Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Send in the Clowns, Part II: Giuliani

Giuliani for President... the phrase has been whispered about for years now, well before the current round of press coverage for potential 2008 candidates. It's been talked about before the Draft Rudy Giuliani for President website was established in 2005. Giuliani's Presidential aspirations have been talked about well before this past March when Newsweek did a piece about Giuliani's "revival-style" speeches to pastors. Recall the CBS News headline of December, 2004: "Early Signs Point to Giuliani '08" by Hugh Hewitt. To nip any chance of a Giuliani run in the bud, The Giuliani Time documentary earlier this year sought to quickly diffuse any possibility of his candidacy... it was unsuccessful.

What I love most right now are all the polls... Giuliani vs. Hillary, Giuliani vs. McCain, Giuliani vs. Obama. Why is the press conducting these polls two years ahead of time? There is not a poll in existence that can be trusted to accurately portray a political outcome two years in advance. The only explanation might be the desire on the part of the press to do two things:

1) Fill up what would otherwise be dead airtime as a result of the 24/7 news cycle.


2) Hope to influence the electorate in some way by implicitly showing that Giuliani must be the strongest candidate since he has such high approval ratings.

"America's Mayor," Giuliani was forced into a position that, of course, he did not ask for. In his final months of office, Rudy Giuliani spent his time attending funerals, showing strength, courage and conviction while running the country's largest city. Certainly, he pulled the feat off well. But unlike President Bush, Giuliani had the good fortune and common sense to exit political office and remain behind the scenes, creating a security firm and making bundles of cash. No longer an elected official, Giuliani avoided political gaffes, didn't have to take a stand on many issues, and could sit back and observe as the events after September 11th unfolded in Afghanistan and Iraq. No matter what mistakes the President made, Giuliani basked in warm political sunshine with impunity.

Without taking too much credit away from the former Mayor, he is in a position today to run for the highest office largely due to luck, albeit, not the kind of luck that most people would wish for. If his prostate cancer did not cause him to drop out of the Senate race against Hillary Clinton, he may have won the late Senator Moynihan's seat and been further removed from the events of September 11th in New York City. Or had he more time in office as mayor post-9/11, Giuliani may have displayed a heavy-handedness, or willful disregard of civil liberties in a post-9/11 New York City to foment anger among the Left as well as civil libertarians. Any of these outcomes would have stripped away is halo and diminished his stature.

Yet, Giuliani escaped the microscope, became Time's "Person of the Year" and is now on track to secure a spot on the Presidential ticket, or possibly a cabinet appointment.

Giuliani is not your average politician. He holds liberal views on many social issues, "Giuliani is a Roman Catholic who is pro-choice, favors same-sex civil unions, gun control, and embryonic stem-cell research," yet he is very conservative when it comes to crime, and his hawkish foreign policy stances might be best explained by recalling his ouster of Yasser Arafat from Lincoln Center in 1995.

The former mayor will have no easy road ahead of him, however. He has a long history in public life, one that may come back to haunt him. He's been married three times (which won't appeal to many conservative soccer mom's) and he has at times associated with folks whose reputation is less than clean (Bernard Kerik).

Perhaps Giuliani's biggest problem will be John McCain, the media darling and other front-runner (at the moment) for the nomination. We would all do well to remember that the election is still two years away, and two years can be an eternity for a political candidate. Giuliani will need to watch his step until then, dodge some issues (abortion) and take a harder line on others (gay marriage).

Is Rudy Giuliani the best candidate for the country? Who knows? They're all clowns. But what was it Winston Churchill said [to paraphrase] ... Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others..."

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