Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Rudy Giulinai: the American Phillip Ruddock?

Australians will remember the transformation of Phillip Ruddock from Liberal 'wet' to the hero of the Tampa, perhaps Giulani is similar. Giuliani 's entry into the race poses challenges for the left. Up to now their focus has been McCain, with ears pricked for any hint of bipartisanship they complain about the sympathetic coverage he has attracted at times from more centrist liberals. However in the polls (limited in meaning as they are this early out) Giuliani and McCain are the Republicans with the best prospect of victory, see the graphs here. If 2008 is a simple Democratic vs. Republican contest the Democrats win, they lose if it becomes a liberal vs. conservative contest (which seems unlikely) or if the Republican candidate has a special non-partisanship appeal than the Republicans can win. Giuliani has to market himself as an election-winner. Glenn Greenwald argues that many Republicans conservatives are more concerned with foreign policy and an anti-Muslim crusade than personal moral standards and:
Giuliani's talent for expressing prosecutor-like righteous anger towards "bad people" -- as well as his well-honed ability to communicate base-pleasing rhetoric towards Islamic extremists -- are underappreciated. I don't think any candidate will be able to compete with his ability to convey a genuine hard-line against Middle Eastern Muslims ...there are few things that are clearer than the fact that Christian conservatives care far less about a person's actual conduct and behavior (and specifically whether it comports to claimed Christian morality standards) than they do about the person's moral and political rhetoric, and even more so, a person's ability to secure political power....there are, of course, some Christian Republican voters who will not vote for Giuliani exclusively because of his position on social issues. But the influence of those type of voters -- single-minded social issues voters -- is often overstated. There is a reason he is leading in most Republican public opinion polls. A significant part of the Republican "base" cares more, perhaps far more, about hawkish Middle East policies than about gay marriage and abortion. They are still looking for their Churchillian hero, and Giuliani's crime-busting, 9/11-hero-posturing, prosecutorial toughness (staring down mafia leaders, terrorists and Wall St. criminals) makes him the most credible authoritarian Leader figure in the field. There is often a view of the "evangelical Republican" voter that is more monolithic than is warranted; they crave "strong" authoritarian leaders as much as they crave anything else.
It is true that 'official' spokespeople for the Chritistian right, such as the Family Research Council, don't like Giuliani. But for many conservatives it is their dislike of 'liberals' not even liberalism that is central. A writer in the ultra-conservative Human Events suggests that:

A liberal on key social issues may not have been able to win in previous years. But this may just be the right year for such a candidate to win, provided that candidate has sufficiently strong conservative credentials in other critical areas. First, the role of Republican primary voters who vote primarily on social issues is somewhat overstated. .. According to a 2006 Pew poll, white evangelicals make up about a third of the overall Republican electorate. In 2000 they only made up 20% of the vote in the critical New Hampshire primary, where a majority of voters thought abortion should be legal (although Independents can vote in this primary). In fact, an exit poll question from Pew in 2004 revealed that only 3% of voters named abortion as their top voting issue, 2% named religiosity, and 2% named gay marriage. Nine percent cited the more amorphous "moral values." In the same poll, 27% cited Iraq, 14% cited the economy, 9% cited terrorism, and 5% cited honesty/integrity. While the "values-first" voters are likely disproportionately represented in the Republican party, they likely are not a majority of the party. Moreover, many pro-life/pro-traditional marriage voters are more traditionalist than evangelical; these voters will find some solace in Giuliani's successful campaigns against smut peddlers and prostitution, as well as his record of decreasing actual abortions in Gotham...By the time Republicans have their first big round of primaries on February 5, Democrats may well have selected a candidate after holding elections in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Faced with an oncoming Hillary Express, will social conservatives really pull the lever for a long-shot like Sam Brownback or Mike Huckabee?
Another view of the conservative electorate, perhaps a broader constituency than the softer part of the Republican base comes from Hannah Rosin, she argues that 'values voters' are less concerned with specifics than with a narrative of redemption and that Giuliani plays well to these:
About 13 percent of the population constitutes what we think of as the hard-core Christian religious right; beyond them are a vaster number of what could be called “values voters.” Values voters are generally Republican and less rigid on the usual cultural issues—they might accept gay civil unions, for instance, or abortion under certain circumstances. They don’t shout their demands from the steps of the Supreme Court, nor do they much want them shouted. When they evaluate political leaders, they’re often looking for different, more subtle cues. They might want to know that a candidate’s faith was deepened by a personal experience, that his or her life can be summed up as a story of struggle, redemption, and growth. Or they might just tap into a candidate’s general sense of optimism and contentment—a belief, rooted in Genesis and coloring all of life, that things happen for a reason. “Creationism Lite,” you might call it—an affirmational creed that carries its own emotional and intellectual style of thinking and speaking.
This insight parallels some of the better analysis of John Howard, only a minority of voters are hard core nativists, but there is a broader group beyond this that Howard appeals to: see Goot & Watson’s analysis here.
On McCain there is a scpetical conservative portrait from the Wall Street Journal here that stresses his admiration for Teddy Roosevelt here. Teddy was an interesting figure, see Sklar's Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism on his atitude to corporate capitalism and Gerstle's American Crucible on his attitude to ethnic diversity.



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