Rudy’s Honesty Is The Best Policy

Daniel Henninger takes a look at whether the religious right can support a Giuliani candidacy. Last week, Mayor Giuliani gave a frank but powerful speech to the Values Voters Summit, one in which he was honest in pointing out the differences between himself and many of the attendees to the summit.

In the end, Giuliani did himself a huge service by being honest, refusing to pander, but still pointing out that a Giuliani presidency would lead to real and demonstrable progress on key social issues. A Hillary Clinton administration would lead to a federal policy of abortion on demand. A Rudy Giuliani administration would not. President Hillary Clinton would nominate judges who would find all sorts of new “penumbras” in the Constitution justifying yet more judicial overreach and yet more social experimentation being handed down by the bench. President Rudy Giuliani would appoint jurists to the bench with a greater sense of judicial restraint and more respect for constitutional strictures—judges in the vein of Samuel Alito and John Roberts.

Henninger makes a crucial point about the current tenor of some evangelicals in Republican politics:

In the ’60s, the left introduced the “non-negotiable demand” into our politics. It’s still with us. It’s political infantilism. In real life, the non-negotiable “demand” usually ends about age six.

Evangelical voters are a crucial bloc within the GOP. Yet if a handful of them think that by sitting out the election it will make them anything but pariahs, they’re wrong. American politics is driven by the center, and its the party that best captures the center that wins. Non-negotiable demands by minority groups doesn’t drive a party towards victory, and ultimately the only way you get your agenda passed is by actually winning elections.

However, Henninger also points out that Rudy has to be flexible as well:

Of necessity, Mr. Giuliani has to get voters on the right past this narrowed focus. Adult politics, though, runs in both directions. Rudy has to move toward them, too, and believably.

At the end of the day, I don’t think Rudy will have that big a problem with the evangelical votes. A handful of radicals will stick to their absolutist positions, but not enough to swing the election. (Most of them live in states that are already safely Republican territory as it is.) Most evangelicals will take a rational look at the candidates and see that a return to the Clinton years would be a disaster for the American family and the interests of people of faith. In many ways, Hillary Clinton is far more radical than even her husband was.

Rudy still needs to speak to people of faith in honest and forthright terms. Even among the relatively hostile audience at the Values Voters Summit, Rudy did that. Republican politics tends to be more adult than on the other side, and evangelical voters understand that their interests lie with a President who will not further the causes of abortion on demand, judicial activism, and radical social experimentation. Even if they hold their nose to vote for Rudy, the stakes are simply too high to stomach the likely alternative.