Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Giuliani ahead of McCain a.k.a Giuliani Watch - 1

My big concern for sometime has been with John McCain as the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. But I noticed two items recently that point out that there is another contender to watch out for -- Rudy "America's Mayor" Giuliani.

Josh Marshall reported yesterday that:
the message today is that John McCain is now officially no longer the frontrunner for the 2008 GOP nomination. At least in MorrisWorld, though I think I'd agree. Anyway, a few snippets.
Until now, the status of front-runner in the Republican primaries for president was jointly held by Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. McCain is clearly no longer the front-runner. In the last week or so, Giuliani has moved out to a clear lead.

* McCain's latest fund-raising report, for the fourth quarter of 2006, was pathethic: He raised only $1.7 million and has only pocket change - $472,454 - on hand.

* A Fox News poll of Jan. 30-31 shows the former mayor jumping out to a significant lead among Republicans - 34 to 22 percent.

* A Gallup poll taken Jan. 25-28 shows Giuliani is better liked by Republicans than McCain -74 to 21 percent and more trusted to handle a crisis (68-20). Some 60 percent say Giuliani "better understands the problems of the average person," against 33 percent who pick McCain. By 58-34, America's Mayor is seen as the stronger leader.

Conversations with conservative activists also show a remarkable openness to supporting Giuliani - a belief that he can overcome (perhaps finesse) his pro-choice, pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights and pro-immigration positions. Feelings seem bitterer over McCain's role in Washington battles - his opposition to the Bush tax cuts and his support for "amnesty" for illegal immigrants and for campaign-finance reform.

I think even some DC folks are clueing in to the reality that Republican just don't really like John McCain. But this why these are fun days not to be a Republican. Let's run that sentence again: "Conversations with conservative activists also show a remarkable openness to supporting Giuliani - a belief that he can overcome (perhaps finesse) his pro-choice, pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights and pro-immigration positions."

Let's be frank. On most or all of these issues, Giuliani is to the left of a good number of Democrats outside the northeast and the west coast.

Basically, for social conservatives, Giuliani is way on the wrong side of every signature, litmus issue. But there's a "remarkable openness." How about remarkably desperate? They just don't have anybody in this race at the moment that's catching any kind of fire in the nomination process and has any chance in a general.

But Glenn Greenwald says today that Rudy's no slouch and we'd better watch out.
Rudy Giuliani is, I think, by the far the smartest and most politically talented candidate in the Republican field, a fact to which most residents of New York during his mayoralty - including those who dislike him -- would likely attest. In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, he won two elections, including a landslide for his second term. And he does have in his past many incidents which will uniquely appeal to Christian conservatives, such as the war he waged periodically on works of art and other cultural expressions which offended his religious sensibilities.

As this excellent and comprehensive article documents, Giuliani is an "authoritarian narcissist" -- plagued by an unrestrained prosecutor's mentality -- who loves coercive government power (especially when vested in his hands) and hates dissent above all else. He would make George Bush look like an ardent lover of constitutional liberties. He is probably the absolute worst and most dangerous successor to George Bush under the circumstances, but his political talents and prospects for winning are being severely underestimated.
Digby is on the same page too:
I would not have thought a Giuliani candidacy possible just a few months ago, but I learned something very important about the Christian right in the last election and so should we all. Their leadership is completely unprincipled:

[...]

If Dobson and his brethren decide it is in their best interests to back Rudy or McCain, they will do so. Expect a lot of posturing and pandering --- these are political animals and they play the game very well. But at the end of the day this decision has nothing to do with whether the Christian conservative base will flee the party or stay home. They can rationalize anything.

Rudy is a formidable candidate who will have to get past Dobson and McCain and pay homage to southern values in a way that southern conservatives understand that he's acknowledging their awesome power. (Look for some very thinly veiled racial appeals from Rudy --- he's got cred in that department.) But his manly-man authoritarian personality and image is where he makes them all swoon and he may very well finesse his former "liberal" positions.

[...]

I agree with this. All that "unitary executive" power in the hands of a wingnut prosecutor with little respect for the bill of rights is a truly dangerous propect and we should do everything we can to make sure Mr. 9/11 doesn't get any traction. It is a very bad idea to count on the religious right to foreclose his (or any other) candidacy for us. They will vote for Michael Moore if he's the Republican in the race --- it's a tribal choice, not a religious one. They are smart enough to force these men to publicly bow down and adjust their attitudes and platforms, but they're also smart enough to know that it's all kabuki.

The political motivation for the Christian Right is first and foremost to vote against dirty hippies and if it takes holding their nose and voting for Giuliani they'll do it --- especially if he promises to "get tough on criminals and terrorists" and restore "law and order."

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