Have been talking to some smart people today about Giuliani. Two of them said independently that the appeal of Giuliani is he’d be “a tough SOB–for you,” and that he’d be “a d–head–for you.” Another said (and he hadn’t seen Kate’s e-mail post yesterday) that a Giuliani supporter he knows considers the nasty divorce a kind of asset because it speaks to his toughness. A couple of observations:
1) It is clear that two things J-Pod has been saying are correct: Giuliani doesn’t want to fight with the social right and that makes him different from most past pro-choice candidates, and Giuliani gets credit from conservatives for the sheer pugnacity with which he’s stood up to liberals.
2) Giuliani made a strategic choice not to try to “fix” his problem on abortion and that appears to have been a shrewder choice than most of us would have thought (one of my friends goes so far as to call it “brilliant”). While McCain drifts right, and Romney lurches right, Giuliani is relying on the power of authenticity to see him through.
3) This is what strikes me as really interesting. For the moment, Rudy’s weaknesses and failings may be playing into the strategic strength of his candidacy. The weakness on social issues plays into the idea that he says what he means and means what he says, and the personal failings are perhaps (incredibly enough) playing to the idea that he’s mean as hell at a time when Washington could use someone like that at the top. So the things that should be dragging him down may be boosting him more as the straight-talking, tough SOB–for you.
UPDATE—couple of e-mails:
–I think your item #1 is right on. In 2000, I worked on the McCain campaign in NC. Since that time, it appears that he has taken every opportunity to thumb his nose at those things that I hold dear. It’s not that he disagrees with these items, its more that he seems to mock them. I know that Giuliani sees social issues differently than I do, but he seems to respect those ideas while being consistent on his own views. As far as leadership goes, he is a stud. There is no way I could ever support McCain again. Right now, Giuliani is my horse.
–But Rudy *has* moved right on abortion. He used to be against a partial birth abortion ban; now he’s for it. He used to be for taxpayer funded abortion; now he’s against it (kinda sorta). He used to say he supported Roe v. Wade; now he has no opinion. It’s not that Rudy hasn’t moderated his positions. It’s just that he was so far out there to begin with that even after moderating them he’s still not where most Republicans are. The really shrewd thing is that he’s managed to do this without getting tagged as a flip-flopper.
–Have the “smart” people you’ve talked to today re Giuliani included any women? [ME: No, they were all men.] Because I am here to tell you, the divorce drama does not play well with any woman I know down here in South Carolina. Considering how women constitute 52% of the people who vote, I’m not sure this is a great move.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton probably would LOVE Giuliani as an opponent. You could not possibly raise any issues re the Clinton marriage with Giuliani running.
But — most of all — to this independent voter, the Republicans picking Giuliani as their candidate means that any and all talk on your part about “values” is just bull. You are willing to overthrow supposedly deeply held values in a naked grab for power.