January 29, 2008

Today’s Florida primary is said to be make or break for Rudolph Giuliani. The question is how he does among his natural constituencies:
* Can enough Cuban Republicans in Miami be convinced (given their group’s Cold War era special immigration status) that they somehow benefit from the influx of millions more Spanish-speakers from countries like Mexico and El Salvador? Despite his last minute attempts to appear “tough” on illegal immigration, the fact stands that Giuliani’s “sanctuary” policy in NYC for illegals would have prevented the NYPD from turning in the 9/11 hiijackers—had they been taken into custody—for deportation. It’s hard to weasel out of that fact. Americans for Better Immigration rank Giuliani, along with McCain, as “abysmal” on the issue of amnesty for illegals. (My best friend in high school was Cuban, and he assured me that he and his countrymen had less use for other Latin Americans than your average redneck sheriff who moonlights as a Minuteman; in return, other Latin Americans regard emigre Cubanos as pale-faced snobs with poofy accents. But hey, that’s just anecdotal evidence.) Even if they do vote on the immigration issue, is there any reason for these folks to prefer Giuliani over the equally open-borders McCain? Will they vote for the hero who survived the Viet Cong, or the scourge of squeegee men?

* Are enough readers of Commentary registered Republicans to make the presence of Norman Podhoretz as Giuliani’s foreign policy guru a factor?

* Will Giuliani’s (quite real) record of toughness on crime in NYC convince violence-weary Miamians that he can somehow transfer this policy to the entire Middle East? Does the image of U.S. soldiers as global cops on the beat reporting broken windows and busting Arabs as they jump over turnstiles from Syria into Iraq make them feel safer?

This last factor is critical to Giuliani’s appeal anywhere, of course. As I’ve noted elsewhere, it was serendipity and little else that transformed Rudy from a retiring mayor and failed senatorial candidate with a bum prostate and several embittered exes into a national “leader.” Keith Olbermann does a good job of summing up the Giuliani campaign in a few short minutes:

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I first saw this video without the giveway intro., and for a few short seconds thought it might be real.

That said, I wish Giuliani a hearty, strong performance in this primary. Every vote he gets is one taken from John McCain. Apart from Ron Paul, the remaining Republicans are a dismal lot, and the longer they go on battering each other the better. Best yet, if they go into a divided convention, and Paul has enough delegates to force the party to give him some sort of hearing.

He won’t get a speech, ala Pat Buchanan in 1992, of course—one of the great moments in recent American politics, a cold splash of truth in the national face.

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This great speech (contrary to court history) actually boosted Bush I in the polls for several days—until the media, fed by neocon pundits such as William Bennett, spun the story that this speech was “extreme” and “scary.” Essentially, Buchanan was “borked” by his own party. As Fox and the rest of the “conservative” media have been borking Ron Paul good and hard throughout this campaign.

No, Ron Paul won’t be allowed to speak. But a Paul delegation with a decent number of delegates will at least serve as a reminder of the principles Republicans once stood for, as the lamb they nominate for the slaughter goes into a general election that is likely to recall Bob Dole’s run against Bill Clinton. Look for a long autumn of Republican “electile dysfunction.” (If your hopes of beating the Clinton/Obama ticket persist for more than four hours, see a doctor.)


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