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Rudy Giuliani
Thursday, 2007 December 13 - 9:14 am
Continuing my series on presidential candidates, here's my look at Rudy Giuliani. Rudy is kind of a square peg in the round hole that is the Republican Party.

He began his political life as a Democrat. He became an independent during the Ford administration, perhaps in order to help secure his position in the Justice Department. And he became a Republican during the Reagan administration... again, some have accused him of switching parties merely because of career aspirations, not convictions. For his part, he says he came to view the Democratic party as "naïve".

Rudy built his career as a U.S. Attorney before running for mayor of New York in 1989. He lost that election to David Dinkins, but eventually won in 1993. He served as mayor until 2001, and most notably, was mayor during the attacks on September 11th. Those attacks have since defined his political career; he refers to 9/11 so often that some have taken to spelling his name "9iu11iani".

In 2004, he made a notable speech at the Republican presidential convention in support of George W. Bush. That speech was well-received by Republicans, and may have helped jump-start his presidential aspirations.

Rudy is far from being a "typical" Republican. He's a New York lawyer; that fact alone probably raises doubts among millions of rural conservatives. He's long been a supporter of gay rights, abortion rights, and gun control. His personal morality has come into question, especially the fact that he is twice-divorced, and that he was having extra-marital affairs during his second marriage. The religious wing of the Republican party blanches at the thought of having to choose between Rudy Giuliani and, say, Hillary Clinton; of the two, it's Hillary who seems to have led a more puritan life.

His appeal among liberal Democrats, however, is not great either. He invokes 9/11 even more than George W. Bush, and that suggests that the tenor of his presidency might be hawkish. His diplomatic skills are questionable; Democrats worry that the get-tough attitude he honed as a prosecutor will spill over into a combative stance against other countries.

The core of his support, then, comes from a particular branch of moderates and independents. They tend to be flag-waving patriots, staunchly anti-crime and anti-terrorist; they are probably fiscally conservative, but are not overly concerned with social issues. It's a faction that's enough to win elections in the urban northeast; it's questionable whether that translates into support from the rural South.

As for my personal opinion: I think Giuliani would rival George W. Bush for the title of "Worst President Ever". It's hard to imagine how he would repair U.S. relations with the rest of the world, or how he would have the necessary political skills to weave consensus across party lines in Congress. His use of simplistic stock phrases, and his particular over-emphasis on 9/11, reminds me waaay too much of Bush. But there's a part of me that wants to see him win the Republican primary, because that brings the possibility that he'll get "Nader-ed" by a third-party conservative candidate.

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Posted by Ken in: politics

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