The same Beltway experts who anointed Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) the GOP frontrunner, even as he under-polled fellow presidential contender Rudolph W. Giuliani, now parrot equally dodgy talking points: When Republicans meet “the real Rudy,” they will abandon New York’s former mayor like cattle fleeing a burning barn. Then, the wobbly Washington wisdom continues, Giuliani’s three marriages, and his less-than-solidly right-wing views on gays, guns, and gametes will torpedo his buoyant presidential hopes.
These seers now detect unhappiness with the GOP aspirants. They cite a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in which 26 percent of Republican primary voters were dissatisfied with Giuliani, McCain, and former Massachusetts governor Willard Mitt Romney, among others. However, 56 percent called these choices satisfactory. This lines up with the 57 percent of conservative Republicans who preferred Giuliani, versus 31 percent for McCain. More broadly, Republicans backed Giuliani 38 percent to McCain’s 24, former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s 10, Romney’s 8, and 2 percent each for Kansas Senator Sam Brownback and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
But what if voters like Giuliani better once they understand his pre-9/11 performance? Educating Republicans on his complete mayoral record — and soon — may be Giuliani’s best bet for extinguishing lingering grumbling about his candidacy.
I recently visited Baltimore, Charlotte, Richmond, Salem, Oregon; Seattle, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, mainly to deliver speeches sponsored by Young America’s Foundation. I conversed with conservative activists, College Republican leaders, university professors, and think-tank scholars, among others.
These Americans vividly remember Giuliani emerging from the ashes of September 11, like a latter-day Churchill rising from the rubble of the London Blitz. However, these involved and informed citizens knew startlingly little about Giuliani’s other mayoral achievements:
Through robust policing, Giuliani drove overall crime down 56.1 percent, while chopping homicides 66.6 percent, from 1,946 in 1993 to 649 in 2001.
Abortions on Giuliani’s watch dropped 16.9 percent, according to figures from the New York State Office of Vital Statistics. It reports 103,997 legal abortions in New York City in 1993 and 86,466 in 2001. Abortions fell more quickly under the pro-choice Giuliani than they did nationwide. The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute tracked 1,495,000 abortions across the U.S. in 1993 versus 1,303,000 in 2001. This 12.8 percent national decrease lagged the swifter fall-off in local abortions during Giuliani’s tenure. Meanwhile, taxpayer-funded Medicaid abortions plunged 22.9 percent under Giuliani. Giuliani’s pro-choice rhetoric seemed to accompany an official hands-off policy that otherwise did not promote abortion.
Gotham’s foster-care population fell 38 percent as Giuliani helped loving families adopt 17,804 boys and girls.
By fighting fraud and finding work for legitimate beneficiaries, Giuliani cut welfare rolls 58 percent, starting two years before federal welfare reform. Giuliani renamed welfare offices “Job Centers.”
Giuliani privatized 23,625 previously confiscated, city-owned dwellings, 78 percent of supply, benefiting family and individual homeowners and tenants.
Pursuant to his “One Standard. One City” campaign slogan, Giuliani dumped Gotham’s 20 percent set-aside and 10-percent overbid bonus for minority and female contractors. “The whole idea of quotas to me perpetuates discrimination,” he explained. He initiated this on his 24th day in office, far exceeding any colorblindness legislation Congress even debated during the 12-year “Republican Revolution.”
Similarly, Giuliani shuttered the David Dinkins-era Offices of African-American/Caribbean Affairs, Asian Affairs, European-American Affairs, Gay Community Affairs, Immigrant Affairs, Jewish Community Affairs, and Latino Affairs.
Giuliani’s $10 million Charter School Improvement Fund helped 3,286 pupils in 17 new charter schools, up from $0, zero students, and zero campuses in 1997. He ended tenure for school principals, so slackers could be sacked. He also stopped social promotion; students needed to complete grade-level work to matriculate.
Giuliani ended “open admissions” at the City University of New York. Mean SAT scores for incoming freshmen rose from 863 in 1993 to 1,049 in 2001, a 21.6 percent improvement. Stricter entrance requirements did not impede minorities, as critics ominously predicted. First-time freshmen enrollment at CUNY’s seven senior colleges grew from 7,104 in fall 1999 to 9,576 in fall 2006, up 34.8 percent. Black-student arrivals simultaneously increased from 1,655 to 1,765 (up 6.65 percent). Hispanic freshmen jumped 37.1 percent, from 1,771 to 2,428. Meanwhile, blacks earned 5.15 percent more bachelor degrees, from 3,843 in 1999-2000 to 4,041 in 2005-2006. For Hispanics, the equivalent figures were 2,456 and 3,032 — a 23.45 percent advancement.
In September 1999, Giuliani loudly wondered why taxpayers helped finance a Brooklyn Museum exhibition that featured a painting of the Virgin Mary decorated with a dried chunk of elephant dung. Photos of vaginas and recta, clipped from adult magazines, also festooned artist Chris Ofili’s depiction of Jesus’ mom.
“The city shouldn’t have to pay for sick stuff,” Giuliani said. Often decried by Giuliani critics as an attack on free speech, he merely asked why such a provocative work could not appear in a private museum, without government subsidy.
Meanwhile, ex-pornography mecca Times Square now welcomes families, tourists, and locals for fully clothed musicals like The Lion King and Mary Poppins. Under Giuliani, the city prohibited sex shops within 500 feet of schools, churches, and residential communities.
(Click here for details on Giuliani’s social record.)
Beyond these socially conservative victories, Giuliani governed as a Reaganesque supply-sider:
Giuliani scrapped three taxes and slashed 20 others, lowering Gotham’s tax burden by 17 percent and saving individual and business taxpayers $9.8 billion. A family of four earning $50,000 saw its local taxes plummet 23.7 percent.
While inflation averaged 3.9 percent, Giuliani’s average spending grew 2.9 percent annually. If the departed GOP Congress were that fiscally disciplined, the next federal budget would be $2.275 trillion — $625 billion cheaper, Cato Institute fiscal analyst Stephen Slivinski calculates.
While hiring 12 percent more cops and 12.8 percent more teachers, Giuliani sliced other positions 17.2 percent. Overall, municipal headcount fell 3.1 percent.
These policies helped cut local unemployment from 10.4 percent in 1993 to 5.7 percent in 2001. Tourist arrivals rose 32 percent in that period, while the Big Apple’s population grew 9.3 percent. People who came stuck around, and those already here stopped evacuating, as they were doing before Giuliani Time. Not insignificantly, the personal incomes of New Yorkers ballooned 53 percent during Giuliani’s tenure.
Rudy got this done thanks largely to a management style that he described Wednesday at a $2 million Manhattan fundraiser: “I’m impatient and single-minded about my goals.”
Giuliani’s legacy has earned him the endorsements of such screaming liberals as President Bush’s former solicitor general, Ted Olson, as well as Senator David Vitter (R., La.) and Congressman Pete Sessions (R., Texas) — both proud owners of 100 percent ratings from the National Right to Life Committee.
Before Giuliani’s enemies caricature him as a divorce-driven, abortion-peddling, gun-grabbing transvestite, he should familiarize Republicans with his mayoral accomplishments. From Westwood to Washington’s echo chamber, Rudy Giuliani and his supporters should specify how he rescued America’s largest left-wing city through Reaganite social and economic reforms.