Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Giuliani talk at The Corner

I love watching debates unfold at NRO's The Corner. And one person I particularly like is Kate O'Beirne. she's smart, savvy, and a bull dog when it comes to politics. Today, however, she has a post that stirred quite a bit of debate up. The post that kicked it off is here, and I'll cite bits of it below with my own thoughts. It seems that she's taking Jennifer Rubin to task for her piece in the New York Observer on why conservatives like Rudy. Now, I'm a Rudy supporter. so is Marcie. And we are that way because we've seen his stance on issues, we can overlook his "triple crown" which seems to give many conservatives the heebie-jeebies, and he's an absolute hawk on the war and national security. But, here's what Kate O'Beirne has to say:

The latest entry in this primary season’s premature pronouncements appears in The New York Observer. In “Why the Conservatives Like Rudy,” Jennifer Rubin writes that “Rudy Giuliani has utterly defied the pundits who predicted that Republican voters would never accept a twice divorced, pro-choice New Yorker.” She goes on to point out that the former mayor “has cemented his lead in national polls and in South Carolina.” She wonders, “Why did the pundits and many conservative critics get it so wrong. . . ?” My own punditry has included the observation that Rudy Giuliani faces possibly insurmountable barriers in his quest for the nomination. I think he still does.

Although she allows that Giuliani “does not have the nomination in the bag yet,” Rubin believes that his success represents a significant development many of us missed — “the maturation of many conservative primary-goers.” It would be premature to declare Giuliani’s candidacy doomed. But Rubin’s “case closed, conservatives rally to Rudy” is also premature and simply not supported by the available evidence.

I disagree. While his numbers have leveled out in the past few months (I chalk this up to fatigue the voters are going through for an excessively long campaign season) they have still remained strong, and he has yet to be surpassed by any other potential nominee except in the cases of a couple of straw polls (which don't even show up on the radar to the average voter) and in one or two states, and even then he and the person beating him are well within the margin of error.

Furthermore, I fail to see the "insurmountable odds" that Ms. O'Beirne seems to see. Are we going to go back to the "triple crown" talking points? The worn out "He's pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay marriage" schtick? If so, then a reminder is in order, and it's the same reminder I keep handing to conservatives constantly.

As president, Rudy wouldn't be able to pass any sort of decree granting gays marriage, making abortion a "holy writ" unable to be overturned, even by the Supreme Court, and there will be no massive gun grab instituted by him. Our system of government has a set of checks and balances. Congress writes the laws, the president signs them. Now, if Congress gets a wild hair up it's backside, and decides to tackle any one of those three issues, it's our duty as citizens, as it was during the immigration debate, to sound off and let Congress know our thoughts. But Rudy won't be handing decrees down like a king. He's not allowed to under the Constitution, and to do so would be a direct breach of his powers, and an impeachable offense. No offense, but Rudy's not stupid.

Where Rubin sees a solid lead in the national polls, I see a striking weakness. Since March, Giuliani had been steadily sinking in the national polls, leveling off in August to an average of 27.8. (Hillary Clinton, who I think is clearly favored to win the Democratic nod, has been steadily ticking up and her support averages 37.8). Polling in South Carolina is mixed — Rasmussen has Thompson ahead and Giuliani’s average lead in polls is within the margin of error. Some cement.

Real Clear Politics shows an average of Giuuliani over Fred by eleven points, and as Fred isn't in it yet, that total is suspect. Granted his ad tonight during the debate is supposed to be the launch point, so I'll give them their numbers. But he has maintained a frontrunner status since his announcement, and while his numbers have leveled out (as I stated above) he is still the number one pick amongst likely GOP voters. During the debates, he sounds the most competent on issues of concern for voters, like national security, the war, illegal immigration, taxes and fiscal responsibility. Whereas we can point to people like Duncan Hunter and Mitt Romney for having a grasp of a few of the issues, Rudy is the only one that seems to have a balanced platform. Furthermore, early on in the election cycle many social conservatives that attended his speeches and rallies said that they were willing to overlook his "triple crown" issues because they saw in him a leader that could take America forward.

Giuliani is the Republican’s well-known celebrity candidate, the hero of 9/11, and the tough guy who cleaned up New York who can be counted on to wage an aggressive fight against terrorism. He is raising plenty of money and campaigning energetically. And, about 70 percent of Republican voters are currently turning thumbs down. The things that won’t appeal to conservatives aren’t as well-known as the record and attributes that made him such a hit at GOP dinners over the past years. A recent Pew study found only 40 percent of Republicans aware of his pro-choice position on abortion and many don’t realize he favors “comprehensive” immigration reform, including amnesty. Most Republicans couldn’t pick out Donna Hanover’s name on a multiple-choice question about the mayor’s multiple marriages. What countervailing positives will conservatives learn that will win them over to him?

Let's take these one at a time. First off, she's wrong on her numbers. According to Rasmussen, his unfavorability amidst voters is at 40%, not 70%. As for the immigration issue, he does favor of reform provided enforcement and security are the backbone of that reform. He has not said he favors "amnesty," and while his record as mayor is the thing most critics point to, he has done an about-face since 11 September 2001. A number of the hijackers were here on overstayed visas, and to him that's a problem. That was a problem for the vast majority of opponents to the Senate's boondoggle of a bill. So, I'll reserve judgment on whether or not he really stands for reform, and adherence to the laws, or if he's a McCain groupie just skirting by the question. But I believe that he is against a blanket amnesty. As a matter of fact, I believe during their debate when the controversy was raging he stated point-blank he was against amnesty. And finally, does anyone really care who Donna Hanover is? She's not married to him anymore, and the divorce, as far as most voters are concerned, is a point in the past.

Rubin provides a number of reasons for what she sees as conservatives’ undeniably strong support for Giuliani. She notes that Hillary Clinton “instills a fear verging on hysteria among conservatives” and buys the notion that Giuliani would be more competitive in some blue states than other Republicans. I think that’s a fantasy for another day.

For sensible people like ourselves (remember, we read the tea leaves) Hillary doesn't "instill fear" in us. She provides fuel to the old adage that it is far wiser to be cautious with a foe than to rush headlong in to the foe's blade. So, for that, I'll criticize Ms. Rubin. Most prognosticators and political watchers know that to discount Hillary is a mistake that could prove to be costly. On the flip side, given her own high unfavorability numbers it's easy to consider her a non-issue. Trust me, those numbers will shrink as the primaries heat up. As for his competitiveness in blue states, I urge readers to read this report from Michael Barone in February of this year. In it, he argues that Rudy does, in fact, put a great deal of states into play, and most of them being key states where the democrats will have to invest a great deal of time and money in them to win. The Democrats, while they are outraising Republicans in terms of money, will have a dogfight in those states, especially given Rudy's ability to raise money and support from among the GOP base.

Like so many of Giuliani’s conservative fans, Rubin condescends to social conservatives who she believes “may have come to realize that on abortion the action is in the courts.” What Rubin sees as a welcome “maturation” is not a recent revelation. Every January since 1974, tens of thousands of pro-lifers have come to Washington to march on the Supreme Court in bone-chilling weather. The central role of the court in the fight over abortion is not a recent revelation.

No, it's not new. But what is new is the fact that the people are saying that his stance on abortion is a moot point. It isn't an issue int his election, and the only way he can influence it one way or the other is by judicial appointments. (Let's face facts: Ginsburg, Kennedy, Souter, and Stevens aren't spring chickens here, and if any of them step down, it's going to be World War III in the Senate for the confirmation hearings.) We're not worried about his appointments given who will be advising him on that matter. That would be Ted Olsen, as Rudy revealed on 23 February in an interview conducted by Hugh Hewitt. That was also backed up by the interview conducted with Mr. Olsen by Hugh on 1 March that Rudy's choices in jurists for the Supreme Court would mesh with what most conservatives call "constructionist" justices. So while it's not a recent epiphany for conservatives, they can take it to heart that if elected, and if presented with an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice, his choice would be very astute, and in line with Constitutional jurisprudence.

The GOP field is fluid. There is no conventional frontrunner. Conservative voters could split their support in ways that benefit Giuliani. Despite the obstacles, there’s a small chance he wins the nomination. But it won’t be because he’s a comfortable fit for the large majority of the GOP base, or because conservatives have grown up.

In comparison to the Democrats, we are already the grown-ups. What appeals to people who are supporting Rudy is the image of a leader, and one that's not going to be afraid to do what has to be done to safeguard our security in a post-11 September world. He is the sort of person who makes hard decisions and isn't likely to second-guess himself. As for the base, while many I've spoken with (here on the 'Net and in the real world) have their choices (and believe me when I say that many of them are stubborn on their choices, which is to be expected) they also recognize that Rudy is a viable option for them. Some cite his divorces, others cite his "triple crown" issues, but most will agree that if he is the nominee (and barring a serious gaffe at this point, it's looking like he might be) they will support him.

This doesn't come out of fear of Hillary. It comes out of concern that in this world we live in, the Democrats can't be trusted to do what it takes to protect this nation, and continue to grow it's economic strength. Rudy projects the image -- both in action and in words -- that he is that sort of a candidate.

Publius II


Anonymous Anonymous said...

He may very well the nominee and I will vote for him but I must respectfully disagree about Rudy. There's something about him that I don't trust. Call it a gut feeling. Rawriter

September 6, 2007 at 4:34 AM  

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