Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Giuliani lashes out

I had blogged that excerpt from Rudy Giuliani's book Leadership earlier, the one in which Giuliani takes Bill Clinton to task for being soft on people like Arafat. Consistent with what he had written in 2002, the Rude-meister now restates his position on Bill Clinton and terrorism:

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday accused former President Clinton of not responding forcefully enough to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing or later terrorist attacks.

The former New York mayor criticized Democrats, accusing them of weakness and naivete in dealing with terrorism. Giuliani made the comments to about 650 business, corporate and political leaders at Regent University, the conservative Christian college founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

"Islamic terrorists killed more than 500 Americans before Sept. 11. Many people think the first attack on America was on Sept. 11, 2001. It was not. It was in 1993," said the former New York mayor.

Giuliani argued that Clinton treated the World Trade Center bombing as a criminal act instead of a terrorist attack, calling it "a big mistake" that emboldened other strikes on the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia, in Kenya and Tanzania and later on the USS Cole while docked in Yemen in 2000.

Giuliani is the man I'd vote for because his interests dovetail with mine: remaining vigilant about terrorism (treating the situation as what it is: a war, not a police action), doing something to halt the American economy's slide toward the cliff's edge, and being clear about who our friends and opponents are. I suspect that Giuliani would get along well with the likes of Merkel and Sarkozy in Europe, and we would see more united action on the terrorism front with all three leaders working in concert, much to the chagrin of the European Muslim community (for more on the issue of Islam's role in today's strife, see this article, which I found through Dr. Vallicella's blog here; I don't agree with some major points in that article, and might discuss those disagreements in a later post).

I think Giuliani would also continue in the John Bolton tradition of undiplomatic rhetoric, but unlike the current president, he wouldn't make an inarticulate hash of things, nor would he give in to the Bush family impulse of trying to keep most of his important dealings secret. I also think Giuliani would take a more considered approach to potential military matters instead of rushing us into a war. In other words, he would openly and forcefully reorient America's priorities toward both economic recovery and hawkish-but-modulated foreign policy. Bush made the mistake of choosing one over the other. As always, my fear is that an elected Rudy would owe a Faustian debt to GOP interest groups, and as my buddy Mike D pointed out, Rudy might have to deal with questions about corruption during his mayoralty (as is already happening: viz. Bernie Kerik).

I'm not sure what chance Rudy has of winning the presidency; his own party is often leery of his positions on hot-button issues like gun control and abortion, but to my mind Rudy's stance gives him crucial cross-demographic appeal. I think he remains the GOP's most electable candidate. The current blind rush to Fred Thompson (who has proved to be articulate, laid back, and more media-savvy than most of his peers) smacks of desperation as harder-line Republicans anticipate a continuation of the Dem backlash in 2008 (I have no reason, yet, to change my prediction that the backlash will continue, and that we'll likely see a Dem in the Oval Office... unless, of course, the Dems front Hillary, which in my opinion would be a huge mistake).

For Giuliani on the issues, see here. For Fred Thompson on the issues, see here. This is a fairly extensive documentation of Thompson's voting record, so you can see quite clearly where he stands and why he appeals to GOPers who fear that people like Giuliani may be giving away the store. Thompson, contrary to my previous and incorrect assessment of him, is not a cipher. His position on most matters is pretty clear, and there's a lot I don't like. A few examples:

Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
Voted YES on defunding renewable and solar energy. (Jun 1999)
Voted YES on cap foreign aid at only $12.7 billion. (Oct 1999)
Voted NO on background checks at gun shows. (May 1999)
Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002)

Thompson actually takes a number of positions I agree with, but the above issues represent areas where he and I deeply disagree. His overall record shows he is consistently old-school GOP on most matters, hence his current appeal. I like his overall federalism, but am very leery of some of his specific positions.