Political interlude

It’s early days, anything can happen, but if we happen to stay on our current political track… well, let’s just hope we don’t. If you thought your civil rights took a beating under George W. Bush, I’d like to warmly introduce you to President Giuliani.

I should be happy. We’ve got a semi-hawkish Democrat ahead on the left, and a socially liberal Republican ahead on the right. Extremism doesn’t seem to be cutting it this time around. John Edwards can’t get his phone calls returned. Republican blogs are trying to convince me that Mike Huckabee is surging even though nobody in the country can adequately describe him to a police sketch artist. The only candidates making any headway are centrists — comparatively — or at least pragmatists, or at least people willing to pretend they are centrists and pragmatists.

But I am not happy, and here’s why: I think Rudy Giuliani is crazy. No, really. That’s not euphemism. Lust for power radiates off him. This is a man who put cameras all over the place in New York City, to watch the citizenry, make sure they don’t get out of line. Do you want to see that policy introduced on a national basis? He gets into the Oval Office, you are going to be nostalgic for the wiretapping days of Dick Cheney. And as for bellicose saber-rattling, you’ll be comparing George Bush to Mahatma Gandhi, when you see how Giuliani plans to deal with Iran.

The problem is, people do want to see cameras in the trees, and a great many people think Iran is going to have to be bombed at some point. (On that second matter, I am not sure they’re wrong. But can we bomb them, uh, gently? In a non-war-provoking manner? Like Israel did to Syria?)

People have shown that they are more than willing to sign up to be spied on. They’re not doing anything wrong, and it might nab us some terrorists. Rudy isn’t a fringe candidate, he’s the man to beat, and his attitude toward national security is why. Pat Robertson — PAT ROBERTSON!! — just endorsed pro-choice Ruby Giuliani because of his seriousness in continuing the fight against terrorism.

And I think there’s a pretty good chance he can become president. None of the other Republican candidates are making any kind of national impact. The right-wing blogs are all atwitter about the political jousting going on — ooh, Tom Tancredo just caught up to Mitt Romney in the second-largest county in Iowa! — but the rest of the country doesn’t give a crapola. Nobody on the right other than Giuliani is getting anybody the least bit juiced. I had hopes for about five seconds for Fred Thompson, but he was much better at pre-campaigning than actually campaigning.

So right now it looks like Giuliani versus Clinton, and I’m not sure that’s a race Clinton can win. She may be the best candidate the Democrats have — which makes a nice change from past races, when Dems routinely nominated the worst possible candidate — but she brings with her a number of huge liabilities, and all of them are her husband. First of all, you’ve got the dynasty problem. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton? Only a few people are talking about that right now, but more and more folks are going to wake up to the fact that if Hillary takes the White House, we’ll be ruled by two families for a generation. That’s going to start making people uncomfortable, and so is the idea of a former president back in the White House. What’s Bill’s role going to be? Is he going to be co-president? No? Well, he’s surely going to be doing something for those four years. What? If Hillary can’t answer these questions believably — and I am not sure she can — people may well decide to hell with the whole thing.

Plus, I wonder if Clintonphobia has dimmed enough that Hillary could win national office. That woman was loathed back in Bill’s day. She’s an adept politician, but once she starts talking to people outside her political party, she’ll have two strikes against her before she opens her mouth.

(You’d think maybe her Democratic competitors might be talking about some of this. They’re all so polite over there. I keep hearing how Obama is going to start tearing into Clinton any day now. He’s been saying that for, like, a month. Grrr! The gloves are going to come off! Just you wait! You’re not going to believe the carnage! Any minute now, I’m gonna pounce! The time is nigh! I’m about to go on the attack! Look out!)

I know, I know, you can’t believe there’s a Republican on the face of the earth who can win the presidency in the wake of George W. Bush, who has an approval rating of negative a million. But just because everybody thinks he’s doing a bad job doesn’t mean all the Republicans switched parties. A lot of people still think Islamic-sourced terrorism is the nation’s biggest problem, both here and around the world, and Democrats have a lot of ground to make up before a majority of people entrust them with defending us. Giuliani, on the other hand, is ready, eager, chomping at the bit to defend us… even if he has to put cameras in each and every one of our living rooms.

Once upon a time I said I would never vote for Hillary, because of the dynasty thing. But you know, I’ll take one more dynastic term if I can avoid the possibility of President Giuliani declaring martial law.

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  1. Rosebud
    Posted November 15, 2007 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I agree with you on your trepidations about Giuliani. One quote I’ve heard attributed to him (though I can’t vouch for its accuracy) is something to the effect of “Real freedom is submitting yourself to authority.”

    Remember that there are more than two parties, though. It’s not strictly an either/or thing for your support or your vote, even if it is likely that way for your who your next President will be.


  2. Janinne
    Posted November 15, 2007 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Hillary’s going to win.


  3. Posted November 15, 2007 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Bill is an asset, not a hindrance. I think you underestimate how much Bill Clinton was loved by huge swathes of the population (for example, African-Americans). I honestly believe a lot of people will vote for Hillary just so they CAN get Bill back in the White House. The people who hated Bill generally aren’t the swing voters, they’re the far-righters who won’t vote for any Dem candidate, they don’t factor into the equation.

    And I think the fact that Giuliani is a nutjob is no secret. I think that’s such a given that I’m not even convinced he’s going to win the primary.

    I think HIllary’s going to win, and win big.


  4. Posted November 15, 2007 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I’m not convinced that Hillary’s going to win, largely because the Dems are so damn good at losing elections.

    But – Trip’s right that Bill is a HUGE asset. There are very few people who would consider voting for Hillary but ultimately decide not to do so because of Bill. Put the opposite way – and this is the key point you’re missing – anyone for whom Bill would be an issue, wouldn’t be voting for Hillary in the first place.

    Rudy – god, I have no idea. But if you told me the GOP was going to win the general election, I’d rather have Rudy in there than the others because he’s pro-choice and he’s the best chance we have among GOP candidates to get a not-flagrantly-anti-choice justice on the Supreme Court.

    I for one think there’s a good shot that Huckabee wins the nomination, and likable southern male governor vs. Hillary is something I’m concerned about.

    Ultimately – Hillary has the best shot. But I’m still a bit worried.

    Sidelight – ideas on who Hillary’s VP would be?


  5. Coach
    Posted November 15, 2007 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Bill is a hindrance only in that his proximity allows the pundits to keep dragging out the skeletons of Monica, Whitewater, Vince Foster and Gennifer Flowers. (They will also manage to impugn John Kerry’s war record and Al Gore’s charisma, by force of habit.)

    Come next November, I’ll vote for Senator Clinton, pulling the lever with one hand while holding my nose with the other.


  6. Lance
    Posted November 15, 2007 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Rosebud: the source of that quote seems to be the speech transcribed here, where the quotes include:

    We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don’t see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

    It’s not insane–we need a certain amount of authority to protect our freedoms–but “Freedom is about authority” isn’t the way I’d put it.


  7. Rosebud
    Posted November 15, 2007 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Lance


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