Search results for the tag, "Rudy Giuliani"

August 23rd, 2007

What Rights Should Straight People Have That Gay People Should Not?

Rudy Giuliani in Drag













Rudy Giuliani opposes gay marriage because he “believes marriage is between a man and a woman,” as his campaign Web site states. But he supports domestic partnerships, which he believes recognize “equal rights under law for all Americans.”

What’s the difference between a “marriage” and a “partnership”? 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities, according to the Washington Post.

The next question then arises, as Marc Ambinder has put it: “What rights should straight people have that gay people shouldn’t?”

This is political dynamite, and even as Rudy declines to specify, the way he has framed the distinction implies an answer. If, as he says, he supports “equal rights,” then the only difference between “marriage” and “partnership” is semantic—a kind of “separate but equal” doctrine. Anything beyond semantics, however, logically necessitates unequal rights.

In other words, either you support equality or you support discrimination.

Rudy seems to recognize this dilemma; as a campaign spokeswoman told the Boston Globe, “It’s about rights and benefits more than the title.” Indeed, this was a point Rudy made in 2004 on the O’Reilly Factor: “So now you have a civil partnership, domestic partnership, civil union—whatever you want to call it—and that takes care of the imbalance, the discrimination, which we shouldn’t have.”

To be sure, people can reasonably disagree as to whether such sweeping change should arise democratically or juridically. But procedural issues aside, if the difference between “gay marriage” and “domestic partnership” is just words, then what’s the big deal anyway?

Addendum: Even Charles Krauthammer, who is rarely at a loss for perspicuity, can barely muster up an argument. “I think it is a mistake for society to make this ultimate declaration of indifference between gay and straight life, if only for reasons of pedagogy,” he writes.

August 23rd, 2007

Rudy’s Rhetoric


“When people overdo it about terrorism, terrorists actually win. You’re sort of like becoming agents and instruments of the terrorists.”


“They hate you!” says Rudy Giuliani in his new role as fearmonger in chief, relentlessly reminding audiences of all the nasty people out there. “They don’t want you to be in this college!” he recently warned an audience at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. “Or you, or you, or you,” he said, reportedly jabbing his finger at students. In the first Republican debate he warned, “We are facing an enemy that is planning all over this world, and it turns out planning inside our country, to come here and kill us.” On the campaign trail, Giuliani plays a man exasperated by the inability of Americans to see the danger staring them in the face. “This is reality, ma’am,” he told a startled woman at Oglethorpe. “You’ve got to clear your head.”

Conclusion (courtesy of FBI director Louis Freeh):

“If you compare [Rudy’s] remarks to what every politician and most of our citizens were saying on September 12, 2001, you would not find it noteworthy or unusual.”


  • In one 15-minute phone interview in August, Giuliani compared the terrorism threat with Nazism or communism six times (Time).
  • “If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we’re going on the defense,” he said. “We’ve got a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. We’re going to wave the white flag there. We’re going to try to cut back on the Patriot Act. We’re going to cut back on electronic surveillance. We’re going to cut back on interrogation. We’re going to cut back, cut back, cut back, and we’ll be back in our pre-September 11 mentality of being on defense” (Washington Post).

August 14th, 2007

Are Liberal Ideas Harder to Communicate?

Rudy Giuliani

A version of this blog post appeared on TechRepublican and Redstate on August 15, 2007.

Rudy Giuliani is a Republican who holds the Democratic position on abortion. He’s also a Catholic, which digs his hole even deeper, since various American bishops have threatened to deny him Holy Communion, as they did to John Kerry in 2004.

Accordingly, most political strategists would advise Rudy to avoid the subject of communion at all costs, on the theory that there’s no good way out of this minefield. A satisfactory answer would require either an encyclical or a Castro-length sermon, they posit.

Sorry, but that’s dead wrong. Instead of obfuscating or tiptoeing around the issue, Rudy plunged headfirst into it, in the current issue of the New Yorker:

“They [the bishops] have every right to tell me anything they want,” Giuliani said to me. “But then I have every right to believe anything I want. And, ultimately, that sort of expresses both my political faith and my religious faith. They have a right to instruct me. And then, having my own conscience, and my own mind, and being my own individual person, I have a right to determine whether I agree with that or I don’t agree with it. Now, there are some people that look at religion differently. That’s the way I look at it. It’s a way that helps me understand morality better. It helps me understand God better. And ultimately it’s my relationship with God, my relationship with Jesus, that’s the important one. And I’ve got to figure it out. And if they help me they do. And if I don’t agree with it then I have to go with my own conscience.”

Thus, in just 152 words—to a reporter, no less—Rudy defused a tinderbox. He didn’t pander, but spoke from his heart. Joe Klein would be proud.

Rudy’s homily is especially important because it disproves the conventional wisdom that Republicans are better communicators than Democrats, the thinking being that the nuance of clause-draped liberal ideas doesn’t lend itself to sound bites (cf., “support the troops” vs. “pro-troop, anti-war”). As Stanley Fish has brilliantly elucidated, what matters is not the message but the messenger:

If you can’t explain an idea or a policy plainly in one or two sentences, it’s not yours. . . . Words are not just the cosmetic clothing of some underlying integrity; they are the operational vehicles of that integrity, the visible manifestation of the character to which others respond. And if the words you use fall apart, ring hollow, trail off and sound as if they came from nowhere or anywhere (these are the same thing), the suspicion will grow that what they lack is what you lack.

Indeed, a good communicator can always articulate his message, regardless of complexity and without compromising the integrity of his argument. Tom Friedman, a liberal columnist for the New York Times, is a master of this art, using simple metaphors, like The Lexus vs. the Olive Tree and The World Is Flat, to encapsulate big ideas.

Bear this in mind the next time someone carps that, say, Hillary Clinton’s position on Iraq is too sophisticated to be simplified. It’s not the position, it’s the person, that’s the problem.

Addendum: As soon as I finish praising Rudy for being forthright, I read that he’s clammed up. Asked last week at a town-hall meeting in Iowa if he is a “traditional, practicing Roman Catholic,” Rudy retorted, “My religious affiliation, my religious practices and the degree to which I am a good or not so good Catholic, I prefer to leave to the priests.”

Addendum (8/20/2007): The more I think about it, the less I think there’s a contradiction between the above two quotes. In short, some questions, like whether one is a good Catholic, are inappropriate, and it can be refreshing to hear a politician tell a questioner as much.

In fact, this is what Mitt Romney told a writer for the Atlantic Monthly last year, who asked if he wears Temple Garments—white underclothing, with the “Marks of the Holy Priesthood” sewn in, donned with reverence by the most faithful Mormons. “I’ll just say those sorts of things I’ll keep private,” Romney sensibly replied.

May 9th, 2007

Rudy on Abortion: One Step Forward, One Step Backward

Rudy Giuliani

Yesterday, on the heels of news that he has personally donated to Planned Parenthood, Rudy visited radio host Laura Ingraham (listen here). Ingraham wasted no time in broaching the elephant in the room: “If you hate it, what exactly is wrong with abortion?”

Rudy’s response: “I think in America, you can personally oppose something, and at the same time recognize that in a pluralistic society other people just as strongly view it differently, and … you can’t put ’em in jail for it.”

So far, so good. Given the time to elucidate and elaborate, Rudy did so in a way that seemed plausible.

But then Ingraham zinged him with the obvious follow-up: “Why would you donate to something like Planned Parenthood that makes hundreds of millions of dollars off the procedure that you say you hate?”

Rudy’s response: “Because Planned Parenthood makes information available. It’s consistent with my position.”

Huh? If you hate something, which you say you personally discourage, shouldn’t you donate to organizations that also discourage that something?

I should also point out that it’s less than confidence-inspiring when a politician, especially one like Rudy whose views on abortion are perhaps his most controversial, doesn’t know whether the Mexico City Policy, otherwise known as the global gag rule, is or isn’t currently the law. (It is.)

May 8th, 2007

Question for Rudy: What Exactly About Abortion Do You “Hate”?

Rudy Giuliani

NRO’s Rich Lowry (again) pinpoints another contradiction in Rudy’s oft-repeated line that he “hates!” abortion: it’s “so flagrantly insincere” and “rings so false because, temperamentally, [Rudy] is not one to hate something without outlawing or attempting to discourage it.”

Indeed, since Rudy is still ultimately pro-choice, why hasn’t anybody asked him what exactly he abhors about abortion? Is it that it’s controversial? That it’s too common? That it constitutes murder?

Moreover, how does Rudy square his avowed abhorrence with at least six, personal contributions to Planned Parenthood, one of the country’s leading abortion-rights groups and its top provider of abortions?

(Add these questions to Dave Weigel’s list for the full field.)

Finally, Lowry suggests that Rudy can redeem himself by supporting the repeal of Roe (which many pro-choice scholars agree is bad constitutional law), and allowing each state to decide its own abortion laws. On the surface, this seems like the perfect way out—until you ponder the legal nightmare it would unleash:

“The common refrain in the anti-Roe pro-choice camp is that women in anti-abortion states will simply travel elsewhere to end their pregnancies. But it’s unlikely that states with strict regulations on abortion would stand idle, and they will have many legal tools at their disposal.

“States could make it illegal to cross state lines in order to abort a fetus—a tactic Ireland tried in the early 1990s, until a court decision and subsequent constitutional amendment recognized a right to travel. While the Supreme Court has recognized a constitutional right to travel across state lines, it has also recognized exceptions.

“If states can decree that life begins at conception, they might also be able to use child custody laws to curtail the movements of pregnant women. For example, many states are legally allowed to hold children in protective custody if there is reason to believe the parents will misbehave. Once Roe has been overturned, a state may be able to place unborn children into protective custody, forbidding their mothers to take them across state lines.

“Furthermore, in recent decades, the Supreme Court has ruled that a state can regulate its citizens’ activities while they are elsewhere and prosecute them for violations of state law upon their return. This so-called long-arm jurisdiction has been invoked to allow states to regulate Internet sites based beyond their borders, or to prosecute murders that followed interstate kidnappings. Anti-abortion states could forbid their residents to obtain or perform abortions, even while out of state. Would such measures be legal? The current law is unclear.

April 13th, 2007

Rudy’s Convictions

A mass e-mail I just received from Mike DuHaime, the campaign manager of Rudy for President, contained the following sentence: “This recent news story highlights some of the many cases Rudy prosecuted as U.S. Attorney[,] including those against the mob, corruption and tax evasion.”

I was initially tempted to think that since the article comes from the AP and not the campaign, I shouldn’t assume that Rudy is proud of all the cases the article highlights. But DuHaime specifically mentions “tax evasion,” by which he means a 1998 indictment Rudy brought against Leona Helmsley.

The husband of real-estate and hotel mogul Harry Helmsley, Leona was found guilty of deceiving the accounting firm that prepared both her corporate and personal tax returns. In short, she submitted false invoices that claimed as business expenses $4 million in renovations to her Connecticut mansion.

But even leaving aside the numerous red flags in the case, it’s unclear to me why an economic conservative, running in large measure on an anti-tax platform, would trumpet this indictment as if he had gone after Tony Soprano.

If you break the law, you should be prosecuted. But prosecutors wield enormous discretion as to which cases they prosecute, and it’s unfortunate that Rudy made his bones on Leona Helmsley’s back.

Given that taxes are far too high and the tax code is far too complicated, I don’t begrudge someone who tries to loophole herself more of her own money. Call her greedy, but it’s my kind of greed.

April 8th, 2007

Reagan’s Heir Need Not Be a Reaganite

Ronald Reagan Shaking Hands With John McCain














In the past several years, as the GOP has labored under the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan has become our collective lodestar—all things to all conservatives.

Libertarians claim him as one of their own, owing to his rhetoric about government as the problem, not the solution. Christians view his conversion to the pro-life agenda as his strongest legacy. Neocons uphold his ending of the Cold War.

The biggest hurdle facing the current crop of our presidential candidates is the inability of each to unify these three wings of the party.

All three support the president on Iraq, especially, and crucially, the surge. But despite McCain’s voting record, the religious right doesn’t trust him. Nor do they embrace the pro-choice, pro-civil union New Yorker, Rudy Giuliani. On paper, Mitt Romney is the Christian candidate, except that he’s only recently become so, and he’s Mormon.

Rudy is the libertarian candidate, save for his elevation of security over liberty. Romney’s language about deficits and vetoes is attractive, if you minimize health care. Ditto for McCain’s bona fides on pork and waste, if you overlook McCain-Feingold and tax cuts.

So who will be Reagan’s heir? At this point, no one. Still, it behooves us to remember, as George Will has written, “that insisting on perfection in a candidate interferes with selecting a satisfactory one.” Or, to use another cliche, politics is the art of compromise.

March 12th, 2007

Free Advice for Rudy

Published on Reagan Republicans.

The latest YouTube video making the rounds shows Rudy Giuliani speaking at a Women’s Coalition for Giuliani event. The clip is 17 years old and only 28 seconds, but it contains a sentence that, I suspect, will haunt Rudy’s campaign: “There must be public funding for abortions for poor women.”

Abortion is a sensitive subject for Rudy, which requires a delicate balancing act. For instance, he once supported late-term abortion. He now opposes it. Will he now also flip-flop on taxpayer-funded abortions? How about the global gag rule?

Whatever he does, one thing is crucial: how he responds to the response. Even though the video was uploaded yesterday, as of this writing, it’s already been viewed 71,334 times. That’s a considerable number, and Rudy’s silence will only generate further skepticism and confusion.

My advice: take a page from Mitt Romney’s communications shop. When potentially devastating video of the then-moderate governor’s 1994 debate with Ted Kennedy surfaced on YouTube last month, within hours “GovMittRomney” had uploaded a response, showing Romney on the phone discussing the video with a reporter.

In one swift and sharp swoop, Team Romney avoided another macacca moment, and the resulting stories highlighted the push back instead of the controversy.