Friday, May 19, 2006


Rudy and Ralph Reed

Lizzy Ratner of The Politicker blog is sending readers over to a remarkable Associated Press story which describes Rudy Giuliani's appearance at a fundraiser for Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition who's running for lieutenant governor in Georgia. Here's what pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay rights Rudy had to say about Reed and the GOP:
"You can count me as a friend and supporter, someone who will do anything I can to get you elected."

"We've got to lift our heads up, take a look at everything around us, and realize this country's in pretty good shape," he said. "We shouldn't be going to the American people with our heads down. We should be going with our heads up. Our policies work." (Emphasis added.)

Now, there's going to be lots on this blog about Rudy -- I saw him up close for years in New York's City Hall, and am fairly familiar with his, shall we say, eccentricities -- but for now, let me make two quick points. The first is that Rudy, should he seek the Presidency, may run a campaign of optimism, one familiar to the "morning in America" campaign of Ronald Reagan in 1980 that capitalized on the demoralized electorate of the late 1970s. Recall that at the time there was widespread angst over American foreign policy abroad and morale in GOP ranks was low because of Watergate. We're in a similar place today, between Iraq and all the corruption scandals, and I predict that by 2008 Republicans are just going to be sick and tired of feeling so bad about themselves and their country all the time. They'll be just plain fed up with Dems and the media making them feel so guilty about screwing up the country and its international relationships so badly.

So Rudy's message to demoralized Republicans will essentially be, "We don't agree on everything, but if there's one thing we do agree on, it's that America and the Republican Party are great. I'm the guy who can make you feel good about country and party again." If Rudy's brand of Republicanism could clean up New York City, his message will be, Rudy's brand of Republican leadership (a word you'll be hearing a lot from him) is just the elixir to get America back on track and make the world a less confusing place again.

As for the second point, Lizzy's right to compare Rudy's dalliance with Reed to John McCain's romance with Jerry Falwell. Rudy's strategic dilemma is very similar to McCain's. Both have a reputation for independence, but the problem for both of them is that when they do what it takes to be competitive in a GOP primary -- that is, cozy up to folks they disagree with on all sorts of things -- that sense of each one's independence simply vanishes, and each suddenly morphs into just another pandering politician, into the wizard behind the curtain. When McCain panders, the press appears content to ignore it and pretend it didn't happen, and it remains to be seen whether Rudy will be granted the same treatment. Indeed, the big question, should Rudy run, is whether memories of his performance in the aftermath of Sept. 11 -- which does appear to be indelibly fixed in America's collective consciousness, though it bears mentioning that by 2008 the disaster will have happened seven years earlier -- will enable him to ride out his basic strategic problem. I don't know the answer to that, but I guess we'll soon find out.

I think Rudy has a bigger problem than his reputation for independence in his dalliance with Ralph Reed, and that is that Reed stands a fair chance of going to prison before the '08 primaries, given his involvement with Abramoff.
very good point, lex. especially problematic for a guy who touted bernard kerik for homeland security chief.
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