February 19, 2007

Having already seen ample evidence that the neocon Evil Empire is wild about Rudy Giuliani and supports him enthusiastically for president, last week I encountered further proof courtesy of Jonah Goldberg, who is syndicated in the Lancaster New Era. Although our evening paper pretends to be on the center-right, in contrast to its equally narcoleptic morning counterpart, which is Democratic, most of the items in both papers come out of decidedly leftist news services. The featured columnists every evening are unfailingly neoconservatives, so much so that after several nights of the assorted maunderings of that predictable Bushite windbag Cal Thomas, I eagerly await Jonah’s relatively peppy prose.

In Jonah’s latest offering, “€œRomney, Giuliani: canaries in coal mine of conservative politics,”€ one can locate the party-line already laid out by Richard Brookhiser, Dennis Miller on FOX, John Podhoretz, William Kristol, the New York Sun, and the New York Post, about which presidential hopeful we best appreciate. What makes Jonah’s presentation less programmed than the other endorsements, however, is that he takes his time approaching the big issue. He talks about Romney’s tactical about-turn on abortion and why this candidate just can”€™t cut it with real conservatives. Then he gets on to the good guy, who is becoming apparently irresistible to voters: “€œOf course Giuliani’s national profile expanded enormously because of 9/11. And while the press harp on that point, the more interesting part of the story lies elsewhere. The war on terror hasn”€™t just changed Giuliani’s profile on a crisis leader; it’s changed the attitude of many Americans, particularly conservatives about the central crisis facing the country.”€ Moreover, “€œit’s not that pro-lifers are less pro-life or that social conservatives are suddenly OK with homosexuality, gun control, and other issues where Giuliani’s dissent from mainstream conservative opinion would normally disqualify him. It’s that they really, really believe the war on terror is for real.”€  

There are three questions, although there may be more if I think longer, that this implied endorsement occasions. One, why don”€™t those who notice Giuliani’s leftist social views bring up the one that has been most on display, his exuberant support of illegal immigration? A review essay of mine, printed in the latest issue of the Australian National Observer, which starts and finishes with remarks on Pat Buchanan’s recent bestseller, points out Giuliani’s shocking public positions on illegals. For those who are supposedly concerned about what is usually interpreted as a wedge issue for Republicans, the fact that Rudy has called for increased social services to illegals should influence their electoral choices. One wonders whether the media, and particularly Rudy’s neocon boosters, have not been keeping this burning issue out of the public discussion.

Two, how seriously can one take Jonah’s assurance that “€œsocial conservatives”€ (whatever the hell that means) are not less conservative than they used to be, if they have abandoned their protection of innocent life and the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, to back a swinging, out-of-work former New York mayor, who is as far to the left on social issues as, and even farther to the left on immigration than, his likely Democratic presidential opponent.  I”€™ve no trouble believing that this change of position has happened for non-moral reasons, namely that self-proclaimed conservatives and the entire “€œconservative movement”€ have had their minds or arms twisted to vote for a leftist who is “€œgood”€ on Israel and foreign crusades for democracy. What is unlikely, however, is that the enthusiasm for Giuliani has anything to do with prioritizing deeply held conviction. It merely shows the undiminished power of the neoconservative media in handling small minds and opportunistic placeholders. Or else the pressure placed by Republican operatives, who are afraid of losing patronage, if Hillary wins and who are pushing their local organization to back a left-leaning Republican politician, that is, someone who may be able to wrest the presidential election from the Democrats. As the French say, d”€™autres temps, d”€™autres moeurs. Unless I”€™m mistaken, those who ceaselessly yakked about Clinton’s lechery are now rejoicing over the manliness of their preferred lecher of the hour. Two weeks ago, the onetime Pecksniffs at the New York Post placed on their front page a tasteless photo, which was meant to impress, of Giuliani French-kissing his latest spouse. And this from a paper that has sounded like Billy Sunday preparing for the Apocalypse when it comes to highlighting Bill Clinton’s affairs.

Three, why doesn”€™t Jonah offer any better evidence for his weighty judgments than what he picked up at the “National Review conservative summit last month.”€ Supposedly Romney laid an egg there as a speaker by addressing the pro-life issue. Those assembled registered “€œdisappointment”€ that Romney proceeded to discuss social issues and failed to stress the war against terror. It is hard to imagine what the reader is supposed to learn from this “€œdisappointment,”€ however “€œpalpable”€ it was according to Jonah. The gathering to which Jonah refers would have had the spontaneity of a meeting of the geriatric Soviet Politburo or, to find an even more dramatic example of obedient consensus, a meeting of Heritage Foundation staffers called to discuss Middle Eastern policy proposals. I”€™m not sure that one can learn much about opinions in the American heartland by schmoozing with Rod Dreher, Ramesh Ponnuru, and David Frum. Who cares that they say the obvious, that they agree with the neocons”€™ presidential choice and that Israel and exporting democracy are the key issues for the next presidential race! Although Jonah would not likely be persuaded to do anything quite so intellectually honest or daring, he might for the sake of a fuller view of political reality pay attention to those who write for and read this website. There are at least as many of us around here as those who attend NR “€œconservative summits”€ and I would imagine that our median intelligence is considerably higher”€”or at least less constrained.

For the sake of full disclosure, in a two-way race between Hillary and Giuliani, in which I was required to vote, I would reluctantly give my ballot to the less dangerous and less radical candidate from New York, the former first lady. I could not imagine a candidate whom I as a Taft Republican would find less agreeable in the White House than Giuliani, and not only for his positions on foreign affairs. His stated views on illegal immigration are at least as execrable as those of Teddy Kennedy.


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