How many terrorist attacks does a brother need to respond to before he gets some conservative respeck? In the case of Rudy Giuliani v. Wingnut Conservative Zealots, I figure he'll have to personally coordinate -- complete with dust mask and Bernard-Kerik-With-Real-Life-Hair-And-Beard accessories -- another 3.5 ground zeroes (MOE: +/- 12 ground zeroes) in order to overcome his more progressive social positions and win the 2008 GOP nomination.
That's right. Social conservatives are so freaked out by Rudy's posture on gay marriage and abortion that he has no chance of winning their support and the Republican nomination. The very real fact that, like him or not, he single-handedly filled in for our shell-shocked president during one of the darkest days in American history is simply unacceptable in eyes of the far right.
Risking one's life to conduct rescue and relief operations literally in the rubble? Not good enough, say homophobes, religious zealots and Republican strategist Ed Rogers on Hardball last night:
"ED ROGERS: He's wrong on so many issues that our base cares about, it's going to be --- it's hard to see how he gets there."
But candidate Newt Gingrich?
"ROGERS: The candidate with the biggest foothold, the emotional foothold in the party, and who can do the best at the multi-candidate debates and in the Lincoln Day circuit is Newt Gingrich.
MATTHEWS: He's not that smart.
ROGERS: Hey, come on. Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House in the United States of America. He led the Republican Revolution that took the Congress.
MATTHEWS: Then what happened? [Matthews sarcasm to follow] Why isn't he speaker anymore? What happened? I'm sorry, I forgot what happened. [end Matthews sarcasm]
ROGERS: He hit some bumps and it didn't work out too good. And he stepped aside. And he's cooled off for a while. And in the Republican Party and in America generally. We believe in redemption. So now he can come back.
MATTHEWS: But Rudy can have a gay roommate and he's finished, but Newt can have a girlfriend on the Housing Committee and that's all right."
Right you are, Chris. If there's a social values litmus test in the GOP, this is exactly it. Homophobia and abortion trumps all in the darkened closets of the GOP rectory -- even nationally agreed upon leadership in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. In fact, can anyone (and be honest) can anyone imagine Newt Gingrich marching through the falling debris in Lower Manhattan? I, for one, can't imagine Newt marching anywhere. Maybe through a cancer ward with divorce papers. Beyond that? No.
I wonder, though, are Rudy's progressive social values really the issue here? Or is the giant Mario Brother in the room the fact that his name ends in a vowel? Is Kansas ready to throw its electoral votes to an Italian presidential candidate? My Dad, a former ranking official at Treasury, says, "No chance." I tend to agree. Rudy's only shot would be to change his name to Colonel Block McTruckster. Either way, it'll be fun to watch the Republicans dance around this one for the next year or so. You know, because they're the party of ethnic inclusion.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not throwing my support behind Giuliani. However, if America were to elect another Republican president out of the blood and ashes of the Bush administration, I wouldn't necessarily hide in my crawl space following the election of President Giuliani (as long as Congress remains Democratic). He surely has his share of scandal and flaws, but really, if there's going be another Republican in the White House in 2009, I'd rather it be a socially progressive Republican with some real experience in FUBAR crisis management.
And I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't vote for him in the general election if he were running against, say for example, Senator Lieberman or DLC commander-in-nothing Senator Bayh. Really. I can't type their names without becoming enraged or sleepy, respectively.
Here's how I'd handle election day 2008 if it came down to a choice between Rudy and ARG! (Lieberman) or YAWN! (Bayh). I'd walk into the Shouptronic voting booth and press the "X" next to the name of America's Mayor. Having just voted for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time ever, I'd go home and shower. For a week. Howard Hughes style. And if Rudy were to win, I'd at least breathe easier knowing the next president isn't 1) a far right religious zealot, 2) a Bush Family human-animal hybrid, or 3) a man who, despite being tortured in Vietnam, was reduced down to a suit filled with really, really white jelly when facing off against President Bush on the Military Commissions Act and detainee torture.
And finally, I really do wonder if in the event Rudy was caught in the midst of another terrorist attack and literally accomplished more than our actual president in its aftermath, whether the Republican base would reward it or punish it -- simply because Rudy suffers from an open mind. If the answer would be the latter, to punish Rudy or anyone else of similar ilk, one can only conclude that the anti-terrorism bluster of the Republican Party is exactly what the Bush administration has proved it to be: artificial and empty. Gingrichy.