Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Rudy


Great column by Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune (which has been flacking for Obama almost as flagrantly as it flacks for the Cubs), about why the GOP seems ready to pass its torch from the soft hands of George W. to Rudy Giuliani's gnarled paws.

What the enchantment with Rudy suggests is that the GOP has morphed from a party that reveres limited government to a party that is girlishly infatuated with executive authority.

In 1964, presidential nominee Barry Goldwater declared it "the cause of Republicanism to resist concentrations of power." George W. Bush, by contrast, has done everything possible to create a concentration of power in the White House, while circumventing the checks traditionally provided by Congress and the courts.

Giuliani would not be one to reverse that development. His instincts bring to mind another New York Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, who thought the presidency "should be a very powerful office" and that "the president should be a very strong man who uses without hesitation every power the position yields." He's the sort of guy to put the bully in "bully pulpit."

And Chapman goes down the rap sheet, knocking Rudy for his Eliot Ness posturing as U.S. attorney and his decision to put the city's emergency command center in the World Trade Center, which has got to be the most embarrassing line on any '08 candidate's resume.

But this is all a little tough on Republicans; the Giuliani fetish goes far beyond the GOP base. Chris Matthews, in particular, has a crush on him that makes Max Cady look like a blushing schoolboy. Even Republicans who don't love the idea of an authoritarian POTUS are drawn to it because, electorally, it's pretty sweet— 17 percent of voters in 2004 said "strong leadership" was the number one factor for their vote, and Bush won them by 75 points. If he'd only split that 50/50, he'd have lost. (Not that I'm excusing the politics of clinging to a daddy figure's coat, just that I grok its utility.)