A Candidate In Full

Two interesting pieces on the Giuliani campaign, the first coming from New York Magazine. They take a look at the conventional wisdom and find that all the ink about Giuliani having no chance doesn’t quite seem to hold:

Once the rest of the country sees Giuliani up close, the conventional New York wisdom once held, his campaign will surely fold. So far, exactly the opposite has happened. The more Rudy has put himself out there, the higher his numbers have climbed. Last week, a CBS poll showed Giuliani leading McCain by a whopping 21 points while a Quinnipiac survey found Giuliani running five points ahead of Hillary nationally, and dead even in blue states.

Yes, Rudy is the new horse in the race and thus, for now, the most compelling. Much of his popularity comes from the fact that he’s entered the race just as McCain’s ties to George Bush’s Iraq policy threaten to render his once inevitable nomination stillborn. At the same time, an idea has taken root that the 70-year-old Arizona senator, cancer survivor, and former POW, who would be the oldest person ever elected president, won’t be up to the job.

Giuliani’s pro-war stance and his moderate social-issue positions may yet bury him. So could a lack of money, a green campaign staff, his thin political résumé, his trifecta of marriages, and, not least of all, the fact that the 9/11 card, however powerful it is, could simply prove too flimsy to carry him all the way to the White House. With 21 months to go before Election Day, there’s still more than enough time for McCain to reassert himself—or any number of other scenarios to play out that don’t involve Giuliani’s becoming president. Still, no Republican presidential candidate in modern history has held this big a lead a year out and not scored the GOP nomination.

Believe it or not, America’s Mayor could be America’s next president.

It seems that the more exposure Giuliani gets, the better he seems to look. The question is why: and I think it comes down to something more than just being “the President of 9/11”.

It’s a reader of Andrew Sullivan’s that seems to understand what’s going on here:

Democrats have made an enormously stupid bet about the Republican Party: you can see it in their blogs. They have told each other that we were sure to nominate Elmer Gantry and go to the country with a Bush Clone like George Allen. They have sworn, up and down, that Rudy could not get the nomination. Someone like Kos or Josh Marshall will never, ever get this about us – we are an extremely pragmatic group of people who like to win and aren’t willing to lose just because liberal bloggers and the Media say we should lose.

Authenticity vs. inauthenticity. That’s the story of 2008. Rudy is real. You can touch and feel the Catholic kid from the Neighborhood. You know that some of his friends died in the Towers. Rudy is real. McCain has sometimes tossed away his authenticity he earned the hard way, and let’s face it, he’s not in the best of health. Romney is not quite authentic but Lord how he tries.

I think that’s exactly it. For all Rudy Giuliani’s many faults, there’s one thing that he is not and that is inauthentic. He could have tried to spin his way out of his own positions on civil rights for gay couples, firearms, or abortion. He hasn’t. He went to Sean Hannity and said what he believes.

And yet, conservatives seem to be embracing him.

It’s that authenticity that is Giuliani’s biggest asset against anyone of any party in the field. Hillary is as made-up as they come — she’s like a politicized, feminized Barbie. Barack Obama is the same thing — he’ll be what you want him to be but one is never quite sure what he really stands for beyond all the bobble-headed platitudes. Edwards — well, putting the blow-dried trial lawyer in front of the former federal prosecutor would be like putting a show dog in front of a pit bull.

Why would evangelicals support someone who seems so hostile to their beliefs? For one, Giuliani isn’t all that hostile. His personal pro-choice convictions are matched by his desire to restrain the judicial activism of the Supreme Court by appointing judges who will follow the principles of the Constitution and not legislate social policy from the bench. He’s not for gay marriage rights, but civil unions. His personal foibles may be troublesome, but the very essence of evangelical thought is that we are all sinners in need of redemption.

Evangelicals can support Giuliani for the reason the rest of the Republican Party appears to be embracing him — because he’s honest and forthright in his affairs. That’s a principle of evangelical Christianity that Giuliani has in spades, and it may be enough to win over those who would otherwise be skeptical about his candidacy.

It’s far too early to say that Giuliani (or anyone, for that matter) is truly a “front-runner.” A campaign that has been building momentum for months can die in a heartbeat and underdogs can become leaders of their party just as quickly. However, it’s important not to discount the value of Giuliani’s innate authenticity in this race — especially against the current field. In politics, perception matters as much as anything, if not more than anything. The American people have seen Giuliani provide leadership in a time of profound crisis, and they’ve seen someone who is unafraid to speak his mind and put his ideas out there without the need to spin and obfuscate.

Giuliani is very much in play, and I’ve the feeling that the more the media tries to marginalize him as having no chance in the early primaries, the more many conservatives will want to support him.

19 thoughts on “A Candidate In Full

  1. This topic is starting to get even more ink on JayReding.com than the 4,956th prediction that….sooner or later….one of these days….with God as my witness….these liberal bloggers are gonna end the Democratic Party.

    Even looking at his most optimistic numbers, Giuliani has two huge problems. First, 60% of self-identified Republicans don’t realize he’s pro-choice. Second, Rudy may be leading the pack of contenders, but his numbers are stuck in the 40’s. That tells me that the yacht-faring Chamber of Commerce wing of the party is onboard….but what about the evangelical foot soldiers? Will they ever warm up to him? I’m skeptical.

    Rudy’s fancy footwork on abortion is only gonna make the topic that much more uncomfortable (and omnipresent) for him in both the GOP primary and the general election. The more he has to walk the tightrope in “supporting a woman’s right to choose….but determined as hell to nominate SCOTUSes who will criminalize that right”, the more voters are gonna cringe. At least a third of the Republicans I know are working-class folks (mostly women) who are with the Democrats on nearly every issue….but still vote GOP because of abortion. If Giuliani doesn’t toe the party’s hard line against abortion, I can’t imagine a scenario where he can win. All the wishful thinking in the world by Giuliani disciples cannot help him hold the 2000 and 2004 Bush coalition.

  2. Wow, that’s very interesting, Mark. If anyone’s an expert on wishful thinking, it would be you, no? Don’t you just wish Giuliani and all his supporters would all just hurry up and commit mass suicide?? That seems to be your style.

  3. Eracus, every day that the Republican party flirts with nominating someone as unelectable as Rudy Giuliani is a day that I have a smile on my face. What terrifies me is the fact that the GOP might wake up and consolidate their support around affable conservative Mike Huckabee. Now there’s a Republican candidate who can hold the Bush coalition together.

  4. Yeah, Mike Huckabee… there’s a guy that’ll set the world on fire.

    What terrifies the Democrats is that the GOP will nominate a moderate candidate at the same time the increasingly radical Democratic base pushes their party further and further to the left. Anthony Downs had it right 50 years ago — the party that captures the middle wins the elections. The Democrats are trying to destroy their own centrists and the same time that Giuliani’s numbers keep going up.

    Giuliani would defeat any Democrat in the field hands down. Hillary doesn’t stand a chance. Edwards would be toast. Even Obama would have trouble.

    The biggest reason why Rudy will get the nomination is because he’s the Democrats worst nightmare and they know it.

  5. Jay, what does the current chimp occupying the White House have that Huckabee doesn’t? If conservatives (and moderates) get to know Huckabee, they’ll like him….as opposed to Giuliani who will be liked less by everybody once his mug graces our airwaves daily.

    Giuliani is exactly the kind of faux-moderate candidate that provokes the most cringes among voters. Giuliani is in virtual lockstep with the floundering McCain on the biggest issue (the war in Iraq), taking a position that guarantees his defeat in itself. And it never ceases to amaze me how you bourgeoise disciples think you can smear shit on the faces of your evangelical base by nominating a guy who stands apart from them on their most important issues….and still be rewarded for it. Bubba from Mississippi will not vote for Rudy, Jay. Nor will Trixie, the minimum-wage store clerk from rural Iowa whose allegiance to the GOP is based entirely on the party’s association with criminalizing abortion.

    That’s your biggest problem. You are so smug in your belief that the Republican Party’s success lies in its commitment to mindless militarism and consolidating wealth into the pockets of the already-affluent that you believe you have ownership over the 2000 and 2004 Bush coalition no matter what kind of heretic you nominate. Kind of reminds me of the “where are they gonna go?” taunt that came from team Clinton after he signed NAFTA. Twelve years later, the Dems are just now getting some of them back…..a fate that will follow the GOP if they nominate Giuliani.

  6. Wow!! What another brilliant analysis, Mark!! You sure are a political genius!! “Mindless militarism.” “…consolidating wealth into the pockets of the already-affluent…” You sound just like a true Marxist-Leninist whining about yellow running dogs and ravenous capitalist pigs!! Good show!! Bravo!!

    So, Hillary’s going to win, right?

  7. Eracus, Hillary will lose against any Republican candidate except Giuliani, whose candidacy would alienate values voters and open the door to a third-party challenge from the right likely to pull in double-digits in the Deep South.

  8. Mark, you’re not a Republican, a conservative or any type of right-leaning person. How, then, do you presume to speak for them?

    The rabid anti-abortionists that have run for President in the past have all quickly fallen by the wayside. Single-issue candidates and their voters constitute a rarefied grouping, particularly on the right.

    And your blather about support for the war being a negative is fueled by a gross misconception of the feeling of the people who didn’t support the GOP in 2006. They are
    not sick of the war–they’re sick of the half-assed way it’s being fought. Because of that many stayed home–and Democrats oozed into Congress.

    Not because anyone supported their ideas, but because Republicans were pissed at what the Republicans in Congress were doing.

    Rudy’s got a lot going for him–9/11 being only a part. His amazing cleaning up of the city(a phenomena that the left has already started claiming began with Dinkins–an utter lie)is a feat that changed so much for residents and visitors alike. It was as if he turned New York into what it could be–and THAT is the New York that everyone cried over on 9/11.

    Rudy can win. But, more important, he’s the real thing. He told the Arabs to take their money and shove it. Can you see another politician doing that? A Democrat–particularly considering that a Democrat went sniveling after the cash Guiliani refused.

    As you spout off, and you will, about Rudy’s chances, and how Republican voters feel about him, always remember that you’re speaking from the orifice you sit on.

  9. Gee whiz, Jack, you just don’t get it. Mark knows everything — international economics, national security policy, the U.S. tax code — everything!! He’s a state employee, a socialist master-planner, and a follower of the Marx/Hegel dialectic. So if he says Rudy Giuliani can’t be elected, well then, Jack, Rudy Giuliani just can’t be elected. That’s all there is to it. Because Rudy likes gays and women rights and Donald Trump, his candidacy would only alienate values voters and open the door to a third-party challenge from the right likely to pull in double-digits in the Deep South. Got that? And then Hillary would be elected president!! We can’t have THAT now, can we? So….no Giuliani. See??

  10. Jack, living in the Midwest and working for three years as a reporter in a small town, I’ve had no shortage of contact with conservatives, Republicans, and other “right-leaning” sorts. On more than one occasion, an interviewee would ask me, out of the blue, if I had been reading “the Left Behind series”. When my response was “no”, it confirmed in their minds that I was destined to spend the rest of eternity roasting in hell unless I was somehow “saved” before the Rapture. This is the kind of voter Rudy Giuliani needs to win over in the next 20 months….and just as these voters were not compelled in sufficient numbers to support Republican Congressional candidates in 2006, they won’t be compelled to vote for a heretic like Giuliani should he somehow manage to consolidate the support of the Chamber of Commerce Republicans and get the nomination amongst a divided field.

    And I’m not talking about nominating a “rabid anti-abortionist”….just someone who has a solid and unequivocal pro-life resume. George W. Bush did…and won. Mike Huckabee does….and would win. Sam Brownback does….and even he may able to beat Hillary. John McCain and Mitt Romney are hedging their bets on the issue, but would still have an advantage over Hillary than Giuliani would not.

    By all means though, I hope the GOP field runs with your theory that Republican turnout was soft last November because the party is insufficiently militaristic and trigger-happy. I’m really looking forward to hearing a variation on that line out of Rudy’s mouth at the Republican convention.

    Rudy’s resume has its assets and liabilities. A huge liability is the litany of sleazy business dealings and shady associates (Bernard Kerik, anyone?) from his past. Even his tenure as Mayor in NYC offers the kind of paternalistic “government-knows-best” formula for success that will further alienate libertarian-leaning voters, who voted for Bush by a better than 80% margin in 2000 yet fell to around 55% support of Republican Congressional candidates in 2006.

    “As you spout off, and you will, about Rudy’s chances, and how Republican voters feel about him, always remember that you’re speaking from the orifice you sit on.”

    Whatever worthy points you made in your post are completely negated when you close with debate etiquette right out of the schoolyard sandbox.

  11. Oh. My. God. A New York politician who had sleazy business dealings and shady associates?? In New York?? Who knew??

    Mark, how much longer is it going to take for you to realize how much everything you post here only more reveals what a fraud you are? Are you so narcissistic and conceited that you have absolutely no self-awareness at all? Do you not realize what a self-parody you have become?

    Just out of curiosity, would you please tell us how old you are and where you were educated? Perhaps your parental background? We just need some real-world perspective so please be as honest as can be. I’m not looking to knock it, I’m just trying to understand how anybody can be so removed from reality at this late stage in the game.

    Please tell us you’re not older than 24, you attended community college, and married the girl.

  12. Why, whatever do you mean? Mark is someone who’s had 3 years of experience working as a reporter in a small midwestern town, by which he has obtained all the keen insights and vast knowledge as our authority on everything from climate change to Rudy Giuliani’s resume to deciding who should commit mass suicide. We just want to know if he’s had any other such profound experiences or formal training to help explain how he got so smart.

  13. In light of your absurd comments regarding the importance people in the Midwest place on reading the ‘Left Behind’ series, I think my parting comment was not only witty, but spot on.

    Your certitude is misplaced, to say the least.

    Coming from outside, from well within the leftist orthodoxy, you spout the propaganda of your masters. It rolls glibly off your tongue because you accept its strictures wholeheartedly. And, in this free country, is fine.

    But you would do well to peek outside your box every now and again, if only to reassure yourself that your leftist womb is secure.

    I took part, prior to the ’06 election, in endless discussions with many conservative voters who were determined to make the party pay for having failed them. Some stayed home. Some voted for third party candidates they liked better(where available). Some commited the most heinous act–they voted for Democrats. ALL of them were generally united in their reasoning. The GOP had failed on national security, on immigration, and on fighting the war with the fecrocity needed.

    Not a one mentioned abortion, or religious conservatism, or any of the bogeymen the left trots out.

    Sadly, my point lost, time and time again. I told them that now was not the time for this kind of slap-in-the-face. It was far too dangerous, and worst of all, the left would take it as vindication, as approval, of every insanity that had festered in the fever-swamps these past 6 years.

    And they did.

    I am telling you, Mark, how the right ACTUALLY thinks. What ACTUALLY concerns and motivates. On two of the counts I listed above, Rudy scores well.

    But you go ahead and continue thinking that he’s unelectable because he’s not up on the latest Kirk Cameron vehicle.

    And here’s another parting shot–is the left so focused on derailing Guiliani because they’re afraid the Republicans will nominate someone unelectable—or are they afraid that Rudy has enough Democrat fans to make him electable even from the left?

  14. “The GOP had failed on national security, on immigration, and on fighting the war with the ferocity needed.”

    Amen, Jack, amen. Not to mention McCain-Feingold.

    The difference between the GOP and the Democrat Party is the GOP will take out its own trash. The Democrats leave theirs in charge. That’s how we get the pro-union, anti-democratic legislation that just passed the House by a vote of 228-183, denying the workers’ right to the secret ballot in union certification elections. Only 2 Democrats were opposed. Stalin would be so proud.

    By contrast, in 2001 many of the very same Democrats insisted that Mexican workers should not be denied the sacred right to vote by secret ballot, even though they were in the country illegally. And this is called, “looking out for the little guy.” Go figure.

  15. Jack, I venture to say your representative sample of conservative peers who vowed to “teach Republicans a lesson” in 2006 among the 11% of the electorate who swallow the entire conservative agenda of laissez-faire economics, knee-jerk militarism, and authoritarian/theocratic mandates on “values”. Most Republican voters only adhere to one or two of these principles. I don’t what part of the country you live in, but if you discussed politics outside of your inner circle of conservative die-hards, you’d quickly discover how large the abortion issue looms with otherwise non-political housewives, particularly in Middle America. I know at least a dozen women (young and old) who are to the left of me on most issues, but vote Republican because of abortion. Nominate Giuliani and you’ve taken away their only reason to vote GOP. If you seriously think this demographic of voters is tiny enough to piss on, try them. I dare you!

    You may be telling me how the right REALLY thinks….but “the right”, at least as you define them, won’t decide who gets to be President in 2008. The 89% of voters whose worldview deviates from the Republican Party platform will. Tell the pro-life ideologues that they can go straight to hell and they’ll take you (and Giuliani) down there with them.

    Whatever Democratic fans Rudy has right now are a product of his post-9/11 celebrity. Remove that from his resume and he’s a widely-reviled figure with an abrasive New York personality. With him as the nominee, Democrats and independents will likely vote against Giuliani in even larger numbers than they did against Bush (and that’s not counting the attrition of Republican “values voters” who can’t bring themselves to vote for a gay-loving, baby killer trying to take away their shotguns).

    Eracus, it’s a sweet day when bourgeoise sharks like you aren’t able to strongarm your employees from unionizing anymore. The “secret ballot” is (or rather was) a way for employers to control the union vote process through every imaginable means of intimidation. Kudos to the Democrats and the large number of House Republicans who sided with workers here. And once again, dissenting Dan Boren and Gene Taylor show how useless they are….particularly Taylor, whose Gulf Coast district is being deluged with low-wage Mexican workers since the Bush administration waived prevailing wage rates for Gulf Coast rebuilding that would have payed construction workers wages high enough to survive on.

  16. Mark, 99.9% of the electorate agrees you are are just a fraud and a conceit and are simply making stuff up again. Only a true Marxist-Leninist would defend denying a worker’s right to privacy as a condition of employment. So either you are a true communist, Mark, or a just another empty-headed barking moonbat. Which is it? Maybe you can explain how destroying one of the most fundamental pillars of the democratic process helps the worker? And why your Democrat Party is passing legislation denying the secret ballot to others that they so enjoy themselves? Are some pigs more equal than others, Mark? Please explain.

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