Political Hay

Hating Rudy

With the Bush era coming to a close, Giuliani is supplanting the President as the Left's favorite whipping boy. This can only help his chances of capturing the Republican nomination.

By 11.2.07

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"Rudy Giuliani [is] probably the most under-qualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency," Sen. Joe Biden declared during Tuesday's Democratic debate in Philadelphia. "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11."

The crowd roared with laughter, and liberal blogger Josh Marshall wrote, "Okay, I may have to endorse Biden after this tear against Rudy."

With the end of the dreaded Bush era approaching, Rudy Giuliani has slowly begun to supplant the President as the leading hate figure among liberals, a reality that will only help Giuliani in his efforts to overcome his differences with conservatives and win the Republican nomination.

Within the past month, the New Republic, the Nation, and the Washington Monthly have all run anti-Giuliani cover stories, with the latter one declaring that, "as president, Giuliani would grab even more executive power than Bush and Cheney."

In the Boston Globe, James Carroll wrote of Giuliani, "He's like a gang leader now, roving the streets, looking for some punk to bash. Iran will do."

This sentiment has dominated liberal blogs, where a general consensus has formed that Giuliani would be the worst president imaginable. Giuliani's decision to include neoconservative icon Norman Podhoretz on his foreign policy advisory team has also triggered liberal paranoia about his determination to attack Iran. Lost in all the fuss is the fact that Charles Hill, a Yale professor, is actually Giuliani's top adviser. What Giuliani and Hill have both emphasized is that if America makes it clear that it will not hesitate to use military force, diplomacy has a much more realistic chance of succeeding. Not that this line of reasoning would win over any of his critics on the left.

"If you want to spend enormous amounts of money and kill millions of people in service of policies that will be counterproductive for both democracy and American national security then Rudy's your man," wrote the American Prospect's Scott Lemieux in a post titled "Stop
Rudy." Giuliani's deviations from conservatives don't score him any points among the Left, either. Lemieux's colleague, Dana Goldstein, pleaded with her fellow progressives to "stop calling Rudy Giuliani pro-choice."

The possibility of a Giuliani presidency had the Atlantic's Matthew Yglesias struggling for words: "One thing I'm wrestling with is finding a way to convey how terrified I am of the prospect of a Rudy Giuliani presidency in terms of its impact on our foreign policy."

But Yglesias noted Talking Point Memo's Marshall comes close to best explaining why Giuliani is worse than Mitt Romney. "I know I've said before that Romney's profound and almost incalculable phoniness is a terrifying prospect to behold in a possible president. But the danger of phoniness, aesthetic or otherwise, cannot hold a candle to the
truly catastrophic foreign policy Giuliani would likely pursue if he got anywhere near the Oval Office," Marshall wrote.

The Giuliani hate fest has also infiltrated the airwaves, where Keith Olbermann has made bashing Rudy a daily feature on his show. On Monday, an Olbermann segment entitled, "Rudy Giuliani -- The next Dick Cheney?" was about Giuliani's penchant for "secrecy" and "proclivity for executive power..."

This was followed up on Tuesday with a segment that began with a graphic featuring Giuliani, Bush in the background, and the words "Bush on Steroids" -- a reference to John Edwards's comment that Giuliani shares Bush's love of "crony capitalism."

The segment revealed, just as with Bush, the media has no problem broadcasting factual errors when targeting Giuliani. Olbermann misquoted Giuliani as saying that Democrats wanted to invite Osama bin Laden to the White House. In actuality, Giuliani didn't say Osama, he said Assad, as in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one of the leaders whom Barack Obama did in fact say he would be willing to meet with in Washington with no preconditions within the first year of his administration. Making the incident even more absurd, Olbermann ran the video clip of Giuliani's remarks on his show, and it was clear that Giuliani said Assad. How clear? The transcript appearing on the official MSNBC website for Olbermann's show had Giuliani saying Assad in the video clip.

Nevertheless, Olbermann asked his guest Arianna Huffington to comment on whether the former mayor was being hyperbolic or lying.

"Well, he's lying and also every day he reveals more and more of himself," Huffington said. "And you can see that he really has the soul of a thug and the disposition of a tyrant."

Huffington repeated the false Giuliani-Osama quote, and later in the interview, she added: "He's kind of channeling Rush Limbaugh. He's making the lunatic fringe mainstream."

And Olbermann wondered, "Has it reached a level yet where we should be considering examining whether or not this is compulsive lying that there is something endemic to [Giuliani]? Or this specific purpose driven lies?"

One might ask the same about Olbermann. Even though the AP issued a correction to its story that misquoted Giuliani following a report on AmSpecBlog, as of this writing, Olbermann has not corrected his erroneous segment. His spokeswoman did not return three calls or an email sent from TAS asking whether the news channel planned to correct the error, and if not, to explain its corrections policy.

The irony, of course, is that the more vocal, vicious, and unfounded liberal attacks on Giuliani become, the easier it is for him to make his case to conservative primary voters that they agree on a lot more than they
disagree. Giuliani has often cited his liberal foes to burnish his own conservative credentials.

"I find it difficult understanding those who try to make me out as an activist for liberal causes," Giuliani said at his recent speech to the Family Research Council's Value Voters' Summit. "If you think that, just read any New York Times editorial while I was mayor of New York City."

For a long time, Giuliani's liberal adversaries from New York were convinced that there was no way that Giuliani could win the Republican nomination, but as it has become a more realistic possibility, their
worries have grown.

"It's totally unbelievable," Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), lamented in the New York Observer of Giuliani's resilience in the presidential race. "I refuse to believe that this could possibly happen to our country. I have too much confidence in our country to believe that this could really happen."

With enemies like Rangel, does Giuliani need friends?

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About the Author

Philip Klein is The American Spectator's Washington correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/Philipaklein