A presidential appearance these days has all the markings of a nice church wedding. Guests are expected to be in place well beforehand -- indeed if they don't arrive by a cutoff time they don't get in -- after which they sit quietly and chat, creating a quiet din that suddenly goes silent in premature anticipation that he's about to show. After a few such rounds, an officiant does finally appear at the podium, and without further adieu he introduces the President of the United States as the audience stands in welcome. It's the next best thing to watching a bride walk down the aisle. Easier on the neck, too.
The Spectacle Blog
I lived in NYC for much of Rudy's mayoral tenure. He had a dramatic impact on the city and deserves enormous credit for that.
He would, however, be a disaster as leader of the free world. I cannot even believe that this is a subject of serious conversation. (Paul, Philip ... with all due respect ...)
I remind all of my column last year, "Giuliani Time," here. Key grafs:
In 30-plus years, the religious right as a political movement has grown very sophisticated and practical about what it wants and what it can get at any given time. In the legislative arena, for example, pro-life politicos have picked careful battles, on partial birth abortion and parental notification. Meanwhile, elect more and more Republicans. The judiciary has the muscle on all the social issues, and has had ever since Roe.
Here, the great karmic wheel of politics has turned almost enough to excuse Giuliani social liberalism. After all, what can a President do to affect abortion politics? Most important, appoint judges. By the end of George W. Bush's term, he will have appointed two, perhaps three, justices to the Supreme Court. Would Giuliani appoint a Ruth Bader Ginsburg, either to SCOTUS or a lower court? Given the ex-mayor's bent toward free-market reform and stout crime enforcement, no. A judge conservative on economic and criminal justice matters is likely to take a conservative view of social issues, too.
I'm also skeptical about Giuliani. How will he fare in the withering glare of a presidential campaign? Three quick thoughts:
1. His judgment in personnel matters is way off at times.
2. He has a tendency to shoot from the hip. How will he react when he gets attacked by social conservatives for the first time? My guess he will be even less gracious than McCain was.
3. In some ways, he isn't a social liberal. He's a social radical. Is it too much to ask that he support a ban on partial birth abortion?
Dave: Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me that puts me closer to Philip Klein’s take on Giuliani. While the obstacles are significant, I also believe that the historical moment offers him a serious opportunity to break through. It’s too early to say how large a role the social issues you mention will play; especially if the dreaded other shoe drops, and we experience another attack in the U.S., all bets are off. Meanwhile, Giuliani needs to make some headway reaching out to social conservatives justifiably skeptical about his stand on the social issues. He should talk about how many lives were saved in New York City by his crime policies, not to mention how many were turned around by his sweeping (and ahead of the curve) welfare reform.
The New York Times reporting on the uproar over its bank records story:
The executive editor of The Times, Bill Keller, said in an e-mail statement on Monday evening that the decision to publish had been "a hard call." But Mr. Keller noted that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration has "embarked on a number of broad, secret programs aimed at combating terrorism, often without seeking new legal authority or submitting to the usual oversight."
He added, "I think it would be arrogant for us to pre-empt the work of Congress and the courts by deciding these programs are perfectly legal and abuse-proof, based entirely on the word of the government."
Or... it might be arrogant to pre-empt their work by undermining those actually responsible for overseeing such programs and protect secrets in the interest of national security. The American people chose leaders they trust to do these jobs, Mr. Keller. You are not one of them.
In spite of Philip Klein's excellent portrayal of Rudy Giuliani as presidential, it won't happen. Giuliani made a fine leader in a time of crisis, but Americans will not vote solely on terrorism. Abortion and gay marriage will still figure largely into ballot decisions. And those social issues will appear to social conservatives as part of the same cloth as Giuliani's sordid personal life (remember a judge barring Judith Nathan from the Gracie Mansion?). Giuliani has a lot going for him, but he is still a non-starter.
And another thing (10:30 a.m.): Readers are pointing out another problem for Giuliani: his Second Amendment record.