Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 31, 2007
POLITICS: Why I'm With Rudy (Part I)

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No Mayor of New York City has been elected to statewide or national office in more than 130 years. There is a reason for that: it's an impossible job, running an ungovernable, bloated, corrupt and dysfunctional bureaucratic leviathan with an even more ungovernable and (despite its massive government) inherently lawless city attached to it. It eats the men who take the job alive.

At least, that is what everyone used to think, before 1993. One man changed that.

It's too early, of course, for any of us to be 100% certain of who we will support once the candidates have filled out their staffs and endorsements, fleshed out their policy platforms, and taken their show on the road. But if I had to vote today among the candidates who are actually running or likely to run, my vote for the 2008 GOP presidential nominee would without a doubt be former United States Attorney and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Here, in general outline, is why I - as a pro-life Reaganite conservative who voted for McCain in 2000, currently support Rudy and hope to be able to support him a year from now.

1. We Need To Win The War.

There are many issues on the table in the next election, but far and away the most important remains the global battle against international terrorism and radical jihad, and in particular the regional struggle in the Arab and Muslim worlds to replace aggressive, terror-sponsoring tyrannies and weak, terror-harboring failed states with governments that provide some measure of popular self-determination and popular legitimacy to stand against the extremists. To win the war, we need four things from the presidential field: (1) a presidential candidate who is committed to prosecuting the war, (2) a presidential candidate who will make the right judgments about how to do so, (3) a presidential candidate with these characteristics who will actually get elected, and (4) a presidential candidate who, after getting elected, can continue to explain and sell his policies to the American people to ensure continued political support for the war.

In terms of public leadership on these issues, Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain have a huge lead over the other candidates, most of whom (other than Newt Gingrich) are latecomers at best to the public debate. If there is one candidate we can depend on not to bend to Beltway pundit fatigue on this issue, it's Mayor Giuliani - he was there on the ground when this war came to our shores, he was almost killed himself that day, he went to the funerals of the firemen and cops he had bonded with over his prior 7 and a half years as mayor. It's personal. Rudy is a battler; he is not tempermentally suited to talking about "exit strategies" but rather about victory, and his background overcoming supposedly insurmountable obstacles as Mayor gives him the fortitude to pursue victory as Ronald Reagan did, even when conventional wisdom says it's time to coexist.

2. We Need To Win The Election.

As I said above, you can nominate the best candidate in the world, but to win the war he or she needs first to win the election. In terms of electability. . . yes, it can be a fool's errand for primary voters to vote with their Electoral College calculators instead of their hearts, but in a practical universe you do need to start by looking at who in the field has at least a chance of being viable in a national election. That means no Newt, who consistently polls with a disapproval rating over 50% and whose public image is long since cast in concrete. And it also means no Sam Brownback. I like Brownback, who is one of the GOP's very best Senators and who has shown a real willingness to follow his conscience even when it means standing nearly alone, sometimes against the White House (as in the Harriet Miers episode), or even when it means taking on issues that nearly nobody else cares about and that don't fit the stereotype of a right-wing hard-liner. But we simply are not going to hold all the states Bush won in 2004, let alone have the chance to seize more ground, behind the decidedly uncharismatic Brownback, who has made his name almost exclusively on social issues as - yes - the stereotypical right-wing hard-liner. The media would work overtime to put him in that box, and Brownback lacks the star power to go over their heads. He's not the hill I want to die on.

Also, remember: while it's true that the Democrats made a huge miscalculation in nominating John Kerry based on "electability" (not that Howard Dean would have been more electable), their real problem was in overvaluing his paper qualifications (war record, long tradition of existence in the Senate) and undervaluing how badly Kerry would perform on the trail. I believe Rudy will show himself to be the best campaigner in the GOP field - he's quick-witted, funny, and long accustomed to the hot lights of the national stage (when he was Mayor, Rudy was a fixture on national TV shows like Letterman and Conan, and he had to contend with both the local tabloids and big national papers like the NY Times breathing down his neck, as well as dealing with hostile critics retail at countless press conferences and radio call-in appearances). He's also tough enough to come out swinging at whatever the most likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, can throw at him. This is one of my big worries about Mitt Romney: to be frank, I don't want to end up in a knife fight with Hillary armed with nothing but Mitt Romney's hair.

Sure, Rudy's liberal record on social issues like abortion and gay rights will cost him some votes nationally, but mainly in states that are not going to break for an arch-liberal Democrat like Hillary or Obama. And Rudy will play well in Florida and put in play key Northeastern states the Democrats can't win without: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, possibly even Rhode Island (which has a huge Italian-American population), and make the GOP ticket at least competitive in the Empire State (though he would probably only win NY if the Dems nominate Edwards). This is, after all, a man who won two terms in a city that's 80% Democrat.

3. Leadership Matters.

There's more to Rudy's advantages in this regard than just electability - there's also governability. It's been 23 years since the GOP nominated a presidential candidate who speaks in complete sentences. That matters beyond the campaign trail - it matters quite a lot if the president can't sell his own policies and can't personally defend against attacks. Rudy's not the only highly articulate candidate in this field, but he does strike me as the best (Romney, who's a good salesman, has yet to demonstrate the ability to react quickly and speak specifically when pressed with tough questions).

But being articulate is only the beginning of leadership. A good leader has to set direction and inspire. But he also has to do two other things: (1) know his followers and (2) follow through.

It's on the first point where I have my major concern about John McCain. With the significant exception of his years in the POW camp, McCain has never been a leader. Yes (unlike, say, Kerry), he's been a strong public voice on specific issues. But a political leader needs to have followers and hold them together, like Moses crossing the Sinai. McCain, by contrast, is a triangulator, a "maverick" who glories in contrasting himself to the people he would need to lead. John Hinderaker said it best: "I might trust McCain with my life, but not with my party." One need look no further than Bill Clinton to see what damage a president who triangulates can do to his own party and, ultimately, his own ability to get things done. McCain has, too often, opened fire on his own troops.

With the exception of his ill-fated endorsement of Mario Cuomo over George Pataki, Rudy has not made a practice of attacking his own party, a fact that sets him quite apart from many other moderate/liberal Northeastern Republicans. Virtually all the major battles of his mayoralty were with people to his left. Conservatives may not like where Rudy's starting point is on every issue, but they know when they get behind him they will all be facing in the same direction.

McCain has also been something of a dilettante as a Senator, flitting among issues, sometimes on the sidelines on major issues while leading the charge on small, idiosyncratic campaigns. That's a highly effective habit for a legislator - you pick your spots for where you can make the biggest impact. But it's a decades-long habit he will have to break to become an executive (in 2000 he never did roll out the kind of detailed policy papers that came from the Bush campaign - you always got the impression that the John McCain policy shop began and ended with the Senator's mouth).

Then, there's the follow-through, something we need more of than we have sometimes seen from President Bush. In the Senate they talk of show-horses and work-horses; if Rudy is an impressive show horse he is an even more formidable work horse, a guy who through sheer force of will bent the New York City government to his way of doing things. And he got results. Other politicians can point to a record of accomplishment, but only Rudy really and definitely changed my life - if it weren't for his success in cleaning up New York I might have stayed in Boston after law school and surely would not now be a New York City homeowner.

Again: Rudy's not the only seasoned executive in the race (Romney, Huckabee and Tommy Thompson come to mind), but his record is the most impressive and it's one that McCain and Brownback can't match.

4. We Can Hold The Line In The Courts.

Rudy's record on fiscal, economic, law enforcement and education issues, his battles against racial preferences and the city's relentless race hucksters, and his outspoken stance on the war on terror, are all the stuff that should excite conservatives about his candidacy. But what concerns people the most is his stance on social/family/sexual issues in general, and abortion in particular.

Now, maybe I'm less of a purist than some pro-lifers. I've been voting in New York for 17 years, and in all that time and all the races for Governor, Senator, Attorney General, Congressman, Mayor, and electors for president, the only two pro-lifers I've been able to vote for who actually won their elections were Al D'Amato's re-election to the Senate in 1992 and Dennis Vacco for Attorney General in 1994. Where I come from, if you refuse on principle to vote for pro-legal-abortion candidates, you cede the field to Hillary, Schumer and Spitzer and their ilk.

That said, and while I recognize that there are other Life issues on the agenda, the core battlefield for abortion - the battle we need to win before we can fight any others - is in the composition of the Supreme Court. A pro-choicer who appoints good judges is as functionally pro-life as Harry Reid is functionally pro-choice. (I have discussed this issue in much more exhaustive detail before). And while we need to hear much more from him on this issue, there is, thus far, every indication that Rudy is both willing to appoint conservative judges and able to sell them against a hostile Senate - he's spoken favorably of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, who he knows from their days in the Reagan Justice Department.

And while Mike Huckabee is a solid pro-lifer and Sam Brownback is a genuine hero on life issues, the other top-tier candidates are less obviously reliable on this issue. Romney, of course, declared himself a committed pro-choicer in 1994, though his repeated conversions on the issue lend a lot of credence to Ted Kennedy's description of him as "multiple choice" on abortion. McCain has a more consistent pro-life record and voted to confirm the likes of Alito, Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, but three things concern me about McCain on judges - first, his demonstrable willingness to sell out the base to win media plaudits, second, his statements in 2000 that he'd like Souter-backer Warren Rudman as his Attorney General and that he remained proud of all the GOP Justices he'd voted for (which implicitly included Souter and Kennedy), and third, the fact that McCain's political identity is so wrapped up in his campaign finance crusade, a crusade that may influence him to pick judges who take the written constitution with its pesky free-speech guarantees less than seriously. I'm not saying I'm sold that Rudy would be necessarily better at appointing judges than Romney or McCain, but (1) it's a close contest and (2) he'd obviously be better than any Democrat.

Life issues are, indeed, important. And if this were peacetime, they would preclude me from supporting Mayor Giuliani. But there's a war on, folks, and a lot of lives (born and unborn) depend on that, too. In this field, if Mayor Giuliani can make the sale that he will, in fact, appoint solid constitutionalists to the federal courts, that will tide us through.

Anyway, I haven't covered the entire waterfront on Rudy here, and surely will return to other points in his favor - and other criticisms of him - as we go along. But I do think conservative Republicans who want to win the election, win the war and get results should give the Mayor a long, hard look.

*In the spirit of full disclosure: I do have a variety of ties to Rudy that are not worth tedious rehashing here, having met the man in small gatherings on several occasions and received a fellowship in law school funded by an organization including Mayor Giuliani. Take that for what it's worth. I'm not affiliated with his exploratory committee, and the only money I've received from it is a $30 Blogad on my site the past month.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:55 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (43) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

McCain has got big issues, among them not really looking all that well and his reputation for having periodic meltdowns and a white hot temper. He seems to me to be the Republican equivalent of the Bob Dole candidacy in 1996: an old, flawed, weak candidate who happens to be the next in line and was loyal the last time around. Not sure if you've seen this swift-boat type attack video on McCain that was recently released or not, I've got it up on my blog:
http://minor-ripper.blogspot.com/2007/01/john-mccain-vs-john-mccain_30.html

Posted by: MinorRipper at January 31, 2007 2:14 PM

Crank, I just don't see him as a player for the nomination. And yes, I have seen how he polls nationally. There so much Lategano, Kerik, corporate ties etc. They lend themselves to exploitation. And in certain areas they are of legitimate concern. Will the party play nice? Can the RNC enforce a Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican code? If not I can't see it happening. At this point we don't even know if Biden thinks he is clean.

Posted by: abe at January 31, 2007 2:52 PM

I despised the man when he was U.S. Attorney. I thought he really abused his power.

But....

He did a great job as mayor. He understands the number one issue: the global war. And no one else is running away with my vote.

I'm only in the penumbra of social conservatism, but his views do give me pause. My main question, though, is about judges. I hear you on this question, but I'd like to hear him.

Posted by: Attila (Pillage Idiot) at January 31, 2007 3:38 PM

I have to disagree on both a practical and philosophical level.

On the practical level, I think Rudy is a candidate who looks good at a distance but will not wear well as the campaign heats up. People seem to forget that he was viewed as a failure before 9-11 and all the negative baggage will re-surface: his divorce, his alleged adultry, his bout with cancer, his feuds, his autocratic managerial style, his questionable prosecutorial conduct to name a few. All will hurt his electability.

As someone from New Jersey, I also do not think it will play well here when his numerous past verbal potshots at our state inevitably re-surface.

On philosophical grounds, I hold a fellow Catholic to a higher standard on pro-life issues than I do a non-Catholic. He should know better. He is not even someone who tried to fudge the issue but is pretty much solid pro-abortion.

The bottom line is that I do not know who I am supporting yet but I know I will be opposed to Rudy in the primaries, and would even have a tough time voting for him in the general election.

Posted by: Ed K at January 31, 2007 4:51 PM

I'm going to start off by acknowledging that a few well-placed attacks by Al Qaeda will make my next points moot.I am a Giants fan. In some ways, Rudy reminds me of Barry Bonds in that you may get baggage you didn't want in addition to all the things that you hope you will get by signing him.

I fall into that pesky core Republican category of distrusting Rudy over abortion, guns and gays. Crank, are you sure that he would appoint judges who are strict constructionalists? If a Schumer/Boxer/Feinstein gun grab bill came to his desk, would he veto it? In regard to the First Amendment, I have seen the Supreme Court define it to protect nude dancing, flag burning and virtual child pornography, but do not see it as allowing the NRA to advertise against a candidate 60 days prior to an election. What does Rudy think about that? How can he call himself a Communion receiving RC and support abortion? Would the press call him a phony the way they can with Edwards and his huge "two America" size house?

Overall, if I am to really consider Rudy, he's got to cut the coy game and start articulating about issues and things us core guys and gals need to know.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at January 31, 2007 5:43 PM

What I find interesting is that he is actually a middle of the road candidate. The far right and left are both so demanding in perfection, they find them only in montonal boobs. I was going to say morons, but that is a strech.

I disagree with Ed K that Rudy was considered a failure prior to 9/11. Actually, he was a success, but I do agree we were a bit tired of him. Something we tend to do with our leaders anyway. We are an impatient country. His stands on gay rights and abortion will cost him on the far right, but gain him on the middle left. His ability to get things done, and do so with less regard to party than the faithful will like makes it tougher to get the nomination; but then I think Rudy is as qualified as any, and more than most, to be President. And in the end, he can truthfully say when the chips are down, he won't panic; he's been tested in battle. Not as a soldier, but as a leader who...well, we know all that. And it plays well with the electorate. It should, the title America's Mayor is one he earned the hard way.

The hard part for him will be the nomination; the general election would be his to lose.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 31, 2007 6:03 PM

I'm a democrat and probably would vote for Richardson or Hillary. If the Dems nominate any of the other announced candidates, I'll take a serious look at the Republican nominee. My ideal GOP candidate would be Condi Rice; and, who knows, if this Libby affair causes Cheney to resign and Bush nominates Rice as VP, she might get in it.

Failing that, I like McCain and Rudy. McCain does have the baggage of CFR and his age; but his war record is real and not trumped up like Kerry's. Plus, like it or not and I don't, McCain has been steadfast on abortion even when the media were singing his praises, and, along with Joe Lieberman (wish the Dems would nominate him, but they wouldn't think of it), McCain has been just about the only Senator to put serious proposals on the table for dealing with global warming.

As far Rudy, I was going to college in NYC when he was US Attorney, arresting people on the floor of the NYSE and parading them through the streets in handcuffs. He made Spitzer look like a libertarian. That was not a good introduction to Rudy Giuliani. On the other hand, I also witnessed what Rudy did as mayor of NYC, and agree completely with the opening part of your post. i was studying political science at college in NYC and heard and believed all the conventional wisdom about the city's ungovernability, and how the best that any mayor could do was stave off bankruptcy, keep the criminals confined to the outer boroughs, and hope the unions don't strike on Xmas Eve or just before a major snow storm. Rudy changed all that. he proved them all wrong. he did all of this in an extremely hostile environement of constant media scrutiny and second-guessing. After a while, and after I was gone from NYC, press reports had it that Rudy's style was wearing on the electorate and on his staff. people couldn't wait for the end of his term. Then 9/11 happened. Rudy was reborn. With courage and extraordinary compassion he lifted his city out of despair following those horrible events.

The bottom line is that Rudy's mayoralty erased a lot of the bad taste in my mouth that came from his days as US Attorney. More than that, though, his mayoralty proved that he has what it takes to govern this country in these perilous times. If only the national electorate could have seen NYC both before and after Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, he would be elected president by acclamation.

I must save the best for last, though. One more thing that I like about Rudy, is what troubles you. He is not a social conservative. He does not condemn people out of hand for their way of life. Unlike Romney, and like McCain, although in the opposite way, Rudy's social policies are convictions and not something held for the purpose of getting elected.

Like many, I look forward to hearing what Rudy will say about judicial appointments. I hope we will both be pleased to hear that Rudy will not appoint judges who legislate from the bench or codify their personal opinions. More than almost any other politician in this country he knows from experience that an elected official can govern even in the worst circumstances, and he or she can change a culture. We do not need to go to court to get the policies we want. We can do it by putting the right people in office.

Only Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, John mcCain, and Rudy Giuliani understand and focus, each one in their own way of course, on the fact that we are at war and must win or perish. All the rest, including your esteemed Brownback, want to talk about something else. First we must win the war, then we can talk about this other stuff. Unfortunately, the people of this country are tired of the war and want to quit. In the same way, New Yorkers in the 1980s were tired of trying to hold the city together and were too willing to surrender to the unions and race baiters and the criminals. We need a leader to rally the people and turn this thing around, just the way Rudy turned NYC around, not once, but twice.

Posted by: jimbo at January 31, 2007 6:11 PM

I don't think Rudy was ever regarded as a failure except by those who didn't want him to succeed, but it's true that after 7 tumultuous years, he had worn out his welcome. It happens to most leaders who make a lot happen.

Posted by: The Crank at January 31, 2007 6:24 PM

I've seen the straw polls, but I just have a hard time believing that Rudy can get through the Republican primaries. Do conservatives- real conservatives- want to nominate someone pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control. Aren't a lot of Republicans litmus-test voters?

Condi is a non-starter, as is anyone associated with the Bush Admin. He's that unpopular.

Posted by: Matt S at January 31, 2007 6:48 PM

Matt S., your question is the biggest one for people like me. Nobody likes to admit that they are litmus test voter, but I think that this is where not compromising on your values ends up taking you. I for one will consider Rudy fairly if he will actually speak up and address the issues that have core voters concerned. He wants my vote, he owes me some honest answers.

I see a lot to like about Rudy. Cleaning up NYC was a task thought to be impossible, and yet those of you who lived there tell me he left it a lot better than he found it.

I simply cannot understand why he approves of gun confiscation from honest law abiding citizens. I cannot understand how a man who calls himslef a Christian could not speak out against Partial Birth Abortion.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at January 31, 2007 7:04 PM

I also don't think Rudy was ever seen as a failure. What happened was that his acheivments had become old news, while is very messy personal life was the new news. I do think, though, that his pre-9/11 record as mayor will be as important as his heroic post-9/11 image as the campaign picks up, and it is not a record that everyone agrees with.

Posted by: Jerry at January 31, 2007 8:36 PM

I'm still for McCain, Crank, but you make a good case. Rudy has many of the same stengths as John, but he's younger and has better executive experience.

I'd just like to be surer he'd pick good judges. He may be able to make the sale with a lot of people if he can show he would.

Posted by: John Salmon at January 31, 2007 9:14 PM

People were tired of Rudy's petty fights that he would pick and knew on September 10, 2001 that he'd be out of office soon. He was a high profile guy who had accomplished much of what he'd set out to do. He lacked the capacity to just ride out the rest of his term, and that is why we had the BS Brooklyn Museum non-issue.

I always though he got too much credit for how the city was changing, but the fact remains that the city improved tremendously on his watch. Maybe Bill James can come up with a political win shares system.

I could live with Rudy as President. Even with some enthusiasm. I think he'd handle the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan intelligently and comprehensively. He'd root out profiteers as well.

The Bible thumpers won't be happy and New York City is still a dirty word in many parts of the country. But it would be good to see him get pissed on the trail. Get Mike "I don't see what you're all getting so excited about, the problem is under control" Bloomberg to run as well and I might switch parties.

Posted by: Zufall at January 31, 2007 9:48 PM

I don't know if I could ever vote for a Yankees fan. However, if both candidates are Yankees fans, I would have to go with the one who actually went to a Yankees game!

Posted by: Greg Schreiber at January 31, 2007 9:54 PM

I am with you Crank (unless Chuck Hagel runs) -- but do you think a crossover candidate can win either party's nomination?

Kerry only won in Iowa 'cause Ted K. spent weeks in the state bellowing on his behalf. Speaking ill of Jerry Falwell derailed McCain. GWB benefited immensely from his deep roots with the religious right, established decades earlier as his dad's pointman with them.

Though Clinton came out of the DLC, 1992 was an aberration - at this point in that campaign Bush Sr. was at 90%, scaring off most contenders with something to lose.

Posted by: PatrickG at January 31, 2007 10:22 PM

I would gnaw my arm off before I would vote to make Chuck Hagel the Commander-in-Chief.

Posted by: The Crank at January 31, 2007 10:52 PM

People seem to forget that he was viewed as a failure before 9-11

I lived in NYC the whole time and I disagree strongly. Crime went down, the city began to feel safe and to thrive. Sure it got kind of corporate, and Times Square turned into a high-powered family amusement park (instead of a sleazy peep show that made you feel like you needed disinfection), and probably the trend towards it becoming a city of the wealthy, unaffordable by anyone below the top 2%, began gathering steam under him. But his weekly radio show, where he took questions from a live audience, was broadcast on TV, and he was like a small-town mayor, personal and interested and hands-on with the smallest problem anyone brought him. He so obviously loved the job. That's when I began to get to know and love him as a mayor, and it was well before 9/11. So the way he came through on that day did not surprise me, though it did immensely hearten and comfort me. Leadership is an instinct that kicks in under the gun, or doesn't. Bush sitting in a classroom in Florida with his eyes shifting this way and that? Give me Rudy.

Posted by: amba at January 31, 2007 10:53 PM

"I would gnaw my arm off before I would vote to make Chuck Hagel the Commander-in-Chief."

So Rudy is probably the only candidate moderate Democrats and Crank would both support. Not sure if that bodes well for his candidacy or if it's a death knell.

Posted by: PatrickG at January 31, 2007 11:26 PM

just so you know, I'm a red Sox fan; but considering the last Red Sox fan who ran for president (actually I doubt that Kerry knows the difference between baseball and cricket), I'll stick with the Yankees fan. To his credit and unlike a certain former Cubs fan, Rudy didn't suddenly become a Yankees fan when he decided to run for office in NY.

Posted by: jimbo at February 1, 2007 5:51 AM

People who don't live in New York City, or pay attention closely to its politics, don't understand that, before Bush Derangement Syndrome, there was Giuliani Derangement Syndrome among the city's liberals -- they despised Rudy for what they saw was his quashing of civil liberties (there was actually folks angry over the removal of the hookers and the drug dealers from Times Square), and his alleged racism (if Rudy does get the nomination, expect the New York Times and the other media outlets to obsess about the Amadou Diallo and the Abner Louima shootings, to try and anger moderates and the national liberal base).

For people in the Republican Party, it comes down to this -- support who you want in the primary election, but if you're going around today saying that fighting and winning the War on Terror and keeping Americans safe in this country is the most important issue in the 2008 election, and 19 months from now you sit at home or vote for a third-party candidate if Rudy gets the nomination, then you're lying. You put your own conflict with Giuliani on Issues A, B or C (likely one or all of abortion, gun control and gay rights) ahead of the War on Terror, and in reality, take it no more seriously than all the candidates on the Democratic side who've gone back into their pre 9/11 mindset due to the party regulars' hatred of Bush (and even if you convince yourself that someone like Hillary is just pandering to her base and actually understands the terror danger so it won't be so bad if she wins the presidency, many of the people she appoints actually believe al Qaida hates us because of Bush's rejection of Kyoto, or his Christian beliefs, and if we run a more liberal, secular government they won't bother us anymore. It's the future Jaime Gorelicks you really need to be afraid of).

Posted by: John at February 1, 2007 9:13 AM

The idea that the way someone nominates judges is the prime reason to vote for anyone is exactly what is wrong with politics. In the end, it's simply a codeword for abortion rights, maybe to a lesser extent gun control. I think an idealogue has proven to be a poor idea for a president.

In the end, I realize that the only ideal candidate in our minds is probably ourselves, since we all (hopefully) agree with the inner us (if you don't-seek help). So that leaves everyone else. And litmus tests. There is a lot about Rudy I don't like, but honestly, New York lucked out with two chief executives in a row who really know how to administer. I happen to think that is an incredibly important trait in a "Chief Executive." Know who to pick and either run them or get out of the way.

The Mayor of New York is basically the governor of a state, in that it's got a population similar to Virginia's, but way more mixed; a budget that dwarfs lots of countries, and is in charge of a paramilitary force that is also bigger (and certainly better run) than most European nations. As a mayor you deal with heads of state, lots of different countries, all sorts of situations that most governors never imagine. In Rudy's case, he had to handle his personal life drudged up--now I can't say I approve of how he handled his (ex) wife, or how he deals with his kids, but since it's not really any of my business, I don't care. Yes he pushed Kerik, but leaders push all sorts of people they shouldn't, and my own memory of Kerik in his NYC job was one of someone who knew what he was doing.

Rudy fails all sorts of litmus tests: that defines him perfectly. He offends liberals and conservatives alike. He was an awful US Attorney (really a low conviction rate, a high overturned rate), but he was a great mayor. Galvanizing to be sure; no way someone effective won't be--Bloomberg is less so, but would make a great Chief of Staff --also an impossible job these days. Rudy proved to be a great mayor, and he has shown he'll step on the toes of anyone to do the job. He would look Putin in the eye and laugh at the lies he's told. I'd vote for him once, probably would a second time, but really, he was built for term limits. I can't see him NOT getting my vote.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 1, 2007 9:48 AM

In the end, if Rudy's nominated, I can't imagine any Democrat who's running that would get my vote. I also would not stay home and sulk.

On the other hand, in order to beat the whomever the Democrats nominate, we need excellent turn out. The excellent turn out comes from the Republican base, and we are not NYC type people. Rudy will have to make an honest pledge on judges to get my friends and neighbors to make anything more than a rudimentary effort.

An honest appraisal of why abortion, guns and gays are an issue leads one to see that the judiciary has assumed the role of a legislature (in other words, acted outside of it's intended purpose). If Rudy acknowledges this and pledges to appoint strict constitutionalists, that will go a long way to bringing us around.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at February 1, 2007 10:42 AM

I lived in New York during the Rudy era. I thought he was mostly a hot dog as US Attorney, and actually voted for Dinkins the first time on the theory that it was time for an A-A mayor. That didn't work out, and it had to be Rudy. I believe he was highly successful and conservative in the ways that mattered to me. My view at that time was that I would support him for any position that did not involve control of nuclear weapons.

Now I believe that a combination of the divorce, prostate cancer, and 9/11 has mellowed him and made him a serious person as opposed to simply a driven one. I think he has set his baggage down and walked away from it, and could conceivably become a Mt. Rushmore quality president. My remaining reservations can be summed up in the words "Bernie Kerick." Does Rudy know that he is now at a different level and cannot allow himself these little indulgences? If there is no more of that stuff between now and the Convention, then let's go.

Posted by: Mahon at February 1, 2007 10:47 AM
Where I come from, if you refuse on principle to vote for pro-legal-abortion candidates, you cede the field to Hillary, Schumer and Spitzer and their ilk.

Right, but with all due respect, we need our guy to win nationally. We don't need him to win where you come from.

Posted by: Xrlq at February 1, 2007 11:18 AM

Well, I guess you Republicans have to support SOMEONE in 2008, so it may as well be Rudy. Let me try to burst the cult of personality that surrounds him, however, and remind you that before 9/11, Rudy was regarded by many as an intemperate guy with a serious distaste for civil liberties.

Rudy regularly said nasty and reprehensible things about others on a regular basis. Any Google search will prove this. He would ALWAYS side with the police during the many occasions they were accused of going too far to bring about order in the streets, sometimes blaming the victim without any real evidence of what happened. His attempt to shut down a public museum which displayed artwork he did not like was one of the most profound attacks on freedom of expression I have ever seen. When Rudy lost the case, he publicly attacked the judge in a way that would probably get other attorneys reprimanded. On the losing side of many civil liberties cases, Rudy would react this way by attacking the judges. Similarly, he publicly trashed his wife during divorce proceedings. A real class act.

Rudy will be remembered as "America's Mayor," a phrase that only a society obsessed with personality and People magazine can come up with. But what did he really do after 9/11, other than to reassure us? He gave some good speeches. Is that enough? That's the cult of personality in our political system. Hey, Democrats benefit from this kind of shallow politics also (i.e., JFK and Camelot), but you know that without 9/11 Rudy would not be running for president.

Does anyone remember that after 9/11 Rudy wanted to stay in office a few more months after his successor was to take office? This was a fairly authoritarian measure, in my view. And probably unprecedented in our system.

Yes, crime went down when Rudy was mayor. It started going down when Dinkins was mayor. It was going down across the country. I have no doubt that some of Rudy's police policies affected the crime rate, and Times Square was a true shithole before he became Mayor, but the crime story was a great public relations coup for Rudy. This will be his campaign slogan: He cleaned up New York City. But crediting one man for a positive chain of events is beneath anyone who has the capacity to think things through and analyze political issues carefully.

Even granting Rudy's position that he and he alone was the reason for the reduction in crime, what about his ingenius decision to place the terrorism command center at the WTC, AFTER the 1993 bombing? What about his support for George W. Bush, a thoroughly incompetent president, and his unbridled support for the war? I would expect a real "leader" to be more independent than this.

Rudy is too smart to "admire" an imbecile like George W. Bush. Again, the Democrats sell themselves out intellectually, too. But I do believe that the GOP practices the cult of personality more effectively than the Dems.

Posted by: Steve at February 1, 2007 1:13 PM

Steve, your comments on the Brooklyn Museum give a good reason why core Republicans might end up supporting Rudy.

This issue which you brushed by involved exhibiting an image of the Virgin Mary covered in elephant dung. It may be art to you, but to Christians it is nothing more than a deliberate insult. To an art lover (I used to go to the Brooklyn Museum as a child) it is also insulting that this cheap shot is supposed to be equivalent to the marvelous and beautiful exhibits of American and foreign culture that enhanced my visiting experiences. I suppose by your standards, they could also hang a picture oh Hillary Clinton in some sort of degrading situation and that also would be art (or is it art only if it offends Christians)?

That Rudy stood up and identifed this display for exactly what it was, shows him to be a force for the decency that many of us hicks and yahoos long for in our society today.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at February 1, 2007 2:05 PM
Matt S., your question is the biggest one for people like me. Nobody likes to admit that they are litmus test voter, but I think that this is where not compromising on your values ends up taking you.
To me, this kind of thinking is upside down and backwards. You are more willing to vote for a guy like Romney because he is "pro-life", despite the dubious notion that the court will EVER overturn Roe, nevermind the tenuous tie between court appointments and the desired outcome, to say nothing of the fact that Mitt Romney's seeming similarities to Bush mean he WILL.NOT.WIN.

In other words, a vote against Guiliani in teh primary is a vote in favor of Hillary or Obama or Edwards. It really is that simple. This country is NOT electing another bible thumping Republican.

The idea of the Democrats in charge of 2 branches of the government scares the hell out of me, but it should scare you social conservative, pro-life voters even more. An argument can, and was, made that Guiliani would help the pro-life cause, despite his personal views, but whatever you do that contributes to electing a Democrat, will unquestionable HURT your cause.

Seems kind of ironic to put your "values" on such a pedestal. You would cast a vote in favor of "philosophical purity" while simultaneously hurting your own cause.

Posted by: Sherard at February 1, 2007 3:22 PM

My point on the Brooklyn Museum was not that I appreciate the dung art. I have no interest in that kind of stuff. But to take away the museum's money for that reason was illegal, as the court ruled. Rudy knew it was illegal, being a lawyer and all. But he did it anyway because he knew people wouldn't care. To me, that's the problem, that he could violate the Constitution and get away with it. For this reason, I know that the museum controversy will never be an issue in the 2008 campaign.

Posted by: Steve at February 1, 2007 4:10 PM

Sherard,

I never said anywhere here that I am for Romney. His anti-abortion, anti-embryo stem cell bonafides are questionable to say the least. Frankly, I have problems with every one of the leading Republicans for one reason or another. Mc Cain has no idea of what the First Amendment guarantees, and he has pandered to gun confiscators. he may be too old as well (have you seen his interviews lately). I've had my say about Rudy's problems as have everyone else here. Newt is smart, but he's clearly damaged goods.

You and I are entirely in agreement that a Democrat as President is not our desired outcome. Apparently, Rudy will work for you. I can only guess at what your value system composes and will not jump to conclusions when I do not know you. I will accept that you are sincere in your desire to keep the leadership of our country out of the hands of people who are not competent to lead or defend the nation.

I don't see Rudy as a slam dunk win any more than any of these other guys in that role. As I just pointed out to commenter Steve, I can think of at least one act as Mayor that Rudy had which would quite endear him to social conservatives. Maybe if I still lived in NYC and had not left 37 years ago, I would have others at hand as well.

Let's put it this way. I have liked W and voted for him both times. I had no idea that he would never veto a single assinine spending bill, fail to secure or even try to secure the border, sign on to protectionist steel tariffs, continue to defend Vladimir Putin, fail to vociferously take his case to the nation and allow himself to portrayed by the press and the disloyal opposition as an inept bumbler, etc.

And you know what? I still support him because he's got the guts to wage war against a bunch of slimy Islamist murderers on their own turf instead of here in the USA. The last thing I am going to do is put all of my support to someone who is 100% down the line with everything I believe when the guy or gal cannot possibly win (someone like Tom Tancredo for instance).

I'm just saying that if Rudy wants votes from people like me, he needs to give some sort of effort to meet me half way. For example, alright, don't push for a nation wide shall issue concealed carry law, but at least don't carry water for Sarah Brady, Chuck Schumer and the other fools who think that taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens will somehow give us a safe society.

I know Rudy can't do a thing personally about Roe v. Wade. However, if he just says he'll appoint Judges that interpret the Constitution as written instead of inventing rights that were never put there or ratified by the state legislatures as it is supposed to happen, this problem will eventually take care of itself.

Finally, if it ends up Rudy against whatever Democrat, I will hold my nose and do what I did when Bob Dole ran against President Clinton. I can tell the difference between half a loaf and no loaf at all.

And if you think President Bush is a Bible thumper, I question whether you've ever really met one.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at February 1, 2007 4:18 PM

Steve, I'd be interested in knowing what portion of the US Constitution discusses or guarantees public funds for a local museum. The 10th Amendment probably says it all


Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

The Brooklyn Museum issue was entirely a local matter, thus not of issue to the Constitution. Since it was apparently public money in question, the chief executive of the city might have been a good public advocate for all of the citizens of NYC. If the courts ruled against him, so be it. I'm just saying that social conservatives who do not see eye to eye with Rudy about abortion might find this fight to be a mitigating factor in their opinions of him.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at February 1, 2007 4:25 PM

The Constitutional provision governing the Brooklyn Museum controversy is the First Amendment. The government can't punish an entity by withdrawing public funding on the basis of opposition to speech or artwork.

Posted by: Steve at February 1, 2007 4:54 PM

Thanks Steve, I remember this issue better now. Not that my opinion means anything, but I always thought the First Amendment protected an individual or an entity from the govermnment regulating their speech and did not imply that the tax payer must subsidize the speech (or art) in question.

The problem was that since the Museum already had public funding, Guiliani was attempting to decide what it could legitimately be used for. I'd be interested in whether Crank thinks that if this were decided under a strict Construction interpretation would the outcome have been the same.

In any event, I find McCain's approach to 1st Amendment issues to be far more dangerous to free speech than Guiliani's. Under McCain/Feingold, I cannot run ads that attack a candidate 60 days prior to an election. What do you think the Founders were thinking about when they approved the First Amendment, protecting public subsidy of art, or protecting obvious political speech?

Posted by: NRA Life Member at February 1, 2007 5:32 PM

As a First Amendment lawyer, I have serious problems with any laws that restrict speech, particularly the 60 day limitation in McCain/Feingold. But I don't care for the strict constructionist model of constitutional interpretation. The Constitution says what it says, and we have to assume the Framers knew that the future knows what the present never does: that new issues will come around that can be resolved under the Constitution, which is written in broad, vague terms for that purpose, particularly the Bill of Rights.

Posted by: Steve at February 1, 2007 6:47 PM

I am confident that other First Amendment lawyers would vigorously dissent from the notion that protection of speech implies subsidizing art through taxation. Moreover, I believe the Constitution was purposely written in a manner that would allow the common man (such as me) to easily decipher the intent and meaning.

I cannot see how protection of an individual's right to speak is transformed into compelling taxes to be paid to support a third party's decision on what constitutes good art. Moreover, the third party in this case is not even elected by the people. If the Brooklyn Museum were private and were run on private donations, I would not have an argument with their right to display whatever they thought was art (although I'd never go see it).

This is the crux of my original point. If Rudy appoints judges that do not create rights as has been done here, he is going a long way to winning my support. His stand against the Museum's director was right and correct in my opinion even if he lost. Clearly the judge in that case thought the constitution was whatever he or she imagined it should be, and not what was was clearly written in the document and ratified by the states. If contracts were enforced this way, subject to change of interpretation on someone's whim, you'd see a real revolt.

Since you are a lawyer, you know the constitution is changeable through the Amendment process. I don't see how a judge can change it by interpreting it in a way that suits him, and yet you are endorsing this as constitutional. Amazing (to me at any rate). You have acknowledged that McCain-Feingold bothers you for presumably the same reason that Rudy's stand did. In this case, it somehow withstood Supreme Court scrutiny. Do you think that they got that right? You can't pick and choose when you're going to stretch the meaning. Either it is stretchable, in which case it means nothing, or it means what it says and nothing more.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at February 1, 2007 7:14 PM

Since quite a few folks have disputed my comment about Rudy being a "failure" before 9-11, let me amplify. What I meant was that he was a political failure. I am the first to say Rudy did some good policy stuff in his early years as mayor. But by 2001 (before 9-11), the conventional wisdom was that he did not have much of a future in electoral politics. He was no longer a very popular politician and as someone else said he had worn out his welcome. Plus he had acquired plenty of baggage along the way. People forget this now, but in the coming campaign, it will surely re-surface. He does well in early polls but that is because of name recognition. He is at his high water mark already and will only sink as time goes on in the campaign.

Posted by: Ed K at February 2, 2007 11:39 AM

He couldn't beat Hillary Clinton in a state that he was incredibly popular in. You're telling me he's the guy to win the presidency?

He's got enormous negatives, the man cannot win.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at February 2, 2007 12:51 PM

What worries me about this election is that the American public may be ready to pretend that the terrorist threat is something "we can live with."

If so, no Republican can win.

Posted by: John Salmon at February 2, 2007 4:17 PM

I love the guy, but not the idea. And I am shocked that anyone who knows the guts of NYC considers him a player. He has the right feel as the Independent, but not the Rep. There is no chance he makes it past the opp research.

Posted by: abe at February 2, 2007 8:51 PM

RE: "He couldn't beat Hillary Clinton in a state that he was incredibly popular in. You're telling me he's the guy to win the presidency?"

Christopher raises a valid point. He entered what was shaping up to be a true heavyweight political battle and pulled out halfway through. Two major changes have occurred since then: 1) Rudy demonstrated enormous heroism and leadership on 9/11; and 2) though I know nothing about it, I assume his then recently diagnosed prostate cancer is controlled. So perhaps one should not hold his earlier withdrawal against him.

But listen to this NYT money quote from Rudy on the day he withdrew from the Senate Race: “And about the decision to run: I was almost in the same position, not being able to make it, which has never really happened to me. I’ve always been able to make decisions.”

Will the same reservations and doubts hobble a Giuliani presidential run? From his slow movement out of the gates, you do have to wonder if you'll once again start with a Rudy and end up with a Lazio.

Posted by: PatrickG at February 3, 2007 8:58 AM

Pat, No Lazio this time. I think we get a Newt/Tompson type. The media will strip the paint off McCain and Rudy. To correct an earlier mistakment, Louima was not shot. Volpe violated him in a entirely different way. Rudy is a player, but not in the game for the nomination.

Posted by: abe at February 3, 2007 11:33 PM

For me the priorities are:

1. GWOT - I can live with tactical failures and misteps. The key is we must be aggresive and have a president that can provide rhetoric and leadership to the general populace. The Republican Senators have shown how fickle the legislative branch is. I think Rudy and Mitt both understand the improtance of this fight. In their own ways each is capable of providing a voice to make the case that this is an important fight that must be handled now.

2. Judges - I care not for the wrangling over a single social issue - some people hate abortion, some love guns, etc - I just want the people to be able to decide through their elected representatives, preferably at the lowest level of goverment possible. I do desire a president that will make merit based apointments and screen judges for those who have shown an excellent understanding for the seperation of powers, respect for individual rights, and the principle that our goverment is inherently limited by the constitution. I think Romney's position as a governor will give him a good view into State versus Federal issues, and his battle with the MA SJC will provide a solid understanding for what kind of justices conservatives seek. I prefer a prochoice president who thinks abortion should be decidedly legislatively and preferably at the state level, than a prolife one who would seek to have judicial fiat impose his view. Sauce for the goose and all.

3. Entitlement Reform (and generally limited federal goverment, spending reforms, tax cuts, etc.) - I believ much of our social problems stem from the incentivation created by the welfare state. I believe to win the GWOT we must remain outlandishly great in our economy. Romney's lifetime of success hear, balanced budgets in MA, ability to reform numerous unsupervised commisions in MA, and tax cuts, make him a hands down winner here. Say what you want about Romney care - its a vast improvement over how things were going: everyone had coverage implicitly through the state. I don't think its perfect - but its much better.

4. At this point I start not to care. For example people will throw in "education" or the "economy" etc. But these are things that are low on the list. If we are fighting the war aggresively, apointing justices that decide cases instead of issue judicial fiat, and reform the bloated entitlement programs, you can mess everything else up and I'll still love you.

-B

Posted by: Brendan at February 5, 2007 4:55 PM

Rudy was a despised mayor going into 9/11. Unlike our National Leadership who blew their bump in the approval polls, Rudy did the smart thing in popularity by sidelining himself and making money in the private sector. It's done wonders for Al Gore, too. Meanwhile, the boobs in power have, well, they've been inept clowns leading the nation down a bloody, meandering, impossibly expensive mess.

As a NYer, I was naturally impressed with Rudy's leadership post 9/11, even to the point of overlooking his Page Six marital debacle while still in office. His few public stances since being out of office have been sickening, though. His blind support of Bush/Cheney/Rove policies made him appear as a brainless puppet (much like that GOP whipped dog McCain looks). His silence as the Bush Administration cut federal funding for NYC was disgraceful, as was his silence in NYC's cops and firemen were left underfunded, and the woefully inept Landmark designation protection for NYC.

Rudy was once as emboldened as Eliot Spitzer, but now he's a bonafide insider hack, bought and paid for who will toe the line as told. He's as useless and transparent as a brylcreem combover.

Posted by: Fiorello at February 8, 2007 6:36 PM

"Rudy was once as emboldened as Eliot Spitzer, but now he's a bonafide insider hack, bought and paid for who will toe the line as told. He's as useless and transparent as a brylcreem combover."

Fio, that's E Spitzer who has declared war on everyon he comes across, right? The MF'ing Bulldozer, right? Amazing how that bag of air is losing height. The Politic art is judo, Elliot is going to end up on his ass.

Posted by: abe at February 9, 2007 8:31 PM
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