Thursday, February 15, 2007

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The Republican Hillary Clinton

Is it just me, or does Rudy Giuliani seem to inspire antagonism levels on a par with Hillary Clinton? From this Kevin Drum post alone, I find Matthew Yglesias having all kinds of fun with Rudy:

One quirk of American politics is that leading presidential candidates normally go into the campaign with little if any foreign policy experience. Most, however, at least recognize this as a problem and try to study up as part of the campaign effort. Giuliani comes to us as a rare duck -- a candidate whose signature issue is national security but who doesn't know anything about national security, and therefore won't study. Result: Nonsense, combined with temperamental authoritarianism.
Then there's David Freddoso in the National Review:
If Giuliani’s stances on babies, guns, and gay marriage do not sink him in the Republican primaries, he will probably suffer in a general election campaign from the fact that there is so much evidence in the public record that he is a total jerk....

Those who lived in New York prior to 9/11, myself included, remember an excellent mayor who was obsessed with getting credit for everything and making his critics pay; an effective mayor who called rivals “jerks” and “morons;” a decisive mayor who knowingly set out to drag his 14- and 10-year-old children through one of the nastiest and most publicized divorces in history. They remember a ruthless mayor who responded to the accidental police shooting of Patrick Dorismond in 2000 not just by defending the cops (as a good mayor must), but by illegally releasing the victim’s sealed juvenile rap sheet and declaring on television that the deceased “isn’t an altar boy.”

The scorned Bratton would later tell The New York Observer, “He’s an a**hole, but a successful a**hole.” And perhaps Rudy was such a great mayor precisely because he is such a jerk. Maybe a hard, mean man was what New York City needed after decades of feel-good, politically correct thinking had made the place unlivable and nearly ungovernable. “If you tell me off, I tell you off — that’s my personality,” Rudy once said on his weekly radio show. But as successful as this approach was in New York, it’s hard for a known a**hole to win a presidential election.

Kevin concludes, "At this rate, I give him a couple of months before he implodes completely."

It seems hard to dispue any of this, but then I look at the rest of the GOP field, and I'm not sure any of it matters. Romney, McCain, the rest of the Gilligan's Island castaways.... they all have whopping flaws too.

Question to readers: is Rudy Giuliani uniquely vulnerable?

posted by Dan on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM


I don't think so. He is vulnerable, but so is Romney (flip flopping), McCain (hated by the base), Hillary (demeanor), and virtually everyone else (unknown). He does have a much greater image than all the others. We'll see if it wears off or not.

posted by: John Norris Brown on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

He's more vulnerable than most of the other contenders, but he also has more assets (national stature, accustomed to rough politics, familiar with handling media, etc) than the other contenders.

It's far to early to predict how far he'll go, but it will be interesting.

posted by: rosignol on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

I write as an ex New Yorker with lots of family still living in the city.

Rudolph Giuliani, was looking pretty down and out at the end of his tenure until his 5-Star performance after 9/11 raised his profile.

RG did have noteworthy achievements but in my eyes he has some major flaws as a manager. Here are 3:

RG hired, admired and partnered with Bernard Kerik. Then promoted him to Bush as a candidate for head of Homeland Security. - Do we need more folks of the caliber of Harriet Meiers? I hope never to hear our president say anything like "Heck of a job, Brownie."

RG botched the divorce from his 2nd wife. It was a very public mess.

RG located New York's emergency command and control center in the World Trade Center rather than a concrete bunker in an outlying region.

I would rather have Bloomberg as our next President

posted by: Anon on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

I'll add one other major Rudy weakness: wanting to extend his term of office after 9/11. It was so vainglorious. I think the charge that he truly does think of himself as the irreplaceable man will not carry well. Combined with his sometimes rapid law n'order tendencies, he can be parodied as a budding caudillo who puts himself above the law.

posted by: Gene on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

And the irony is both Clinton and Giulani are leading in the (admittedly extremely early) polls in their respective races.

posted by: Jen on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

what does it matter? according to Goldberg in LATimes the growing mantra among conservatives is that it will be 'best' for the country that a Democrat win the White House - a rationalization so strained by its delusions that it spills into psychosis. For people who pride themselves on being 'realists' Republicans sure do seem to be leaning a lot on outright fantasy these days.

posted by: cull tech on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Proven leadership and sucess is hard to find. If he wins the nomination he is center enough to win the general election. The primaries are going to depend on how many people like me are going to register Republican just to vote for him.

posted by: Bernie on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Since Jesus and Reagan are both unavailable, Rudy seems a pretty good alternative to Hillary.

posted by: Balderdash on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Yes, he is vulnerable. His strong point is 9/11 but as long as there are not more attacks on the homeland between now and the election that is unlikely to be enough to trump the negatives highlighted here. Can you imagaine a race between Rudy the divider and Obama the uniter?

posted by: pt on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

He also coddles dictators.

posted by: Randy Paul on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

It's easy to find any candidate to be horribly flawed when you aren't comparing them to anyone else.

Giuliani's shortcomings aren't well known, but like his vaunted social liberalism that's supposed to kill his candidacy, it's not going to matter a whole lot.

Democrats are trying to tear him down becuase they fear him. Simple as that.

posted by: Adam Herman on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Democrats are trying to tear him down becuase they fear him. Simple as that.

Oh please. Rudy has a habit of self-immolation. He'll tear himself down. BTW, Hillary still polls ahead of him in New York

posted by: Randy Paul on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

There are good reasons why big-city mayors haven't gotten elected President in the past. They still apply.

Most major media and a surprising percentage of all bloggers are based in or near big cities, which makes this less well understood than it will become, but big cities tend to be pretty parochial places. Their residents are apt to pride themselves on their distinctiveness and on the ways the places they live are different from the rest of the country. This is not an asset in national campaigns.

Giuliani has specific weaknesses as a Presidential candidate, of which the largest may be his strong feeling of personal entitlement. I don't see him as a candidate for the long haul.

posted by: Zathras on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Newt Gingrich: faster, please.

posted by: David Ross on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

I don't see Guiliani's problems as a candidate as worse than any of the others in the field. None of the Republican candidates seems to be the "official" party choice, the way that both Bushes and Dole were. They all have their negatives which might destroy their chances if there were an "official" candidate. But there isn't, and someone has to win. Right now, it could be Guiliani.

Obviously the field will shake out as time passes. Perhaps a candidate will emerge as the establishment choice, and another as the insurgent opposition, and all the rest will fall away into irrelevance. But at this point, I'd give Guiliani no worse odds of winning the nomination as any other candidate currently considered to be in the race. I think this makes the race rather interesting (but one wonders how long this interest can be sustained, so far in advance of the actual primaries).

posted by: RWB on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

I'm not sure that the fact that Rudy supposedly is personally a jerk will have much relevance to the campaign, because the voter never sees the private personality. Remember how we always hear that Al Gore (or Hillary Clinton) is quite loose and funny in person?

posted by: Tom T. on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Rudy does reveal his private jerk side. Look at the way he announced his divorce from Donna Hanover.

posted by: Randy Paul on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Rudy does reveal his private jerk side. Look at the way he announced his divorce from Donna Hanover.

posted by: Randy Paul on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

At the same time, I don't necessarily think that being a total jerk necessarily makes a bad executive. Clinton was a jerk; so was Nixon. Both were however, I feel, great Presidents.

posted by: Chris on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

As someone who grew up right outside New York City and currently lives in Manhattan, I have Rudy to thank for making a previously "ungovernable city" a pretty safe place to live.

Before he took over, most people in the suburbs came into Manhattan for one thing: to work. 42nd street, which is now extremely clean and family friendly was exceedingly seedy.

Don't believe me, just watch any move from the 1980's. "Coming to America" (btw a great movie if you have never seen it) was on the other day, and the dirtiness of the city was especially evident in the scenes showing the subway cars.

This notion that Rudy Giuliani was a failure prior to 9/11 borders on the absurd. He was overwhelmingly re-elected as a real Republican in one of the most overwhelmingly Democratic cities in the country.

Prior to bowing out of the Senate race with Hillary Clinton, he was actually running neck-to-neck with her and many people believe he would have won.

Notwithstanding his personal issues, he was a great mayor both prior and after 9/11. No amount of revisionist history can change that.

posted by: Ian on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

I guess it depends on which side you are on. No amount of revisionist history will take away his coddling of Baby Doc Duvalier, his piss-poor judgment in enabling the career of Bernard Kerik, his inability to share credit (see Bill Bratton), his notoriously thin skin (re: the bus advertisements), his appointment of Russell Harding as Executive Director of the NYC Housing Development Corporation, whose sole qualification was being the progeny of a political crony (Harding is now doing time for embezzling more than $400K from NYCHDC) and his horrendous personal life. I lived in Manhattan and Queens during Giuliani's terms, btw.

The idea that this man should then be given the reins of our nation is mind-boggling.

posted by: Randy Paul on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Mayor Daley has been excellent in Chicago too. I wouldn't vote for him as President either. What works for a city, doesn't work for the world.

Rudy is empty, vain and empty. He's off putting. We need a break from President Bush, not a rerun.

posted by: anonymous on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

Mayor Daley has been excellent in Chicago too. I wouldn't vote for him as President either. What works for a city, doesn't work for the world.

Rudy is empty, vain and empty. He's off putting. We need a break from President Bush, not a rerun.

posted by: anonymous on 02.15.07 at 07:52 PM [permalink]

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