Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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I won't have Rudy Giuliani to kick around anymore

I know I've picked on Rudy Giuliani during his presidential campaign, and it seems a bit cruel to dogpile on him after he finished a distant third in his make-or-break state.

That said, after reading Michael Powell and Michael Cooper's dissection of the Giuliani campaign in the New York Times, I do have one final thought. Consider this passage:

Mr. Giuliani’s campaign was stumbling, even if it was not immediately evident. He leaned on friendly executives who would let him speak to employees in company cafeterias. Mr. Romney and Mr. McCain, by contrast, compiled lists of undecided Republican voters and invited them — sometimes weeks in advance — to town-hall-style meetings.

“Rudy Giuliani had a tremendous opportunity in New Hampshire that his campaign never embraced,” said Fergus Cullen, the state Republican chairman. “They vacillated between being half committed and three-quarters committed, and that doesn’t work up here.”

Mr. Giuliani also relied on a New York-style approach to photo-friendly crowds. “Rudy went very heavy on Potemkin Village stops, working what I call ‘hostage audiences,’ “ Mr. Cullen said. “It looked like he was campaigning, but he didn’t know who he was talking to.”....

In the end, Mr. Giuliani and his advisers treated supporters as if they were so many serried lines of troops. If they tell a pollster in November that they are going to vote for you, this indicates they are forever in your camp, their thinking went.

But politics does not march to a military beat; it is a business of shifting loyalties. By Tuesday night, even those voters who rated terrorism as the most important issue were as likely to vote for Mr. Romney or Mr. McCain as for Mr. Giuliani.

From the way he organized his campaign, it seems like Giuliani would have been a complete failure at any kind of governance that would have required, you know, politics or legislation or wonky stuff like that.

posted by Dan on 01.30.08 at 08:40 AM


Wow, you picked on Rudy. That's sarcasm in case you didn’t notice. Echoing Andrew Sullivan's thoughts and attributing them to your blog is both disingenuous and stupid. You claim to be a social liberal but a foreign policy conservative yet when someone with similar views actually runs, you turn on him. Much like Sullivan you prefer liberal Democrats like Obama and are just not honest about your political persuasion.

posted by: Anon on 01.30.08 at 08:40 AM [permalink]

Which candidate was a CEO, a governor, came from outside Washington and ran against it to get things done? Romney? No Bush. Hard to keep these distinct sometimes.

posted by: Lord on 01.30.08 at 08:40 AM [permalink]

But . . . but . . . he's good at looking really serious and saying bad things about terrorists.

That's leadership, in case you didn't know.

posted by: Al on 01.30.08 at 08:40 AM [permalink]

The only way a Republican ever gets elected Mayor of New York City is if voters are convinced that the Democrats are hopelessly screwed up. A Republican's success in that environment does not lay much of a foundation for success in elections with mostly Republican voters.

Giuliani could be antagonistic personally while showing a liberal face on social issues because most New Yorkers thought the city was in pretty bad shape when he took over and blamed the Democrats -- though they didn't actually disagree with the Democrats on a lot of issues. Giuliani did a good enough job in the eyes of that constituency to get reelected. But, again, a big part of his success was voters' feeling that the Democrats would just foul things up again if they were let back into the Mayor's office.

A Presidential race is different. In place of an electorate of people made desperate by Democratic failures, Giuliani had Republican voters divided between admirers of George Bush and people who thought his time was over. He could campaign against liberals, but in GOP Presidential politics everyone campaigns against liberals. In New York City a guy can get by even if he is widely disliked (let's face it, a lot of New York City politicians are widely disliked). In Iowa and New Hampshire, not so much. And there are good reasons why no big-city mayor has ever been elected President.

The bottom line is that Giuliani was never a viable Republican Presidential candidate. He could have run a better campaign, and gotten more votes than he did. But in any other year, without the very exceptional situation created by an unpopular Republican President leaving the scene without a designated successor, all the people who talked Giuliani into running would have urged him not to. And they would have been right.

posted by: Zathras on 01.30.08 at 08:40 AM [permalink]

I believe America defeated the most terrible threat to its security - Giuliani.

At least in the foreign policy realm, he could only offer nightmares and terror. America did not need a fanatical like he is.

posted by: agilli on 01.30.08 at 08:40 AM [permalink]

There is a tendency, especially among reporters but also among the chattering classes more generally, to believe that presidential campaigning tests the skills that will make a good president. Despite Mr. Drezner's claim here, there isn't really much evidence for this proposition. In similar contexts, where controlled (sort of) experiments are possible, similar analyses have been proven pretty much unfounded, e.g., job interviews are almost wholly ineffective in predicting job performance or identifying good job performers.

posted by: y81 on 01.30.08 at 08:40 AM [permalink]

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