Dallas, TX –
Can Rudi Giuliani pull the Republican party back to the middle? At first I thought he could. Remember his eventful past - the wildly public parting from his wife, actress Donna Hanover, who stayed in Gracie Mansion with their two children while he slept in the apartments of various friends, including a couple of gay guys? The malignancy and surgery he not only survived but also ignored to become a true hero on September 11, 2001? His marriage two years later to Judith Nathan, who had been on the scene longer than the previous Mrs. Giuliani wished to remember?
It was hardly the stuff that would sell in South Carolina. I assumed Giuliani would not try, and instead would run as himself. But there he was, only days ago, promising that his appointments to the Supreme Court would be strict constructionists which usually means, though he refuses to admit it, justices who would find no right of privacy in the Constitution and therefore no right to abortion for women. Giuliani supported choice when he was running for mayor of New York but now says that his Catholicism gives him serious pause.
What does this mean? It means that probably he would be a president who would not harp on the right to life and would not trot out the anti-gay-marriage amendment every time things went wrong on other fronts. But watch out for the Supreme Court, which could move all the way to the Scalito right, by absolute demand of conservative voters. They would insist, quite justifiably, that campaign promises be honored. Of course, if Democrats hold the House and Senate, they could hold out for a moderate nominee, but those who want to see choice preserved had better hope it's in Giuliani's second term, without reelection hanging over his head.
As for Iraq, Giuliani has supported the war and still says it was the right decision but implemented in the wrong way. He has been careful, however, to add that the president's infusion of 21,000 additional troups might not work.. He also has stressed that the fight against terrorism goes far beyond our fortunes in Iraq. So there's a chance he would be realistic about that part of the world, though he might have to act against the views of many Republicans who support the war.
Also, the sour response of former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton to Bush's reasonable and welcome agreement with North Korea and the other four negotiating nations suggests what Giuliani might have to deal with if he names Republican right-wingers to his administration. These are the ones who have kept Bush from sensible action on problems in North Korea and Iran for six years.
Giuliani gets mixed reviews from those who lived in New York when he was running the city. Some praise his success in fighting crime while others call him unstable and erratic. From a distance it seems to me that he has to be given credit for strong results in a difficult job.
Giuliani has heart. He's proven that. But if he becomes the captive of the right-wing of his party, as John McCain and Mitt Romney already seem to be, he will leave moderates with no place to go except to the junior senator from New York.
Lee Cullum contributes to the Dallas Morning News and is host of the new monthly series CEO on KERA 13.
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