Rudy Giuliani: Caveat emptor?
By Nicholas Sanchez
Irrespective of Hizzoner's views on gun control (as mayor of Gotham he queued up to file a lawsuit against gun manufacturers), gay rights (a self-declared "champion" of gay rights, Rudy shared quarters with a homosexual couple following his explosive separation from his second wife), and abortion rights (he's in favor of them, and demonstrated almost a lackadaisical indifference to Roe v. Wade being overturned at a Republican debate), Giuliani remains the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. How a candidate who, according to basic Grand Old Party doctrine, is wrong on Guns, Gays, and God could be leading in the Party of Reagan is perplexing to many pundits on both the right and the left.
Since filing as a candidate in February 2007, conventional wisdom held that as Republican primary voters got to know Giuliani better – read: not just as America's Mayor, the gallant, street-roving hero of 9/11 – and realized where he stood on issues, his support would dissipate. That has not happened.
As of the last count, according to Gallup, Giuliani has a healthy 11-point lead over still-undeclared candidate Fred Thompson, who of all the Republicans seeking to succeed Bush 43 comes closest in a head-to-head matchup against Giuliani. Mr. Thompson, meanwhile, has had a disappointing few weeks and seen some of his national support in the polls ebb, due mainly to his foggy record on abortion.
This begs the questions: How has Giuliani – a standard-variety liberal on so many issues, especially abortion – been impervious to a revolt from the Republican Party faithful? How did he, early on, manage to garner the support of Louisiana Senator David Vitter, a hero to religious conservatives prior to his recent fall from grace amid revelations of his frequenting a house of ill repute? How can it be that he is showing surprisingly strong signs of life in South Carolina, whose neighbor, North Carolina, resurrected Ronald Reagan's bid to unseat Gerald Ford in 1976? How is it possible that the GOP seems poised to nominate its first standard-bearer – ever – who favors Roe vs. Wade?
The answer to all of the above: the war in Iraq. And even more, Giuliani's rhetoric on the issue.
Dubbed by an admiring press as a Churchill in a New York Yankees ball cap following the 9/11 attacks, Giuliani has provided the lion's roar in defense of toppling Saddam Hussein's government. In the 2004 election, he played the heretofore unfamiliar role of an obsequious Republican pitchman, acting as a Bush surrogate, defending the president and his administration's war policy.
Now as a White House contender, Giuliani has emerged as the most impassioned and articulate spokesman for staying the course in Mesopotamia. He draws hearty applause from friendly assemblages – especially in the gun-toting, pro-traditional marriage, church-going south – by employing terms lifted directly from the neoconservative lexicon, like "Islamo-fascism." Pitted in a debate against anti-war Republican Ron Paul in South Carolina, Giuliani won over his hawkish crowd by dismissing out of hand Paul's assertion that the terrorist attacks upon the United States were, in part, a result of the U.S.'s Middle Eastern foreign policy.
Truth be told, Rudy's success can be traced to the fact that the modern Republican Party is very much the Party of George W. Bush. Among Republicans, Bush's approval rating remains stratospheric at about 75%. And the distinguishing mark of his presidency is the Iraq war, thus he has made it a testament of faith that to be a good Republican one must be willing to give war a chance.
For now, so long as Giuliani continues to spout well the pro-war line, he seems on his way to winning the nomination. What remains to be seen is whether or not pro-lifers, like my friend mentioned at the beginning of this article, eventually feel buyer's remorse about selecting a candidate who, save one issue, is anathema to everything else they believe in.
After all, presidents do occasionally dabble in domestic policy. That is, when they are not pursuing interventionist policies abroad.
Nicholas Sanchez is a professional fundraiser and conservative activist. After having worked for several years for a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., Mr. Sanchez now resides in Manchester, NH. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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