Category Archives: Social Issues

Giuliani and Libertarians

A comment in the post below expressed bemusement that Rudy Giuliani could find sympathy amongst those with Libertarian tendencies.  This poster seems to recall Hizzoner as a “gun grabbing”, “police state” mayor.

I understand the question.  You have to look at it from a perspective that respects one of Libertarianism’s fundamental requirements of the State:  That of protecting private property.

Giuliani’s priority as Mayor– the reason he was elected– was to make the City safer and more pleasant.  Read that as “Protect their private property.”

Hence this person’s perception of him as a “gun-grabbing” and “police state” mayor.  I think Giuliani was wrong at the time with his handgun lawsuits, but he thought he had two opposing freedoms he had to prioritize: Civil order and the right to defence.  I am a pretty dogged 2nd Amendment advocate, but even I can appreciate how the priorities of NYC in a crime wave and Idaho are different, and probably require different approaches.  So while aspiring to be President, it is natural for Giuliani to become more sympathetic to gun owners, which he has.

It is enlightening to also understand that the protection of private property is why– as a mayor rather than the President– he was Libertarian-ish on immigration.  He wanted illegals to be comfortable dealing with the local gendarmes so they could report on the bad apples.

Some suggest the Mayor has been doing a lot of flip-flopping.  Without getting into semantical arguments, I think it is important to understand that those issues on which he has drifted rightward merely reflect differently weighted priorities of two different jobs:  That of Mayor of NYC and that of President of the United States.  As he has pointed out, it would have been easier for him to just complete the flip-flop and lie.  A look at the GOP field illustrates at least one candidate who is comfortable doing this.  One thing, though, that appears to be consistent with the Mayor is that at the core he is driven by a respect for the freedoms of law-abiding individuals to pursue their own happiness, and an understanding that it is the State’s role to defend these freedoms.

I do not at all suggest that Giuliani would be at home in the Libertarian party.  I do suggest, though, that he is Libertarian-friendly:  His first priority is to protect your property and civil society in general.  His second priority– as evidenced by his actions in NYC and the associated favorable reviews from the Club for Growth and endorsement by Steve Forbes– is to minimize the vigor with which government dips into your bank account.  After that, he pretty much feels the states should decide on all the culturally divisive social issues.

That, I say, is pretty Libertarian friendly.  Does he buy into Libertarian ideology?  Probably not, as his habits of character can be quirky and pretty hierarchical.  Note his apparent distaste of ferret owners.  But when the time comes in a general election for Ron Paul supporters to pull a lever, I hope those that aren’t using their support for Paul merely a way to promote isolationism will do the needful and vote for Giuliani rather than staying home or voting for his opponent.

Assuming, of course, Hizzoner can secure the nomination, which is a whole ‘nother article, as Nordlinger says.  I am not entirely sure how Paul’s supporters effect that process.  Not much, I tend to think…

Who is the 2nd choice?

Over at Red State there’s a little discussion going about the dynamics of the GOP primary.  The initial piece theorized that none of the GOP voters supporting 2nd and 3rd tier candidates will select Giuliani as their candidate, so his row will get tougher to hoe as time goes on.

This is just a different way of putting the case that Giuliani benefits from a diffusion of the socially conservative vote.

The question I have is this: What evidence exists that the supporters of Tancredo, Brownback, Hunter, Huckabee, and even McCain do not have Giuliani as their second choice?  It seems to be assumed as impossible, but in PA, for example, we have seen ample polling suggesting evangelical and rural voters like Giuliani just fine.

As I say, people should check the actual data before making assertions.

Phil English and Giuliani

Back when I noted Congreeman Phil English’s (R-PA) endorsement of Giuliani I omitted a very important fact of which I was unaware.

Phil English’s rating with the National Right to Life Committee?  100%.

Just sayin’.

Quinnipiac Swing State Poll: Rudy Clearly Best GOP Candidate

Quinnipiac has issued their always illuminating swing state presidential poll, which covers PA, OH, and FL.

In it, Giuliani holds comfortable leads for the GOP nod in all of the states.  Not that PA matters in this regard, but FL certainly does, with its pre Super-Tuesday primary.  Thompson is the closest competition, and this pundit thinks his numbers will automatically deflate as soon as he demonstrates his dillentantish approach to voters in a real campaign.  Look at this Giuliani video from a town hall shindig in Iowa.  Does anyone really think Fred grasps details to that level?

Of course, none of that matters, right?  You have to do well in IA and NH, right?  Oh, wait.  And SC too.  That state moved up even further.  Next thing you know we’ll be having primaries before we’ve woken up from our triptofan Thanksgiving naps.

Point is, people are going to eventually have to stop flogging tired old reasons why Giuliani can’t win the GOP nomination.  He clearly can.  To pretend otherwise is just foolish.

This poll also proves the point that Giulianin remains the most electable GOP candidate.  He’s the only GOP cadidate that can poll ahead of Obama and Hillary with any sort of consistency.

Finally, for the best analytic part:  Being associated with a special interest group of any sort seems to be a losing proposition in these states, except for Big Labor in PA.  Big Labor hates Giuliani down to their surly, shadetree toes.  So this may not bode well.

But what is interesting is getting a pro-gays rights endorsement loses a candidate more votes than it gains them.  So does getting a conservative Christian endorsement.  Somewhat contradictorally, so does getting an endorsement from the pro-abortion lobby.

Yet pundits keep telling me Giuliani can’t win because he down the middle on all that stuff:  Pro-civil unions, but anti full-on gay marriage.  Abortion makes him squemish, but he’d rather let rational courts guide us to a federal solution.  He clearly is a law and order guy, but his social life does not exactly make him the first choice for keynote speaker at an Assemblies of God confab.

In other words, he’s pretty much like most American voters.  Why wouldn’t he win?  What more analytical evidence to we need to confirm not only his electability, but the fact that most Americans actually agree with him?  This is a representative republic, right?  At least in most states?

PA GOP Ex-Congresscritter Fitzpatrick & Rudy

Former member of the US House Mike Fitzpatrick has apparently hitched his star to Giuliani.  See this post from Josh at PA Ave.  If Giuliani wins an earlier PA primary, or still appears the favorite for the nomination in the fall, then Fitzgerald will take another crack at Patrick Murphy, who took his seat in the ’06 bloodbath.  And likely get buried by an avalanch of left-wing netroots money, by the way.

I don’t know much about Murphy, aside from the fact that he’s really good at raising money, and he’s the only Iraq war vet on the Hill.  He always struck me as a potential a John Kerry for the 21st century, though.  I think Kerry felt that way too, as he went out of his way to endorse Murphy.  You know the pattern:  Get home from an unpopular war.  Use your veteran status and opposition to the war to build your profile.  Run for public office with the support of people your former comrades would find loathesome.

Of course, Murphy has a much longer and somewhat more distinguished military record than Kerry did.  And he hasn’t as yet claimed to throw away his military decorations.  So there’s obviously a difference. Also, by mentioning this I in no way mean to imply Fitzpatrick is the savviest political operator and manager.  His campaign was pretty haphazard and not entirely without sleaze.  Of course, all three campaigns I’ve been up close and personal with have been haphazard with sporadic sleaze, so maybe that’s just a characteristic of the genus.

But Fitzpatrick seems to think a Giuliani ticket could serve as a bulwark against all of Murphy’s cash, such is Hizzoner’s popularity in PA.  While I have no opinion on Fitzpatrick’s qualifications for the job, I do find it instructive he so highly estimates Giuliani’s popularity.

Interestingly, Fitzpatrick has pretty impeccable pro-life bonafides.  When asked how he sqaures this with Giuliani, he simply points out Hizzoner is right on the judges, which he seems to understand is all that functionally matters.  With the recent Giuliani endorsement from a co-founder of the Federalist Society– Steve Calabresi– this point has been recently emphasized.

Why Rudy is so Boffo in PA

This news may be more appropriate for my Bloggers for Rudy platform, but I think it goes a long way towards explaining why Giuliani is so popular in Pennsylvania.

Here are the results of a Wall Street Journal poll on what matters to GOP voters:  The question asked was “Let me list some issues that have been proposed for the federal government to address. Please tell me which one of these items you think should be the top priority for the federal government.”

  Top Priority (6/07)
The war in Iraq 24
Health care 11
Illegal immigration 19
Terrorism 22
Job creation and economic growth 9
Energy and the cost of gas 7
The environment and global warming 3
Reducing the federal budget deficit 5

Now, we all know huge swaths of Pennsylvania– swaths I adore, mind you– more resemble Wyoming than what people think of as the Northeastern US.  But most of the voters are in more developed parts of the state.

There are a number of issues you DON’T see as self-selected priorities in that poll:  Stem cells, abortion, gun control, gay marriage, etc.  To be charitable, many republicans of a libertarian stripe– or rich, urban business people– don’t feel all that strongly about these “social” issues.

These same issues are also seen as Giuliani’s Achilles heel.

But, as reflected in poll after poll, PA republicans don’t care much about those things, and they definitely don’t care as much when they believe the War on Terror is a real war that needs to be won.  Not some bogeyman born in Leo Strauss’ lab for Karl Rove to use to make money for Halliburton on the backs of poor suckers tricked into joining the Army.

More importantly, even most social conservatives don’t care as much about these issues in this situation.*  They know that Abdullah really does want to kill Westerners to effect the coming of the 13th Imam who will bring us all sharia law as enforced by the world Caliphate.  In fact, Evangelical Christians understand this better than most of the elite in this country.  Evangelicals know about the book of Revelation.  They accept stories about the Rapture.  The opposing radical Islamic view fits nicely into their eschatology.  The editors of the New York Times, though, can’t believe that Muslims really think such things because it all seems so preposterous to them.

This explains why Giuliani is popular in Pennsylvania:  Most of PA’s republicans are of the more libertarian, urbane type.  They don’t feel strongly about social issues.  Furthermore, PA’s rural republicans are like social conservatives elsewhere, in that they will stop placing stem cell research top of mind as soon as they can be sure they are not likely to see the missus forced into a burkha.*

It also explains why pundits seem perpetually confused about Hizzoner’s popularity:  They find it absurd to imagine people really think congregants in the Religion of Peace want to kill heretics, and denigrate women to virtual slavery.

* I do note in passing that in Pennsylvania specifically I would expect gun-control to place higher than it does nationally.  But it sure didn’t seem to cause a hitch in Casey’s giddyup, recently, did it?

Chester County, PA = USA

The Philadelphia suburbs, in case y’all didn’t know, are the key to winning statewide and Federal elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Remember James Carville’s famous quip about PA?  “Pennsylvania is Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Alabama in the middle.”

What this means is Democrats can be expected to win the urban areas, and Republicans can be expected to win the rural areas.  The counties surrounding Philadelphia, then, are generally the deciding factor.  These counties used to trend for the GOP.  Not so much anymore.  Exhibit one is the fact Governor Ed Rendell recently garnered around 70% of the vote in these counties against the half-hearted competition of Lynn Swann.  More distressing is the trouncing Rick Santorum recently took against Bob Casey.  Those numbers are detailed by yours truly here.

I mention all this again because G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young had a piece yesterday in The Morning Call pointing out how this trend is bad news for the GOP nationally, and PA may be slipping into a solidly blue state.

[note to Inquirer and Daily News:  The Allentown Morning Call is continuing to kick your big paper ass in presidential election coverage and commentary]

What Madonna and Young do not discuss are the most recent Pennsylvania presidential polls from Quinnipiac University.  [UPDATE:  New Quinnipiac polls were coming out at the time of this post’s composition] What they show is not that the Philadelphia suburbs are turning solidly blue, but that they are purple.  Rudy Giuliani is the only potential GOP candidate who shows well against Democrats here, beating all potential democrat nominees except for Obama, with whom the race would be within the margin of error.

This is because Giuliani has a strong record as a fiscal and law and order conservative, but also a Federalist agenda on potentially divisive social issues.  This is why Giuliani can win Pennsylvania.  And I think this is the most untold story of the presidential race so far:  Giuliani polls well because his positions happen to be the same as the bulk of the American electorate.  It is just that simple.  What plays well in Chester County, Pennsylvania also plays well all over the country.

Last Word on Abortion

There has been some hullabaloo recently on Giuliani’s recent abortion remarks.  I have said elsewhere I will no longer comment on the subject.  Everything that needs to be said has now been said.  Mayor Giuliani seems most clearly the GOP presidential candidate who can plausibly move our country in a direction where less abortions will be performed, as he advocates a Federal solution leaving the matter to the states.  This is the only politically viable strategy, and he is the only candidate advocating it.

Since he has a track record of being personally sympathetic to the case that women should have the choice available to them, his administration would actually be best positioned to defend states who would legislatively choose to restrict abortion availability.  Pro-abortion activists will have a hard time portraying him as an ideologue.

That is the long and short of it.  I have no more to say on the subject, and will not be baited into commenting further.  Wait, one last remark from this moderate pr0-lifer:  First trimester abortions do not equal slavery.

Gingrich Endorses Giuliani at PALC

Well, he didn’t explicitly endorse Giuliani.  But Hizzoner was the only presidential candidate mentioned by Gingrich in a positive way.  And the thrust of his remarks at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference seemed, to me, like a list of reasons to elect Rudolph Giuliani president.

Newt made two broad sets of points.  First, he claimed American politicians need to concentrate on three areas if they expect to be successful:

1)  Concentrating on “red, white, and blue” issues rather than “red state vs. blue state” issues; the types of issues 80% of Americans can agree on.  “Find an issue everyone agrees with, stand next to it, and smile.”  Obvious examples included making English our government’s official language, and allowing “under God” to stay in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Opposition to partial birth abortion, it seems to me, would be another.

2)  Transformation of government.  Our government needs to be as efficient as our private sector.  The ’06 cycle, he claimed, was about competence, not ideology.

3)  Vigorously defending ourselves against the Islamo-nutters.

On these issues, Giuliani is clearly your man.  For example, I have said over and over again that Giuliani is exactly with the bulk of Americans on social issues:  Personally conservative, but extending charity to those that disagree.  When it comes to executive competence, Giuliani’s record as mayor is unmatched by any other presidential aspirant.  Finally, on defence, Giuliani clearly states that the jihadis have declared war on us, not the other way ’round, and we need to act accordingly.  What bigger bird could we flip at Al Qaeda and their psychotically ignorant sympathizers than electing as president the mayor of the City most prominently attacked by them?

Gingrich also spoke about some tactics the GOP needs to employ to fashion a near-permanent governing majority.  These included an embrace of “green conservatism”, and reachout to Latino and African American voters.  Hizzoner has a great record on the environment, as detailed here by Deroy Murdock.  He also takes energy independence seriously.  As for reaching out to Latino and African American voters, the decline in crime during Giuliani’s tenure as mayor saved lives and property regardless of race or creed.  As more blacks get murdered than whites– per capita– one could probably make the case the Mayor did more for people of color than for white folks in that respect.  Let’s also remember Hizzoner was able to be elected– twice– as mayor in perhaps the most multicultural city on the planet while simultaneously engaged in constant combat with the race baiters and mau-mauers the hometown pundits had annointed as representatives of the “minority” community.

So all you people who would like to vote for Newt in a presidential election should seriously consider becoming Giuliani supporters.  Hizzoner fits iron-fist-in-velvet-glove with Newt’s own agenda.  And I don’t think anyone would argue Newt is more electable in a general election.  Keep in mind this is coming from a cat who places Newt only behind Reagan in the late 20th pantheon of conservative politicans.  But if you think Giuliani’s life history is a problem, wait and see what Peoria thinks about serving divorce papers to your wife while she’s on her death bed.  Peoria may want to try to avoid thinking about it.  But the MSM– the one that thinks Clarence Thomas is beyond the pale but Bill Clinton is a lovable scamp– is not going to let them.

Look at Philly; Then Think Again About NYC and Giuliani

For an example of how apparently intractable the problems of a northeastern city can be, one need only look at Philadelphia.  After doing so, ponder again how Sisyphean a task it was to clean up New York City the way Rudolph Giuliani did.

We learned this morning that Paul Vallas, an educational reformer who made his bones in Chicago, will be resigning as commissioner of the city’s embarrassing school system.  He did some good work, but apparently found Philadelphia’s political waters too difficult to navigate.

This reminded me of when Alfred Testa was sacked as the director of Philadelphia International Airport.  He was brought in to improve what may be the most thoroughly fubarred airport in North America, and then was fired because while trying to clean up corruption he peeked under the wrong rocks and discovered one of new mayor John Street’s rainmakers was using concession licences at the airport as his own patronage slush fund.

It also reminded me of what happened to John Timoney.  He actually made progress as police commissioner in the late nineties.  But he cracked a few too many protester skulls when policing the 2000 GOP Convention and was sent packing.  And this was in the city that lionized former police commissioner and mayor Frank Rizzo, who was famously photographed with a police baton in his tuxedo when summoned from a banquet to quell some riots.  Currently, Philadelphia has a murder problem way bigger than New York City’s.

Of course, during this time Philadelphia has been hemorrhaging population, can’t attract business, and boasts of one of the most confiscatory tax regimes of any city.  And the sports teams are in a historic championship drought, unless you count indoor lacrosse.

So to become a Rudy Giuliani supporter, then, all a Republican familiar with Philadelphia’s travails has to do is this:  Imagine how highly you would esteem a man or woman able to clean up that cesspool.  Then ask yourself if a messy divorce, brusque manner, or limited tolerance of blue state social values would keep you from supporting that person for president.