April 2, 2007
With Two Words, Rudy
Claims Reagan’s Hallowed Ground
Can two words convince Reagan Republicans that a pro-choice, gun control
supporter is their guy for 2008? Given the alternatives, the bet here is
that they can, if the two words are “supply side.”
The alleged race among Republicans to claim the Reagan mantle isn’t much
of a race. There’s a long ways to go, but to the extent that the embrace
of policy positions means anything, Rudy Giuliani appears to have
already cornered the market on Reagan authenticity.
Last week Giuliani made the pronouncement many Reagan romantics had
longed to hear: He is a supply-sider. That doesn’t make Giuliani the
perfect heir to Reagan by a long shot – who can say for sure if he even
means it? – but this Reagan fan has a streak of realism similar to that
of the man himself.
We’re not going to get a former B-movie actor who waxes eloquently about
the rights of the unborn and whose idea of gun control is a steady aim.
You get one of those in a lifetime. Be thankful and get on with your
But some things are essential, and on most of them, Giuliani had already
passed. He embraces America’s role in the world combating terrorism and
promoting freedom. He supports the appointment of strict constructionist
judges. And nothing in his history suggests that he’s going to be a wimp
when dealing with Congress or the media. Check check check.
But until last Wednesday, economic policy remained a mystery. We knew
that Giuliani had cut taxes in New York City and turned a deficit into a
surplus. Wonderful. But Reaganomics are about the importance of private
sector growth. Lower taxes and spending restraint are crucial
components, but in order to qualify as a supply-sider, you have
to understand that economic growth, not “deficit reduction” or
“surpluses,” is the objective. Expanding wealth in the economy fixes all
those other problems, even though growth for its own sake is reward
Giuliani really a supply-sider? The pivotal indication in the
affirmative came when Forbes magazine publisher Steve Forbes
declared himself satisfied, endorsed Giuliani and joined his campaign
Forbes is such a committed supply-sider that he once ran for president
himself just to make sure supply-side principles were not forgotten by
Reagan’s party. I am not a fan of presidential campaigns by people who
have never held elective office – even if they are just to make a point
– but if I’m looking for the best person to sniff out someone’s
supply-side bona fides, Forbes is my pick. Somehow I doubt the two of
them sat down and Giuliani simply answered yes to a bunch of questions,
leaving Forbes satisfied.
Economic policy is too important to Forbes. I suspect Giuliani probably
had to pass some sort of verbal essay test in which he demonstrated that
he not only held the right positions, but that he understood why they
It’s entirely possible, of course, that Forbes did some selling of
supply-side thinking, and that Giuliani was buying. Troubling? Recent
converts are more likely to revert, after all.
But it is not Giuliani’s history to pretend he believes something if he
really doesn’t. The man is seeking the nomination of a party that is
decidedly anti-abortion, and makes no bones about the fact that he is
pro-choice. For the most part, this seems to score him points for
honesty more than it creates problems. Why would he abandon that
approach on economic policy – especially when it hardly earns you
universal praise to embrace supply-side principles?
other serious Republican candidate has staked out this position. John
McCain worries that tax cuts help the rich too much. Mitt Romney
implemented a government health care monstrosity in Massachusetts.
Others, like Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback, can be assessed if and
when they actually start to register on the Republican radar screen.
But for now, Giuliani is alone in occupying some pretty hallowed
Republican ground. If Reaganomics and Rudynomics turn out to be one and
the same – and it’s a big deal that Steve Forbes thinks they will – it’s
hard to see any scenario, other than some sort of huge scandal, in which
Republican primary voters deny Giuliani the nomination. Or why they
would want to.
© 2007 North Star Writers
Group. May not be republished without permission.
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