Rudy Giuliani: The Combover Years


Phil Klein of the American Spectator links to a cache of great old interviews with U.S. Attorney Giuliani. I've seen the interviews for an upcoming piece I'm writing on Rudy, and they can be a slog, but Klein sums up the best bits.

Giuliani offers his philosophy of criminal justice in the context of the passage of a major crime bill that year. On the hot button issues of the day, he says he supports capital punishment, but also waiting periods and background checks for purchasing guns. Much of the discussion centers around his belief that the justice system had drifted too far in the direction of protecting the accused and convicted, to the detriment of victims of crime. "I think we've moved away from the model of America that most of us grew up with 20, 30, years ago, which is one where we emphasize individual responsibility," he said in the first interview. He later adds: "I consider myself a very firm believer in due process, and a libertarian in that sense, but I think we became almost stupid in our excessiveness in the way in which we were protecting, overprotecting the rights of people, to the disadvantage of other people."

I don't think Giuliani has moved that position in 23 years. This is the cornerstone of his philosophy: For liberty to thrive, you need to dramatically empower the state and the legal system. Criminals and would-be criminals should have less freedom in order for the rest of us to enjoy our freedoms. This is the framework he's applied to basically every issue up to and including "the terrorists' war against us." When it comes to that, as one Republican senator said during the debate on wiretapping, "free speech doesn't mean much if you're dead."

Incidentally, this is one reason Giuliani's popularity hasn't really faded in the six years since 9/11 or in the heat of the GOP primary: This philosophy has always been popular among a certain segment of the American electorate and a large chunk of the GOP.