Giuliani's Escape from the Real World

With America's Mayor in Iowa

DES MOINES—The Iowa State Fair has many things you can't find just anywhere, including a life-size butter sculpture of Harry Potter, a 1,203-pound hog, and an endless supply of deep-fried Twinkies. It also has an unlikely looking straw man, which Rudy Giuliani is pounding to smithereens.

Speaking to voters seated on bales of hay, the former New York City mayor is contrasting his approach to national security with that of Democrats. "I believe that America should be on offense against terrorism," he says, to whoops and cheers. "I do not believe that we should go back into the way we used to be, which is what I call 'on defense.' We have to use our military in a way that protects us."

You can just picture the Democrats cowering in the cellar, praying not to be attacked, while Republicans hunt down our enemies to smite them first. This is a familiar refrain from Giuliani, who habitually preaches the virtues of military strength, while accusing the other party of planning to "slash military budgets." In his view, the issue of national security is a simple choice between being powerful and assertive or weak and helpless.

But where are the Democrats who fit his dire description? Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., recently said if the United States had a chance to catch or capture Osama bin Laden by going into Pakistan, we should seize it, no matter what President Pervez Musharraf says. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., soon embraced the same position. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said Obama was merely echoing him. Does that sound like going on defense?

Democratic leaders who want to reduce military spending are about as common as tuxedoes at the State Fair. In fact, left-wing critics complain that the chief presidential candidates want to spend too much. Obama and Clinton have both called for increasing our total troop strength. Likewise for Biden and former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.

The call for going on offense is characteristic of Giuliani's entire foreign policy—simple, muscular in tone and cheerfully divorced from the world we live in. His chief tactic is sounding pugnacious. But if tough talk were all we needed, the war in Iraq would be over, North Korea would be a model of decorum, and Iran would have given up its quest for nuclear weapons.

On today's five-stop swing through Iowa, he seldom mentions Iraq. But writing in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Giuliani calls for sticking with the current policy for as long as it takes, because we can't accept "the consequences of failure." Such as? "Our enemies today would conclude that America's will is weak and the civilization we pledged to defend is tired. Failure would be an invitation for more war, in even more difficult and dangerous circumstances."

It doesn't seem to have occurred to him that lamenting the results of failure is not the same thing as averting it. What Giuliani never addresses is: What if we can't find a way to succeed? Stubbornness is not a strategy.

When it comes to other countries, he entertains similar fantasies. Iran, he insists, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, suggesting that with him in the White House, eliminating that problem will be as easy as melting a butter sculpture on a steamy August day.

But military action is not exactly an ideal solution. It's not at all clear that air strikes would get everything we need to get, and it's very clear that a ground invasion of Iran would make the Iraq nightmare look like a—what's the word?—cakewalk.

No worries. Giuliani implies that once he's elected, the Iranians will capitulate. He reminds the fairgoers that Iran once held American hostages for 444 days—only to free them as soon as Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. "That tells me you have to deal with Islamic terrorism from strength," he declares, as if expecting someone to disagree.

What he forgets is that Iran's recent push for nuclear weapons didn't come under Jimmy Carter, but under George W. Bush. If the ayatollahs aren't cowed by Bush, they aren't likely to surrender to Giuliani.

In many ways, Giuliani resembles the many vendors who surround him today. At the State Fair, it's easy to imagine you can thrive on a diet of corn dogs, cheese-on-a-stick and Dippin' Dots, and it's easy to believe his manly bromides about national security will deliver us to safety. Reality is another matter, for another day.

COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  • Squee||

    A pity that he is the most popular Repulican canidate currently. But, I suppose, talking terrorism allows him to skate around the fact that he's not actually conservitive at all.

  • Loupeznik||

    I agree Giuliani is an ass. Where are the articles on Mitt?

  • Marcvs||

    it's easy to imagine you can thrive on a diet of corn dogs, cheese-on-a-stick and Dippin' Dots

    Add bacon to that list and that pretty much describes my diet.

  • ||

    I could be wrong, but I don't think the country will tolerate another Republican president at this time. Of course the election is not being held at this time. A lot can happen between now and then. I wonder, does the country still favor Republicans to deal with terrorists?

  • ||

    Well, I lost a bit of faith in the Reason Foundation for honoring Rudy's comitment to "minimal statism" and I think this clearly has put reason more in the camp with conservatives than with libertarians.
    Mr. Guiliani is certainly not a friend of free-markets and free-minds, so I am a bit baffled by this choice...

    But, when I see posts like this, then I think reason is all about different opinions, even in its staff :)

  • ||

    Max,

    Huh?

  • ||

    Warren,

    Depends on who the Democrats are so foolish to nominate. As is the case in most of these electoral affairs.

  • ||

    Pro,
    You think so? I think any Democrat beats any Republican (save RON PAUL). But I'm sure that HRC will be the Democrat candidate. So if I'm right about the swing vote, she will be our next president.

  • libertreee||

    Bashing Il Duce Giuliani on the front page, but praising him on the Reason Foundation Page for supposedly making the subways run on time in New Yawk City? Come on Reason, domestic polcy fascism is as evil as foreign policy fascism!

    Ask the 9-11 firefighters if "The Mayor" is all he's cracked up to be...

  • ||

    I agree with Warren. There's too significant a portion of the population that can't stand Guliani now and once the main candidates wake up to the fact Huckabee and Paul are gaining significant minorities, they'll either have to change tack or realize that they can't sway enough voters to go save their asses.

    Sad to say, but the republicans would be better off nominating Romney. For all his slick talking style and flip-floppiness, he's more acceptable to libertarian leaning americans and the religious right.

    But as the Republican side is imploding and will continue to do so, all Hillary has to do isplay up her experience and moderateness and she's a shoe in.

    I really think the RNC should focus its efforts towards retrieving the Senate or House next fall, because whether they like it or not, it WILL be a democrat in the white house next year.

  • ||

    libertree,

    Bringing the hammer down on a fractious beaurocracy can be seen in a positive light, given the circumstances, while using that same hammer to try and fix other sovereign nations is almost certainly disastrous. Guliani had strengths when it came to establishing order and efficiency within the New York mayorship, and that's as far as his authoritarianship should be allowed to go. He's now thinking he has the power to browbeat the world into submission like he browbeat the New York beaurocracy, and that's simply rediculous.

  • ||

    I for one would rather see a split power stucture in Washington.The best years of Clinton came with the change of power in the Congress.Reagan mostly had a demo. congress to work with and is generally considered a sucess.Two of the greatest policy failures of the last 50 years,LBJ, the welfare state and Vietnam and GWB, the security state and Iraq have came when one party controlled all.I'm afraid in the next election we will see not a change in policy but a change in targets to attack.

  • ||

    Johnny D,
    http://www.reason.org/innovators2007/

  • Mike Laursen||

    A pity that he is the most popular Repulican canidate currently.

    Most popular? I thought he finished pretty low in the Iowa straw poll.

  • Les||

    I'd really like to see one of the Reason staffers explain the opinion that Giuliani and Jeb fucking Bush are "reducing government spending; how they are collaborating with the private sector to deliver cost-savings and better services to taxpayers" while they mindlessly support both the war in Iraq and the War on Drugs.

    This is seriously disappointing coming from the Reason Foundation.

  • ||

    Most popular? I thought he finished pretty low in the Iowa straw poll.

    Rudy did not participate in the Iowa straw poll (i.e., didn't show up and make a speech, buy tickets, bus in supporters).

  • Trollaphile||

    "I wonder, does the country still favor Republicans to deal with terrorists?"

    And if so why?

  • Asharak||

    Bashing Il Duce Giuliani on the front page, but praising him on the Reason Foundation Page for supposedly making the subways run on time in New Yawk City? Come on Reason, domestic polcy fascism is as evil as foreign policy fascism!

    Ask the 9-11 firefighters if "The Mayor" is all he's cracked up to be...


    True, it is unfortunate that some libertarians are backing Giuliani, but it's just as sad to see paleo-libertarians (some of whom who have posted here) supporting a creep like Tom Tancredo, who's no less of an authoritarian than Giuliani.

  • Libertree is amazingly stupid||

    "Bashing Il Duce Giuliani on the front page, but praising him on the Reason Foundation Page for supposedly making the subways run on time in New Yawk City? Come on Reason, domestic polcy fascism is as evil as foreign policy fascism!"

    It still amazes me in this day and age that people actually are still stupid enough to compare a democratically elected leader to a dictator who aided one of the most brutal mass-murderers in the history of mankind. People that make these types of pronouncements don't even deserve the pity that is usually shown to the mentally defective. People who write such ridiculous things deserved to be shunned. And to the jackass (unfortunately, this term is probably to charitable) who actually wrote this, perhaps you should actually pick up a fucking history book and read about Mussolini before you write things that are so amazingly ignorant. In closing, you are an absolute idiot.

  • Jimbo Jones||

    "Ask the 9-11 firefighters if "The Mayor" is all he's cracked up to be"

    Oh my, the heads of some firefighter unions bash Rudy and we are meant to believe that the firefighters as a whole in NY City are against him. These are he same union leaders who, when told the majority of firefighters identified themselves as Republicans, said they didn't care and the union would endorse a Democrat anyway. It's time to put the firefighter canard to bed. However, even if they didn't like the guy, so what. They can vote against him if the don't agree with his policies, just like I can vote for him if I do agree with him. The notion that because they are firefighters renders their pronouncements infallible, requiring some sort of slavish devotion is as lame as the people who treat them as some sort of monolith, in which 100% hate Guiliani.

  • Edward||

    Seriosly, does this site ever criticize any of the Democratic presidential or any other Republican ones for that matter? I have seen a scant amount of criticism directed at Obama and Clinton but I have seen tons of pieces directed towards Giuliani. That is all well and good, but it is almost as if Reason believes Obama and Hillary are somehow less statist; even a cursory examination of their writings would disabuse one of that notion. Please provide a little balance in your presidential coverage.

  • ||

    A pity that he is the most popular Republican candidate currently.

    I don't see any convincing evidence that Giuliani is popular. He leads in telephone surveys, but most respondents have barely heard of anyone other than Giuliani and McCain. He leads in dollars donated, but his donations come from a relatively small number of donors maxing out the $2300 limit.

    In straw polls of real Republican grassroots voters around the country, Giuliani has received very little support. Romney and Thompson do fairly well, typically, but even Paul and Huckabee and Tancredo generally place ahead of Giuliani. It isn't just that Romney and Paul are winning all the straw polls, it's that Giuliani isn't even close.

  • Asharak||

    It still amazes me in this day and age that people actually are still stupid enough to compare a democratically elected leader to a dictator who aided one of the most brutal mass-murderers in the history of mankind. People that make these types of pronouncements don't even deserve the pity that is usually shown to the mentally defective. People who write such ridiculous things deserved to be shunned. And to the jackass (unfortunately, this term is probably to charitable) who actually wrote this, perhaps you should actually pick up a fucking history book and read about Mussolini before you write things that are so amazingly ignorant. In closing, you are an absolute idiot.

    Struck a nerve, did he? Good.

    You neolibertarians crack me up.

  • ||

    Didn't we bribe the Iranians into letting the hostages go? I don't think it was terror of the mighty Reagan.

  • ||

    Struck a nerve, did he? Good.
    You neolibertarians crack me up.


    Libertarians -- generally -- well, its hard for us to use the word generally. Lets say -- it is probable -- and possible to poll liberaterians and you might find one common thread that binds us, a penchant for getting it right. The left and the right like to demonize leaders using their favorite moral evils -- communism on one side, nazism / fascism on the other. A rational libertarian knows both were bad.

    So when you compare a leader to Mussolini -- you had better be right. So what if Rudy is not the greatest advocate for civil liberties and he is of Italian descent. Has he murdered anyone? Does he imprison political opponents? No. Was he elected more times than anyone else? Yes. Did he clean up NYC? Sure did.

    Should he be president? Absolutely not.

    He's a rough and tumble mayor -- but he is far from Mussolini.

  • ||

    Oh -- I exaggerated -- he probably wasn't elected more times than anyone else -- but he was elected several times and did clean up NYC.

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