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A Vote for Rudy: Why Giuliani should be president
National Review ^ | 12/18/2006 | Richard Bookhiser

Posted on 12/08/2006 2:36:29 PM PST by Uncledave

A Vote for Rudy Why Giuliani should be president


I have voted against Rudy Giuliani, and I have voted for him. Voting for him is better; it’s what I hope conservatives, Republicans, and Americans will do in 2008.

Giuliani formed a presidential exploratory committee after the midterm elections, formally entering campaign land, in which every utterance by and about him will be analyzed and its potential effect polled. Not that it hasn’t been going on for years. My favorite of the early reax to Rudy was flagged by columnist Deroy Murdock: An anti-Giuliani website,, posted by social conservatives in Ohio, pulled the plug on itself after deciding that “Mr. Giuliani is truly a committed Republican and an accomplished conservative on many issues.” But in estimating Giuliani’s worth it is less useful to say what people say about him; more useful to examine his past, and his character.

Giuliani won his first election in 1993, in his second race for mayor of New York. He had made his name as a scourge of high-profile criminals when he was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (1983–9), hammering the five families, crooked Democratic bosses, and Michael Milken. Yet conservatives had reason not to vote for him: His social views were liberal — he was for abortion and gay rights — and his opinions on political economy were untried. He ran with the endorsement of New York’s tiny Liberal party. To run against him, the less-tiny Conservative party picked George Marlin, a scholarly Catholic, and an investment banker who knew his financial nuts and bolts. (He is also a friend of mine.) Marlin could only tip the election to Democratic incumbent David Dinkins, but he made the case for the politics of purity: Hold out until we get Mr. Right, instead of holding our noses in the voting booth.

I heeded Marlin’s call, and so cast the unwisest vote of my life. Giuliani won in a close race, and then proceeded to save the city. When I see the shoals of kids in Union Square, fresh from their new NYU dorms or packed like sardines in nearby apartments, I know they cannot imagine what the square was like in 1993, when they were toddlers: raggedy bushes, lawns of packed dirt, and hollow-eyed weirdos muttering “Smokes, smokes.” New York’s poor neighborhoods were far worse, as innocents were robbed, murdered, and felled by the stray fusillades of drug dealers.

Everyone acknowledges Giuliani’s achievement. (Perhaps the most eloquent tribute is the silent imitation of his successor, Michael Bloomberg, who, despite his billionaire’s arrogance, has continued Giuliani’s success by continuing with his methods.) But how Giuliani succeeded initially is still not well understood.

Rudolph GiulianiAdmedia/Sipa The crime position of conservatives since the Sixties was simple: Jail the crooks. Candidate Marlin told audiences he would “put them on barges” if he had to. Yet Mario Cuomo, New York’s liberal Democratic governor, was building prisons at a great rate, and still the crime rate soared. The solution to New York’s (and the nation’s) crime problem lay in asking which crooks should be pursued, and what conclusions could be drawn from their activity. A revolution in policing had begun with a pair of academics, George Kelling and James Q. Wilson, and a handful of smart cops in New York and Boston — William Bratton, Jack Maple, John Timoney. They emphasized the importance of recapturing the public space by nabbing petty offenders who often turned out to be major ones, and by tracking the ebb and flow of crime patterns daily, the better to react quickly. But you had to have your ears open to know this was going on. City Journal, the policy magazine of the conservative urban-affairs think tank the Manhattan Institute, ran articles by Kelling and others on the new policing in the early Nineties. Fred Siegel, America’s only witty urbanologist, brought them to Mayor Dinkins’s attention. “He brushed me off.”

Not Giuliani. “He is much more wonkish and intellectual than people give him credit for,” Siegel says. “Because of the tough-guy exterior, they don’t notice. There is a lot of Newt in him: Let’s take this apart and see how it works.” Siegel also calls him “a Republican Clinton.” Clinton, who never held a position he would not betray? Siegel admits the difference. “Giuliani is not poll first and act later. He is, Let me figure this out and bring people along.”

The mayor of New York, unlike other mayors, is a powerful official, but he does not operate in a vacuum. Giuliani showed what Siegel calls “administrative imagination,” looking for “effective levers” in the bureaucracy, as opposed to “formal” ones. He cultivated members of the City Council — small fry, compared with congressmen, but with egos equally big. The courts he waited out. They were “wired for the ACLU,” as Siegel puts it, so Giuliani would stake out a position — e.g., zoning XXX shops into remote corners — then fight delaying actions when his policies were challenged. In the court of public opinion, he waged war on liberalism, as articulated by the New York Times. “He mocked them,” says Siegel, “he made fun of their assumptions.”

A FATAL DAY Despite his success and a smashing reelection in 1997 (I supported him this time, along with 57 percent of the voters), Giuliani’s two terms were boisterous. Imagine eight years of macaca wars. Then came 9/11.

Although everyone was surprised by it, Giuliani was well positioned to grasp what had happened, and to keep a grip on his understanding as the years passed. Giuliani had spoken of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in his first mayoral inaugural address, in a paean to Gotham spunk (“New Yorkers of the 1990s have the same ingenuity, sensitivity, talent, and courage that our ancestors had in building our great city”). The methods he had used to fight the mob turned out to be essential in cracking the Jersey City terror cell that planned the 1993 bombing, and other attacks. Andy McCarthy, lead prosecutor of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the Blind Sheik, says that the Justice Department used Giuliani’s “RICO paradigm,” not focusing on “foot soldiers” but “peeling back the case” to “big organizations in time and space.” Most important was Giuliani’s moral clarity. Siegel’s wonk coexists with a man of passion. Giuliani “saw this issue early on as very black and white,” says McCarthy. “Part of what people who don’t like Rudy don’t like about him is how headstrong he is.” In 1995 Giuliani ejected Yasser Arafat from a Lincoln Center concert honoring the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. “Maybe we should wake people up to the way this terrorist is being romanticized.” After 9/11 he returned $10 million from a Saudi prince who had suggested that our Palestinian policy had helped cause the attack. In his speeches Giuliani dates the run-up to 9/11 from the 1985 murder of wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer by Palestinian hijackers.

Then there is the x of leadership, which is more than smarts or passion, or even both together. Woody Allen said 80 percent of success is showing up. One hundred percent of leadership is showing up, and doing the right thing — and doing it again, and again, and again. As the years pass, more and more of those kids in Union Square cannot imagine having been in Union Square themselves in the days and weeks after 9/11, and what a witless mob we all were then. The firemen and cops wrote their heroism in ash. Giuliani told the rest of us that we were brave, and thereby encouraged us to be so. The one mistake he made in the aftermath was dallying with the possibility that Albany might waive New York City’s two-term limit, thus allowing him to run again (the terrorists had struck on Primary Day for the 2001 election). George Washington would not have made that mistake, but he couldn’t have done the rest of it better.

As in 1993, there are problems. Do you have a few hours? Giuliani is down-the-line pro-abortion, including even partial-birth abortions. “I don’t see my position on that changing,” he said in 1999. He opposes a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. “I don’t think it’s ripe for decision at this point,” he said in 2004. “I certainly wouldn’t support [a ban] at this time.” As mayor of New York he administered some of the nation’s toughest laws against gun ownership. His sabbatical from office-holding has allowed him to duck out of the white-hot immigration debate of the last year, but his long-term position has been refried Emma Lazarus. Siegel, his great booster, told National Review Online that Giuliani’s lax enforcement of immigration laws allowed “several of the [9/11] hijackers to operate comfortably in Brooklyn only a few blocks from my house.”

Then there are the personal problems, which are sometimes also political. Giuliani’s first marriage ended with an annulment that was risible even by the standards of the Catholic Church in modern America (he realized, after 14 years, that he and his wife were second cousins). His second marriage exploded in an ugly divorce. The third time may be the charm: Judith Nathan seems to have humanized him a bit, as did a brush with prostate cancer, the killer of his father. He needs humanizing. His ferocious dedication is the obverse of rigidity and repression. Did he repress his memory of his father’s criminal past when he went through his FBI clearances?

His personality is all of a piece. His wife may retrofit some virtues on him, but no one else will. His political problems sit there like turds in a punch bowl. What can social conservatives make of them?

Giuliani left himself some wiggle room in his remarks on gay marriage (“at this point,” “at this time”), and a casuist could find it on partial-birth abortion (“I don’t see . . .”). More important, all of his radioactive positions, except on immigration, might be modified by the men and women he nominated as judges. On the eve of the mid-term elections, Giuliani hailed Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito as model judges, “principled individuals who can be trusted to defend the original intent of the Constitution rather than trying to legislate their own political beliefs from the bench.” He called their appointments “signs of promises kept.”

Social conservatives will be keen to know whom Giuliani will promise to appoint. They already know where he is coming from, and many of them seem to support him nonetheless. The idea that Giuliani’s strong poll numbers will blow away once people learn his whole record is probably a fantasy. He has been on the national stage for 13 years, and what people don’t know they can infer from his incorrigible New York-ness. Many social conservatives have already made a calculation about leadership. The Romans said that in war the laws are silent. Neither Christians nor humanists can believe that. But in war one wants a war leader, who may be otherwise unacceptable. Early in World War II England picked a washed-up journalist with a lot of sleazy friends.

Rudy Giuliani saved a city with a larger population than Arizona, Massachusetts, or Virginia, the states of John McCain, Mitt Romney, and George Allen. He helped city and country take a harder blow than Pearl Harbor. These are two serious public achievements, which are two more than anyone else in the 2008 race, Republican or Democrat, can show. Achievement is not an infallible guide to performance in office. Abraham Lincoln, wrote the New York diarist George Templeton Strong, was nominated in 1860 “because he cut a great many rails,” and he did fine. But achievement or the lack of it is all fate lets us see of our candidates in advance. You can choose a leader. Or you can choose someone else.

Mr. Brookhiser, an NR senior editor, is the author, most recently, of What Would the Founders Do? Our Questions, Their Answers.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 2008; antifamily; antigun; antilife; electionpresident; giuliani; judyriuliani; justsayno2rudy; liberalgop; liberalnro; nochanceinhell; proabort; progay; rinohunt; rudy; rudyishillary; rudyloser; sureloser; taxandspend; weakonillegalaliens
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To: WestVirginiaRebel

I don't know any 'hundred percenters' as liberal Alan Simpson calls them. I know some conservatives who have a number of bedrock issues, but none of them demand a politician agree with them 100% on all issues, only the bedrock issues.

If you really want to persuade, drop the name-calling. First you accused people of being 'Rudy haters'. Then, after being called on that, you resorted to more derogatory name-calling ('hundred percenters').

If you only want to give yourself some superficial superiority satisfaction, then by all means, keep up the name calling. But if you want to persuade, you'd be better served by dropping it.

Just a word to the wise.

41 posted on 12/08/2006 3:36:55 PM PST by savedbygrace (SECURE THE BORDERS FIRST (I'M YELLING ON PURPOSE))
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To: inkling

"Giuliani will be a great president. I'm looking forward to it".

I don't reckon you'd mind Hilary, either! I'll be damned if I can see much difference!

42 posted on 12/08/2006 3:38:00 PM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (BUAIDH NO BAS)
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To: NapkinUser

If Rudy will fight the freaking War on Terror and work on Federal Spending, I'll forgive an awful lot. I despise much of what he seems to stand for, but we're not likely to get a perfect, or even really good candidate.

43 posted on 12/08/2006 3:38:14 PM PST by Little Ray
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To: Doohickey

Maybe it is...but I'd rather live in reality, than dream about the glory days.

44 posted on 12/08/2006 3:41:34 PM PST by Hildy ("Death plucks my ear and says - LIVE - I am coming.....")
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To: Hildy

"Are you insane? Have you been asleep...PRINCIPLED CONSERVATIVES COULD NOT EVEN WIN RE-ELECTION THIS TIME AROUND. Wake up my friends, it's a new day and if you care about your Country, you'll realize that before it's too late. And it's not too late if you don't keep waiting for someone who agrees 100% with everything you agree with. IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN".

If either Rudy, or Hilary,can win, my Country is dead anyway, time to sit in this swamp with my rifle, until I see the whites of their eyes!
When "winning" an election becomes just the same as "losing" an election, Hell, I may as well go fishing, and I will.

45 posted on 12/08/2006 3:48:09 PM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (BUAIDH NO BAS)
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To: Emmett McCarthy

Will you discount Elkay sinks?

46 posted on 12/08/2006 3:53:04 PM PST by ken5050
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To: Uncledave

R is for Rino these days it seems.


47 posted on 12/08/2006 3:56:35 PM PST by Names Ash Housewares
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Barry Goldwater charged into battle on a wing and a prayer....Ronaldus maximus picked up the sword......

If Ronald Reagan could read these posts, he would wonder where our American sense of optimism had gone.

Time to gird our loins. H*ll, we have 2 years to find a candidate...a hairy, manly man with optimism and yes, courage.

48 posted on 12/08/2006 3:58:24 PM PST by sodpoodle (Human destiny - who lost the road map?)
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Listen up...Bush hasn't been fiscally conservative has he? He's spent like a drunken sailor, hasn't he? But look who we have on the Supreme Court. If you can't see that there's always a tradeoff, than you're living in a different world than the rest of us. If you think a Rodham Presidency would be the same thing as a Guiliani presidency you're in desperate need of mental help.

49 posted on 12/08/2006 4:00:00 PM PST by Hildy ("Death plucks my ear and says - LIVE - I am coming.....")
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To: Uncledave

Go Rudy

50 posted on 12/08/2006 4:03:27 PM PST by tkathy (The choice is clear: White hat people or white flag people.)
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To: cpdiii
If he will change is stance on gun ownership I will campaign for him

No Republican is dumb enough to actively campaign for gun control.

Rudy is not going to come out as a gun-grabber. It's just common-sense.

51 posted on 12/08/2006 4:06:18 PM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist (Why can't Republicans stand up to Democrats like they do to terrorists?)
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People forget what Hillary and a Democrat Congress can do in eight years.

Say hello to universal health care, French veto over American security, the Kyoto Protocol, selling out Israel, more judicial activists on the courts fighting America-- and for what? To protest two of three issues Rudy will get right in the end anyway through judicial appointments?

After all, Giuliani has been fiercely loyal to the party, which is something I can't say about McCain, or a lot of people here at FR, including those who want to Ross Perot us again.

52 posted on 12/08/2006 4:15:20 PM PST by JHBowden (President Giuliani in 2008! Law and Order. Solid Judges. Free Markets. Killing Terrorists.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
"Principled conservatives are willing to hand the nation over to the agressive left rather than follow turncoat pretenders at a slower rate into the maw of hell."

I think that you are right, except for the part where I don't know what a "maw" is in this context.

J/K, I got the Melville quote.

BTW, I never finished reading Moby Dick. Gotta remedy that.

53 posted on 12/08/2006 4:18:40 PM PST by Radix (Don't mind me, I post dumb stuff all of the time.)
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To: WestVirginiaRebel

You mean conservatives, don't you? What are Rudy's conservative values? They seem more than clear to many of us conservatives reading this article and thread and most are not Rudy haters, just strong conservatives. ACBR! (Any Conservative But Rudy!).

54 posted on 12/08/2006 4:20:52 PM PST by Paulus Invictus
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To: Bushwacker777
If I want a New York Democrat then why wouldn't I just go ahead and vote for Hillary?

Well said Bushwacker777.

Just say NO to any and ALL RINOs.

55 posted on 12/08/2006 4:24:05 PM PST by DocH (Gun-grabbers, you can HAVE my guns... lead first.)
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To: ken5050

Only to good solid conservatives.

56 posted on 12/08/2006 4:24:19 PM PST by Emmett McCarthy
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To: WestVirginiaRebel

You CAN'T be a "Rebel" if your from West Virginia.

57 posted on 12/08/2006 4:25:48 PM PST by DocH (Gun-grabbers, you can HAVE my guns... lead first.)
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To: JHBowden
You said, "After all, Giuliani has been fiercely loyal to the party,...

Does that include voting for George McGovern (ok, he was young, innocent, idealistic and incredibly naive in his late 20's...rolling eyes, yarite) and MARIO CUOMO?

He didn't just vote for CUOMO--he ENDORSED him!! Maybe you call that 'fiercely loyal' to the party--but I call it something much less.

58 posted on 12/08/2006 4:32:32 PM PST by stockstrader ("Where government advances--and it advances relentlessly--freedom is imperiled"-Janice Rogers Brown)
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To: JHBowden

"Giuliani has been fiercely loyal to the party".

Yeah, why not, he knows where the butter on his bread comes from, I don't even want to consider what Rudy would agree to, just to keep that butter coming!
Rudy has never been "fiercely loyal" to Republican principles, I don't expect he would recognize them,if they bit him on the arse!

59 posted on 12/08/2006 4:37:47 PM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (BUAIDH NO BAS)
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To: savedbygrace
The notion that someone is a "100 percenter" simply because he/she opposes a candidate who is an avowed liberal on 85% of the issues is so silly that it isn't even insulting.

When you see so-called "conservative" pushing a guy whose track record is about as liberal as you can get, you really have to wonder what the hidden agenda is here.

60 posted on 12/08/2006 4:38:12 PM PST by Alberta's Child (Can money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep?)
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