Stop the Presses

I might as well not keep the media on tenterhooks any longer. At the risk of confirming suspicions that I am nothing more than a Republican tool, I hereby let it be known that, as regards the bouquet of presidential candidates on offer this time around, the one most likely to pick up the official waka waka waka endorsement — so far at least — is Rudolph Giuliani. He has his peculiarities, to be sure, but they are not of the sort that bother me, and he is intelligent, principled, and consistent.

Giuliani was, I think, an effective mayor of New York, and provided outstanding leadership in Gotham’s darkest days (as I believe he may already have mentioned). He rightly sees foreign policy as being of pre-eminent importance, and his views on that subject are roughly congruent with my own. In contrast to typical Republican candidates, he is not given to Puritanical moralizing on matters of private conduct, and so far as I can tell he is not given to baying about his cozy relationship with God Almighty, or to passing along any instructions therefrom. And I won’t soon forget the time he ejected that murderous thug Yasir Arafat from Lincoln Center, way back in 1995. I think I’d almost vote for him on the strength of that alone, frankly.

Giuliani is generally optimistic, which I appreciate as well. Today’s Opinion Journal quoted a representative example, from a recent speech at the Federalist Society:

I get very, very frustrated when I hear … certain Americans talk about how difficult the problems we face are, how overwhelming they are, what a dangerous era we live in. I think we’ve lost perspective. We’ve always had difficult problems, we’ve always had great challenges, and we’ve always lived in danger. Do we think our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents didn’t live in danger and didn’t have difficult problems? Do we think the Second World War was less difficult than our struggle with Islamic terrorism? Do we think that the Great Depression was a less difficult economic struggle for people to face than the struggles we’re facing now? Have we entirely lost perspective of the great challenges America has faced in the past and has been able to overcome and overcome brilliantly? I think sometimes we have lost that perspective. Do you know what leadership is all about? Leadership is all about restoring that perspective that this country is truly an exceptional country that has great things that it is going to accomplish in the future that will be as great and maybe even greater than the ones we’ve accomplished in the past. If we can’t do that, shame on us. … Every single problem that I solved in New York City that people thought was impossible to solve, I solved it because I’m an optimist, because I refuse to accept defeat, because I refuse to accept that intelligent people with the kind of advantages we’ve been given can’t solve any problem that we’re faced with.

It’s nothing Churchillian, and anyway I’m not one to swoon over speechifying, but I like the tone of that. Read the whole thing here.

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  1. Actually, I am a registered Democrat.


  1. Last time that I checked, I was also a Democrat, and I voted Democratic in my hometown elections — electing cousins and friends — but at the state level (Arkansas) and federal level (Washington, DC) . . . well, that’s a secret.

    I, too, like Giuliani’s tough optimism, but I’m still undecided on this election. I also happen to like Obama (having read his biography). I guess that I’m idiosyncratic.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 12:59 am | Permalink
  2. One day, hopefully, some one will explain to me what all this ‘registered democrat/republican’ actually means. You see, if I was a member of the Tory party (which thank the Lord I’m not, Sir!), I would feel it proper to resign before voting for a Labour candidate. Honestly, you Americans are sometimes very puzzling!

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Hi David,

    I don’t really feel any particular allegiance to either party; the only point of registering with one or the other party, as far as I can tell, is to be able to vote in that party’s primary election, which is how the nominees for the general election are chosen. Since my home state of New York is very likely to be carried by the Democratic nominee in the general election, registering as a Democrat allows me to have a say in who that might be. However, if it should turn out that Giuliani is going to be facing a serious challenge in the New York primary (which I doubt will happen), I might re-register.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  4. Hmmmn! Thank you, Malcolm, and please don’t think I’m ungrateful but it is rather like reading and concentrating hard on an explanation of the theory of relativity and just when I’ve got it – my wife sticks her head in the door and asks if I want my eggs fried or scrambled – and instantly it has gone again. Anyway, as a life-long admirer of the USA, I assume you all know what you’re doing!

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 3:36 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    I can explain it quite simply. By registering with one party or the other, I can vote in the New York primary for that party, and so can influence my state’s decision for that party’s candidate.

    I am quite confident that Giuliani, as a former NYC mayor, will win New York’s nomination to be the Republican candidate, so that I don’t feel my participation in the New York Republican primary is necessary.

    However, because the Democrats might win the general election this time around, I want to be able to help decide who the Democratic candidate might be as well, because that person might end up being the next president. So I feel my bets are best hedged by voting in the Democratic primary.

    Not that I am particularly thrilled by any of the Democratic candidates, mind you: Hillary Clinton is a carpetbagging opportunist who will say anything to anyone, and who offers a dreadful combination of having no real executive experience and being a notorious micromanager; while Barack Obama, for all his vaunted charisma, may be presidential timber one of these days, but is still far to green for 2008. The rest of them have no realistic prospects whatsoever, save for John Edwards, with whom I have profound disagreements.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
  6. I am shocked that any sentient being would endorse Giuliani. If he becomes President, his administration will be disastrous.

    1) Giuliani’s “peculiarities” include informing his wife that he was divorcing her in a Gracie Mansion press conference, being estranged from his kids, having a bullying and divisive manner, recommending his pal Kerik to run Homeland Security, firing talented people (William Bratton) when they share the limelight & then claiming their success as his own, and being a Yankees fan. They are “not of the sort that bother” you?

    2) Giuliani is enthusiastically supports Bush’s foreign policy, and if there is any daylight between the two on domestic policy, I don’t see it. Why would you endorse the continuation of failed policies? What is it that the Bush administration has done that you would like to see repeated?

    3) Giuliani’s ejection of Yassir Arafat from Lincoln Center was, to borrow a phrase, the act of “a carpetbagging opportunist.” I am not here to bang a drum for Yassir Arafat. However, as long as New York is home to the United Nations, the Mayor has absolutely no right to snub someone who is in New York for a UN function, regardless of how reprehensible that person may be. Castro and Kruschev spoke at the UN, and they are somewhere around Arafat on the scale of evil. For all I know, Mao and Stalin probably spoke there too. They were not abused by the Mayor of New York, nor should they have been. The Mayor does not have the obligation to welcome them, but he has the obligation not to abuse them. Not only is it a useless act – it didn’t achieve anything except for possibly making Arafat more of a hero at home – but it was a shameless act of playing to the crowds. Abusing someone who is widely despised to curry favor with a large electoral block in violation of your responsibilities as Mayor is as opportunistic an act as I could possibly imagine.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Well, Peter, I had a feeling you’d weigh in on this one. I was all set to rebut you in detail, but I realized it was hopeless in your first paragraph. You see, I’m a Yankees fan.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
  8. Well, actually, me too — been going to Yankee Stadium since Mickey Mantle days — but for some reason I thought you were a Metropolitans fan —

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
  9. 1) Regardless of what you may think of the Clintons’ politics, you cannot deny that they have kept their marriage together for decades and they are great parents. I would take that over three marriages, a divorce which humiliated the divorcee, and estrangement from one’s kids any day.

    2) One need not be a “namby pamby doormat” to get things done without being divisive and mean-spirited. You need not look further than Mike Bloomberg for an example. I would vote for him for President in a heartbeat.

    3) I voted for Giuliani twice over Dinkins. Dinkins was awful.

    4) I don’t know what Giuliani knew or didn’t know about Kerik, but he had no qualifications to be head of Homeland Security, and Giuliani should have known that. Like Micheal Brown, he was an incompetent crony who nearly got one of the most important jobs in Washington due to Giuliani’s help. Rudy should have placed national security above rewarding a friend.

    5) Why anyone would even bother to listen to “neoconservative” thinkers after their policies have done is a mystery to me. These people should skulk off to a cave somewhere, never to be heard from again. Podhoretz, Kristal, Krauthammer, and the rest of that sorry bunch have espoused ideas which have led to so much misery in the world that they have zero credibility regarding anything whatsoever. Zilch. Nada.

    6) We will not agree about the Lincoln Center event. In my view, it’s grandstanding, the worst form of political theater. Insulting Yassir Arafat in New York City: now that’s an act of courage.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  10. Also, Arafat was not a gate crasher. Per the Times article you cite:

    “The Mayor said Mr. Arafat was never invited to the concert, but was given a ticket to it by a country the Mayor did not identify. A P.L.O. official disputed that statement, saying Mr. Arafat was given tickets by the official organizing committee.”

    Whether the official committee or another country gave him a ticket is irrelevant: he had a ticket. How is that gate crashing?

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    Oh well, what the heck.

    In order of appearance:

    Lots of sentient beings are endorsing Giuliani. If this means, to you, that they are therefore not sentient beings, that you might be interested to read about what is called the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

    Yes, he’s a peculiar guy, as I said, and that divorce announcement was strange. I couldn’t care less. Let’s not even get started on the subject of the Clintons’s marital arrangements.

    As for bullying and divisiveness, I’d rather have a strong president than a namby-pamby doormat. We New Yorkers saw how effective that style is with David Dinkins. Giuliani got things done.

    Yeah, Kerik was a tax cheat. Doesn’t mean that Giuliani knew it, or that he wouldn’t have been a good HS administrator.

    Yup, Rudy’s a Yankees fan! And he’s a real Yankees fan, not like a certain Democratic front-runner “Yankees fan” I could name.

    You forget that I was a supporter of the ouster of Saddam Hussein, and generally agree with “neoconservative” thinkers when it comes to foreign policy. That Rudy does too is no strike against him in my book.

    I utterly disagree with you about the ejection of Arafat. The man was a loathsome, lying, murderous thug, and Rudy acted on behalf, I think, of the entire civilized world (not to mention New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer, for whose cowardly murder Arafat was directly responsible, to name just one) in making it clear that he was recognized for what he was — and that while he might have to be allowed into Manhattan to address the UN, he was most certainly not welcome to join the decent people of New York at Lincoln Center. It surprises me, frankly, that the only way you can interpret Rudy’s gesture is as egocentric self-promotion, rather than as a simple matter of honor and decency, and as an entirely proper response to this evil and repulsive man’s having turned up uninvited at the festivities. I’m sure there are those who would have cravenly tolerated Arafat’s gate-crashing, but not Rudy Giuliani, and I joined a great many people in applauding his backbone and rectitude.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 7:01 pm | Permalink
  12. Malcolm says

    Well, Peter, frankly I really don’t care at all about Giuliani’s family life — any more than I cared about Clinton’s — and I don’t think that Bloomberg is a model of diffidence and consensus-building either. I’m glad, at least, that we agree that Dinkins was awful.

    I disagree that Kerik had no qualifications to be HS chief; running the NYPD would be good training for that, I should think. I don’t dispute that there was cronyism there, but I don’t think it goes beyond what is normal in politics. Lord knows, to mention the Clintons once again, that they are not innocent of granting favors to pals.

    I was already aware that you had no fondness for the forward-leaning foreign policy recommendations of neoconservative thinkers. We differ, not least about the likelihood of such a worldview to create, rather than ameliorate, misery.

    And as for Arafat, if you can’t see that welcoming an anti-Semitic terrorist and murderer, and the leader of an organization whose charter is committed to the destruction of Israel, to a festive evening in the bosom of New York society might be repugnant to a man of principle and the New Yorkers he represents, then we will not agree, as you say.

    I had heard that Arafat had no ticket. Perhaps somebody gave him one, in which case I stand corrected.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  13. the one eyed man says

    I care about Giuliani’s family life to the extent that it is illustrative of his character. I think the way he treats his children and ex-wives is a view into what he is really like, once you’ve gotten past the carefully crafted public persona. I believe that a President should be a moral leader, and Giuliani appears to have the moral standards of an alley cat.

    (I am not here to defend Bill Clinton’s zipper problem, but I do not think that Bill’s recklessness reflects on Hillary).

    Kerik failed in his stint trying to resurrect the Iraqi police force, and one might think that being NYPD Commissioner would be good training for that as well. Why he might then succeed running the Homeland Security Department is beyond me. He was so manifestly unqualified for that job that Rudy’s recommendation richly deserves the scrutiny it is receiving.

    Clinton did give jobs to his friends, but they were qualified to do their assignments. James Lee Witt was a boyhood friend, but also someone who had a lot of experience in disaster relief and who became a first rate FEMA administrator. I have no problem with cronies who know what they are doing. Bernard Kerik and Micheal Brown did not know what they were doing.

    Nobody was asking Giuliani to “welcome” Arafat to Lincoln Center. All he had to do was keep his big mouth shut. Rather than welcome him, or keep silent, Giuliani kicked him out (more precisely, he didn’t have the cojones to do it himself, so he instructed his deputy to kick him out). This is not some bold act of standing up to a terrorist. It was a gratuitous act which was deeply embarrassing to the Clinton administration, which was forced to apologize for this breach of diplomacy. Like it or not, the Mayor of New York does not run his own foreign policy, and he does not have the option of deciding which foreign leaders can or cannot attend local events. It may be deeply satisfying to watch a Mayor play to the bleachers and insult those leaders who the masses despise, but the fact is that New York’s unique role as the location of the UN places certain responsibilities on the city government, which Giuliani thumbed his nose at to score cheap political points. Giuliani’s predecessors didn’t insult or abuse Kruschev, Castro, and every other terrorist and tinhorn dictator who came through town. If Giuliani was truly Presidential material, he wouldn’t have abused him either.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
  14. Malcolm says

    I am not suggesting that Giuliani is a sweetheart; I imagine he isn’t. I think he will be an extremely effective executive, as he was in New York, and I agree with his positions on both domestic and foreign policy.

    As for the Clintons, one hardly knows where to begin. Norman Hsu? Marc Rich? The Whitewater files that suddenly turned up on Hillary’s coffee table? If you are going to put the Clintons up in contrast to Rudy as ethical exemplars, you have picked a mighty tough row to hoe.

    But I don’t feel the need to trash the Clintons here; I suppose cronyism and sub-rosa wheeling and dealing are political universals. I lean toward Rudy for the reasons given above, and for the fact that his aims seem coherent.

    I won’t presume to judge Kerik’s effort to organize the Iraqi police, other than to say that it might have been rather a tough assignment for anyone. Anyway, I’m not going to tar Giuliani by association; you could find corrupt or incompetent people in any administration you like. Though Kerik was indeed a liability for Giuliani, he isn’t the one running for president. And Michael Brown is utterly irrelevant here.

    Like it or not, the Mayor of New York does not … have the option of deciding which foreign leaders can or cannot attend local events.

    Sure he does, as Rudy himself demonstrated. I’m glad he showed enough spine to stand up to that foul blackguard. Just because Arafat is to be tolerated at the UN doesn’t mean he has any right to swagger around Lincoln Center — and wearing a pistol, if memory serves! Kowtowing to dictators and hoodlums benefits nobody. Europe and the American Left seem these days to be characterized by a bloodless, effete refusal ever to take a moral stand, ever to give offense, even when dealing with the most repugnant and odious murderers and tyrants. It is, I think, a sign of pessimism, moral confusion, and weakness, and we put more of it in the White House at our peril.

    But enough. This is one of those arguments that could go on forever, and the fun has to end sometime. Let the voters decide.

    You’re a welcome sparring partner, Pete. Last word to you, if you like.

    Posted November 20, 2007 at 11:58 pm | Permalink
  15. Wow, I ran out of popcorn!

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted November 21, 2007 at 2:48 am | Permalink
  16. the one eyed man says

    The last word? I don’t have much to add, except I probably should have added Zippo to Zilch and Nada as quantifiers of neo-conservative credibility.

    Rudy Giuliani is George Bush with less hair and a New York accent. Their political philosophies are indistinguishable. If you think that the Bush administration represents the kind of leadership we should have, then go for it. However, if you think we can do better than we’ve done in the past six years, then you ought to rethink the prized waka waka waka endorsement and support someone who can actually move us forward instead of backwards.

    Posted November 21, 2007 at 11:32 am | Permalink
  17. bob koepp says

    I’m glad the two of you were able to find common ground.

    Posted November 21, 2007 at 12:07 pm | Permalink
  18. Malcolm says

    We did, Bob! We agreed that Dinkins was awful. And Peter’s right: there are some similarities between Bush and Rudy, although I’d say that rather than the important differences being hair and accent, Rudy is more like Bush with brains, literacy, competence, follow-through, common sense, an education, an understanding of the law, and executive ability, and minus the religiosity and post-alcoholism syndrome.

    Ooops — I hope that didn’t violate the spirit of my “last word” agreement… feel free to rebut once again, Pete, if you like.

    Posted November 21, 2007 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  19. So, Malcolm, you’re suggesting that Rudy is still an alcoholic?

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted November 21, 2007 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  20. Malcolm says

    Perhaps I should have used the more technical “dry-drunk”…

    That Rudy is pretty tightly wound. Whatever he needs to loosen up is fine with me.

    Posted November 21, 2007 at 5:16 pm | Permalink