It's hard to
choose the best Presidential candidate from the motley pack put
forward by the two major parties. Don't touch that delete button!
I am as big a Ron Paul fan as anybody reading this. However, in
my view that effort serves longer-term, more important purposes
than merely picking a U.S. President.
out like a beacon in the current Presidential contest is the worst
option. I refer to "America's Mayor," Hizzoner Rudy Giuliani.
For the moment,
I assume next year's ultimate winner will be Hillary Clinton. To
paraphrase a modern street saying, "stuff happens." As
a conservative, my focus has shifted beyond 2008, to future days
and years when Republicans, conservatives and libertarians struggle
to make sense of their 2008 defeat and decide what to do next.
the apparent melt-down of Rudy Giuliani may pay off. Rudy's previously
commanding lead over Republican rivals in national polls has shrunk
to a dead heat with Mike Huckabee (21 points each in the Dec 9 American
Research Group poll, slightly more for Rudy in other December polls).
As I write (December 18, 2007) the Rasmussen report gives the Iowa
caucuses to Huckabee. Rudy chose not to compete in Iowa.
The only appeal
Giuliani ever had with the public was the media-hyped, self-hyped
impression that he would do the best job of perpetuating George
Bush's Global War on Terror. The basis for even that dubious credential
is unclear. Giuliani's pre-9/11 record is as devoid of competence
in national security issues as his subsequent career. Military service?
Are you kidding?
True, the rest
of the GOP pack (less Ron Paul) also apes the President on terrorism
— but none with the ghoulish enthusiasm of Giuliani. Loyal Republicans
won't say so (publicly) with Bush still in office, but the thoughtful
among them will code a Giuliani collapse as voters also repudiating
Bush anti-terrorism policies, or at least downgrading their priority.
like cheap victories. Throughout the history of democracy a popular
route to that goal has been whipping up a majority to hate some
group (preferably one that doesn't vote, at least not in great numbers).
For post-9/11 "Bush Republicans" that somebody has been
Muslims. Whoops! I forgot to be politically correct — Islamofascist
terrorists. Democrats stuck with their old reliable whipping boys
— the rich. Same game, each party just casts its stones at different
The day after
George Bush leaves office (January 21, 2009 to be precise) I and
a growing army of "freedom Republicans" will step off
the sidelines and go back to work, rebuilding the GOP on the morally
higher ground of its historic mission; defending individual freedom,
personal responsibility and Constitutionally limited government.
Other returnees will focus their attention on equally valid, but
different interests, among them fiscal responsibility and preserving
traditional American beliefs and practices.
It will be
hard work. Perhaps thankless work. Ordinary American voters are
not famously interested in "complicated" political messages.
The temptation will be strong to forget philosophy and get "pragmatic" – go for the gut – go for the flashy issue.
We who demand
something better than victory from the Republican Party will make
our boring, ponderous case against such a strategy. With luck the
next weeks may provide a more convincing and graphic image to keep
the pragmatists on the high road. I refer to the increasingly possible
political demise of the most famous win-for-its-own-sake-Republican
of the 2008 campaign. To use Richard Nixon's occasionally appropriate
phrase, "May Rudy twist, slowly, slowly in the wind."
L. Stokes [send him mail]
is a retired college professor who lives, and occasionally writes,
in Spokane Washington.