (and often deserved) status as the standard-bearer for the conservative movement, has chosen to put on the cover of its latest issue the dubious assertion that the 2008 Republican presidential primary field is already narrowed to two men: John McCain and Mitt Romney.

This announcement - which is, of course, the framing of the race that Romney, in particular, wants - is curious for two reasons. First, the article (available for now only in the print version and by subscription) gives only short shrift to Rudy Giuliani, despite polling that consistently shows the former NY mayor leading the field or running about even with Senator McCain. There is a potentially large helping of crow to be eaten by Jonathan Martin and the NR editors for this back-of-the-hand treatment to Mayor Giuliani, solely on the basis of his not having a large organization in place yet in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Second, NR seems to be abandoning the possibility - which you would think a conservative magazine would at least entertain - that a conservative champion could yet emerge from the field. Now, I too am skeptical that there is time and the right person for this to happen, as it increasingly looks like the GOP Right will be represented by Sam Brownback, a good man and a good Senator but not someone I regard as having much chance of winning a general or even a primary election. But it's one thing to speculate that it may be too late; it's another to run a cover story proclaiming the fight stopped.

More disturbing is the idea that NR has accepted Romney's effort to portray himself as the authentic conservative in the race. I don't dislike Romney, and I do think he has probably always been more conservative than he portrayed himself to win elections in liberal Massachusetts. But any realistic assessment of Romney has to begin in the same place as McCain and Giuliani - that is, with the fact that his past public statements make him out to be something other than a consistent conservative.

Time is indeed running short to set the field and identify the leading candidates. But NR should know better than to tell its readers they only have two options.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:02 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I have peronally made it know in our local political circles that if McCain is the nominee, I will sit this one out. There is no scenerio under which I will vote for a candidate that has worked so hard to undermine our country. That being said, I am not a big fan of Rudy or Romney either and Brownback can not win. I am still looking for a candidate that George Allen wold have fit nicely. I want a Conservative and am not likely to settle for less.

Posted by: maddirishman at December 20, 2006 2:10 PM

It's also odd considering that only two issues back they had Rudy on the front, with, I believe Brookheiser, making the case for conservatives to back Giuliani.

And I'm just generally getting tired of hearing about the 2008 primary season. We've got 14 months to go and I already am starting to slowly tune this crap out.

Posted by: paul zummo at December 20, 2006 2:40 PM

Last issue was the Brookhiser Rudy piece and a good one at that. Simply put Romney is K-Lo's first choice, in spite of not garnering one-third of the support Rudy got in a recent strawpoll of us blogger. I am supporting Rudy. I made up my mind that the social issues are not as important as a good defense. And in reality, I'm not that far away.

This week's NR is one of the worst I have ever gotten, in all fairness. The book section was lacking. The Week irked me a few times. The redeeming column thus far was Steyn, but he's always great.

Posted by: Ennuipundit at December 20, 2006 3:36 PM

I htink what we've seen here is the first broadside against Giuliani from the far right. As the Virginia Episcopal Churches have shown, gay rights is as hot button a topic as abortion to the far right, and Rudy has basically been for the rights of both. IMHO, it's the beginning of the end for much of the far right. Yo want to argue abortion, want to discuss life or not, well, I think most people would realize it's an emotional issue. Once you start splitting hairs for people because of sexual orientation, you descend into bigotry. The right wing spent years trying to prove they are not bigots.

So clearly Rudy must now know he will not win the far right vote. Of course, he could still win, since many, as Irish says, will sit this one out if their guy isn't in the running. Too bad. I can't ever respect the "I'll take my ball and go home argument."

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at December 20, 2006 5:53 PM

We don't even know everyone who is running yet.

Right now, three former GOP governors have hinted interest in running: Tommy Thompson, Jim Gilmore, and Frank Keating. I think NR should have at least waited another 6 months.

Heck, aren't we all still waiting anxiously about what Obama is going to do as well? heh.

Posted by: Mark at December 20, 2006 9:26 PM

Darryl wrote a 78 word comment, with 72 of the words being "far" or "right."

Being against abortion amounts to a "descent into bigotry"?

Posted by: John Salmon at December 21, 2006 12:01 AM

No John, it's us homo-hatin' far right-wingers that are the bigots. And even though Giuliani's position on gay marriage is the same as most of us far righters (opposition) and the same as a decided number on civil unions (support), really it's that and not abortion that's got the far right upset about Giualini's politics.

So far right John, you should know us far righters are just far right. And thus wrong.

Did I say far right?

Posted by: paul zummo at December 21, 2006 9:37 AM

Simply put Romney is K-Lo's

There you have it. I'm so tired of it I canceled my subscription.

Posted by: Dwilkers at December 21, 2006 10:56 AM

Pushed Kerik for DHS. That's all for Rudy, and I am a fan. But he lets his ego rule all, would be a disaster on numerous levels. I think Rudy, like Gore, is not running. Just milking the press to his advantage.

MadIrish, after that awful Senate campaign I consider Allen's departure is a blessed event. How do you feel about Newt?

Posted by: abe at December 21, 2006 12:09 PM

John, next time you should actually read what I wrote. Abortion is, without question, a litmus test on where you stand for the far left and right. No question about that one. What I then said was that gay rights has entered that area as well. And as far as I am concerned, when you want to impinge on basic civil rights of any group, that makes you a bigot.

Abe makes a point about Kerik, and about some really stupid sanctimony this country always goes through. Kerik led a hidden life, and at taxpayer expense. What stopped being asked after that was, "Hmm, would he be a good Secretary for DHS?"

I'm tired of paragons of virtue. It's become a standard issue comment that Lincoln could not be elected today. So maybe we should change things around so he could be elected.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at December 21, 2006 12:24 PM

And as far as I am concerned, when you want to impinge on basic civil rights of any group, that makes you a bigot.

And what civil rights would us far righters like to impinge on? Marriage? Because then Rudy Giuliani would be one who wants to impinge on the basic civil rights of gay people thanks to his opposition of gay marriage. And if marriage is not what you had in mind, please specify which civil rights of gay people conservatives would like to impinge on.

Posted by: paul zummo at December 21, 2006 12:45 PM

Well marriage comes to mine. Yes. Here is why:

If you want to be married in church, synagogue, mosque, whatever, and that religion forbids marriage for two of the same sex, then I don't think that is a problem, at least not for me. Where I differ is what the State says. Division of property, inheritance rights, medical coverage, those are not religious issues, but civil ones. Perhaps we need to rethink definitions. The rabbi who married my wife and me would not have done so for two of the same sex, and it is his perogative.

Those congregations in Virgina are now allied with a minister who wants to make it illegal for two gay people to sit in a restaurant and eat together.

You want to call that other than bigotry, go right ahead.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at December 21, 2006 1:01 PM

Anybody who would deny rights to gay people to sit in a restaurant would be a bigot. But if you believe that these people constitute a singificant portion of the right, you're deluding yourself. Most people who do think that marriage rights should not be extended to gay people - and again, Rudy Giuliani is among this group - do not agitate for stripping away other basic rights.

So I don't really see how Rudy falls outside the mainstream of conservative thought when it comes to gay rights. He might be a bit cozier than others when it comes to interpersonal relations, but even a large chunk of those who might not feel comfortable living with a gay couple aren't going to deny them their right to sit inside a restaurant. yes, OF COURSE there are bigote. You're just absolutely dead wrong in thinking this represents anywhere near a majority of conservative sentiment.

On the other hand, Rudy is most definitely outside the mainstream of conservative thought on abortion and gun control. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it is abortion alone that drives many social conservatives away from Giuliani. The other issues are mere sidelines.

Posted by: paul zummo at December 21, 2006 1:46 PM

"Kerik led a hidden life, and at taxpayer expense. What stopped being asked after that was, "Hmm, would he be a good Secretary for DHS?"
And to be crystal clear on that point, no. He was not qualified for the Police Commissioner position, and a man in his business with financial ties to OC figures? I don't care about the illegal employee or the affairs, I consider him a clown. The nomination was appalling.

Posted by: abe at December 21, 2006 3:00 PM

Mitt Romney is popular for one reason: $$. All the GOP hacks are lining up behind his gravey train because of his formidable fundraising abilities. The man knows how to pull together very large amounts of money. After all, that's what he did for a living as founder of Baine Capital...and he was very good at there.

But when the race expands beyond those looking for their next meal ticket, people will realize Mitt brings no proven leadership skills.

He was governor of Massachusetts for less than three years before declaring he wouldn't seek reelection. And his true intentions and focus were clear for almost a year before then, leaving him very little time to accomplish anything in the state.

Watch him boast about his 'rescue' of the 2002 Olympics, but keep in mind nary a weekend goes by when the Mayor of New York City doesn't over see an equal assortment of events.

Posted by: Fanning at December 21, 2006 10:02 PM

Daryl-I read what you wrote....which you then summarized: "Abortion is, without question, a litmus test on where you stand for the far left and right. No question about that one. What I then said was that gay rights has entered that area as well. And as far as I am concerned, when you want to impinge on basic civil rights of any group, that makes you a bigot."

How, then, did I mischaracterize your views? You think opposition to gay marriage is by definition bigotry.

Now, since nearly everyone until, oh, ten years ago, thought gay marriage was wrong, the world was full of bigots until that great moment of enlghtenment engineered by the wise sage Andy Sullivan, who has been generous enough to reveal a truth to us the world had never known.

Thank God for Andy! All cultures have been wrong on this question, until...1995! And no, it isn't arrogant for Andy to believe he knows better-after all, he has a fairly successful website, and an ever-shifting base of fans, who ever-shift because his political and religious views change daily.

So, maybe what he says about gay marriage isn't revealed Truth?

Posted by: John Salmon at December 22, 2006 12:36 AM

Cultures do tend to evolve. It was illegal for whites and nonwhites to marry also. And a large majority of the country believed that as well.

Yes, in fact I do think opposition to gay marriage is bigotry. I think opposition to any group of people to do what they want without inflicting themselves on others to be bigotry.

A 14 year old kid was killed in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman. Do I equate them? Yes I do. Matthew Shepard probably would too. I guess I am more libertarian than liberal. I think our government has better things to do than keep a significant percentage from enjoying rights (like family medical coverage) that others enjoy.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at December 22, 2006 10:01 AM

I'm still waiting for your explanation of how Rudy's views on gay rights differ significantly from that of most conservatives, especially considering his opposition to gay marriage. All you've got as evidence are the extreme loons who constitute a decided minority. Other than that, it just seems like the same old tired leftist cant about bigoted conservatives. God forbid you actually have to defend a policy position with something more than accusing the other guy of hatred.

Posted by: paul zummo at December 22, 2006 12:30 PM

Brownback has been a fair haired boy of the conservatives;not only did he block the voting on a judge because that judge atteneded a neighbors child's committment service, but then reluctantly said OK to the vote, but wanted that judge to be recused whenever a gay rights issue came up.

You want to support a senator like that, it's pretty indefensible on several fronts, including his oath. You are supposed to advise and consent, not block. And since when is it a legislators' job to determine something in the judiciary's jurisdiction? You suppose Brownback wanted Scalia to recuse himself when he ruled on Cheney? I didn't either. I agreed with Scalia. So yes, it seems that if Rudy is in favor if gay civil rights in any capacity, he is on the outs with parts of the Republican Party, and the conservative movement. Not all of course, but is Brownback not a major figure in it? If he is, then Rudy is contrary to that.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at December 22, 2006 10:12 PM

Brownback can not win

Maybe I need to hear Brownback speak a few more times, but how did this become conventional wisdom?

Posted by: Jason at December 23, 2006 12:17 AM

Giuliani would make a strong candidate in many respects: he's charismatic, strong on defense, and was by most accounts a very successful mayor of our biggest city. But what qualifies him for the position of President? I understand the discomfort with career politicians, but Rudy's lack of experience in national politics does give me pause. Also, I agree with Daryl that opposition to abortion is a litmus test for the Christian right, and I can't imagine a significant number of so-called "Christian conservatives" will support a candidate who supports choice.

McCain appears to be veering more sharply toward social conservatism in an effort to crowd Brownback and Romney out of the field, and I think ultimately his efforts will be successful. For all of his "straight-talk express" rhetoric, McCain is as canny a political operator as they come and will do his best to gain the trust of the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.

But as Crank says, it's waaaay too early to declare this a two-man race, just as it would be to narrow the Donkey field to Hillary and Obama. A LOT can happen. Who would have guessed in early January 2004 that Howard Dean would flame out so spectaculary in the Democratic primaries?

Posted by: Matt S at December 23, 2006 4:09 PM

The whole point of my original post was the NR's ignoring Rudy on the cover. Who knows if he is electable. However, he is America's Mayor, and the most well known mayor since Richard Daley, and Rudy's national renown is for better reasons.

And why would someone ask what his qualifications are? In truth, the only qualifier is you want to run. But in managing, and frankly taming, a city with a population larger than 39 states, with a budget that is larger as well, yes, I think he qualifies from an administrative point of view. In lots of ways, Mayor of NY is like Governor of Virginian. Population is about the same, they deal with DC, NY deals with the UN, plus an incredibly diverse population, plus running apolice department probably larger than any European army (I don't know that, but a squad of traffic cops could take France--big deal).

Plus he is talked about in candidate circles a lot. So for the NR to ignore Rudy but name Romney says lots about behind the scenes regarding the conservatives, at least, it seems so to me.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at December 23, 2006 9:12 PM
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