Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Giuliani’s Speech at Houston Baptist

Here’s the NYT summary that Lucas Morel linked in the thread below. Although he apparently didn’t make the point unambiguously, Giuliani’s granting that a woman has a right to an abortion probably means he’s endorsing the essential holding of ROE v. WADE. How could a right not merit judicial protection? (He does add that he’s open to ways to limit abortion, and he doesn’t explore the problem that the Court still reallly isn’t, except for one rare procedure.) Rudy is to be admired for basing his campaign on what he really thinks; he’s apparently given up on the project of waffling to appease those who favor judicial restraint. I guess that means that the social conservatives who undertook the project of being encouraged by said waffling in order to be happy enough with perhaps the only guy who can win in November now have to move on. Rudy thinks his honesty is the best policy in pursuit of the nomination, and I’m not certain he’s wrong. But this strategy, I’m more sure, ensures that he won’t get the nomination in a way that will lead to his victory in the general election.

Discussions - 11 Comments

I'm increasingly thinking that Rudy doesn't want the nomination, or the presidency, badly enough to take the trouble to speak convincingly to conservatives. I suspect he has a rather simple mind, and therefore is under the illusion that it's impossible to speak convincingly to political critics without being dishonest. And yes, to view abortion as a "right" does indeed come perilously close to conceding the legitimacy of Roe v. Wade.

I guess that means that the social conservatives who undertook the project of being encouraged by said waffling in order to be happy enough with perhaps the only guy who can win in November now have to move on.

Sorry, but I don't understand this line of thinking. The point of the primary season is for the candidates to sell themselves to each party. The point of the general election is for the nominees to sell themselves to the public.

Where does the idea come from that we know right now who can or cannot win the election? Most people in the country don't have much of a clue as to where any of these people stand on the issues.

Both Congress and the President have very low approval ratings. People are unhappy. There is no inherent reason that a Republican cannot be the one to address this. But a first step needs to be getting beyond the obsessive focus on the candidates as personalities, divorced from any ideas or solutions to the concerns of the American people.

It is remarkable to me that the various blogs I visit, written by seemingly smart and politically attuned people, all view the voters of this country with barely disguised contempt, as if they can be satisfied with a good hair, a nice smile, and some comforting sound bites.

I'm willing to say that some unknown Joe Smith can win with the right ideas. Oddly, that proposition seems to be anathema to the pundit class.

Does this mean he was previously being insincere when he endorsed judicial restraint and strict constitutional construction? Or does this mean he has a less than coherent understanding of what judicial restraint amounts to? And while I admire his candor, it's worth pointing out that this means he was previously being less than forthright and decisively switched gears when that started to be generally perceived as waffling.

Peter suggests Rudy's being sort of manly in his sticktoativeness, but I wonder if it's a combination of being simply more comfortable with his previously held positions along with a merely calculative change of tactics about how to win the nomination, relying on the blue states that now will hold primaries, as stated in the NYT story yesterday. That means thaqt both David and Ivan the K seem right that RG is lazy intellectualy and insincere. The more nihilistic manliness of RG may be his laying down the marker to the social conservatives as he did today. Nominate me or else!!! As one of those who flirted with "The Project" I fear now that no Republican can be elected next year. I also predict that the way he seems to be doing this will raise passions considerably.

4: Mr. Jeffrey -- I accused Rudy of intellectual laziness. Or rather, suggested that he's either intellectually lazy, or too simple-minded to be intellectually virile. I didn't, and don't, accuse him of insincerity. Rudy is manly in his comments on abortion, but in a demotic, common, unmajestic way. It is the manliness of: "take me or leave me. I don't care what you think. I don't care to understand your viewpoint. I don't really 'get' your concerns, or your thymos." It's something we see every day in this culture. It's necessary for men, or even women, to get through life with self-respect. It's overused in many cases, or used in the wrong place, at the wrong time. A higher manliness would not shrug things off, in the manner of Giuliani (and, very often, the semi-manly George W. Bush). It would confront the opposition more thoroughly yet also, at least sometimes, more empathetically and respectfully. Manliness at its best is never a hunkered-down position. And Rudy is hunkered down, verbally and even physically. If this doesn't change, he'll probably fade away from the race.

David, I understand, but you may underestimate the small Machiavellianism of politicos. Be that as it may, my guess right now is that he won't fade away, and that this will be a battle royale--but with whom? Tonight at dinner we wondered whether there's an opening for Gingrich--especially since now there is pessimism about winning the general.

I believe a Republican will win in '08. Forget the pundits and the generally useless polls. Unless there's a Democratic streaker hiding in the bushes and awaiting time to emerge, and who would that be? Come on, people: Hillary, Barak or Cute Johnny E. is the next Pres?

I think the big story here is a rejection of the old Clintonian half-sincerity.

In the run up to the election, we have typical opinion poll politicians (Clnton, Romney, Edwards, and, previously, Giuliani) and we have a couple of politicians making waves who seem to have sincere beliefs founded on consistent personal philosophies (Obama, Thompson, and arguably McCain).

Our society has become inundated with the belief that politicians worry only about the efficacy of any policy with voters. That is why CNN does interviews with political analysts rather than content experts on any number of big issues. People expect politicians to adopt whatever policies can cobble together the largest electoral contingent -- and we have gotten used to playing along. I don't think a lot of social conservatives, for all their moral fervor, actually care whether their representatives have a passion for pro-life causes, they just care whether they are or are not willing to capitulate on those issues.

But opinion poll politics was always an unsustainable modus operandi. Hypocrisy remains one of THE vices universally reviled in the American psyche; and necessarily, when politicians begin playing to the polls they must reverse opinions as the groups they have to cobble together shift (making them hypocrits). On the other side, voters are realizing that opinion poll politicians can be extremely ineffectual politicians. I think they want the pure, simple clarity of sincere belief. They are beginning to seek politicians who actually do care about the issues they support because that sincerity assures those politicians will continue to act on those beliefs in the long run. We are sick of talking about politics all the time. We want politicians we can trust so that we only have to check in once in a while and not worry constantly about the political winds shifting course.

I think the Giuliani camp caught on to this happy trend (of course, so have some of the others, I think). Fred Thompson is gaining in the polls because he seems candid, sincere, consistent, and transparent. Sarkozy won in France with the same platform (embracing the U.S., talking tough on immigration). I wouldn't be surprised if this move increases Giuliani's chance of winning the general election. People might respect a Republican with the intestinal fortitude to combat the social conservative base on a key issue.

You all need to see the video of his Houston speech. He did a great job of explicating the whole ball of wax in a manner that seemed coherent and yet not pandering. Guns. Abortion. Marriage. The whole ball. Also did a job job of meshing his views with legal conservatism, utilizing the Federalist route, in a much crisper, clearer way than he had up to this point.

If he gets the chance to do so in the debates, and keeps with the theme and energy and articulateness he showed on Friday in Houston, a lot of us who have soured on Rudy somewhat in the last month or so will be willing to reevaluate him.

Thinking this over again this morning after re-reading the speech and the NYT's account of it, I suggest Giuliani and advisors decided to give up on trying to fine-tune a Krauthammer position. For mass public consumption the manly, open and fresh refusal to trim, along with a strong reassertion of his supreme fitness to fight the war seemed best for macro grand strategic positioning for future "debates" and such. He really didn't say anything he hadn't said before, but he did lay down a very open challenge to the anti-G social conservatives that will hamper any remaining ideas he MIGHT have of assuring even Federalist Society types of his trustworthiness on judicial appointments more sub-voce. Of course, he might have in mind a second act, where he talks about Supreme Court matters, etc.

a strong reassertion of his supreme fitness to fight the war

I question that assertion. It is one of his strong points among his supporters, but what is it actually based on? He is remarkably vague when it comes to discussing Iraq and Iran. He was not a big supporter of the "surge".

There seems to be an obsessive focus on the abortion question, but even if he manages to finesse that one there are multiple other questions over him on all sorts of issues, ones which are being ignored at present.

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