Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Rudy

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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.)

NEXT: The "Beltway Cut"

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  1. Ok, help me out here – I’m trying to understand why Reason has such a hard on for bagging on Giuliani. I know we’d all love a Ron Paul presidency, but realistically, it ain’t gonna happen. So out of the pool of people who actually have a chance of being the next president of the United States, who would you prefer?

    I recognize Giuliani is no libertarian, but the other side of it is that a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican president would signal a wresting of control of the conservative movement from the religious right and the social conservatives, which IMHO would be a good start.

    Not within a country mile of Libertopia, fer sure. But is not a statist Republican that’s fairly socially tolerant not an improvement over an intolerant statist Republican religious crank?

    Limiting ourselves to the realm of the possible, what alternatives do you suggest that would be an improvement?

    And why has your email verification routine suddenly taken a dislike to my usual email address? It’s the same one I’ve been using for several years.

  2. Dave, are you implying that strong leadership ISN’T an important quality for a president to have? True, Bush is notorious for sticking with his decisions long after they’ve been shown to be horribly mistaken, but there’s a happy medium between that and a guy who has to consult 30 polls and the leaders of the 10 largest labor unions before deciding what color tie to wear, ie John Kerry.

  3. Pig Mannix,

    If I want to vote for a pro-Iraq war, pro-choice, pro-gun control, statist New York politician, I might as well go for Hillary, no?

  4. crimethink,

    Yeah, you could do that, if you think universal health care is a good idea for some reason.

  5. Sam B,

    Heh, good point. I’m not sure what Rudy’s stance on health care is. But the very fact that if Hillary were running against 2001’s Man of the Year, I would actually have to do research to decide whether to vote against Hillary, shows how much I want to see him get the nomination.

    And that’s leaving aside the fact that Hillary now opposes the war, while Rudy remains a dead-ender.

  6. If I want to vote for a pro-Iraq war, pro-choice, pro-gun control, statist New York politician, I might as well go for Hillary, no?

    In fact, you might, if those were your only criteria.

    But Giuliani is also somewhat more of a fiscal conservative than Hillary, and while decidedly statist, he is at least not quite as much of a nanny statist.

    Further, he interests me because he exhibits an unusual degree of social tolerance for a candidate of the Right. I’m thinking that a Giuliani presidency might very well help move the center of gravity on the Right away from the scolds, moralists, and religious cranks, making the Republican party more hospitable to people with generally more socially tolerant views.

    As I’ve said, he’s no libertarian revolutionary, but in a small way he could help to advance the ball down the field.

  7. In fact, you might, if those were your only criteria.

    Iraq, abortion, and gun control are the three biggest issues in play (for me at least). The drug war is another big issue, but all candidates for prez are equally bad on that one.

    But Giuliani is also somewhat more of a fiscal conservative than Hillary, and while decidedly statist, he is at least not quite as much of a nanny statist.

    Talk about damning with faint praise! The last thing I want is for the Republicans to make me again vote for a guy who doesn’t have a drivers license and wants to blow up the UN.

    a Giuliani presidency might very well help move the center of gravity on the Right away from the scolds, moralists, and religious cranks, making the Republican party more hospitable to people with generally more socially tolerant views.

    …and generally less tolerant views of gun owners and unborn children. No thanks. All my adopted state’s politicians, from Spitzer to Schumer to Bloomberg to Clinton to Giuliani can take a roll in a barrel down Niagara Falls for all I care.

  8. As I understand, Giuliani may be culturally tolerant in certain regards, but he’s authoritarian on law enforcement.

    I will never vote for somebody who is a close relative (by blood or marriage) of a former President. (Look how well it worked out last time.) So if it’s Hillary vs. Giuliani I will hold my nose and vote for whoever the LP nominates.

    Then I’ll go to confession.

  9. thoreau,

    I don’t know, Benjamin Harrison wasn’t all that bad. But you’re mostly right; the track record of John Quincy Adams, FDR, and Bush II speaks for itself…

  10. How can any of you forget his ruthless destruction of Wall Streeters to give himself the tiniest bit of temporary promotion? He also was responsible for revival of the federal aspect of the drug war in what had been a dormant district. All that before his stint as mayor!

    And lest you think Rudy to be good for business, why not talk to some small businesspeople in New York City who had to put up with the worst chickenshit harrassment the city had thrown at them in many administrations? All that can be said in his favor, business-wise, was that he favored certain businesses — not even certain classes of business, but particular firms he was friendly with.

    And if you think all presidential candidates are equally bad re drugs, know that Giuliani’s city administration increased arrests of pot smokers by more than an order of magnitude over his predecessor.

    At least he helped take down the Liberal Party. They lost their grass roots when their leadership got in bed with Rudy. So it’s not as if he accomplished nothing positive. But would you like him to have the same destructive effect on the GOP nationally? BTW, he helped squeeze the Fusion Party, who’d been his early supporters, out of the Independence Party with which they’d merged. So the man is political poison, burning bridges as soon as he can get over them.

    So you wanna help Giuliani because of whom he’ll piss off among the Republicans? Congratulations, you already think like him.

  11. Oh, and just what does his “social tolerance” consist of? AFAICT, it’s just that he dresses in drag at some affair and doesn’t refuse to march in the Gay Pride Parade. It’s not like he was friendly to sex-oriented businesses, as can be seen by the Disneyfication of Times Square.

    Meanwhile, he was the biggest no-fun mayor since we were dubbed Fun City. Forget firearms — he instituted a years-long crackdown on fireworks whose reach extended to arrests and a shutdown of a permitted event far upstate, and to action in neighboring states.

    But what he was most known for in terms of his degree of tolerance was his handling of dissent, which bodes ill for any future executive office he’d have. He closed what’d been a traditional free speech area in front of City Hall, as just the most visible symbol of his effort to use every trick he could find (licensing changes, police harrassment, you name it) to stifle dissent in NYC.

  12. jesus. fucking rudy.

    the arguments are still had, bright and loud, when party one says to party of the second “why don’t you just admit he saved new york” and party of the second drops abner louima for starters and it’s fucking ON.

  13. Forget firearms — he instituted a years-long crackdown on fireworks whose reach extended to arrests and a shutdown of a permitted event far upstate, and to action in neighboring states.

    And, as you surely know, the current Hizzoner Bloomberg learnt at his feet. The government of The City has indeed reached out its eldritch tentacles across city, county, and state boundaries to enforce its will.

    At first, it was only the unfortunate upstate cities that were made to suffer under an NYC-style system of business regulations and welfare bureaucracies, which may have been tolerated by businesses anxious to maintain a presence in Manhattan, but proved too high a cost to remain in run-of-the-mill upstate cities with high taxes and lousy weather.

    Thus, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Utica, and Binghamton decayed into burned-out daemoniac shells of their former selves, reduced to begging at the feet of the state govt for funds to keep the state (ie, NYC) -mandated, county-financed welfare structure going.

    Now, The City government sees itself as the suzerain of the Northeast (Bloomberg), if not the entire nation (Spitzer). Rochester’s fate is coming soon to a city near you.

  14. Bleh. I’d prepared a nice, long post responding to everyone’s points, and the server ate it. Sorry, but I’m too tired to retype it tonight, so I’ll let it go with this.

    Here’s my point – the reality is that there are only a few candidates with any chance of actually getting elected. Given that situation, I tend to find Giuliani among the least obnoxious, even noting he’s pretty damn obnoxious. But then again, what do I know? I was dumb enough to support Bush in 2000….

    But I’m asking – among those few candidates which actually stand a chance of getting elected, which of them qualifies as an improvement over Giuliani, and why?

  15. “All my adopted state’s politicians, from Spitzer to Schumer to Bloomberg to Clinton to Giuliani can take a roll in a barrel down Niagara Falls for all I care.”

    Nice image. And, somehow, knowing NY as I do, I feel they would all be replaced by more of the same.

  16. Pig Man.,

    John McCain is pro-life and pro-gun. Note well that I hate John McCain for many other reasons, but still I prefer him to Giuliani.

    I just don’t see the point of nominating someone who is just as bad as the Democratic candidate on most issues, and worse on others, just because he’s so electable. Shit, I’d rather have my (ha!) party be relegated to the opposition than have to support a statist president.

  17. Rudy = Hitler. That is all.

    Now, you all must go to bed, sleeping together under the same big sky, knowing that a common destiny unites us all, that is, having your women and children stolen by drug-free aliens.

  18. I don’t get why you all hate Giuliani. He fought crime and got rid of all those ugly porno shops from Time Square. Didn’t he also ballance the city budget? so what if he’s for gun control. you libbies worry too much about guns.

    Also, what wrong with him arresting marijuana smokers? you libbies should also submit to the fact that smoking marijuana makes you a criminal.

  19. Crimethink,

    Just because the NRA supports McCain doesn’t mean he is pro-gun, it just means the NRA has sold out. Go over to http://www.gunowners.org/ to see his record on gun issues.

    Nick

  20. Shit, I’d rather have my (ha!) party be relegated to the opposition than have to support a statist president.

    You know, I’d say that the GOP does its best work as an opposition party. In the 1990’s they shut down the government, investigated every allegation ever made against Clinton, balanced the budget (let’s not let Clinton take all of the credit there), and passed welfare reform.

    What has Bush done?

    (And yes, I’m well aware that the “balanced” budget may have involved some dodgy accounting, but it was still closer to balanced than anything we’ve had under Bush.)

  21. In the 1990’s they shut down the government

    Ehh, that wasn’t one of their successes. The goal of the shutdown was to force Clinton to cave on the GOP’s proposed budget and spending cuts. If they had held out a few more days, Clinton advisors now admit he would have caved. But the GOP collapsed in part because Bob Dole wanted to go to New Hampshire to campaign for president and he wanted the whole affair to end.

  22. David, it may not have been a success, but it was an admirable gesture, which is more than I can say about their recent deeds.

  23. Ron Paul Presidency? Hell, from the media (which is fawning, for comparison, over Dennis Kucinich despite his similar chances to Dr. Paul) it would be nice to see a Ron Paul MENTION. This kind of bias — the Kucinich vs Paul coverage — is rampant in the news media these days. I don’t know about you people, but I’ve seen zero mentions on ANY TV station of Paul while I see plenty of Dennis…
    JMR

  24. If you think there’s no difference between Hillary and Guiliani, I have to ask:

    Which one is more likely to keep detaining people without charge in a concentration camp? Which one is more likely to take Bush’s dismissal of the writ of habeus corpus and run with it? Which one is more likely to rendit people to third countries for torture?

    The simple fact of the matter is that in 2006 if a Republican and a Democrat seem similar superficially, you have to keep in mind that the Republican is a member of the Party of Torture. Sure, there are Democrats who want to join the torture play group, too, but that’s basically the Republican Party’s new brand at this point. And I say this as someone who always considered themselves a Republican / Libertarian straddler. [But who obviously can’t think that any more.]

    The choice Lib have to make when deciding which major party candidate to “root” for, even if we vote Lib, is simple: Which is worse, a higher minimum wage, or torture and extralegal detention without trial?

  25. Which one is more likely to keep detaining people without charge in a concentration camp?

    What has Hillary! had to say about Guantanamo? Google says not much. So its hard to say.

    Which one is more likely to take Bush’s dismissal of the writ of habeus corpus and run with it?

    Ditto.

    Which one is more likely to rendit people to third countries for torture?

    I don’t recall her objecting when her husband’s administration engaged in the long-standing practice of “extraordinary rendition” of suspects to other countries. Even the ACLU says that the current policy traces back to the Clinton administration.

    Now, Giuliani is kind of an authoritarian statist jerk, but lets not pretend that Hillary is some kind of shining beacon of liberty, either.

  26. Yeah, you could do that, if you think universal health care is a good idea for some reason.

    Or you could go for Rudy’s love of the police state. If you think that the police are out of control now, wait for Rudy. Radley will be driven insane because he won’t be able to update the agitator fast enough.

  27. I’m not going to publically hate on Rudy yet. I may have to vote for him.

  28. “Or you could go for Rudy’s love of the police state. If you think that the police are out of control now, wait for Rudy. Radley will be driven insane because he won’t be able to update the agitator fast enough.”

    Hmmm. Police state….nationalized health care.

    Actually, when you put “24 years of Bushes and Clintons in the White House” on the scale, too, I actually start to lean toward Police State….

    My kingdom for a Richardson-Paul electoral contest!

  29. Hell, from the media (which is fawning, for comparison, over Dennis Kucinich despite his similar chances to Dr. Paul) it would be nice to see a Ron Paul MENTION.

    He hasn’t officially declared yet.

  30. My kingdom for a Richardson-Paul electoral contest!

    Richardson – hmmmmm Marshall? I dunno.

    vs.

    Paul – Flake

  31. “I’d say that the GOP does its best work as an opposition party. In the 1990’s they shut down the government, investigated every allegation ever made against Clinton, balanced the budget (let’s not let Clinton take all of the credit there), and passed welfare reform.”

    The GOP had a majority in both houses of Congress, so that’s not what I’d call an opposition party! What did they do in fedgov during 1993 & 1994?

    Somebody’s going to have to enumerate the electable candidates if they want me to show how each is better than Giuliani. Is Gingrich electable? Way better than Giuliani, comparison is silly. You could list some who are bad, but they’re not as bad as he.

    McCain I consider really, really bad, about on a par with Hillary. However, McCain is at least slightly known for being good on spending, and Giuliani is not known as a hard bargainer with the taxpayer’s money.

  32. Dave, are you implying that strong leadership ISN’T an important quality for a president to have?

    I think Dave is probably implying that Giuliani is a Republican. Be that as it may, I’m with the commenters who raise an eyebrow at the panty-knot (and Nazi allusions) around here. Giuliani cut taxes repeatedly, sold millions of dollars worth of city-owned businesses to the private sector, cut spending, shredded welfare rolls, cut race-based set-asides, got kids out of the city-run foster care system into adoptive homes in record numbers and cut the municipal workforce (while at the same time — darn! — growing the police department). And it gets him “Ein Reich, Ein Rudy” on H&R. Well played.

  33. RC Dean:

    Hillary voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which puts her on record against the Bush administration’s whitewashing of its own misconduct and against the suspension of habeus corpus.

    Of course, she voted FOR the Patriot Act, so that’s a strike against her.

    I read her as I read most Democrats at this point: too chicken to not go along with some aspects of the police state when they’re proposed by others, but not very likely to propose any new outrages herself. It’s a little sad that that’s the best we can hope for now, but that’s where we are.

    Guiliani, OTOH, will line up in favor of any and all past or near-term possible future outrages, because there’s no other way to win the Republican nomination this time around. Watch.

  34. too chicken to not go along with some aspects of the police state when they’re proposed by others, but not very likely to propose any new outrages herself.

    Well of course she’s not going to propose new executive powers while Bush is the executive. Her opinion of new executive powers when she’s in charge may be quite different.

  35. Hillary voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which puts her on record against the Bush administration’s whitewashing of its own misconduct and against the suspension of habeus corpus.

    She toed the party line on that one, alright, but if you read her statement, it very carefully does not say what she would do.

    So we still don’t know.

  36. The best thing about Guliani’s candidacy is that it will drive the Taliban Republicans apeshit, which could well result in a third party candidacy supported by the fundamentalist nutjobs. (I don’t know yet who the likely candidate would be.) Moreover, the yahoos who have voted repeatedly for the likes of Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms are unlikely to support a Yankee whose name ends in a vowel.

    Run, Rudy, run!

  37. ricky says: “you libbies worry too much about guns.”

    OK, I’m starting a digression here, but bear with me.

    I can see why conservatives take a libertarian position on gun ownership–they can point to tradition, which conservatives yearn to uphold.

    But why don’t liberals get on the bandwagon? They want ordinary citizens to resist power, and the Second Amendment is all about giving them the means to do so. They look to the future rather than the past; can’t they recognize that citizens’ access to weaponry may be needed in the future to stave off tyrannical abuses, of which measures in the Patriot Act may be only a preamble?

    I am having trouble thinking these questions through. Has anybody else pondered them?

  38. I think I’ll post this quote of Rudy’s on every thread about the man.

    Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it.

  39. “But why don’t liberals get on the bandwagon? They want ordinary citizens to resist power, and the Second Amendment is all about giving them the means to do so. They look to the future rather than the past; can’t they recognize that citizens’ access to weaponry may be needed in the future to stave off tyrannical abuses, of which measures in the Patriot Act may be only a preamble?”

    I think you are being unjustifiably generous; the current crop of “progressives” has not the least interest in encouraging people to resist authority, they just want the reins and the whip.

  40. Which one is more likely to keep detaining people without charge in a concentration camp? Which one is more likely to take Bush’s dismissal of the writ of habeus corpus and run with it? Which one is more likely to rendit people to third countries for torture?

    As a crotchety middle-aged man, I vote my self-interest. And my self-interest is much more likely to be harmed by HillaryCare and tax hikes than by Guantanamo etc. Obviously there are limits to such calculations, but given the relatively small degree of difference between Rudy and Hillary, that would pretty much make my decision for me. Neither is much of a choice.

  41. “[T]he current crop of “progressives” has not the least interest in encouraging people to resist authority, they just want the reins and the whip.” Thanks for jogging my memory, P Brooks.

    Once when I made a sort of nonconformist pronouncement to a full-time demonstrator/resister of power back in the turbulent 60s, he said, “After the revolution I’ll let you say that, as long as you say it in just that way.” Scary.

    Didn’t some of our current “progressives” get their start in that movement?

  42. “Giuliani cut taxes repeatedly,”

    On the state’s dime — using state aid to offset the city revenue loss.

    “sold millions of dollars worth of city-owned businesses to the private sector,”

    Rather misleading. Those “businesses” his administration sold were apartment bldgs. and lots that’d been taken in rem for tax delinquency. They were mostly abandoned and uninhabitable. However, the city had built up quite an inventory of them and was renting out some of them, so I do credit his administration with reducing that backlog instead of adding to it. But it’s not like he was a great privatizer.

    OK, there was one major city operation that was privatized: what had been the Municipal Broadcasting System — WNYC AM, FM, and TV. He gets credit for that. But meanwhile he cut down drastically on the number of newsstands on the sidewalks and in the subway stations.

    “cut spending, shredded welfare rolls,”

    What that amounted to was taking advantage of the new federal rules that allowed them to.

    The Giuliani admin. was the one that started herding pedestrians with barriers. I’m not referring here just to demonstrators, but just general pedestrian traffic. And made NYC the only city in the world unfriendly to the impromptu bicycle gatherings that go by a name I forgot but aren’t actually organized.

    Think I‘m tough on Rudy? Look up Christopher X. Brodeur. Of course, if I’d been put thru what he was….

  43. From Robert, “And made NYC the only city in the world unfriendly to the impromptu bicycle gatherings that go by a name I forgot but aren’t actually organized.”

    I agree with you on most things you’ve posted about Giuliani, but his opposition to Critical Mass is a good thing. I’ve not understood why it’s OK for bicyclists to break traffic laws if a couple thousand of them do it at the same time.

    Isn’t it still too early to be kibbitzing about the ’08 Election? Also, isn’t the lesson of W that, whoever fundraises the most, gets the nomination?

    With the exception of Kennedy, we generally elect governors, V.P.s, or generals. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but doesn’t that observation imply that Al Gore or Bill Richardson are the most likely winners in ’08?

  44. With the exception of Kennedy, we generally elect governors, V.P.s, or generals. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but doesn’t that observation imply that Al Gore or Bill Richardson are the most likely winners in ’08?

    Normally, that’s true. However, the crop of governors and generals available for next year seems particularly unimpressive on both sides. Al Gore never did get that charisma chip implanted, and he seems happier being an ersatz celebrity. Richardson has committed the cardinal political sin of being obese. He would be a hot commodity if he lost 100 lbs. And yes, I’m well aware of what that says about our political culture.

  45. Richardson has committed the cardinal political sin of being obese.

    So has Gore.

    The Giuliani admin. was the one that started herding pedestrians with barriers. I’m not referring here just to demonstrators, but just general pedestrian traffic. And made NYC the only city in the world unfriendly to the impromptu bicycle gatherings that go by a name I forgot but aren’t actually organized.

    Both of these were done to help increase the number and flow of cars in Manhattan–isn’t that a plus around here??

  46. Think I’m tough on Rudy? Look up Christopher X. Brodeur. Of course, if I’d been put thru what he was….

    OMG. If I was as perpetually pissed off at every single thing in existence as this dude, my head would explode. Too bad he makes so many good points.

  47. So has Gore.

    He’s got a long ways to go to reach the number of double chins that Richardson has, but he does seem to be working hard to catch up, however. Which is one reason I’ve seen cited as a guess that he’s not running. Politics is show business for ugly people, but there’s a definite limit on the amount of ugliness that the populace will tolerate.

  48. “I agree with you on most things you’ve posted about Giuliani, but his opposition to Critical Mass is a good thing. I’ve not understood why it’s OK for bicyclists to break traffic laws if a couple thousand of them do it at the same time.”

    They don’t break traffic laws. If they did, they’d be unwelcome in every other city too.

  49. Politics is show business for ugly people, but there’s a definite limit on the amount of ugliness that the populace will tolerate.

    I dunno, the Clinton administration was still pretty popular with Janet Reno and Madeline Albright in highly visible positions.

  50. Richardson has committed the cardinal political sin of being obese.

    Come on now! 2008 is the 100th anniversary of the election that saw the election of William Howard Taft, essentially a butt with a big man.

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