Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Dennis Prager’s View of Rudy

Dan keeps calling our attention in the threads to the fact that Dennis Prager has endorsed Giuliani. Indeed he has, so I include the link for those of you still open-minded enough to consider the argument. Like Prager, I am more or less resigned to the unlikely odds Rudy’s facing in Florida and, therefore, the rest of the contest. But also like Prager, I think this is a shame and a missed opportunity and that it does not portend good things for November. I expect I will continue to mystify those of you who think me mad in my support for Rudy. But those of you who no longer have a reasonable expectation of Huck pulling through really should explain why McCain or Romney are worthy of more of your trust on judicial appointments--which is the ONLY way the next president (if it’s one of these three guys) is going to touch the abortion question as a practical matter.

Discussions - 23 Comments

To the extent that I understand how most Republicans think, it would seem that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani comes closer to the Republican ideal than any of the other viable Republican candidates.


Phew. Talk about sacrificing your credibilty on the altar of political power.

I'm hard pressed to think of a single issue on which Giuliani is the best in the field. It's easy to think of several where he is the worst.

I'd be intersted in seeing Julie make the case for why she thinks Giuliani is the best choice. She can't do a worse job than Prager did.

I notice that Prager is being savaged in the comments on that piece.

Giuliani's contribution to this race has been to foster the rise of Mike Huckabee. Opinions will differ as to whether that has been a good thing.

which is the ONLY way the next president (if it’s one of these three guys) is going to touch the abortion question as a practical matter.

The executive order is actually a huge practical way that President's affect abortion.

Mexico-City Policy, which McCain is on record as supporting Bush's executive order to stop funding international abortions.

Or perhaps Bush's executive order on stem cell research.

"Conservatives" like Prager and Frum who support Rudy, do so for largely two reasons, IMO. 1.) They think he is the most likely to slavishly toe the neocon line on foreign policy. Note his obviously ghostwritten screed in Foreign Affairs and his list of advisors which includes Pod the Elder. 2.) They deliberately want to de-emphasize the party's commitment to social conservatism and Rudy is a vehicle to do that. Plus they did think he was more electable in the Fall, but that was related to #2.

Clint, I did not say judicial appointments were the only way they could touch the abortion issue--only that it was the only way any of these three likely would touch it. I don't know about McCain's support for the executive order you mention on funding for international abortions. But assuming it's true that McCain supports Bush's order against that funding and Rudy wouldn't (which I also don't know about--do you?), is that it? That alone makes McCain better, even given McCain's other problems on other issues? Do you not think it is more likely that McCain would pick bad judges than Giuliani would given his fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution as evidenced in his support for McCain/Feingold? And do you not think Prager's point that it is more likely that judges who uphold a McCain/Feingold view of the Constitution are also going to be supporters of Roe is valid? I do. I think that's a very fair point.

Do you not think it is more likely that McCain would pick bad judges than Giuliani would given his fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution as evidenced in his support for McCain/Feingold?

Julie, Rudy Giuliani was a big supporter of McCain-Feingold. He said he'd have voted for it if he could. His understanding of the constitution is every bit as bad as McCains.

Why are the Rudy supporters so ignorant of the mans record? And why do they resist learning?

Yes, I know you are playing this game of pretending to ignore what I say. But this makes you look pretty bad.

I do know that, John. (And why is your objective here to make anyone "look bad"? If that's you're objective I predict you'll succeed but not, perhaps, in the way you might wish.) Look, I do not think Rudy Giuliani is God or even Ronald Reagan. I would not even have said what Prager said about him being the closest thing to Reagan going. I'm bored of all those claims too.

But as to Rudy's (stupid) support for McCain/Feingold, you have to admit that it is not as deep as the support of the man whose name is on the thing! Rudy's understanding of the Constitution is certainly limited. But Rudy has a respectable team of advisers on the judiciary and it's a team to which I believe he probably will listen. My judgment of McCain is that he seems to be above listening to anyone. I understand that this is part of his charm for his supporters. But I find it disturbing in a President. And if I read him right, I think his commitment to McCain/Feingold is closer to his heart than his thoughts about Roe. Judges who like McCain/Feingold generally also like Roe. Rudy's not going to be guided by Roe either, I get that. But the judges who would support the things that do animate Rudy are, more often than not, unimpressed by the logic of Roe.

Julie, FWIW, I'm with you on this one, at least mildly. You have given the reasons and I won't repeat them. I can take McCain but as between the two, I am still more comfortable with Rudy, even on the social questions and even on judicial appointments. He understands the economic problem and the supply-side solutions better than McCain has given evidence of so far.

I am however inclined to think McCain would be the very strongest Republican available against either Obama or Hill. Defeating either of them must be the PARAMOUNT consideration of every serious prolife citizen, regardless of the Republican candidate's personal weakness on that issue. In an election like this, the differences between the parties may be more important than the differences between the candidates, and when we vote, we choose a party, not just a candidate. We should not let anti-partisan zeal make us blind to the real differences between govt. under one compared to the other.

I don't know about McCain's support for the executive order you mention on funding for international abortions.

I'm not your research assistant: http://www.capwiz.com/nrlc/issues/votes/?votenum=267&chamber=S&congress=1081.

Here's a little info and speculation on Giuliani and where he might stand. It's hard to see how someone who believes in the right to an abortion would choose to limit international aid dollars ending up in the pockets of abortionists.

You know, or at least should, that I am far from a one issue voter. I was merely pointing out a few facts that your bias for Giuliani overlooked. McCain is a far more orthodox conservative in my view. He has a strong record both socially and fiscally-stronger than Giuliani's. I understand that he did a bit of regulation but the campaign finance system was already a mess; it wasn't McCain's fault. I could make the same arguments about Giuliani misunderstanding the constitution given his support of gun control as you claim about McCain and Campaign finance.

McCain's speech at the Reagan library (2006, i've linked to it before, won't take time now) proved to me that he understands America far more than Giuliani could hope to. I'm not fooling myself that either is an originalist when it comes to the constitution, but I know that McCain is at heart much more conservative than the former New York Mayor. As my dad said when I told him it would probably be McCain, "Well it's better than Rudy." However, the way this race is it could still be anyone since the GOP continues to harshly attack whoever's out front.

Thanks Dennis. It goes without saying that if, after Florida, Rudy's out I'll have to make a decision between McCain and Romney. THAT decision will be all about which one of them is most likely to be able to win in November. I am not yet persuaded that it is McCain (between him and Romney . . . I still think there's a general election argument to be made for Rudy and there's probably something to Prager's point that the Dems were most afraid of him) but I'm leaning toward McCain over Romney for that reason. I'd probably prefer Romney as president to McCain as president . . . but as you say, we have to win first. But I could change my mind. What's your argument for McCain's chances over Romney's?

I don't want to go round and round on old ground any more either, Clint. You think McCain is more sound on the economy. I think he'd be alright, but Giuliani would be really good on it. You think McCain is at least as good as G. on the war. Again, I think he's not as good as G., but still much better than the Dems. You and I know that McCain is better on abortion. I give you that. But I still say Giuliani seems more likely to be better on the judges. And in the abortion/cultural debate that's more important than some executive order about international aid for abortions (which aid we probably shouldn't be giving for any reason, leave alone abortions). But I'm woman enough to admit that it's probably not going to matter whether G. is better than McCain in the abstract and that we're going to end up on the same team again in the end.

And why is your objective here to make anyone "look bad"? If that's you're objective I predict you'll succeed but not, perhaps, in the way you might wish.

It is not my objective. Is that the sort of sophistical move you learn on campus?

I think the Giuliani supporters do an excellent job of making themselves and their candidate look bad. At least the backers of the other guys are willing to frankly discuss the pros and cons of their candidate. I'm not defendng McCain here, just pointing out that it's silly for Rudy supporters to attack him for having the same positions that Rudy himself has. I've seen Dan pounding on McCain about immigration!

But Rudy has a respectable team of advisers on the judiciary and it's a team to which I believe he probably will listen.

There is reason to be suspicious of all the candidates on judical questions. However, if we judge them by the legal experts on their side, then Romney outscores Rudy by a long shot.


But the judges who would support the things that do animate Rudy are, more often than not, unimpressed by the logic of Roe.

Well, there is the nub of the matter. What is it that you think animates Rudy? What sort of judges do you think would support the things that animate Rudy?

Frum supports Rudy for the COMPETENCY issue. Frum admits what few in our party are willing to, that the Bush administration has blown up our brand name for competence, not just in foreign affairs, nor even domestic policy, but simply in the nuts and bolts of actually running and managing the country. Not to mention Frum faces up to the sad truth that Bush is verbal cripple, who has saddled the party with a reputation for idiocy.

Bush's failure, I take that back, his studied, considered REFUSAL to explain and articulate policy, and to do so again and again if necessary, has left our party vulnerable, and has left our party UNIQUELY vulnerable this election cycle. Both Bush Presidents waged a passive/aggressive campaign against Reaganism. And right now Reaganism is on the ropes. The whole idea of LIMITED governance, the whole idea of fiscal sanity, has very few defenders and champions in our party.

Rudy is the answer!

Rudy is the anti-Bush, he is the anti all things Bush, and it's that person that our party DESPERATELY needs.

If we lose the general, we could easily be facing a filibuster proof Democrat controlled Senate, Democrat controlled House, and of course Democrat controlled White House.

Rudy has EXPERIENCE getting Democrat controlled assemblies passing legislation that advances Conservative ends. EVERYTHING he did in NYC was in the teeth of ferocious Democrat and liberal media resistance. And he outsmarted them all. McCain isn't going to do that, McCain wouldn't even know how to go about doing that. Nor has Romney done anything like that.

To be perfectly blunt, this is a no-brainer. And if we go off on some foolish ideological bender, and reject Giuliani, --------------- we'll DEEPLY regret that decision come some evening in early November. And though it would be wrong to say we'll deserve what we're going to get, ------------------------------ it will nonetheless be right to say we closely courted the disaster that came upon us.

Never was so great a calamity so easily averted.

Rudy has already pledged to maintain The Henry Hyde Act. Frum and Prager speak to the abortion issue. Some judge Rudy on that issue IN ISOLATION from the wider progress that has been made on it. Movement towards the pro-life position is occurring, EVEN PLANNED PARENTHOOD as admitted as much, and they're stunned by it. LAW FOLLOWS CULTURE. As our culture's view of abortion changes, our laws will naturally reflect that. There's no need to be in a panic about Rudy. BUT there is a need to be damned concerned about what 8 more years of the Clintons can do.

Well, perhaps this debate tonight will prove lively.

But I still say Giuliani seems more likely to be better on the judges. And in the abortion/cultural debate that's more important than some executive order about international aid for abortions

I am not so sure anymore. Instead of "leading" with the judges, it might be more important to "lead" with a commitment to the issue, and the willingness to chip away at the edges in things like policy. This is one thing I can say Bush has done (mostly) correctly. Look at his leadership as far as stem cells. The more time passes, the more this looks like the right thing from all sorts of angles.

I understand the importance of judges, but the GOP's commitment on the issue has not gotten the country very far. We are split right down the middle politically, so the Dem's always will have their chance sooner or later to balance the GOP's picks. That is something that is missing from the "GOP/electability in general is more important than anything else" arguments - it ignores the political facts and the result of this strategy for the last 30 or so years.

One thing is fur sur, conservatives and libertarians will be staying home this year. Does anyone really believe the GOP pick will get more the 41, 42 points with either McCain or Mitt or Rudy??

Good point Christopher. Bush has a pretty good record on some things out of sight to a lot of people. I believe the executive orders, signing statements on bills, general demeanor in office, and last (but neight least nor greatest) his supreme court justices will one day repair his name and legacy. People who thing that the culture and Roe is ruled by judges are too focused on what they perceive as "law." Julie and I have went round and round on public opinion (I'm not trying to reopen this, just recognize the difference), and there is little doubt that as a President McCain would be more pro-life than Rudy.

There are now 4 viable Republicans although certainly Rudy and Huck are slipping. I'd say that given the current landscape the max votes they could receive are: Huck 48-49%, McCain 47-50%, Rudy 42-45%, and Mitt 39-41%.

I still think that Huck and McCain, or now McCain-Huck makes an average ticket in the fall, which this year is the best we've got. I would also like to acknowledge my underestimating Romney. He is quite possibly going to buy and work his way into the nomination. I think that is a general election disaster, but I never thought he could do it in the primary either, so maybe???

Romney's a world class pest, works so hard, and says the corniest things for so long that he seems to just wear people down until they vote for him just so he'll shut up. He's like that over-eager mama's boy, looking for the A+ so much that the teacher gives it to him rather than break his heart. I almost think thats his game. He works so hard, changes himself to fit the party, says whatever he has to for the vote, and finally people are like, "you want it that bad to sell your soul, work yourself and your family to death, what the heck, I'll vote for you." Can Romney wear down independents in the fall? That's the question.

Julie, to your Comment 9: I have a simple view of questions like this. For many months now -- even before Rudy began to slip in the GOP polls -- McCain has consistently polled best against the likeliest Dem nominees. Check RealClearPolitics. His usually beats the Hill and sometimes Obama. No other candidate -- especially not Romney -- has come close, though Rudy was once much stronger against the Dems than he is today.

My guess as to why this is so is also simple: independents continue to like McCain. I also think they are turned off by the Hill. So if it comes down to those two, he will get most of them. Obama's case is more difficult, but Romney cannot hope to gain the independents against Obama that McCain can draw.

Finally, as to the way they affect me as one conservative: Romney carries no sense of conviction about anything he says. His collapse on gay marriage and other homosexual issues was very telling. He thinks he has no power as Chief Executive to challenge judicial decisions -- that from a personal conversation I had with him away from a crowd, where he could safely have said something else. Appointing good Justices is no doubt important, but the judicial crisis will never been ended until nominees revive the conservative understanding that Presidents have many powers they can bring to bear to challenge and oppose unconstitutional judicial decisions. From the standpoint of mere cussed obstreperousness, McCain is far more likely to do battle with such decisions than the smoothtalking Romney ever will. Romney had one brief shining moment, in my view, when he gave his splendid speech on his religious faith. He had a grand opportunity to reframe his policy agenda within the context of the founding which he extensively and intelligently discussed that day. Instead he reverted to his Harvard businessbabble. I find him a turnoff.

McCain isn't correct about many things, but he is hands down more inspiring on any given day than Romney ever is. Republican inspiration and passion will be sorely needed in the general election campaign. We cannot win with an empty suit.

Of course, ask me again after FL and if Romney wins, I might have a different story!

Clint, I will say this: if Hillary is the nominee, there is some hope that a McCain/Huckabee ticket might siphon off enough black voters (angry at what she's been doing in South Carolina) to make a difference. I don't think black voters who otherwise lean Democrat are going to be impressed by anything McCain says, but there is some evidence that Huckabee holds some appeal to them. He carried a significant portion of that vote in Arkansas, didn't he? I'm waiting till tomorrow . . . but I'm guessing we're going to end up on the same page. I may even have to begin boostering for your guy for #2. The only thing that I really dislike about this scenario is that I'm now in the unhappy position of having to hope that Hillary gets the nomination. I think she will . . . but it was such fun watching her get knocked around.

Well, don't hold your breath until any significant African American vote goes to McCain, Huck on the ticket or not.
Right now those voters are becoming deeply alienated and offended by the Hill-Bill conspiracy to turn Obama into a "black only" candidate. That's their ugly game.
If she can somehow talk him into joining her ticket, it's all water under the bridge. But I'm betting she can't do it. In that case, all that will happen will be that many African Americans might stay home. That's always a threat to Dems and they look for imaginative ways to frighten the black community into voting their fears. Any idea that many will vote Republican is a pipe dream...and a really bad reason to put Huck on McCain's ticket.

Very astute thread: I'm not going to praise or bash Rudy, as that has become a waste of time. Romney as empty suit: On the one hand, he's done a lot in that (nicely tailored) suit--he's a very able executive. On the other, it's hard to have any confidence in his coalition-holding-together positions, because they seem to have been chosen by experts with coalition holding in mind. McCain: He'll certainly appeal to independents vs. Hillary, and his perverse nonpartisanship and warrior act moves voters who pride themselves in transcending partisanship. McCain, if he listens to good advice, works with Yuval or someone like that to develop a credible domestic policy with a real alternative on health care etc (and develops some real interest in it), puts his self-righteousness in a lock box etc. could win. But how likely is it that he'll behave well in the role a nominee who might win if he doesn't screw it up? It's hard to find people who really like Romney, although I think I agree with Julie that he'd be a better president, especially working to develop real policies in the face of a Democratic Congress, than McCain. I even think he'd do better in regaining American confidence in what we have to do in Iraq and the region. (dennis, is the guy doing the brilliant Tocqueville thesis at Harvard your son?)

Peter, I have an 11-year old who is pretty bright but not at Harvard, I'm afraid, and more likely when the time comes to do a thesis on Bill Gates than Tocqueville.

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