My Guy

I’ve blogged quite a bit about Hillary, not because I support her, but because I have thought for some time, and still do, that she will probably be the next US president. My first choice has always been Rudy and it is probably time to say something about why he has consistently been my first choice. In one word effectiveness. I have been concerned by the way both parties have responded to the 9/11 attacks in that I felt that the institutional inertia in Congress and in organizations like the CIA, or the Departments of State, Defense and Justice seems impervious to the kind of changes the post 9/11 world requires. My concerns began consciously when Bush put forward Tom Ridge as the first head of Homeland Security – I thought that Rudy was the clear choice for a president who wanted to be a ‘uniter, not a divider.’ It was also the moment when I realized I would be happier if Rudy were president.

Rudy’s problem all along as a Republican is that he isn’t a conservative – or more accurately not a social conservative. Fred Barnes writing in the conservative Weekly Standard has reviewed all the Republican candidates as they stand now at the beginning of the serious campaign in And They Are Really Off… He sums up how Rudy has approached the problem of his social liberalism with the Republican base:

Giuliani’s most important feat has been to defuse the issue of his social liberalism. I’m not sure exactly how he’s done it, but he’s left the impression that while he’s pro-choice, pro-gun control, and pro-gay rights, conservatives need not worry. These are just opinions, not principles he would act on as president. At least that’s what he’s implied.

I actually have some idea how Rudy has managed to defuse that issue. He has a certain credibility that most politicians lack. If George Bush or Bill Clinton tried this kind of ‘trust me’ approach the reaction would be very different. Rudy is not particularly likable, and has plenty of flaws, but we know he can deliver both long term and in a crisis. I’m not just saying that because I am a supporter. I think Obama has a similar quality for quite different reasons which are more about promise than accomplishment at this stage. However, like Rudy he will say what he believes even when it is not what his audience wants to hear. I did a post that includes some discussion of this aspect of Obama here. What is important for 2008 is that Rudy has experience and real accomplishments now – both as an administrator and as a Federal District Attorney. Paul Mirengoff of Powerline recently criticized Rudy for bragging about his accomplishments here:

Rudy Giuliani really wants to say that he cleaned up New York. Here are some, but not all, of the examples from last week’s debate in New Hampshire:

I reduced shootings by 75 percent.I turned over a city that was the safest city in American, just about.

I lowered the personal income tax 25 percent, and I was collecting 40 percent more in revenues.

I came into office with a fiscal crisis, a crime crisis, a welfare crisis. I turned all those things around.

I removed 640,000 people from the welfare rolls.

They thought is was impossible to reduce crime; I did [it].

Mirengoff may not like the way Giuliani presents himself, but who else in either party has as much to brag about? Specifically, what I notice is that Guliani has been able to make government work again where it has seriously broken down. Again, effectiveness. I have been frustrated by George Bush’s bland acceptance of government as it is. He seems to simply assume our cumbersome institutions will just work. Like LBJ did. A large part of what I have learned since those days when I did my share spending the taxpayers money creating the Great Society is that government – particularly big government – only sometimes works. I think both Reagan and Clinton advanced our national understanding of the role of government. I’m certain they advanced mine. I have also come to recognize that it is absolutely necessary that government, despite its cumbersomeness, function well in certain areas. Like figuring out how to avoid issuing visas to convicted terrorists not to mention problems like the better part of a million people a year walking across our southern border. I wont go on. But I will say that I think we have the best crop of presidential candidates we have had in some time – particularly since 2000. If I were a lifelong Republican or broadly conservative I’d want Thompson or Romney. If I were betting I’d back Hillary. I wont even get upset if she wins – only if she puts the likes of Pelosi at State or Murtha at Defense. If I were a scriptwriter I would pit Obama against Thompson. The first black candidate with nothing of the south in him – some even say not black enough – versus a true son of the south with style. Oh what a movie! But what we need right now is effectiveness. You may not agree. But answer me this – why is Rudy still taken seriously and a front runner when he has admitted to cheating on his wife, chose to stay with gay friends when said wife chucked him out, and even has pictures of himself dressed as a woman floating around the net?


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