By now you know that Rudy Giuliani is running for President
; in fact, rumors are rampant that he will officially announce while speaking to the California Republican Party Convention tomorrow. He's also planning to hold 14 fundraisers in New York City alone
over the next month, so he won't have any problem being competitive in the money primary.
Many liberal bloggers seem to believe that there's no way in 1,000 years Giuliani could ever win the Republican nomination, given the hard-core social conservative tilt of the electorate in the primaries. The WaPo article says it best.
But his support for abortion rights and gay rights puts him sharply at odds with the majority of his party, a situation that many GOP strategists think will present a substantial obstacle to his hopes of winning the nomination.
You can also look at statements by Tony Perkins
of the Family Research Council ("Giuliani is known for his impressive leadership in the wake of 9/11, but most pro-family Americans do not yet realize how far outside of the mainstream of conservative thought that Mayor Giuliani social views really are") and Terry Jeffery
of Human Events ("Rudy will not win the Republican nomination because enough of the people who vote in Republican caucuses and primaries still respect life and marriage, and are not ready to give up on them — or on the Republican party as an agent for protecting them").
Personally, I think this is an attempt from those who don't like Rudy in the Republic Party to knock him off stride. Because he's clearly formidable. While we're still a long way out, his favorability ratings dwarf any other contender. And more than anything the GOP wants to retain power. I think Digby
is making the right point, that the fundies will vote for whoever their leaders tell them to vote for, and they're all snake oil salesman and without morals anyway, so they'll advocate for whoever they think can win. Remember that the leaders of the social conservatives are actually all fiscal conservatives. The issues that they use are just the convenient ones to keep their base in line; what they want to perpetuate are right-wing economic structures. The only candidate, therefore, who's past disqualifies him to win the Republic nomination is Mike Huckabee
, because he raised taxes in Arkansas.
The base, meanwhile, will vote with their tribe, and if the tribal elders say it's Giuliani, then it's Giuliani. Here's Digby.
If Dobson and his brethren decide it is in their best interests to back Rudy or McCain, they will do so. Expect a lot of posturing and pandering --- these are political animals and they play the game very well. But at the end of the day this decision has nothing to do with whether the Christian conservative base will flee the party or stay home. They can rationalize anything.
Rudy is a formidable candidate who will have to get past Dobson and McCain and pay homage to southern values in a way that southern conservatives understand that he's acknowledging their awesome power. (Look for some very thinly veiled racial appeals from Rudy --- he's got cred in that department.) But his manly-man authoritarian personality and image is where he makes them all swoon and he may very well finesse his former "liberal" positions.
Those who aren't paying as much attention only know Rudy as America's mayor and tough on crime. That'll play to the pants-pissing fear crowd. Democrats cannot rely on the Republican base to deep-six Giuliani. In fact, it would be dangerous to do so.
That's why it's important to define Rudy now, as the blogs have been doing with McCain recently, to great effect. And with Rudy, there's even more to pick from.
First of all, it's important to note that Rudy Giuliani's ascension to the top of the Presidential ladder is entirely predicated on his performance on one day while Mayor of New York City. His second term in New York was a mess
, where he lashed out at things like public art shows, and showed a near-total disinterest in anything but law enforcement issues. And even on that score, the crime rate was falling for a few years under Mayor Dinkins, and continued to fall since Giuliani left office. So I don't know how much the "He cleaned up New York" frame should be attributed to him. In fact, not very much
attributed to him after 9-11 rings true if you actually look at his record, not on social issues but on the issues that matter to people's lives.
The attack on the twin towers blew a hole in downtown Manhattan and in our collective memory. Osama bin Laden and company did a better P.R. job for Giuliani than spin ghouls Hill & Knowlton ever did for Dick Nixon. He made everyone but the most grouchy and resentful New Yorkers forget that before planes crashed into the World Trade Center, Rudy was a hyper-authoritarian narcissist with a lust for overkill verging on the sociopathic [...]
Before the planes hit, when he had too much power and not enough to do, Giuliani, like an old soldier who comes home and starts abusing his family in lieu of a real enemy, was pulling a Great Santini on New York, rooting around in our sock drawers with a Maglite, looking for vices to confiscate and sins to punish. By the mid-'90s, Mayor Rudy was abusing authority according to the whims of his own paranoid, hyper-defensive personality disorder in way that would have made Tiberius self-conscious.
As his second term wound down, New Yorkers knew what Rudy was, and they were sick of it. In 1999, they rejected his caudillo-style attempt to amend the city's (relatively new) term-limit law so he could serve another four years. By May 2000, with crime at historic lows, the city's economy still aglow, real estate prices soaring -- the kind of external factors that normally make politicians untouchable -- his approval rating had slid to a Bush-oid 37 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. In December 2001, when Giuliani finally stepped down -- after trying and failing to exploit his post 9/11 popularity by passing a special law that would've added three months to his reign) -- the New York Times interrupted its elegy for the Rudy years with a sober reminder. "The suppression of dissent," noted the Times, "or of anything that irked the mayor, became a familiar theme."
The Salon article is devastating. Giuliani hired William Bratton as police chief, watched him use innovative tactics to lower the crime rate, and when Bratton got all the glory for it, Rudy fired him. When New York magazine ran a gentle ad campaign calling themselves "Possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn't taken credit for," Rudy tried to ban the ad from the subway system. In order to look tough on crime, Rudy had citizens handcuffed and jailed for smoking a joint, then set free, as if to particularly humiliate them.
Even Rudy's supporters
know about his tendencies (Chris Matthews: "I think the country wants a boss like that, just a little bit of facism there"). He's primarily concerned with personal flattery and making himself rich
from $100,000 speaking fees, even for CHARITY events.
But what certainly demands more scrutiny is this mythic status of an American hero because he did what anyone in a leadership position who isn't holding a children's book at the time ought to do: he held press conferences and pleaded for calm. The press conferences, of course, starred him, and he projected this image as if he literally saved the city, and a dazed and dazzled public willingly gave in to this fiction. Meanwhile, his decision-making before and after that fateful day was terrible. As Sisyphus Shrugged
recounts in a series of 2002-era posts, Rudy made the decision, ignoring all other advice, to put the emergency response bunker under 7 WTC because he wanted it to be within walking distance of City Hall. At this time, the only other terrorist attack in recent New York history was at the World Trade Center, but no matter. There was another site picked out in Brooklyn (where Bloomberg put it later) but Rudy got his way. And that placement undoubtedly cost American lives.
FYI, a not inconsiderable portion of Mr. Giuliani's fires of hell were fed by the fuel supply for the city's emergency response bunker, which he insisted on locating in 7WTC in the face of universal insistence by the city's security consultants that it wasn't a good idea to locate an emergency response bunker in a terrorist target.
Of course, since the Motorola radios his administration insisted on buying for the firefighters through a no-bid contract, which were never field-tested, didn't work properly, a working communications center might not have gotten the message to the firefighters in the towers that they needed to evacuate.
(by the way, if you want to know why 7WTC blew up, Loose Change viewers, the bunker would be your answer
We're talking about over 100 firefighters who never heard the call for evacuation, and Rudy falsely testified to the 9-11 Commission
on this fact. He claimed that the two sets of radio frequencies were due to the limits on technology at the time, when in fact these radios malfunctioned during the first WTC bombing
and Giuliani failed to heed the calls to change them.Barbara O'Brien
, who's done some of the best work deconstructing this revisionist history, picks up the story from there:
The fact is that Giuliani did little to “lead” rescue or recovery efforts. While Rudy was prancing around on television, a hodge-podge of city agencies loosely — very loosely — coordinated by the Office of Emergency Management went to work deconstructing the remains of the World Trade Center with little input or direction from the Mayor.
Consider also that the World Trade Center was yards away from Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Unlike Mayor Nagin of New Orleans, Mayor Giuliani did not have to beg for help getting the debris cleared and electricity hooked up so that the financial district was up and running again as quickly as possible. New York’s business leadership saw to that
She also has a wide collection of examples of Rudy angering city residents, using law enforcement dishonestly and cruelly, presiding over the Amadou Diallo incident without reaching out to the black community, and dozens of other examples of a man literally out of control and drunk on his own power.
Glenn Greenwald sees this as Rudy's selling point
to the Republic base:
Giuliani's talent for expressing prosecutor-like righteous anger towards "bad people" -- as well as his well-honed ability to communicate base-pleasing rhetoric towards Islamic extremists -- are underappreciated. I don't think any candidate will be able to compete with his ability to convey a genuine hard-line against Middle Eastern Muslims (see here for one representative maneuver), and that is the issue that -- admittedly with some exceptions -- dominates the Christian conservative agenda more than gay marriage and abortion (concerns which he can and will minimize by promising to appoint more Antonin Scalias and Sam Alitos to the Supreme Court, something he emphasized last night in a highly amicable interview with Sean Hannity) [...]
Rudy Giuliani is, I think, by the far the smartest and most politically talented candidate in the Republican field, a fact to which most residents of New York during his mayoralty - including those who dislike him -- would likely attest. In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, he won two elections, including a landslide for his second term. And he does have in his past many incidents which will uniquely appeal to Christian conservatives, such as the war he waged periodically on works of art and other cultural expressions which offended his religious sensibilities [...]
Giuliani is an "authoritarian narcissist" -- plagued by an unrestrained prosecutor's mentality -- who loves coercive government power (especially when vested in his hands) and hates dissent above all else. He would make George Bush look like an ardent lover of constitutional liberties. He is probably the absolute worst and most dangerous successor to George Bush under the circumstances, but his political talents and prospects for winning are being severely underestimated.
It is crucial that this information is brought to light immediately. Rudy Giuliani's weaknesses in the Presidential race are not his moderate views on social issues. His weaknesses, actually, are the fact that he's completely dismissive of civil liberties, uses the police state as a cudgel, makes horrible decisions based on little other than self-regard, and has a tendency to silence any and all dissent. He's not necessarily unelectable in the primaries, but he ought to be in the general. And raising awareness of these issues is absolutely crucial NOW before the press goes to sleep and uncritically anoints him as "America's Mayor" once again.
Labels: 2008, 9-11, New York City, Rudy Giuliani, World Trade Center