The Republican establishment has failed to rally around a candidate in this election. Sam Brownback has endorsed John McCain. Bob Jones III is behind Mitt Romney. The biggest surprise of all came when Pat Robertson announced his support for Rudy Giuliani. Some conservatives were surprised by this, in no small part because they think Giuliani’s nomination would mean a different Republican party.
However, I am convinced that most Republicans will have no problem with him if they really examine his stands on the issues. Anyone happy with George Bush and Ronald Reagan will be happy with Rudy Giuliani.
The issue most preoccupying Republican voters right now is the War on Terrorism. Giuliani’s rhetoric gives us every reason to believe he’ll be just as tough as any of them want. He is on record saying that terrorists “follow a violent ideology: radical Islamic fascism, which uses the mask of religion to further totalitarian goals and aims to destroy the existing international system … The purpose of this fight must be to defeat the terrorists and the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Like diehard neocons, Giuliani is convinced that Iraq is the critical front in the war on terrorism. Although he initially equivocated on the surge — like most other Republican contenders — he has long since backed it. On the stump he goes out of his way to remind us that he will do anything to win it.
To win the war on terrorism, Giuliani will use everything in the Bush toolbox, if not more. He has pointedly refused to rule out using water boarding, and other interrogation techniques widely regarded as torture. When asked about sleep deprivation he demurred, saying that, “They talk about sleep deprivation. I mean, on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s plain silly.”
Similarly any Republican who liked Reagan’s economic policy will be pleased with Giuliani’s. As Mayor of New York, Giuliani cut a plethora of taxes; by the time he left he could take credit for cutting income taxes, sales taxes, and commercial rent taxes among others. All told, the city cut taxes by at least $5.8 billion — or $9 billion if you buy Giuliani’s numbers. Either way, his tax cuts were significant.
Furthermore, Giuliani has endorsed the Bush tax cuts and says they should be extended. He favors helping Americans with rising healthcare not with expanded government influence, but with a major tax deduction of up to $15,000.
The issues which tend to worry social conservatives are abortion and gay marriage. Here Giuliani does differ with the ideology of the religious right. He’s pro gay rights — he even crashed with some gay friends after a messy divorce. He’s also pro-choice. On Meet the Press in 1993, he told moderator Tim Russert that he planned to lobby the national Republican Party to change its stand on abortion.
But the Giuliani of today has promised to appoint “strict constructionists” to the bench — essentially a wink to the right wing of his party that he’ll appoint pro-life judges. Granted, Giuliani’s pitch that “if you don’t like my position on abortion, you’ll like the judges I appoint,” borders on the ridiculous.
But at worst, the judges Giuliani appoints will not overturn Roe vs. Wade and his overall effect on abortion will be the same as that of George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan: nothing. But if Giuliani does succeed in putting another conservative Justice on the court, then the country will be faced with the truly ironic situation of a pro-choice politician accomplishing the most important goal of the pro-life movement.
Critics have tried to paint Giuliani as a moral relativist who doesn’t share the conservative movement’s values. Try convincing the porn dealers he drove out of Times Square of that. Or the criminals he methodically rooted out during his tenure in New York. When combined with his zeal for the war on radical Islam, it is clear that he shares the good vs. evil view which is an overarching theme in today’s conservatism.
In the next months as the primary contest draw nearer, certain elements in the Republican Party will search frantically for an alternative to Giuliani, convinced that he will irrevocably change the party. If Giuliani is indeed nominated and then elected, he will do no such thing.