Saturday, August 18, 2007

Giuliani, Not Hillary, Would Be Most Divisive

It's becoming fairly obvious, I think, that if he is nominated, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will be an unusually divisive (or controversial might be a better word) finalist as a Presidential candidate, just like Sen. Robert Kennedy would have been in 1968, had he not been assassinated.

Hillary Clinton is controversial too, but, since she is carefully hewing to a middle-of-the-road, establishment course, she would not be as divisive a Democratic nominee as Giuliani would be a Republican.

For one thing, Giuliani is coming across as absolutely truculent on foreign affairs, the War on Terror, relations with Iran and so forth, quite a bit more so than President Bush. He is strident day after day on how he would conduct the nation's foreign policy, and the reaction on the Democratic left to his nomination would be fierce. Whether, however, this would be a productive tack for him in a fall campaign, has yet to be seen, depending on developments in the war.

We already see how concerned the New York Times is about Giuliani's candidacy. The NYT has lost all sense of dignity, going after him a couple of times a week in the news columns on everything from his record after 9-11 to his family life. (The Times has forgotten Somini Sengupta's article in 2001 on how popular Giuliani and New York firefighters had suddenly become after 9-11 in the black and Hispanic communities of New York. He was not liked in those communities during most of his tenure, but he certainly was then, and the New York Times attempt to denigrate his conduct after 9-11 is like trying to dishonor Churchill and de Gaulle for their conduct in June of 1940. It won't wash).

If this is what the NYT is like in its news "reports," one can only imagine how apoplectic the Times editorial pages would be, if Giuliani won the GOP nomination. I would suggest that Andrew Rosenthal, the NYT editorial page editor, and Bill Keller, the executive editor, take anti-stroke medicine when the campaign begins.

Howell Raines would have had more of a sense of proportion about this, if he were still executive editor.

On the other side, we can already see that the Fox News Network is devoted to a Giuliani candidacy, in part because of the friendship between Giuliani and Fox executive Roger Ailes, but also in large part because of the profound ideological consistency between Fox News and the former New York mayor. In an outstanding Aug. 2 article by Ross Buettner, the New York Times detailed quantitatively just how much Giuliani has been appearing in Fox news interviews, compared to the other leading candidates at this point.

The chart accompanying the article showed that through July 15 of this year, Giuliani had appeared in 115 news interviews on Fox, while Hillary had appeared on just 16, John McCain on 59, Mitt Romney on 91 and Fred Thompson on 101. Other Democratic candidates fared about the same or even worse than Hillary. Bill Richardson and Christopher Dodd both appeared 17 times, while John Edwards appeared 6 and Sens. Joseph Biden and Barack Obama not at all.

So much for Fox fairness, which we have known for a long time doesn't exist (although some Democrats, I believe foolishly, have been involved in what is tantamount to a boycott of Fox). But the point here is that this one-sidedness would certainly become a campaign issue in the fall. Clinton would make it one.

Giuliani's effusive personality, the natural comparison that would be made in many circles between him and his fellow-Italian-Americans who are members of the U.S. Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, his unorthodox (for a Republican) positions on such issues as abortion, gay rights and gun control, all of these are highly combustible material. They make a Giuliani candidacy complex, since he is so hawkish on foreign affairs, while more moderate on domestic ones.

Another fact is, it is important for Hillary Clinton to show herself to be tough, not easily bowled over because she is a woman. Already, in her campaign against Obama, we see that Hillary is not loathe to dish it out. She would certainly go against Giuliani in an abrasive way, and he would certainly respond in kind. We may be looking forward to the angriest presidential election campaign in U.S. history, if you exclude Southern antipathy to Lincoln's candidacy.

Which opens the question whether a Giuliani-Clinton race might not encourage one or more third party candidacies. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg might look positively tame as an alternative to these two.

Will Giuliani be inclined to moderate, or even cut back on public aspects of his love life with his equally controversial mate, Judith Giuliani? Perhaps, but I doubt it.

No, if Giuliani and Hillary are the major party candidates, we are in for a bruising, no-quarters-barred campaign, and, whoever wins, a presidency even more controversial than George Bush's, which is saying something.


The L.A. Times anti-Google editorial Friday was amusing, and must certainly have been the idea of LAT "publisher" and toady to Chicago, David Hiller. But I'm not disturbed at all by it. I figure that in any argument between Google and Hiller, Google is certain to prevail. The editorial makes Hiller a laughing stock, but this isn't new.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post on GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani and attack on the New York Times for reporting on his false and self-serving campaign rhetoric shows your appalling bias and ignorance of all things outside of California. Contrary to your uninformed assertion, Giuliani never had any major support in the city's black community and was, in fact, a divisive figure. The former mayor never put in anywhere near the amount of time at Ground Zero as first responders and the New York Times performed a public service in reporting he put in about 29 hours shortly after 9/ll compared to the hundreds of hours clocked by fire fighters and emergency workers after the tragedy. So once again you don't seem to understand the basics of good journalism.Never too late to learn.

8/19/2007 12:56 PM  

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