Rudy is no liberal

John Podhoretz:

IT is nearly impossible for the chattering classes - on all sides of the political divide - to comprehend the heat being generated by Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid.

The fallback explanation is just to say "9/11" and be done with it. After all, how else can you explain a man with Giuliani's supposedly liberal social views possibly rise as high as he has - besting John McCain among Republicans by as many as 22 points in one poll?

Many on the right profess amazement at the lead he's opened up among Republican primary voters, considering his pro-choice views and sloppy personal life.

Meanwhile, writers on the left express disbelief at the notion that a pro-choice Republican candidate might be able to win the GOP nomination. According to the best Leftist analyst of American politics, Michael Tomasky, abortion is simply "too fundamental an issue for most Republican caucus goers and primary voters (even in California, with its likely Feb. 5 primary) to work around."

There's a perfectly simple answer to the Rudy paradox. When Republican voters look at Rudy Giuliani, they know one key fact about him: They know he's no liberal.

They may not exactly know why yet, but they know it.

And they're right.

Rudy may call himself pro-choice. He may have signed legislation mandating benefits to gay couples. He may have been a supporter of gun control. He may even have endorsed Mario Cuomo for governor in 1994. These are all things he's going to have to explain and answer for in Republican debates and the like.

But more than any other candidate in the race, Rudy Giuliani is a liberal-slayer. When he rejects liberal orthodoxy, which he does often, he doesn't just oppose it. He goes to war with it - total, unconditional war.

He spent his political career chewing up liberal orthodoxy and spitting it out - and I think that somehow, in some way, voters in Oklahoma and Kansas get that about him even without knowing the specifics.

His success in turning New York around wasn't merely a matter of changing policies. He had to sustain those policies when they came under deliberate, systematic and unrelenting assault by the city's liberal elite.


The New York of 1991 was a city governed by the liberal elite. The New York of 2001 had been changed utterly by an anti-liberal mayor.

We're going to hear a lot about how rude, abrasive, arrogant, high-handed, combative, isolated, difficult and aggressive Rudy Giuliani was as mayor. And yet he was the key factor in turning New York into the safe, clean, pleasant, polite, neighborly and genuinely nice place it was when we were attacked on 9/11.


And, he can smile about that success. Pobhoretz hits one of the many things I like about Rudy. He stands up to liberals and frustrates them with his success. He lists many of them. But standing up to liberalism and fighting it on the most important battle grounds is what is needed as much as standing up to Muslim religious bigots is needed. Can you really trust liberals to stand up to bin Laden and Zawahiri when they are already trying to plot retreat and defeat on the battlefield?


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