Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

Religion and the GOP Nomination

December 3, 2007

Sorry about my recent hiatus.  Work takes over one’s time, sometimes, which I imagine is not nearly as large a problem for left-wing political activists.

Upon dipping into the blogosphere for the first time in a week, I learn Mitt will be doing a “Mormon speech” on Thursday.  No doubt he was inspired to do as much by slipping to second place in IA behind Huck, despite outspending him by more than eight to one.

This is dangerous territory for Romney, and could backfire in a huge way.  Again, let me state for the record that I have no problems at all with Mormons.  Still, by drawing potential evangelical fire upon his own position more people may learn things like this which seem a bit weird to mere cultural Christians, which happens to describe a majority of American voters.

Obviously, nobody will mistake Giuliani for a particularly rigorous Catholic.  In fact, it is not unfair ask if– by the strict definition of the Catholic Church– Rudy even still isa Catholic.  So his campaign is in no position to even consider playing dirty pool with the religion question.  It appears, though, that Mitt will openly invite questions concerning religion and politics, and one suspects Huckabee’s campaign manager is licking his chops at the opportunity.

This is great news for Team Rudy.  There’s no bad way for it to break.  Either Mitt’s gambit fails, and his support fractures.  Or it succeeds, and Romney and Huckabee distract themselves by squabbling over the religious right.


Cross-Post: Giuliani and Libertarians

November 13, 2007

Over at my PA for Hizzoner blog a small thread as developed– well, I’m doing most of the writing– as a result of the appearence of my town’s first presidential support sign; a Ron Paul sign.

As a former card-carrying member of the Libertarian party who’s first vote for president was for the man who was, in fact, Ron Paul’s veep on the Libertarian ticket in ’88, I am not unsympathetic to those supporting Paul.  I did express, though, that I believe Giuliani is pretty darned friendly to Libertarians, a statement which one commenter thought needed elaboration.  That elaboration is below:

I understand the question.  You have to look at it from a perspective that respects one of Libertarianism’s fundamental requirements of the State:  That of protecting private property.

Giuliani’s priority as Mayor– the reason he was elected– was to make the City safer and more pleasant.  Read that as “Protect their private property.”

Hence this person’s perception of him as a “gun-grabbing” and “police state” mayor.  I think Giuliani was wrong at the time with his handgun lawsuits, but he thought he had two opposing freedoms he had to prioritize: Civil order and the right to defence.  I am a pretty dogged 2nd Amendment advocate, but even I can appreciate how the priorities of NYC in a crime wave and Idaho are different, and probably require different approaches.  So while aspiring to be President, it is natural for Giuliani to become more sympathetic to gun owners, which he has.

It is enlightening to also understand that the protection of private property is why– as a mayor rather than the President– he was Libertarian-ish on immigration.  He wanted illegals to be comfortable dealing with the local gendarmes so they could report on the bad apples.

Some suggest the Mayor has been doing a lot of flip-flopping.  Without getting into semantical arguments, I think it is important to understand that those issues on which he has drifted rightward merely reflect differently weighted priorities of two different jobs:  That of Mayor of NYC and that of President of the United States.  As he has pointed out, it would have been easier for him to just complete the flip-flop and lie.  A look at the GOP field illustrates at least one candidate who is comfortable doing this.  One thing, though, that appears to be consistent with the Mayor is that at the core he is driven by a respect for the freedoms of law-abiding individuals to pursue their own happiness, and an understanding that it is the State’s role to defend these freedoms.

I do not at all suggest that Giuliani would be at home in the Libertarian party.  I do suggest, though, that he is Libertarian-friendly:  His first priority is to protect your property and civil society in general.  His second priority– as evidenced by his actions in NYC and the associated favorable reviews from the Club for Growth and endorsement by Steve Forbes– is to minimize the vigor with which government dips into your bank account.  After that, he pretty much feels the states should decide on all the culturally divisive social issues.

That, I say, is pretty Libertarian friendly.  Does he buy into Libertarian ideology?  Probably not, as his habits of character can be quirky and pretty hierarchical.  Note his apparent distaste of ferret owners.  But when the time comes in a general election for Ron Paul supporters to pull a lever, I hope those that aren’t using their support for Paul merely as a way to promote isolationism will do the needful and vote for Giuliani rather than staying home or voting for his opponent.

Assuming, of course, Hizzoner can secure the nomination, which is a whole ‘nother article, as Nordlinger says.  I am not entirely sure how Paul’s supporters effect that process.  Not much, I tend to think…

How Much Do Social Issues Matter…to Evangelicals

November 9, 2007

The response to Pat Robertson’s endorsement has run, on the right, from bemused– “Why would he?”– to sour grapes– “Well, Pat Robertson doesn’t matter any more.  Didn’t he say Katrina hit New Orleans because of gay people?”

There have been a few wise voices– Jonah Goldburg is one– who have pointed to, you know, data.  These folks suggest maybe the most important social issue to Evangelicals is the War on Terror.

As you may suspect, I think Mr. Goldburg is on to something.  Importantly, this opinion is actually backed by some data.  The first, most obvious data point is that Evangelicals are not lining up behind a single candidate.  If they were so monolithic and easy to lead one would believe they would figure out who lines up best with them, and all support that person.

Now here’s a second data point, a CBS poll from a couple weeks ago.  [HT Crunchy Con]  There’s a bunch of interesting stuff in that poll, so please do check it out.  For our purposes here, though, check out the list of issues Evangelicals want to see their political leaders talk about:

Health care 23%

War in Iraq 20%

Immigration 8%

Economy/jobs 7%

What don’t you see in that list?  Also interestingly, social issues are still considered extremely important to Evangelicals, despite the fact that it does not rank highly on the above list.  I’m not too sure how to parse that.

Finally, I thought it rather illuminating that about 40% of Evangelicals think abortion should only be allowed to save the life of the mother or not at all.  That’s still more than twice the rate in the general population, but it does pretty well put to rest the canard of thinking that Evangelicals have cookie-cutter views and are easily led, eh?

Remember, I’m not making any value judgements here.  Personally, this blogger can probably be described as “tentatively pro-life”.  I’m talking politics.

Brownback to Romney: Bite Me

October 26, 2007

Well, Sam Brownback’s supporters may find the language in this title’s post a little beyond the pale.  But that’s sort of what it seems like.

Hizzoner and Sam have met, and Gov. Brownback left calling Mayor Giuliani an “excellent leader”.  At least one reporter with the Washington Post thought Brownback “[S]eemed on the verge of backing [Giuliani]”.  Link here.

The picture below is also from that piece, and while it was taken in June it does seem delicious in the current context, no?  If I were Team Giuliani I certainly wouldn’t count my chickens before they’re hatched on this one, but even if Sam decided to back the Huck or McCain, it remains a partial victory that the one candidate Sam is apparently not considering for an endorsement is Romney.

Mitt Romney’s brain: “Can’t these darn GOP voters see that I’ve fine-tuned my internal poli-software to mirror the polling of the GOP electorate circa 2005?  I wonder how large a donation I have to make to myself NOW…”

Sam Brownback Considering Giuliani Endorsement

October 25, 2007

Wouldn’t it be something if a huge social conservative with  a large organization in IA who just dropped out of the presidential race decided to support Giuliani for president?

Well, apparently it isn’t out of the question, despite what Brownback’s aides seem to think….

New Gallup Pollage: Rudy Motivates the Most Republicans

October 16, 2007

There’s a new Gallup poll out.  Check it here.

Rudy is the favored GOP candidate nationally.  By a lot.  Of course, we’re used to that.  But let me tell you what is more interesting about this particular poll

Recently there has been some hyperventilating about the possibility of social conservatives potentially deserting the GOP for a third party if they are unhappy with the nominee.  Or, perhaps more likely, deciding to stay home.

First, please note the story line has now changed from “Rudy can’t win the GOP nomination because of social issues” to a presumption that it is entirely likely a candidate that is not Gary Bauer’s first choice will secure the nomination.

Well, as I always advise, let’s look at actual data.  Shall we?

In that Gallup poll 411 voters that are registered republicans or independents than lean towards the GOP were asked about how they would respond to particular hypothetical nominees in a general election.

Vote for enthusiastic-ally Vote for, mainly against the Democrat Vote for the Democrat Stay home, not vote No opinion
Rudy Giuliani 51 27 6 9 8
John McCain 38 37 5 10 10
Fred Thompson 37 30 5 11 17
Mitt Romney 25 38 9 13 17

So can we now please start putting to rest the canard that the GOP grassroots won’t support Giuliani in a general election?  Hizzoner has– by far– the highest “vote for enthusiastically” score, and the lowest (both individually and combined) scores for “stay at home” and “not vote”.

Of course, I imagine none of this is going to persuade Ramesh Ponnuru to throw in with Team Rudy, but I would like to hear what he makes of the data.  Is the GOP not particularly socially conservative?  Is the voting power of that faction in the GOP diffused?  Are there more socially conservative voters supporting Mayor Giuliani than we imagine?  I ask about Mr. Ponnuru specifically, as he is the most eloquent and polite spokesman for the social right I know.


Mr. Ponnuru actually did respond to my questions above here not long after this post, although he was responding to someone else’s e-mail.

Re. Funny Guy…

October 15, 2007

Also from the Italian American event last night we get the photo below, which we could call “La Cosa Originalista”:

That would be Alito, Giuliani, and Scalia.

Those that have problems with Hizzoner’s history on certain social issues should just medidate on this photo while pondering the political realities of how the president of the United States does and does not determine  actual policy on these sometimes contentious social issues.

Religious GOPers Turn to Rudy, Too

October 2, 2007

Seen the new Gallup poll?  The one with an emphasis on how religious people feel about various candidates?

Giuliani will never win the nomination, many in the MSM say.  He’s too Federalist on social issues.  The more people learn about Romney, team Mitt says, the more people like him.  Giuliani’s support is a result of name recognition, others say, as soon as Fred Thompson is in all those sheeple in the GOP primary will flock to him.

Well, according to Gallup Mayor Giuliani has the highest favorables amongst churchgoing Catholics.  This is important because that’s a block that helped Reagan to his landslides.  Amongst churchgoing Protestants– shorthand for evangelicals, I guess– Giuliani’s favorables are marginally lower than McCain’s and Thompson’s.  But he’s in their ballpark.  Romney, on the other hand, is beaten by both Obama and Edwards.  Amongst churchgoing protestants that identify has Republicans, Hizzoner is only one point off the lead.

Where the rubber hits the road on this poll is where they ask directly about GOP nomination preferences.  Amongst churchgoing protestants, Giuliani is only a couple points behind Thompson.  Romney is outpolled by Huckabee.  Giuliani dominates, though, amongst all other republicans.

This poll is bad, bad news for Team Romney.

Club For Growth White Papers: Rudy vs. Mitt

August 23, 2007

Y’all may remember a while back when the Club for Growth issued its white paper on Hizzoner.  It was not an unmitigated rave, but they were impressed not only with his pro-growth bona fides, but also his tenacity in getting them successfully enacted in a political environment inimical to any policy to the right of Che Guevara.

Well, they issued a Romney white paper recently, and it is a similar situation.  What they don’t like about Rudy pretty well matches up with what they don’t like about Romney.  Thing is, the overall tone of Romney’s review is much less laudatory, containing missives like “His landmark steps in the health care arena also exhibit a mixture of desirable pro-free market efforts combined with a regrettable willingness to accept, if not embrace, a massive new regulatory regime.”

It concludes with “…[W]e are reasonably optimistic that, as President, Mitt Romney would generally advocate a pro-growth agenda.”  Does that seem pretty tepid to everyone else?  “reasonably optimistic” and “generally advocate” sure seem like damning with faint praise.

Why the different tone, when the records are somewhat similar?  I mean, Rudy’s record is better.  Clearly.  But some could plausibly argue that’s a product of the fact that Hizzoner simply governed longer.

I think it comes down to believability.  On all the issues Giuliani strikes people, at worst, as merely attempting to massage potentially problematical policy positions so they are less heretical to GOP purists.  But he doesn’t try to sell a full-on conversion.  On abortion, for example, he’s not trying to emulate Ralph Reid.  On guns, he emphasizes Federalism rather than trying to channel the late Charleton Heston.

Romney, on the other hand, has never had a change of heart damaging to his ambition.  I guess God has blessed him with a politically timely conscience.  So in this particular case, for example, the Club for Growth knows Giuliani has a great pro-growth record, and will move forward with that, even if occasionally his administration differs on the details the the Club’s platform.

With Romney, though, who knows?  I guess it comes down to the flip-flop thing, but it’s more nuanced than that.  It’s just that Romney’s flips are so magnificently convenient, and have the stink of manipulative transparency about them.

Rudy will sometimes say “If you can’t handle my position on this issue, then you’re going to have to vote for someone else.”  Mitt seems like he would rather dance with a hungry crocodile than say something like that.

McCain Meltdown

July 12, 2007

Well, many pixels have been scattered commenting on the McCain campaign’s auger into the flight deck.  The question for those of us aligned with Giuliani is this:  How does it effect Rudy’s chances of securing the nomination?

My first instinct, actually, is this is BAD for Giuliani.  Without delving into the details, I think we can stipulate there is a small but noisy minority in the GOP that just can’t stand him.  That minority becomes proportionally larger every time a candidate drops out of the race.  The more candidates there are opposing Giuliani then the more the influence of those single-issue voters blinded to political reality is diffused.  The last thing Giuliani needs is for all those folks to gravitate to one guy.

Upon relflection, though, it seems to me this doesn’t change things at all.  Why?  Because ultimately that noisy minority will NEVER coalesce behind a single candidate.  Fred Thompson has his own social issue problems, and he’s part of the Hollywood mafia, walking around with a wife who is, frankly, even more obviously a trophy than Giuliani’s Judi.  And that’s hard to do.

Mitt Romney has also been a flip-flopper extraordinaire who can only inspire reluctant support from this minority.  Also– and let me be clear that when I say the following I am in no way saying this is how I or the Giuliani campaign feel– there’s the Mormon thing.  There are a lot of Evangelical Christians who simply don’t think the Church of Latter Day Saints is altogether kosher.  Many think Mormons are even bigger apostates than Catholics.

So what this means is the single-issue socially conservative voters now w/McCain will splinter amongst all the other candidates, including the Huckabee and Brownback bitter-enders.  As a former libertarian bitter-ender, I mean no disrespect there.  Besides, there were never many of those folks in McCain’s camp in the first place.

So what’s left of McCain’s support?  The institutional men.  The former Dubya campaign folks, Senate groupies, that sort of thing.  Now, those people like nothing more than a front-runner.  So I submit they will split marginally in Giuliani’s favor, offsetting the marginal gains the other “top tier” candidates get from McCain’s social right refugees.

In the end it’s a wash, yet again countering the conventional wisdom, in this care that more candidates is better for Giuliani.