Win? Should He?
And here we
didn’t think that a candidate who is not pro-life could be the
Republican frontrunner for president. Outside of “The West Wing,”
Giuliani, at this incredibly early date, is leading in the polls.
According to an AP poll released Sunday, the former New York mayor led
in the Republican field with 35 percent of the vote. Now, one can say
that at this absurdly early date, with only serious political junkies
actually following the race from day to day, these numbers are largely
meaningless and are little more than a contest of name recognition.
two major reasons why Rudy is qualified. As a former New Yorker who
lived in the city on the tail end of Giuliani’s mayoralty and for the
few years after, I can vouch that Rudy did many excellent things as
mayor - mostly in relation to reducing crime and cleaning up the city.
New York has been unquestionably safer and more livable since Rudy’s
time in office. He solved lots of problems that appeared unsolvable, and
for that he deserves our gratitude.
also, of course, Rudy’s handling of 9/11. Now, there has recently been
some revisionist thinking that Rudy “really didn’t do all that much,” as
argued in Kevin Keating’s 2006 documentary “Giuliani Time” and Wayne
Barrett’s book “Grand Illusion,” both of which make some good points but
vastly overplay their hand. The city could’ve descended into chaos that
day, as it has many times before, but it didn’t. And as we have seen
from the top-to-bottom government failure in Hurricane Katrina, a lack
of leadership in an urban calamity can lead to absolute disaster.
Much of the
doubts about Rudy’s viability as a candidate have centered around the
question of whether the evangelical conservative base that twice elected
George W. Bush will abide a candidate who is pro-choice, has been
married three times (including once to his second cousin), doesn’t get
along with his kids, has been known to dress in drag in variety shows
and bunked with a gay couple after one of his divorces.
that matters to me. What does are some very real questions about whether
Giuliani can be elected president - and more importantly, whether he
So can Rudy
win? Giuliani would likely need to dominate in the general election
among working/middle class, ethnic white males, who were his base all
three times he ran for mayor despite many of them usually leaning
Democratic. As Rudy’s two mayoral victories were against an
African-American and a female, these voters have a history of breaking
for him and may do so again against either Barack Obama or Hillary
precedent for this in politics, both notably among the “Reagan
Democrats” who helped Ronald Reagan win twice. To win, Rudy would have
to go back to a pre-Bush method of playing to the middle of the
electorate, rather than revving up the right. However, this way of
winning is practically antithetical to the Bush/Rove method of revving
up the conservative base, upon which the entire Republican electoral
infrastructure has been built for the past decade.
The Onion’s headline that Giuliani is “running for president of
9/11” may have some truth to it, as his continuing to bring up that day
for political gain may become tiresome, if not crass, by the end of the
importantly, should he win? There are many horrible, horrible things
that George W. Bush has done in office – most notably, the shunning of
our allies, the collapse of diplomacy, and the pulling of civil
liberties - that are going to need to be undone by the next president.
Everything about Giuliani’s record - whether his feuds with various
underlings, his picking of pointless fights, his not-so-great civil
liberties record - indicate he’ll make these things worse, not better.
besides, the various racial controversies of Giuliani’s term as mayor,
mostly centered on police shootings, have less than endeared him to the
city’s minorities. What our nation needs at this point is less racial
tension, not more.
be a better president than George W. Bush? Almost without question. He’s
smarter, more competent, and a better leader - and that’s just
scratching the surface. He is probably the Republican who can win a
general election against Clinton or Obama. But whether he can get
through the GOP primaries - and whether he should - remains an open
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