Monday, September 10, 2007

Giuliani Finally Gets His Due From New York Times

The New York Times at last provided a fair analysis of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's political appeal and strategy in the Presidential campaign Sunday in a long article in the NYT Magazine by Matt Bai, who covers national politics for the magazine.

After a long series of nitpicking articles on the Giuliani record in the Times' news sections, Bai's article makes the point that Giuliani was politically a highly successful mayor of New York, and can use his record, particularly following the terrorist attack of 9-11, to appeal to Republican voters in the primaries who are concerned about the nation's security and desirous of finding a more efficient leader than President George W. Bush to fight the War on Terror.

Despite stands on gun control, gay rights and abortion that are at variance with those of many evangelical Republican voters, Bai speculates that the evangelicals are more concerned about the threat of Islamic extremists than they are about these social issues in the developing campaign.

Although the writer says that former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts may be ahead of Giuliani in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, he feels that if Giuliani can do plausibly well in those early tests, he can go ahead to defeat Romney in such big states as Florida, New York, New Jersey and California, and put himself in a position to win the GOP nomination.

GOP fears of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton are shifting primary voters to Giuliani, because the voters feel Giuliani would be able to successfully compete with Clinton on the vital security issue, Bai writes.

The article is an impressive analysis of the developing 2008 race. Also, Bai accompanied Giuliani on an Iowa campaign trip, and believes he is coming across well in the farm towns that make up a substantial share of votes in the Iowa Caucuses.

At the same time, he takes due note of Giuliani's shortcomings, questions that have arisen about his 9-11 record. But Bai still feels that he comes across in the campaign thus far as a decisive figure who might more effectively command U.S. forces in the war than Bush has been able to do.

I'm glad that the New York Times ran this article, because it does the paper credit that it is willing to be fair to Giuliani, a candidate that some of its editors obviously feel is too hawkish for their taste. It's going to be a long campaign, and in it the New York Times has to be credible. It can't wear its heart on its sleeve.

This is not such a problem for the Los Angeles Times, whose national political coverage so far has been eminently fair.

As for the validity of Bai's analysis, the only point where I would take any exception is his apparent feeling that Giuliani could brush aside Romney victories in Iowa and New Hampshire and yet go on in the big states to become the party's nominee.

I'm not sure of this. There can be tremendous value in the primaries of a strong early start, because it establishes momentum and garners publicity that is advantageous to the early winners later. They roll on to the big states looking like winners, and this means additional support from later voters.

In the campaign thus far, besides the Romney lead in Iowa and New Hampshire, one sees former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina making a major bid for Iowa Democratic caucus votes out of a belief a victory there would put a crimp in the Clinton bandwagon.

It might be, this could work. But the Clinton campaign does not seem to be missing many steps. It is well funded and it could well be that Clinton will put more effort into Iowa and New Hampshire and yet come out ahead in both states. If she does, she will be on the road to the nomination, despite the impressive campaign of Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Over the weekend, I heard from a friend expressing concern over the vitriolic anti-Clinton campaign already being waged by the Republican right in e-mails, articles and so forth. It looks to him like a nasty campaign, this friend said. He has been getting much of the mud in messages on his computer.

I've already contended in an earlier blog (August 18) that a Giuliani-Clinton final would be a nasty, very ideologically-oriented affair, especially on the key security issue. This should go without saying. Both are hard driving, controversial candidates.

The only other recent development in national politics of importance is the worsening economic outlook growing out of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. There is now speculation the country may be heading into a recession. There can be no question this would be a factor benefitting the Democratic candidate, no matter who it is, if it materializes.

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In a New York Times book review of two hawkish books by Norman Podhoretz and Michael A. Ledeen, "World War IV, The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism," and "The Iranian Time Bomb, The Mullah Zealots' Quest For Destruction," respectively, the liberal writer Peter Beinart is really fair toward neither book. Beinart must be viewed for what he is, a foe of the U.S. throwing its weight around in the Middle East and elsewhere, and he is not at all inclined to be evenhanded with authors like Podhoretz and Ledeen.

Podhoretz, incidentally, is a foreign policy adviser to the Giuliani campaign.

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