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July 18, 2007
WaPo Looks at Rudy, Sees Nixon
It shouldn't surprise us that whenever the Washington Post looks at a Republican,they see the face of Richard Nixon staring back at them. No newspaper was more identified with Nixon's downfall so it should come as no surprise that when looking at Rudy Giuliani, the Post becomes very helpful in pointing out all the similarites between the candidate and the disgraced ex-President. Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson writes:
In his elections, Nixon appealed to conservatives and the country as a culture warrior who was not a moral or religious conservative. "Permissiveness," he told key aides, "is the key theme," and Nixon pressed that theme against hippie protesters, tenured radicals and liberals who bad-mouthed America. This kind of secular, tough-on-crime, tough-on-communism conservatism gathered a "silent majority" that loved Nixon for the enemies he made. By this standard, Giuliani is a Nixon Republican. He is perhaps the most publicly secular major candidate of either party -- his conflicts with Roman Catholic teaching make him more reticent on religion than either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But as a prosecutor and mayor of New York, he won conservative respect for making all the right enemies: the ACLU, advocates of blasphemous art, purveyors of racial politics, Islamist mass murderers, mob bosses and the New York Times editorial page.Too bad we can't define all the candidates running for President by who their enemies are. Just think of the fun we'd have listing Hillary's haters. Now there would be an "enemies list."
Instead, the Post takes the position that because Rudy is more moderate than the competition, social conservatives should beware lest Rudy pull a Nixon and start naming liberal judges. At least we'd be spared the prospect of Giuliani creating a monster bureaucracy that would oversee the environment (EPA) or slap wage and price controls on the country the moment inflation breaks 5%. Nixon already did that which should take a load off of Rudy's mind. But the Post believes that if a GOP "moderate" doesn't look, sound, and act like Ronald Reagan he will be unacceptable to the religious and social right. The Post correctly notes that Reagan was a social conservative - at least as far as giving lip service to that agenda. But what the article fails to note is that Reagan was also a pragmatist. His legislative agenda as well as his choices for judges reflected the reality of his times; that the Democrats could and did block some of his more conservative legislative initiatives and judicial nominees so that compromising to get things done became the order of the day.
Rudy will probably have to face a large Democratic majority in the Senate if he wins next fall. I'm pretty sure he would nominate the most conservative judges that he thought would be confirmed. The idea that they wouldn't be as conservative as some on the right would prefer is something conservatives are just going to have to live with. Nixon is not the template for Rudy or any other Republican. Perhaps the WaPo should take down the Nixon poster they've been throwing darts at for 40 years and lay the ghost of Watergate and all his other sins to rest.
(Hat Tip: Ed Lasky)