Monday, September 10, 2007

Check out: Giuliani's strange trip...

The New York Times had a huge profile of former hometown Mayor Rudy Giuliani this week. Entitled "America's Mayor Goes to America" (the implication being this was his first real visit...), an extreme close up of Giuliani graced the cover with the headline: Crusader.

Again the article is massive, but it's very good, although much of it rehashed points that we already know-- it begins with 6 of the obstacles keeping Giuliani from being an ideal conservative candidate. The article's author, Matt Bai, also provides insight on Mr. Mayor's retail skills, that is his ability to connect face to face with voters, and articulate his message.

Apparently, he isn't very good at it. Even questions like whether or not he believes in God somehow come back to the resurgence of Time Square, and how there are a lot of "functioning theaters" there. Giuliani is definitely more of a wholesale politician in the model of Ronald Reagan, whom, incidentally, the mayor mentions about once every 2.4 seconds campaigning through Iowa.

For all his faults, Rudy's campaign, like his lead in the polls, has remained steady. Bai notes that the support he attracts seems to have two main roots: 1- Conservatives "desperation" to avoid another Clinton presidency, and Giuliani's appeal in swing states; 2- The Mayor's tough talk on terrorism and his rhetoric about the War on Terror overall.

On this latter point, Bai makes an interesting assessment about the difference in the way the two parties have generally come to see the terrorist threat. He does it much more eloquently and fairly than I could hope to, so you should read it yourself.

Bai also introduces us to Norman Podhoretz, who, along with a handful of other advisors, seems to be the hawk conscience of Giuliani foreign policy. Podhoretz speaks to Giuliani everyday from his home in the Hamptons, and claims the Mayor is in lock-step with his view of World War IV (for those of you scoring at home, Podhoretz refers to the Cold War as WWIII, so- good news- turns out we're actually 3-0 in World Wars).

In the end, Giuliani, like the rest of the Republican field, is very much tied to the War in Iraq. However, he is betting that the War hasn't fallen out of favor because Americans don't believe in its goal, but rather because Americans don't see a chance of success. To Giuliani, it's 1992 all over again, except this time he's being elected to clean up the streets of Baghdad instead of Brooklyn.

Critics like to poke holes in Giuliani's record, but so far he seems to exude competence. On the stump, Bai reports that Giuliani offers reasonable NYC- style solutions for national problems: Border security would be monitored by Border-stat, a computer system similar to the crime stopping Comp-stat employed by Giuliani's NYPD in the 90s. "'I could have [the boarder sealed] in 18 months to three years,' — as if he were making a reasonable bid to remodel your basement."

For Republicans, that perception of efficiency and capacity is a welcome change, and could explain why his support remains high. All in all, it seems America's Mayor is getting comfortable in America's heartland.

1 comment:

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