Saturday, September 10, 2005
If he runs for president in '08, Rudy can't fail
Hurricane Katrina may have changed the dimension of the nation's politics for 2008. With George W., we voted for him because he would take the fight against terrorism to its origination point: the Middle East. I salute that strategy and believe that Iraq will be democratized with great dividends for our international security.
But next it'll be important to have a president who can slash through red tape and make us secure at home. The Katrina thing wasn't Bush's fault, but what was needed was a president who could pull the trigger domestically, knock heads together with the state and local governments and deliver resources quickly. That spells only one name for future president. In an ideal world he may not have been my first choice, but it's Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani played no role in taming Katrina, but as I saw New Orleans turn into an open sewer, all I could think of was what Giuliani would do. Threats to our country demand a Prince of the City: a prince fearless enough to write his own rules to establish order. And a prince emblematic of Machiavelli's book of the same name, one who can bluff winningly, who can engender fear and respect. As one conservative Republican woman in Temecula, Calif., told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt: ''All that [meaning pro-life, pro-abortion] doesn't matter if we're not safe." By which she meant Giuliani, the indomitable ex-mayor of New York, the hero of 9/11. With Giuliani, the signal would be transmitted to all: He's determined that we will be safe at home.
The Twin Towers disaster and Katrina were different, but what Giuliani did in New York was to direct the city while instructing the entire country as to what was happening and how he was going to fix it. Giuliani seized the day. He is running first in the 2008 Republican sweepstakes.
They say he's a sinner, and I believe that. His personal life has been, up to his third marriage, awful. He slept on the couch at Gracie Mansion, vomited by his solitary self after chemotherapy for prostate cancer, wife No. 2 not caring enough to inquire about him. Now he's cured and is a wiser but sadder man. I like my presidents humbled somewhat.
Fortunately, I am not alone in my high regard for Giuliani. The most recent Pew poll, which maps the political landscape, has Giuliani topping all contenders across a broad swath of public opinion. He rates highest among enterprisers, those who want to promote business (90 percent); social conservatives (75 percent); pro-government conservatives (69 percent); the "upbeats" who view the future positively (69 percent); taking with him a majority of the disaffected people who have felt depressed about the country's future (53 percent); doing nicely with disadvantaged Democrats (37 percent), and falling just short of a majority with liberals (47 percent). He has done this without the visible trappings of a campaign.
There's only one guy in modern times who started with such an advantage: Dwight D. Eisenhower. When Eisenhower announced for president, few knew anything about him other than he was a man of decisiveness. On June 4, 1944, he looked at his watch and the weather reports and said, ''We'll go.'' Did we ever.
And as for those who say that Giuliani is too liberal, I say: Wait for the change as the campaign unfolds and he won't have to romance just New York City. His critics forget the magical fluidity that is politics. Ike started out as an FDR man, JFK an America Firster, LBJ a segregationist, Nixon a Red China-basher.
Reagan was originally a pro-choicer who co-founded Americans for Democratic Action. George H.W. Bush, who was called "rubber George" in the House, wanted the feds to control population and was an enthusiastic pro-choicer. And remember, George W. was a supporter of humble, stay-at-home foreign policy.
One more thing: Let 'em pair Giuliani, whose words spout like bullets from a machine gun, with a veep who talks slow, with the vowels dripping syrup on hominy grits swimming with butter: Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who brilliantly handled Hurricane Katrina. Manhattan and Mississippi. Yeah: I like that.