Re. The Debate

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I didn’t get a chance to watch it, as I was too tired from fishing on Thursday morning.  Besides, I elect to not let cable television into my house.  I’ve seen the allegedly mishandled abortion questions, though, and I don’t think it was mishandled at all.

Giuliani was a pro-choice Mayor of New York City.  There’s no getting around it.  What pundits accuse him of is hemming and hawing on the abortion issue.  They are wrong.  He is being entirely consistent, and avoiding appearing as a flip-flopper.  Most importantly, he is expressing a strong Federalist agenda while simultaneously acknowledging that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe the country would have to deal with it.  That is a bald challenge to pro-choicers, as it is far more likely a court with another Roberts or Alito on it would overturn Roe than support it.

Importantly, during the debate Brownback– a man with impeccable social conservative street cred– said he would be comfortable supporting Giuliani.  We’ve heard similar things recently from Tancredo.

I do agree Giuliani could stand to be a little more feisty.  Part of his appeal, to paraphrase John Derbyshire, is he may be an SOB, but he would be our SOB, working for us.  People may want to see a little more of that back alley scrapper that broke the mob.

Personally, I think the whole abortion thing is a red herring.  Hizzoner should master his answers on the issue so he can make his state’s rights case more succinctly, then move on.  We know everything there is to know.  Personally opposed, but not going to lead the charge to ban abortion in San Francisco.  Will appoint strict constructionists to the bench.  There’s really no more to say.

What he should be concentrating on instead is coming up with a comprehensive and detailed plan for the War on Terror to provide specifics to buttress his natural strength there.  On the social specifics he should just have about 12 different versions of an answer that says “That’s between you and your local legislators as far as I’m concerned.  Call them.  I am running to be Commander in Chief of the whole nation.  Here is what I will do to help protect the Republic so in the future your local legislators can do their jobs without having to consult Sharia law.”

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2 Responses to “Re. The Debate”

  1. Luther C. Hardy Says:

    Dear Karlub:

    I think you’re absolutely right about the substance of Rudy’s responses to the abortion questions, but I do think he could have handled them better than he did

    Upon listening “talking head analysis” on MSNBC immediately following the debate, I tended to agree with the consensus of the Panel, which was (I paraphrase): “Nobody could be said to have won the debate, but none of the three frontrunners did anything to alter his status as a frontrunner, and none of the second-tier candidates did anything to elevate their status to that of a frontrunner”.

    I actually thought Howard Fineman of Newsweek gave the most incisive analysis of Rudy’s performance: He agreed that Rudy had not done anything to alter his standing in the polls as the frontrunner, but he also said that Rudy acted “almost Presidential, but not quite”. He said that Rudy’s staff had told him (Fineman) before the debate, “not to expect too much”, because it’s been a long time since Rudy participated in a debate format like this. Howard said he thought at first that the staff was merely trying to “spin” him (Fineman) to lower expectations for Rudy, but after the debate he thought they had a point. According to Fineman, Rudy’s answers were “acceptable”, but he did not “take charge and turn the questions to his purposes the way he should have done”.

    I wouldn’t have put it quite the way Fineman did, but I did think almost immediately that Rudy was not the commanding presence I have seen him be in the past, and that I know he can still be. The Rudy we need to see on the stump is the Mayor Giuliani who defended the N.Y.P.D. in press conference after press conference against the likes of Al Sharpton and his ilk. Now, that was a commanding performance!

    As for the rest of the MSNBC crowd, Chris Matthews — who clearly likes Rudy without actually supporting him — gave a mildly pro-Rudy analysis, which one got the feeling he genuinely meant. Joe Scarborough tried his level best to slant his “analysis” of the debate, as well as the comments of those he interviewed, toward Mitt Romney. Keith Olbermann was his usual ultra-liberal self, though he didn’t actually foam at the mouth.

    The most outrageous panelist, however, was noted-lefty Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. He was asked by Olbermann to comment on Rudy’s more-or-less pro forma comment to the effect that “neither Party, Republican or Democrat has a monopoly on right and wrong”. Both Matthews and Fineman interpreted that as a call by Rudy for “bipartisanship in Washington”, which everyone supports like democracy and motherhood. Olbermann, however, pressed Robinson for more, and Robinson gave it to him: He said that he interpreted the comment as Rudy trying to deflect criticism away from him himself by saying in effect that “I’m not the only one who has had two divorces and three wives”. That was just about the most un-called-for, gratuitous, and outrageous comment I have ever heard from a supposedly “neutral” reporter/ commentator/ panelist. That’s apparently what one can expect from the ilk of the WaPo, and that’s at least one reason why we need to see more of the Mayor Giuliani who defended the N.Y.P.D. against the likes of Al Sharpton and his ilk.

    There is, however, some mildly objective “good news”. On NPR’s Morning Edition the morning after the Debate — take it for what it’s worth — though they did not actually “pronounce a winner”, they were clearly most impressed by Rudy. Clips and quotes form Hizzoner were clearly given the most play, while clips and quotes from the others were clearly downplayed!

    In addition two post-debate polls, albeit both of them flawed, have shown Rudy as winning the debate. The SurveyUSA California poll, albeit with a small sample of only 317 people who actually watched the debate, had Rudy as the clear winner. The AOL On-Line poll, admittedly an “unscientific” self-selected straw vote, showed Rudy leading 40% to Romney 20% to McCain 19% after more than 130,000 votes

    All in all, Rudy seems to appear to have come out of the debate in no worse position that we was before. Actually, Romney may have helped himself more than Rudy hurt himself. As you have probably seen, this morning’s SurveyUSA New Hampshire poll shows Romney actually leading by 32% to Rudy 23% to McCain 22% to Thompson 11%. This is, I believe, the first poll of any significance that Romney has actually led.

    As I have said many times, however, the central dynamic of this race is the emotional connection that Rudy has made with the American people and whether that connection will “hold” trough the nomination and the election. The polls this time round are far more important that in any previous Presidential season, because that’s the principal way in which the American people can express their connection with Rudy. Thus, to assess most accurately how Rudy did in the debate, we need to see what more post-debate polls say than just New Hampshire. The AOL On-Line Poll, particularly with its huge number of participants, is at least a mildly encouraging sign!

    Now, just for a moment, back to your initial point on the “substance” of Rudy’s position on abortion. He tries to go too far! His position should consist of two point and two points only: (1) Though I will not impose a “litmus test” on abortion on my judicial nominees, I will appoint strict-constructionist judges, of the like of Scalia, Roberts, and Alito, and let them take it from there. (2) I believe that the basic questions of abortion should be decided by state legislatures and not by the federal government. Until such time as state legislatures do regain the power to decide the abortion question, I shall continue to support the Hyde Amendment on federal funding, and I approve of the federal ban on partial-birth abortion that was recently up-held by the Supreme Court.

    I actually believe that most profound words ever spoken on abortion, as a uniquely American political issue, were spoken by David Brooks in his Op-Ed column in The New York Times on 21 April 2005, when he said:

    “Justice Harry Blackmun did more inadvertent damage to our democracy than any other 20th-century American. When he and his Supreme Court colleagues issued the Roe v. Wade decision, they set off a cycle of political viciousness and counter-viciousness that has poisoned public life ever since, and now threatens to destroy the Senate as we know it.”

    “When Blackmun wrote the Roe decision, it took the abortion issue out of the legislatures and put it into the courts. If it had remained in the legislatures, we would have seen a series of state-by-state compromises reflecting the views of the centrist majority that’s always existed on this issue. These legislative compromises wouldn’t have pleased everyone, but would have been regarded as legitimate.”

    “Instead, Blackmun and his concurring colleagues invented a right to abortion, and imposed a solution more extreme than the policies of just about any other comparable nation.”

    “Religious conservatives became alienated from their own government, feeling that their democratic rights had been usurped by robed elitists. Liberals lost touch with working-class Americans because they never had to have a conversation about values with those voters; they could just rely on the courts to impose their views. The parties polarized as they each became dominated by absolutist activists.”

  2. karlub - PA RudyBlogger Says:

    Insightful as always, Luther. And spot on with the abortion analysis. I hope Giuliani will be more explicit on the state’s right stuff. I know that’s where he’s coming from, and it is a large part of why I support him. I think he stays away from using Federalist language, though, for fear of raising images of George Wallace and Bull Connor. Both Democrats, of course.

    And I like the Brooks excerpt. He summarizes my thoughts very well, there. Just in a pithier way. Which is why he’s famous, and I’m not!

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