January 13, 2008

At first glance, it is a very encouraging sign for conservatives that the Giuliani campaign is now strapped for cash and on its last legs. During much of last year, we have been treated to the spectacle of putatively conservative people engaging in all kinds of intellectual contortions to justify their support for the power-hungry, pro-abortion, hegemonist former mayor. Last March, Scott Richert drew attention to examples of some social conservatives backing Giuliani’s bid on account of his willingness to unleash death and destruction on various foreign populations. Defending the sanctity of life was supposed to stop at the water’s edge. That was the new “€œdeal”€ being offered to pro-life voters. 

As former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and John McCain have taken turns leading the race, Giuliani’s chances have dimmed over the past few weeks, and barring a victory at the end of the month in Florida, he will have few options except to drop out. Unfortunately, Giuliani’s collapse does not reflect a shift in the Republican electorate towards foreign-policy sanity and constitutionalism. Far from it. On the contrary, the three remaining candidates in real contention for the nomination are interventionists, which their recent criticisms of Huckabee’s Foreign Affairs essay has managed to obscure. In one sense, Fred Thompson spoke the truth when he said that Huckabee’s was a “€œliberal foreign policy,”€ but neglected to note that the policies of the current administration and of most of those assembled on the stage in Myrtle Beach this week were similarly divorced from conservative wisdom and prudence. Whether he is calling for the expulsion of all Palestinians from the territories or proposing that American soldiers be sent into Waziristan, Huckabee’s foreign policy is with very few exceptions every bit as reckless, aggressive, and reflexively pro-Israel as anyone’s.

Increasingly, conservative pundits adopted the view that the war on terror had itself become a kind of social issue that would negate Giuliani’s egregious social liberalism. What none of them considered, or what none was willing to say out loud, was that the GOP had become so much the party of war that every leading candidate on the Republican side was virtually indistinguishable from the next on Iraq, “Islamofascism” (as they foolishly keep insisting on calling it), and torture. In that case, the nominal or real pro-life convictions of the candidates would be even more salient and relevant than ever before. Quite unexpectedly for those who have grown accustomed to having so-called “€œnational security”€ and economic conservatives in charge, and social conservatives gratefully accepting whatever scraps they had been given, the corrupt “new fusionist” bargain has ironically worked to propel social issues to the forefront of the campaign. 

This has eliminated the rationale for Giuliani’s candidacy, to the extent that it ever had one, and has benefited pro-war social conservatives and those candidates who would try to adopt this pose. This development has politically strengthened the most aggressive hegemonists in the party, since they will be able to rally Republican voters around a candidate not burdened by the threat of disaffected Christian voters backing a third party or sitting out the election. Republicans seem to have avoided the necessity of making the stark choice between their official pro-life view and perpetual war, perpetuating the same corrupt and corrupting alliance that has brought us to our present predicament in Iraq.    


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