by Scott Shields, Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:23:16 PM EST
In preparation for 2008, a great deal of mythology is going to be created for each potential candidate. But no candidate requires as much work as Rudy Giuliani. Most pressingly, he's got to prove to the Republican base that he is, in fact, a conservative. While he's certainly got the bad attitude and near-authoritarianism down pat, there are whole raft of other issues he and the Falwell crowd may not exactly see eye to eye on.
At The Fix, Chris Cillizza makes "The Case Against Rudy Giuliani," point out that he's got too much socially-liberal baggage -- pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control, etc. -- to win a Republican primary. This is something quite a few of us have been saying for a long time. But Paul Waldman of The Gadflyer takes exception to the back story Cillizza creates for Giuliani to explain these positions. I'd have to agree with Waldman -- it's pretty lame.
But being elected mayor in the Big Apple required Giuliani to adopt views on social issues -- he's pro-abortion rights, pro-gay marriage and pro-gun control -- to make himself an acceptable to his hometown's liberal-minded voters.
"...required Giuliani to adopt views"? What exactly does it mean when you "adopt" a view? Well, you take a view that's not your own, and make it your own.
Here's an idea: maybe Giuliani actually believes what he says he believes....
Now, Waldman and I come at this from slightly different perspectives. I don't think this is a case of Cillizza being cynical in assuming Giuliani "adopted" those views for political convenience. I think that's actually what Cillizza believes. After all, that's the mythology Giuliani's trying to build for himself.
Back in January, TIME documented Giuliani's efforts down South to suck up to figures on the religious right, like Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed. Last fall, Giuliani campaigned the fringe right candidate Charlie Winburn in the Cincinnati mayoral primary. After having vigorously described himself as pro-choice and pro-gay rights, that's a pretty wide swing.
Clearly, Cillizza's right that Giuliani's "adopted" some of his principles out of political expedience. Like Waldman though, it seems more likely to me the that it's the new Rudy Giuliani that's the front, not the old one. However, the most important point remains unchanged -- Rudy Giuliani has no trouble selling out his principles to get what he wants.