I like Rudy Giuliani. I hate abortion. This was the dilemma I faced when deciding for whom to vote in the upcoming Republican primary. Being a staunchly pro-life conservative Catholic, it somehow seemed wrong to vote for a candidate who has voiced his support for the legality, if not the morality, of a woman’s right to kill her unwanted child. But as I closely followed the campaign and the candidates, I came to realize that his support for abortion rights is neither very deep, nor very consequential. And in the process I reached the conclusion that Rudy Giuliani is the best man for the job of President of the United States.
Like every field of presidential hopefuls, the current crop of candidates is not perfect, but in order to advance our agenda conservatives must coalesce around whichever candidate ultimately wins the Republican nomination. Some conservatives have once again been doing their level best to split the movement apart and thus dampen conservative turnout in the upcoming general election. Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, for example, in a classic case of ‘casting the first stone’ uncharitably judged Rudy for various events in his personal life which are, quite frankly, none of his business. Dobson vowed he “cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008.” Other conservatives have reached different conclusions: Free Congress Foundation’s Paul Weyrich left open the possibility of supporting the former Mayor (if he wins the nomination) as long as he makes certain commitments on issues such as abortion and gay-marriage. And Evangelical leader and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy for president. For my part, though I will cast my primary vote for Rudy, I will support any of the top five Republicans (and the seventh) in this race against the eventual Democrat nominee if they win the nomination.
It is crucial that we conservatives rally round the eventual nominee because the last time self-righteous ideologues such as Dobson tried to punish Republicans for their apostasy on a small number of issues was in the 2006 mid-terms and had this predictable result: It elevated Charles Rangel to Chairman of the Ways and Means committee in the House, and Chuck Schumer to the Chairmanship of the Judiciary committee in the Senate. As a result, the nomination of strict constructionist or originalist judges is at the mercy of the rabidly pro-abortion liberal Schumer and tax policy is in the hands of the leftist tax-and-spend Rangel. Nice going, guys.
Each of the Republican candidates is flawed in one way or another: Mike Huckabee is a social conservative, but an economic liberal with a dubious record on law-enforcement. John McCain is generally strong on foreign policy (his anti-water-boarding crusade being an exception), but his positions on taxes, immigration, campaign finance, and global warming, among others are repellent to the rank and file. Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney generally support the conservative position on most issues, but the former Tennessee Senator lacks any real executive experience, while the former Massachusetts governor’s recent conversion on some of these issues smacks more of expedience than conviction. And since Ron Paul is even less willing than the top three Democrat contenders to defend American interests abroad I shudder at the possibility, however remote, that he wins the nomination. The knock on Rudy is that he is a social moderate – some would say liberal. He has and does articulate positions on some social issues that are to the left of the Republican mainstream. (I’ll explore the abortion issue in greater detail later). This has always been, in terms of Republican electoral politics, his Achilles heel, but …
Then Achilles Turned Toward Troy
On the morning of September 11, 2001 everything changed. Two commercial airliners loaded with Americans were hijacked by radical Islamic terrorists and, in an act of unmitigated evil and treachery, slammed into some of the most visible landmarks of American freedom. This was more than a mere terrorist attack; it was an act of war. The resultant toll in American blood was both appalling and horrific. And it only turned out to be considerably less than initial estimates seemed to suggest because of the heroic efforts of hundreds of brave and selfless patriots in the NYPD, FDNY, PAPD, the U.S. Military, and civilians both on flight 93 and in the Pentagon and World Trade Center. These men and women, most of whose acts of selfless courage will never be known because their stories died with them, responded with singular bravery in their country’s moment of need.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Rudy Giuliani, despite the personal grief caused by the loss of a number of close friends in the collapse of the Twin Towers, provided precisely the sort of strong and inspirational leadership displayed by Winston Churchill during WWII and the sort that was painfully and glaringly lacking in Louisiana in the wake of the Katrina disaster. No one else in the presidential field has been tested in the crucible of this conflict’s front lines the way he has (Sen. McCain’s Vietnam experience notwithstanding). And Rudy, perhaps more than any other candidate in this race, understands intrinsically the existential threat posed to Western freedom by the forces of radical Islamic jihad. No one is as committed as he is to take this fight to the enemy and defeat them on their turf, and on our terms.
Leviathan in Chains
Many Republican candidates promise to govern as a conservative by reigning in the size, scope, and cost of government, but only one has actually done it; not only has Rudy Giuliani actually scaled back government, but he did it in the very belly of the beast: NYC. In a typical display of leadership and fiscal discipline, Mayor Giuliani reduced the NYC workforce by roughly 20%, the welfare rolls by 60%, balanced a city budget that was hemorrhaging cash, and elevated the city’s bond rating to a 30-year high – all while cutting taxes by 9 billion dollars. He accomplished all of this with a legislative body – the City Council – dominated by liberal Democrats. This is an example of true conservative, supply-side governance. No other candidate can match this record. And the new tax plan announced by the Giuliani campaign promises to transfer these achievements to the federal government by slashing tax rates and eliminating many unfair and counter-productive taxes. In contrast, Mike Huckabee recently defended his decision to raise taxes on Arkansans by explaining he did it to balance the state budget. And John McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts from the start. Whom should conservatives support, a man who has balanced budgets by raising taxes? A Senator who has never managed a large budget and opposes tax cuts? Or should we support a seasoned executive who has slashed taxes while balancing a massive budget?
Broken Windows, Broken Records
Upon taking office as mayor in 1994, Rudy Giuliani based the future of his entire administration on one key premise: If he could make NYC’s streets safe again, then the rest of his ambitious plan (economic growth, job creation, welfare reform, etc) was possible; if not, his would be the latest in a long string of failed mayoralties, bested – like his well-intentioned predecessors – by the wild, ungovernable metropolis he led.
His first order of business, then, was crime. He tackled this problem with the same mixture of cool intelligence and bulldog tenacity which had become his trademark. He began by appointing William Bratton as Police Commissioner and together they began the revolution which forever transformed the nature of policing in America. They implemented the ideas of noted criminologist James Q. Wilson, the concept that by ignoring low-level crimes and being a reactive police force, criminality, even anarchy is encouraged; and conversely that by being proactive in posture and treating quality of life crimes seriously, that an atmosphere of order is created. They implemented COMPSTAT – the system, inspired by Jack Maple, which tracks daily crime trends, devolves responsibility (and resources) to local precinct commanders, and holds those commanders responsible for crime in their jurisdiction. He also instituted a policy even more radical in its uniqueness which allowed all the other changes to germinate and bear fruit: he backed up his cops and told the racist, racial agitators to take a walk.
The result of these changes has been well-noted, but that makes them no less remarkable. By the end of his term as mayor, overall crime in NYC had been reduced by half, murder by two-thirds. And because his successor, Mike Bloomberg and his Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have, to their great credit, retained and furthered the innovations begun by Rudy Giuliani, crime continues to drop precipitously in NYC: there were fewer than 500 murders in the city in 2007 –a remarkable achievement considering the fact the there were well over 2,000 murders per year in the late 80’s and early 90’s – before Rudy took office.
While Democrats in congress and the Clinton Administration were debating the crime-fighting efficacy of midnight basketball and after-school programs, the NYPD, under the leadership of Rudy Giuliani was locking up felons, closing out open warrants, and vigorously prosecuting criminals. The results of this approach speak for themselves. The methods and techniques pioneered by Rudy Giuliani have been copied and implemented throughout the country resulting in a nationwide decline in crime unprecedented in US history. Rudy Giuliani will bring with him to Washington this same knack for strong, effective leadership in reducing the size and cost of government and will wield the same innovative approach to border security/immigration enforcement and anti-terror efforts that he honed in cracking down on crime in New York.
Paradoxically, like President Bush Rudy Giuliani may be a victim of his own success. Many Americans, as memories of 9/11 fade with the passage of time, are lulled into a false sense of security by the success of the Bush administration in preventing another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil for 6+ years. Likewise, many people – New Yorkers included – forget what the City was like before it was tamed by America’s Mayor.
Times Square is a perfect example. Like Iraq’s al-Anbar province circa 2004, it was, before Rudy’s tenure, a no-go zone (That is, unless you were packing heat and looking for trouble.) In the early 90’s a person could not walk through ‘the crossroads of the world’ without slipping on a used condom and landing on a dirty needle. Now, Times Square is a thriving, family-friendly tourist destination once again.
In 1995, before standing up to terrorists (let alone the State Department) was cool, he kicked Yasser Arafat out of Lincoln Center and in 2001 he refused to accept Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s donation to the Twin Towers Fund after he (like Ron Paul) blamed America for the attacks on 9/11. He took on and crushed (as a federal prosecutor, Justice Department official, and as mayor) organized crime in New York. He took on the ACLU and the peddlers of pornography; he cut off public funding for the Brooklyn Art Museum for displaying blasphemy masquerading as art; he refused to meet with the vile race hustlers, let alone bow down before them as his predecessors had done; In fact, at his every opportunity to take an official stand in the culture wars, Rudy has taken an unapologetic and principled conservative one.
Since Roe v. Wade, presidential power has been severely restricted with respect to abortion policy. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling against state laws restricting abortion, like other activist court decisions, replaced federalism and the democratic process with the oligarchic rule of five unelected judges with lifetime tenure. Overturning Roe v. Wade and restoring the Supreme Court to its proper status as a co-equal – not preeminent – branch of government is the immediate goal of the pro-life movement. Once this is done, however, abortion policy will once again become a state issue, not a federal one. It will be up to the 50 state legislatures to pass new laws outlawing the barbaric procedure. What the next president can do is to appoint conservative, strict constructionist justices to the bench who will restore the proper balance between the three branches of government and overturn Roe. The next president will, in all likelihood, have the opportunity to appoint as many as three new justices to the High Court. Rudy Giuliani has committed to appointing just such men and women to the court. In his National Review article endorsing Rudy last year, former Solicitor General (and possible High Court nominee?) Ted Olson wrote:
That is one very important reason why this conservative Republican is supporting Rudy Giuliani for president. I know the qualities he will look for in the persons he will appoint to the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts: individuals of talent, quality, experience, integrity, intellect, and conscious of constitutional limits on judicial authority; men and women who will respect and defer to the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution and the rights of citizens to make policy through their elected representatives; jurists in the mold of Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito and Chief Justices Rehnquist and Roberts.
When a majority of the Supreme Court base their decisions on the Constitutions original meaning and the intent of its framers Roe v. Wade will be overturned because it was a decision based not on the Constitution but in spite of it. And since Rudy has made the commitment to appoint such men and women to the court, his personal support for a woman’s right to an abortion should not prohibit pro-life conservatives from backing his candidacy.
Rudy Giuliani is a strong, principled conservative with the executive experience and leadership ability to lead our country and our party for the next four years and beyond. No other candidate can match his record, his intelligence, his strength, his tenacity, or his commitment to limited government, free markets, low, pro-growth tax policies, a strong and vigorous military, secure borders, and an aggressive, America first foreign policy. As a New Yorker I witnessed first-hand how he imposed order and sanity on a city and government in chaos; a city ravaged by decades of liberal madness which had sapped it of its vitality and sent its middle class fleeing in droves. Rudy did for New York what Ronald Reagan did for America: he restored a sense of pride in its people and hope for the future. And just as Reagan prevailed over the threat of Soviet communism by confronting it head-on, Rudy will aggressively confront the current threat to liberty our country faces: radical Islamic jihad. And ultimately, that is why I proudly support Rudy Giuliani for President.