Monday, February 5, 2007

Thoughts on '08: Republicans: Rudy Giuliani

I think the 2008 Presidential Elections will be the most vicious, divisive, ridiculous election yet. This year the Democrats will probably pick another loser: Shrillary won't win, Obama won't win, Biden won't win, Kucinich won't win, Edwards won't win, Gore won't win... it's slim pickens for the Democrats, and unless they can pull a Lieberman out of their hoohoo's - that is a Democrat who has broad appeal on both sides of the aisle, and who can be trusted with foreign policy and waging the war on Terror - the Democrats are going to have another disappointing national election.

If the Democrats can't pick a winner, then the election becomes the Republicans' to lose; but conservative America cannot get too excited. There were lessons to be learned in '06. Complacency will not win the election. Winning this election is going to take a lot of hard work, and a true conservative candidate who can motivate our base. The Republicans lost '06 because the Republican candidates had lost their way. They weren't conservative fiscally, and they lacked the moral conviction to do the right thing. Most of the Republicans who did lose lost to Democratic candidates who ran on a more conservative platform than the incumbent Republicans.

For the Republicans to win, they will need a charismatic, intelligent, well spoken candidate who truly represents the ideals of conservatism and is a patriot through and though. Whether Rudy Giuliani fits that bill is a VERY good question.

Rudy Giuliani is a political heavyweight. He has broad appeal, name recognition, and most Americans have a favorable opinion of him; however, running for the President of the United States is a bit more than a popularity contest.

Like most Americans, I could confess ignorance with regards to Giuliani's political and social views. Most people know that Rudy Giuliani is the former mayor of the largest city in America, New York. Most Americans understand that Giuliani is credited with turning NY City around.
One could argue that Giuliani was changed by 9/11 in much the same way that George W. Bush was changed by 9/11. Most Americans would probably recognize Giuliani as one of the prominent leaders who brought America through the worst terrorist attacks in the history of our country. Giuliani's tireless efforts and "steadfastness in the midst of chaos" made Giuliani a fitting pick for Time Magazine's 2002 Person of the Year.

So this is how I knew Giuliani. Six months ago in conversations with friends I said that Giuliani might be the right was to go in 08. This wasn't based on an informed look at the man, this was based on my knowledge that he turned NY city around, was known as one of the best mayors in the country for his work in NY, did a remarkable job after the 9/11 attacks, and that Giuliani, as a Republican candidate, would likely carry nearly all of Bush's red states but could also pick up a state like NY, which could ensure a landslide victory. There are few, if any, Democrats that will poll as well as Giuliani in a head to head race.

The response to this was usually, "but isn't Giuliani really liberal?"

Liberal as opposed to a George W. Bush or a Newt Gingrich, yes.

"So why," they would ask, "would you support Giuliani?"

My response was always the same, "Whereas I am not totally sure I would agree with Giuliani on all of his social issues, I am sure I can trust him with the War on Terror."

Like it or not, Iraq is part of the War on Terror. There is NO excuse for ripping defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq. We ARE winning the war on Terror. I believe Giuliani would agree and would not let me down on this issue.

But I don't believe you should vote for a candidate on the basis of one issue, alone, in a vacuum.

So lets take a closer look at Rudy Giuliani:

In 1944, Rudolph W. Giuliani was born to a working class family in Brooklyn, New York. As the grandson of Italian immigrants, Mayor Giuliani learned a strong work ethic and a deep respect for America's ideal of equal opportunity. He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School (Class of '61) in Brooklyn, Manhattan College (Class of '65) in the Bronx and New York University Law School in Manhattan, graduating magna cum laude in 1968.

I like politicians born to working class families. When they make it to the top, and can run for president, then they prove the American dream is still alive. Giuliani is a product of public schools. He didn't attend elitist private schools or colleges, and he graduated magna cum laude at NYU Law School. No matter what you want to say about the guy, he is no dummy.

Upon graduation, Rudy Giuliani clerked for Judge Lloyd MacMahon, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. In 1970, Giuliani joined the office of the U.S. Attorney. At age 29, he was named Chief of the Narcotics Unit and rose to serve as executive US Attorney. In 1975, Giuliani was recruited to Washington, D.C., where he was named Associate Deputy Attorney General and chief of staff to the Deputy Attorney General. From 1977 to 1981, Giuliani returned to New York to practice law at Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler

Giuliani didn't start at the top, and he had to work hard to get where he is today. Clerking for a judge is hard work, and it isn't glamorous work either. Taking a job in the U.S. Attorney's office is a step up, but that too is hard and often thankless work.

In 1981, Giuliani was named Associate Attorney General, the third highest position in the Department of Justice. As Associate Attorney General, Giuliani supervised all of the US Attorney Offices' Federal law enforcement agencies, the Bureau of Corrections, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the US Marshals.

In 1983, Giuliani was appointed US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he spearheaded the effort to jail drug dealers, fight organized crime, break the web of corruption in government, and prosecute white-collar criminals. Few US Attorneys in history can match his record of 4,152 convictions with only 25 reversals.

In 1989, Giuliani entered the race for mayor of New York City as a candidate of the Republican and Liberal parties, losing by the closest margin in City history. However in 1993, his campaign focusing on quality of life, crime, business and education made him the 107th Mayor of the City of New York. In 1997 he was re-elected by a wide margin, carrying four out of New York City's five boroughs.

Giuliani put together an amazing record as a US Attorney, it is almost too bad that he left the practice to pursue politics; however, it was certainly New York's gain...

As Mayor, Rudy Giuliani has returned accountability to City government and improved the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Under his leadership, overall crime is down 57%, murder has been reduced 65%, and New York City - once infamous around the world for its dangerous streets - has been recognized by the F.B.I. as the safest large city in America for the past five years.

New York City's law enforcement strategies have become models for other cities around the world, particularly the CompStat program, which won the 1996 Innovations in Government Award from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. CompStat allows police to statistically monitor criminal activity on specific street corners as well as citywide, holding precinct commanders accountable for criminal activity in their neighborhoods. Because this data is updated constantly, it enables the police to become a proactive force in fighting crime, stopping crime trends before they become crime waves that negatively effect the quality of life for neighborhood residents.

When Mayor Giuliani took office, one out of every seven New Yorkers was on welfare. Mayor Giuliani has returned the work ethic to the center of City life by implementing the largest and most successful welfare-to-work initiative in the country, cutting welfare rolls in half while moving over 640,000 individuals from dependency on the government to the dignity of self-sufficiency. In addition, Giuliani has enacted a record of over $2.5 billion in tax reductions - including the commercial rent tax, personal income tax, the hotel occupancy tax, and the sales tax on clothing for purchases up to $110 dollars. In addition, hundreds of millions of dollars have been returned to the private sector as a result of the Mayor's aggressive campaign to root out organized crime's influence over the Fulton Fish Market, the private garbage hauling industry, and wholesale food markets throughout the City. These reforms, combined with the fiscal discipline which enabled the Mayor to turn an inherited $2.3 billion dollar budget deficit into a multi-billion dollar surplus, have led the City to an era of broad-based growth with a record 450,000 new private sector jobs created in the past seven years. As news of the City's resurgence has spread around the nation and the world, tourism has grown to record levels.

In the 80's NY City was a dirty, crime ridden, poverty ridden city on the decline. Rudy took office and cut crime in half, reduced welfare dependence, instituted tax cuts, and turned a 2.3 billion dollar deficit into a multibillion dollar surplus. No matter how you slice it, that is effective leadership. Moreover, his policies of welfare reform and tax cuts are in keeping with conservative values.

Mayor Giuliani is committed to nurturing and empowering New York City's children. By creating the Administration for Children's Services, New York City now has an accountable, proactive and effective protector for our City's most vulnerable children that is recognized as a national model. Moreover, New York City is working everyday to find loving families for children requiring adoption. The City has completed a record number of adoptions since 1996 - more than 20,000 - marking a dramatic 65% increase over the previous six-year period. Mayor Giuliani has also been a leader in getting health insurance to children through the innovative HealthStat initiative, which uses computer technology to coordinate a citywide effort to enroll children in existing health insurance programs. To date, 96,000 eligible children and families have been given access to health insurance through the HealthStat initiative. These improvements have increased hope and opportunity for all New York City's children and laid the foundation for our City to be even stronger in the 21st century.

To turn around the nation's largest urban public education system, Giuliani has worked tirelessly to restore accountability and raise standards throughout the City's schools. Student-teacher ratios are at an all-time low, while the annual operating budget for New York City's public schools has increased from $8 billion to $12 billion. Bureaucratic roadblocks to meaningful reform such as social promotion and principal tenure have ended, while programs such as bilingual education and special education have been reformed for the first time in a quarter century. Under the Mayor's leadership, New York City has introduced innovative new instructional programs that improve reading skills, give all students access to computers, and restore arts education as a fundamental part of the school curriculum. In the past year, these successful education initiatives have been accompanied by the establishment of 300-book libraries in every classroom and weekend classes for science and English instruction. In October 2000, the Mayor launched the New York City Charter School Improvement Fund, the first fund ever offered by a city government to help charter schools with equipment and facilities costs. The fund is the most recent example of the Mayor's commitment to both providing quality educational alternatives to all City families, regardless of their income, and to spurring the New York City public schools to improve through competition.

Under Rudy Giuliani's leadership, New York City has become the best-known example of the resurgence of urban America. From his success at cleaning up Times Square and other public spaces around the City to closing the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, Mayor Giuliani has worked tirelessly to pass New York to the next generation better and more beautiful than it was before he entered office.

When you read something like that, Giuliani starts looking like the sort of man who is fit to be the Commander in Chief. When you read this, Giuliani takes on a whole new light:

Sixteen hours had passed since the Twin Towers crumbled and fell, and people kept telling Rudy Giuliani to get some rest. The indomitable mayor of New York City had spent the day and night holding his town together. He arrived at the World Trade Center just after the second plane hit, watched human beings drop from the sky and--when the south tower imploded--nearly got trapped inside his makeshift command center near the site. Then he led a battered platoon of city officials, reporters and civilians north through the blizzard of ash and smoke, and a detective jimmied open the door to a firehouse so the mayor could revive his government there. Giuliani took to the airwaves to calm and reassure his people, made a few hundred rapid-fire decisions about the security and rescue operations, toured hospitals to comfort the families of the missing and made four more visits to the apocalyptic attack scene.

Now, around 2:30 a.m., Giuliani walked into the Upper East Side apartment of Howard Koeppel and his longtime partner, Mark Hsiao. Koeppel, a friend and supporter of Giuliani's, had been lending the mayor a bedroom suite since June, when Giuliani separated from his second wife, Donna Hanover, and moved out of Gracie Mansion. His suit still covered with ash, Giuliani hugged Koeppel, dropped into a chair and turned on the television--actually watching the full, ghastly spectacle for the first time. He left the TV on through the night in case the terrorists struck again, and he parked his muddy boots next to the bed in case he needed to head out fast. But he was not going to be doing any sleeping. Lying in bed, with the skyscrapers exploding over and over again on his TV screen, he pulled out a book--Churchill, the new biography by Roy Jenkins--turned straight to the chapters on World War II and drank in the Prime Minister's words: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
Read the rest of this amazing story.

Not everything about Rudy Giuliani is positive and appealing to conservatives. For instance, he has been married three times. This shouldn't matter to most people, but conservatives are big on marriage and family values.

Giuliani's previous positions on gun laws, abortion, affirmative action, prayer in school, and civil unions for gays, all seem to be at odds with conservative values. Sean Hannity asked Giuliani about a number of these issues on Hannity and Colmes, and Giuliani did a fine job addressing the issues.

(big ups to lgf)

So where do I stand with regards to Giuliani? I wouldn't go as far as endorsing him and saying he has my vote, yet, but I have a lot of respect and admiration for the man. I think he would be a good, fair, effective leader. He is VERY electable and an excellent choice for the Republican party, if they want to win in 2008. I'm not sold on the fact that he is the best conservative, but he is certainly conservative enough and far more conservative than what we'll get with a Democrat in the White House in '08.

I will, of course, update this post from time to time as I will with all of the other candidates I've discussed thus far.

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