Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Rudy's Political Predecessor

Former star Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson appears uncomfortable with the similarities he sees between Rudy's Giuliani and a certain Republican president:
Giuliani plays up his continuity with the Republican past, particularly with Ronald Reagan. But Reagan, of course, was a committed social conservative who expressed reservations about choosing George H.W. Bush as his running mate because of his questionable pro-life views. Giuliani's style and approach are actually much closer to those of another politically successful Republican president: Richard Nixon, pre-Watergate.

In his elections, Nixon appealed to conservatives and the country as a culture warrior who was not a moral or religious conservative. "Permissiveness," he told key aides, "is the key theme," and Nixon pressed that theme against hippie protesters, tenured radicals and liberals who bad-mouthed America. This kind of secular, tough-on-crime, tough-on-communism conservatism gathered a "silent majority" that loved Nixon for the enemies he made.

By this standard, Giuliani is a Nixon Republican. He is perhaps the most publicly secular major candidate of either party -- his conflicts with Roman Catholic teaching make him more reticent on religion than either
Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But as a prosecutor and mayor of New York, he won conservative respect for making all the right enemies: the ACLU, advocates of blasphemous art, purveyors of racial politics, Islamist mass murderers, mob bosses and the New York Times editorial page.

Gerson then identifies the ideological and political dangers that a Giuliani nomination could create:
But the Nixon example is also a warning. His presidency -- from wage and price controls to the nomination of Justice Harry Blackmun-- could hardly be called a conservative success story. As president, Nixon was a talented man without an ideological compass, mainly concerned with the accumulation of power. Giuliani's 1994 endorsement of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo -- the modern hero of Democratic liberalism -- also indicates some loose ideological moorings. And, as with Nixon, Giuliani's combativeness, on occasion, blurs into pettiness.

Another consequence of a Giuliani victory would be to place the Republican nominee in direct conflict with the
Roman Catholic Church. For someone who aspires to be the fourth Roman Catholic to lead a major-party ticket, this is not a minor thing.

Giuliani is not only pro-choice. He has supported embryonic stem cell research and public funding for abortion. He supports the death penalty. He supports "waterboarding" of terror suspects and seems convinced that the conduct of the war on terrorism has been too constrained. Individually, these issues are debatable. Taken together, they are the exact opposite of Catholic teaching, which calls for a "consistent ethic of life" rather than its consistent devaluation. No one inspired by the social priorities of
Pope John Paul II can be encouraged by the political views of Rudy Giuliani. Church officials who criticized John Kerry on abortion are anxious for the opportunity to demonstrate their bipartisanship by going after a Republican. Those attacks on Giuliani have already begun.

Not the only reasons for being cautious about jumping on the Rudy bandwagon, but certainly food for thought.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Technorati search
Search Now:
Amazon Logo
  •  RSS
  • Add to My AOL
  • Powered by FeedBurner
  • Add to Google Reader or Homepage
  • Subscribe in Bloglines
  • Share on Facebook