Ramesh Ponnuru makes a good point in response to Ryan Sager’s article on Giuliani and social conservatives:
I think that there is very, very little evidence either that “extreme elements of the religious right” are responsible for the Republican party’s difficulties or that the party, to any great extent, buys this analysis. I also think that to sell Giuliani as a way of weakening the social Right’s influence in the party is to do the candidate no favors.
I largely agree. It’s difficult to make the argument that the Republican Party is in bad shape because of extreme social conservatism. The reality is that problems in Iraq and Congressional scandals are responsible for the Republican defeat in 2006. Also, if the Giuliani campaign is pitched as a kind of effort to purge social conservatives from the party, then he’ll go down in flames. That’s why Giuliani has not been pitching himself this way. At no point has he argued that the Republican Party needs to become pro-choice and/or abandon social conservatism to win. He acknowledges that there are areas of disagreement, but wants the discussion to focus on the issues on which there is broad agreement. Essentially, he has been calling for a cease fire on social issues so that Republicans can unite along the common goals of steadfastness in the War on Terror and fiscal conservatism. He’s saying: I’ll appoint judges that you’ll approve of and let the social issues play themselves out in the states–let’s join together to beat the bad guys. This, in my view, is leadership.