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Giuliani: the Republican Bill Clinton?

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday May 15, 2007 02:55 PM

Rudy in drag I always used to say that the reason Republicans hated Bill Clinton so much was because he had taken their job away: with Democrats like Clinton, who needs Republicans? Now it begins to appear that maybe Rudy Giuliani is pulling a mirror-image version of the same trick. I hate to subject you to anything from the New Republic, but hold your nose for just a minute:

by Thomas B. Edsall

Many observers believe Giuliani's early success is the result of his calculated move rightward--a savvy effort to trick conservative voters into believing he is really one of them. But there is another possibility.... What if we are witnessing not Rudy moving toward the rest of the Republican Party, but rather the Republican Party moving toward Rudy? What if the salience of a certain kind of social conservatism is now in decline among GOP voters....

GIULIANI IS THE beneficiary of an upheaval within the Republican electorate.... the litmus test issues of abortion and gay marriage have been losing traction, subordinated to the Iraq war and terrorism. According to the Pew Research Center, 31 percent of GOP voters name Iraq as their top priority, and 17 percent choose terrorism and security. Just 7 percent name abortion and 1 percent name gay marriage.

The lions of the Christian right--Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson-- ... reached the height of their power in the late '80s, when, by a 51-to-42 majority, voters agreed that "school boards ought to have the right to fire teachers who are known homosexuals." Now a decisive 66-to-28 majority disagrees, according to Pew. In 1987, the electorate was roughly split on the question of whether "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behavior." Today, 72 percent disagree with that statement, while just 23 percent concur....

It isn't just average voters who are driving this shift; many members of the GOP elite--whose overwhelming concern is cutting taxes, a Giuliani forte--would privately welcome the chance to downplay, if not discard, the party's rearguard war against the sexual and women's rights revolutions. Much of the Republican Party's consulting community and country club elite always viewed abortion and gay rights as distasteful but necessary tools to win elections, easily disposable once they no longer served their purpose. Now, with most of the leading GOP contenders demonstrating at best equivocal support for the sexual status quo ante, that time appears to be drawing near.

So -- with Republicans like Giuliani -- who needs Democrats? What happens to the Democrats' be-very-afraid culture-wars strategy when Rudy is the Crossdresser In Chief? This could possibly be fun. Rudy is as crazy as a bedbug, but he most always does look like he's having fun -- and people like that. All the Democrats, by contrast, look like people suffering from acid reflux at the funeral of an aunt who unexpectedly disinherited them.

Comments (5)

What happens is what has happened already for years. Reproductive rights, GLBT rights, and the like, belong to anyone who is wealthy enough to be their own boss and/or to hire a lawyer. The rest of the citizenry nobody gives a damn about.

Remember, if laws are on the books, you don't bring up that it costs money to defend them. That would be tacky.

If laws are not on the books but you can buy the tolerance of your class peers and the grudging subservience of the lower classes, who needs laws ? Let the poor stiffs in the lower tax brackets suffer. They're used to it by now anyway.


photo magic worthy of the kremlin

Michael Hureaux:

Fun? I lived under that trigger happy little fuck for five years, I'd just as soon have nothing to do with him ever again. Washington Heights and its residents haven't forgotten Ghouliani. Fuck that motherfucker. I hope he dies tomorrow.



Lovely reflux quip. I believe you're right and GOP-Dem cultural transvestism will be a treat to watch in 08.

Whatever they think at TNR I don't see the Pew numbers as pointing to any deep turning from the usual hobgoblins. Possibly these numbers measure timidity at a time when war, home prices and the meltdowns of GOP idols make the hating heart less bold. Prejudice is learning that it must be better stage-lit these days than was true in the wild Reagan years, when a fella could call down a Biblical plague as casually as he traded Disney.

While we're on the subject of Republicans, did anyone else here catch the GOP candidates' "debate" and wonder if they'd tuned in to a quiz show by accident?

I caught about twenty seconds' footage of the "debate" -- complete with dramatically-lit moderne-style sets and swoopy-zoomy camerawork -- on CNN's early morning news as I awoke one morning this week and, in my immediate post-REM fog, couldn't tell if I was looking at the GOP candidates' debate or the final round of "Deal Or No Deal".

(Obligatory On-Topic: Giuliani was in the debate, wasn't he? I only caught a couple of long shots of the stage, and I really had literally just woken up.)

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