Byron York talks to Rudy Giuliani. And Pat Robertson says something with which I’m inclined in large part to agree:
“To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorism,” Robertson told reporters. The second-most important issue, Robertson said, is fiscal discipline. Only after that, he suggested, are the social issues, with the overriding priority being the makeup of the federal courts. “Uppermost in the mind of social conservatives is the selection of Supreme Court justices,” Robertson said, and Giuliani “has assured the American people that his choices for judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia.”
This doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for Rudy G., but Robertson (for once?) makes some sense. Where I part company, and what gives me pause about RG, is that the President has some influence over the moral tone in the country. In terms of what’s possible in the states, judicial nominations matter a lot. But the way in which someone can speak for or against the proverbial "culture of life." I’m not confident that RG will consistently say what I’d like him to say. Judges are good, indeed very good. But the tone and example of the presidency matter too.
RG has some strengths here, not just weaknesses, and he should articulate the former in this context, talking about civility, responsibility, and opportunity. He does it reasonably well, and he can appeal to social conservatives on these grounds.
Robertson, I’ll say it again, is right: social conservatives can do complexity. But they can also recognize obfuscation and weaseling.
Update: Pomocon James Poulos disagrees. He’s right that, apart from the Supreme Court, most of the political action on social issues should be in the states. But Robertson seems in a way to concede that, by asserting that the biggest federal or presidential considerations are foreign policy and fiscal responsibility.