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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: Uncledave
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."

I really had to laugh at this one, since this silly charade was pretty thoroughly debunked right here on FreeRepublic.

61 posted on 12/08/2006 4:41:04 PM PST by Alberta's Child (Can money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep?)
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To: NapkinUser

Go ahead attack rudy...but if hes the nominee, youre only insuring a HILLARY Victory !!!!!!!!!! Did you learn nothing in 2006?????????????

62 posted on 12/08/2006 4:52:12 PM PST by LC HOGHEAD (ROPE .... TREE .... JOURNALIST .....some assembly required.)
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To: JHBowden

didn't rudy endorse bill clinton in one of his campaigns?

63 posted on 12/08/2006 5:12:12 PM PST by drhogan
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To: WestVirginiaRebel

The haters must sit and watch for Rudy threads to go up because they are always at the top of the thread with the same mantra I am not voting for Rudy because! I just wonder how many of them have been lifelong Republicans and worked campaigns year after year because they don't sound like it. One hater outed himself today as being an independent conservative posting over and over why he doesn't support Rudy.

This is getting to be funny -- maybe we should reserve the first ten posts for them! :)

64 posted on 12/08/2006 5:25:20 PM PST by PhiKapMom ( Go Sooners! Big 12 Champions! Rudy 2008)
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To: Emmett McCarthy

You all don't have to read the threads or comment! Trust me you wouldn't be missed!

65 posted on 12/08/2006 5:27:40 PM PST by PhiKapMom ( Go Sooners! Big 12 Champions! Rudy 2008)
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To: Smokin' Joe

Have a solution -- don't read them!

66 posted on 12/08/2006 5:29:36 PM PST by PhiKapMom ( Go Sooners! Big 12 Champions! Rudy 2008)
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To: NapkinUser

You have been here a little over a year and you are the expert I see. Noticed that the vast majority of the hate Rudy crowd signed up in 2004 and later! Amazing how relative newbies know what is best for the Republican Party.

How many hours did you volunteer in 2004 or 2006 for Republican candidates?

67 posted on 12/08/2006 5:31:27 PM PST by PhiKapMom ( Go Sooners! Big 12 Champions! Rudy 2008)
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To: stockstrader

Tried to tell some folks that we have Freepers that don't care if Hillary wins if we nominate someone they don't like! Thanks for proving my point!

68 posted on 12/08/2006 5:33:44 PM PST by PhiKapMom ( Go Sooners! Big 12 Champions! Rudy 2008)
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To: PhiKapMom

What the heck does how long I've been a member of FreeRepublic matter in what I know "is best for the republican party."

There are plenty of members who oppose Giuliani who have been here a long time, some much longer than you.

69 posted on 12/08/2006 5:42:06 PM PST by NapkinUser (Tom Tancredo for president of the United States of America in 2008!)
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To: PhiKapMom

My pleasure!!

70 posted on 12/08/2006 5:42:10 PM PST by stockstrader ("Where government advances--and it advances relentlessly--freedom is imperiled"-Janice Rogers Brown)
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To: PhiKapMom

Oh, yeah - and you're speaking for whom?

71 posted on 12/08/2006 5:42:15 PM PST by Emmett McCarthy
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To: Uncledave
But in war one wants a war leader, who may be otherwise unacceptable.

When one wants a war leader one should look to somebody who knows about war rather than looking at one who turns a blind eye to the murder of full term babies right up unitl the moment the little toe leaves the birth canal.

I don't respect Giuliani, why would I ever follow him into the breach?

72 posted on 12/08/2006 5:43:06 PM PST by jwalsh07
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To: Names Ash Housewares

Rino is for people that threaten to stay home and not vote if they don't like a candidate! What some of you newbies to the Republican Party are finding out is that those of us who are strong fiscal conservatives are sick and tired of the whining and threatening to stay home that we keep hearing from some of you social conservatives. Most of us have been activists in the Republican Party for years and remember what it was like to be in a permanent minority in the House and to now have Pelosi because some of you stayed home and then you call us names, does go over well.

I am not staying quiet any more! Social issues belong at the state and local level and not at the federal level -- ditto education. My #1 priority is a strong defense -- foreign and domestic and how I base who I will support in an election. 'Kumbaya' and 'compassionate conservatism' are out of my playbook.

After living in OK with some of the social conservatives that made our rural fire fighters wait for funding while OK was burning so they could debate where to put books in the OKC library, I have had it. I am a conservative and resent the labels some of you are throwing at conservative Republicans because they don't share your views.

I am a pro-life conservative, but that is my personal belief and I don't need to ram it down everyone's throat like happened on the OU campus this fall by the pro-life group which also costs us votes in OK.

73 posted on 12/08/2006 5:44:41 PM PST by PhiKapMom ( Go Sooners! Big 12 Champions! Rudy 2008)
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To: PhiKapMom

I bet I speak for quite a few people that wouldn't miss anti-Rudy posts that keep appearing from the same group. Been through this before starting in 1999 although you all are much nicer then the attackers back then! :)

74 posted on 12/08/2006 5:48:22 PM PST by PhiKapMom ( Go Sooners! Big 12 Champions! Rudy 2008)
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To: PhiKapMom

Rudy will be the next President Of The United States.

75 posted on 12/08/2006 5:55:24 PM PST by TET1968 (SI MINOR PLUS EST ERGO NIHIL SUNT OMNIA)
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To: Uncledave

I am a Conservative and I Will NEVER vote for Rudy (though I respect his as "America's Mayor") for POTUS!!

There are many reasons why: One: Sup. Ct. Justices (he would never name a John Roberts or Alito, they would actually uphold the Constitution and overturn his sacred cows of Abortion, they would protect our 2nd Ammmendment Rights, and Stand against Constutionally supported sodomy!

76 posted on 12/08/2006 6:19:30 PM PST by JSDude1 (
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The bigger question is "Did moderates learn from the 2006 election: that they lost it for us..not conservatives."

77 posted on 12/08/2006 6:22:06 PM PST by JSDude1 (
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To: PhiKapMom

or maybe you can stop with the ad-hominim attacks when you know nothing about the Republican politics I have been involved in: I have been active this year supporting Republican candidates, but I will not vote for Rudy because our nation can't affort anymore Rockefeller Republicans as Prez (as much as I love the PRez, he's no "Ronald Reagan")..

78 posted on 12/08/2006 6:24:49 PM PST by JSDude1 (
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To: JSDude1
Sup. Ct. Justices (he would never name a John Roberts or Alito

Quite the contrary. He has stated that "Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito are models of what judges should be in this country," and that Scalia probably would have been his choice for Chief Justice.

79 posted on 12/08/2006 6:25:11 PM PST by ecurbh (Rudy in 2008)
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To: DocH
Technically you may be right...

But if I were a Christian Socialist Republican as opposed to an independent, classical conservative then I wouldn't be a Rebel, would I?

80 posted on 12/08/2006 6:28:33 PM PST by WestVirginiaRebel (Common sense will do to liberalism what the atomic bomb did to Nagasaki-Rush Limbaugh)
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