THE RUDY GOP SHIFTS TO THE CENTER
By Alan Nathan
Frontpagemagazine.com | April 9, 2007
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani often enjoys poll scores above all presidential rivals from both sides of the political aisle. For many, he inarguably projects the kind of appeal that says to voters, “You matter more than a party’s agenda.”
However, that likely centrist advantage in the general election can be kryptonite in the primaries because centrism has so often been antithetical to the ideologues selecting each party’s nominee. But things are changing and Giuliani’s tough stances in defense of moderate positions are continuously embraced by the respondents of all surveys. Republicans have begun demonstrating more acceptance of moderates than have the Democrats, and this is a dramatic shift.
While having parity with the loons of the Right in the 90’s, those on the Left have since morphed into greater episodes of unhinged behavior. Yes, the right-wingers have Ann Coulter. However, the leftovers have Rosie O’Donnell, and she has grown to equal six snapping Coulters.
Let us be candid in the way we measure their respective fringe-like behavior. Coulter wrongfully resorts to name-calling while O’Donnell likens Iran’s taking of 15 British sailor and marine hostages to a cabal arranged by the United States government. Apparently the Baker-Hamilton Commission was right all along when recommending diplomacy with Iraq’s surrounding hostile regimes possessing a vested interest in our demise. We need only talk with the Iranians and look how quickly they’ll kidnap on our behalf! By Rosie’s measure however, we’ll now appear to have lost our influence because President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad let them go – U.S. cabal neutralized.
Back in our own galaxy, hard right elephants are uncomfortable with Giuliani’s progressiveness despite respecting his globally witnessed 9/11 heroism – but they’re not as disquieted as the liberals would prefer. Hard-Left donkeys are paranoid that if he does win the primaries, his centrism will then be unleashed upon its most target-rich audience, the general election voters.
This is reminiscent of Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, who lost the state’s Democratic primary in ’06 only to win the statewide election thereafter as an independent. The militants rejected him while mainstreamers decisively returned him to power.
Why are the rigid partisans on both sides so frightened? Because even the wing-nuts have learned over the years that a preponderance of polling data illustrates that most Americans are socially moderate and fiscally conservative while being strong on national defense.
A more strangling frustration however will tighten around the Democrats because while the hierarchies of both camps are unnerved by centrists, a Giuliani victory would become a Bill Clinton moment for the GOP. Just as Bill extricated control of the Democratic Party from the far-Left, Rudy would take from the far-Right that similar influence. Republicans could accomplish in ‘08 the broader appeal once enjoyed by Democrats in the 90’s. This of course was before they succumbed to the authoritarian collectivism of MoveOn.org and the decidedly Stalinist mentality of International ANSWER (Act Now To Stop War and End Racism). Frequently ANSWER has been the main sponsor of anti-war rallies – including the most recent one held in Washington, D.C. They condoned the Tiananmen Square massacre, and unabashedly support the government of North Korea.
Giuliani will nonetheless encounter battles with his own party’s traditional ranks, but it’s a healthy and necessary process. Social conservatives will never come around to his perspective on gay rights and abortion, but will continue admiring his law enforcement prowess, contempt for a legislative judiciary, and zealous advocacy for free trade. He’s also the only candidate who has spoken extensively on the dangers of crossing the separation of powers between the branches, and how Constitutional law outranks legislative law each and every time - regardless of whether or not it’s liked by Congress, the Supreme Court, or the Executive Branch.
Yet these are cautionary challenges juxtaposed to the well-grounded nervousness felt by Democrats over Giuliani’s prowess. In a column entitled, “Democrats Should Go After Giuliani – NOW,” popular left-wing syndicated columnist Roland Martin recommends going after the pre- 9/11 Rudy:
He was accused of being grossly insensitive to the family of a black man shot numerous times by the police and his rudeness was the talk of City Hall. (Creators Syndicate, February 16, 2007.)
However, Martin later admits in that column:
There is no candidate that strikes fear in the hearts of Democrats more than Giuliani. He has mass appeal, can raise money, has a huge name I.D. and is strong on defense. He talks tough and walks even tougher.
A month later, a quasi-progressive magazine published an opinion piece by Robert Polner entitled, “What an anti-Giuliani add should say,” wherein he supports the need to emphasize the benefits of disparaging the Mayor’s 9/11 credentials just as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did in the 2004 election against Senator John Kerry’s military service. He argues that the Democrats should use the International Association of Fire Fighters’ drafted letter of rebuke:
It blasted Giuliani for his "disgraceful" order of November 2001 that forced hundreds of New York firefighters to stop searching ground zero for the remains of their fallen brethren. (Salon Magazine, March 17, 2007)
Somehow, this scheduling dispute pales when compared to Kerry’s own comments before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971. The veteran-turned activist had characterized the confessed atrocities of a minority of soldiers as if the majority were equally culpable:
They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. (Government transcript of John Kerry’s testimony, April 22, 1971, courtesy of C-SPAN)
Contrary to those who suspect otherwise, it’s actually his pre-9/11 days that reflect a treasure trove of accomplishments. During his tenure, crime dropped, employment rose, the economy strengthened, drug-use plummeted and Time Square stopped being the toilet everyone wanted to flush.
America’s Mayor accomplished what 40 years worth of predecessors could not – he returned my city to a forgotten glory by way of a newfound pride.
Alan Nathan, combative centrist, columnist, speaker and the nationally syndicated host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on the Radio America Network.