Monday, March 19, 2007

McCain and Giuliani

Weekly Standard writer, Matthew Continetti, expresses bewilderment at the reception that John McCain received at CPAC. He contrasts that with the more positive reception received by Rudy Giuliani, who has a more liberal social record.

Mr. Continetti should not be surprised. Rudy Giuliani was about as conservative as a politician could be to get elected in New York City. Sure he was pro-choice (although there is some ambiguity about how much of this was political calculation) and pro-gay rights, as this was and is basically a litmus test to get elected in New York City. However, Giuliani during his tenure as New York City Mayor (as I have blogged previously) focused primarily on conservative and not liberal issues: taking on crime including squeegee men, improving education by taking on the teacher's union in some cases, and improving the business climate of New York City.

John McCain, from 2000-2004 (save for the Iraq War) focused his attention primarily on liberal issues: the environment (including opposing drilling in the arctic), a "patient bill of rights" giving trial lawyers more opportunity to sue, and campaign finance reform. He went so far on campaign finance reform to call into question the integrity of those who opposed it. He also alluded at points that he would consider a third party run for office and might have done so, if the polling pointed towards a winnable scenario. He opposed both the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts using "tax cut for the rich rhetoric" similar to Democrats. While one might argue that the tax cuts would have been more productive if they were skewed more towards the working poor, the tax cuts actually made the tax system more progressive and called into question McCain's understanding of economics. McCain, was so hostile to the Bush administration that many were surprised that McCain actually campaigned for Bush enthusiastically in 2004. Typically, people expect members of the same party to help each other.

In essence, it comes down to this: Giuliani in the bluest of blue cities was as conservative as it could be and still be electable. Conservatives know that Giuliani is willing to take on civil libertarians, racial agitators, and Democratic interest groups and earn the scorn of influential newspapers such as the New York Times because he has already done it. Giuliani is at least as conservative as his record in New York City and most likely more so.

McCain got elected in a red state and his co-Senator Jon Kyl has proven you can be a very solid conservative and get elected pretty easily. McCain has taken considerably more liberal positions than he has to because he believes in them. His bus was called the "straight talk express." Conservatives have everything reason to believe that what he said in 2000 was the real John McCain, i.e. a man who was hawkish on foreign policy but mainly populist on most other issues. Even his pro-life position does little to assuage conservatives. While ostensively pro-life his position in 2000 when asked, "what he would do if his 15-year-old daughter Meghan became pregnant and wanted an abortion" was basically a pro-choice one, that it would be his daughter's decision. While that would be in keeping with my position, that is not in keeping with a social conservative's position that abortion is a crime and should not be allowed. Therefore, it is hard to argue barring a sincere change of heart how he would be any different than Giuliani on abortion other than maybe in rhetoric.

While McCain can and still very well might win the Republican nomination, journalists should not be surprised that Giuliani currently enjoys more support than McCain.


Post a Comment

<< Home