February 2, 2008


Where's "None-of-the-Above"?: The Giuliani wasteland (Mark Steyn, 2/02/08, National Review)

Senator Edwards can’t even claim the consolation prize of Most Inept Candidate of 2008. The Rudy Giuliani campaign went from national frontrunner to total collapse so spectacularly that they’ll be teaching it in Candidate School as a cautionary tale for decades to come. As each state’s date with destiny loomed, Giuliani retreated, declining to compete in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina. “America’s Mayor” turned out to be Hizzoner of a phantom jurisdiction — a national frontrunner but a single-digit asterisk in any state where any actual voters were actually voting.

Giuliani’s fate unnerves me because, unlike the Coatless One, Rudy had the support of a lot of my columnar confreres: John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary; Andy McCarthy and Lisa Schiffren at National Review; and David Frum, author of the new book Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again. Yet he backed a candidate who took off and barely cleared the perimeter fence before nosediving into the sod. Rudy’s views on abortion were always going to be a deal-breaker for a key segment of the Republican base. And his views on gun control were likewise beyond the pale for another big faction. [...]

The Clintons are nothing if not lucky, and Hillary must occasionally be enjoying a luxury-length cackle at the thought of being pitted against a 71-year old “maverick” whose record seems designed to antagonize just enough of the base into staying home on election day. In the 2000 campaign season, running in a desultory fashion for the New York Senate seat, Rudy Giuliani waged a brief half-hearted campaign just long enough to leave the Republican Party with no one to run against Hillary except a candidate who wasn’t up to the job. Has he managed to do the same this time round?

We yield to no one in our regard for Mr. Steyn. He's consistently funny and insightful. He was helpful when I needed a jacket blurb for my book and I keep his book of columns on 9-11 on hand for when I want to stoke the fires of righteous anger. It's always a treat to chat with one of his bevy of personal assistants. Heck, I even pulled a couple strings to get into a Dartmouth student event where he's speaking later this month.

Which all makes it excruciatingly painful not just to read that he actually thought the neocons knew anything about Republican politics, but that little bit about how happy Hillary must be happy about how the election is shaping up. Being a conservative imposes certain obligations, none higher than a respect for the lessons that history teaches us. The notion that, in a contest to lead one's country, being an older straight white male war hero leaves one in an inferior position to a liberal woman or black is so ahistorical that even Bob Herbert knows better: "Those who may think that a woman named Clinton or a black man named Obama will have an easy time winning the White House this year should switch to something less disorienting than whatever it is they’re smoking." It's a sad day on the Connecticut when a Timesman makes more sense than a Hampshireman.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 2, 2008 3:59 PM

you left out Herbert's preceding paragraph.

"Anyone who thinks the Democrats are a lock to win in November has somehow forgotten about Karl Rove, the right-wing radio network, the hanging chads of 2000, the Swift boat debacle, the intimidation of black voters in Florida, the long lines of Democratic voters standing forlornly in the rain in Ohio, and on and on."

What a loon. Hanging chads and the disenfranchisement of blacks won the election for Republicans? He may be right in his assertion about the upcoming election, but how he got there was purely by accident.

Posted by: Patrick H at February 2, 2008 5:02 PM


If you get a chance to talk to Mr. Steyn, tell him he's spent too much time listening to Hugh Blewett.

Hard as I try to disuade myself of conspiracy theories, I was always suspicious of Thompson's motives.

Given that he only campaigned hard when it helped McCain, it seem utterly reasonable that he may have entered the race merely to provide blocking for McCain.

Now that I've watched the collapse of Rudy, I'm beginning to wonder whether he wasn't in on the scheme.

While I was never as convinced as OJ that McCain would prevail, I never wavered from my knowledge that Rudy would never win the nomination.

It was just too obvious. Perhaps it was to Rudy as well.

It is not outside the realm of reason that McCain, knowing what he knows about General and Primary elections, worked to devise a way to get past the wahoos and into the clear.

What better way than to draft Thompson and Rudy as blockers, knowing full well that Hunter and Tancredo were nothing, but that Romney might be the only serious threat?

The only "unforeseen" threatlet was Huck, and he turns out to be helping McCain too.

Maybe it's all Providence.

Whether one runs conspiracy scenarios or just the regular operation of Republican Politics, McCain pretty much always floated to the top.

The only scenario against McCain was Thompson, and he turned out to be a shill for McCain all along.

Posted by: Bruno at February 2, 2008 5:56 PM
"Hillary must occasionally be enjoying a luxury-length cackle at the thought of being pitted against a 71-year old “maverick” whose record seems designed to antagonize just enough of the base into staying home on election day."

Good to know that Mark Steyn can be tone deaf about something. The NRO libertarians must be clouding his judgement on this.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at February 2, 2008 7:18 PM

I think Thompson's wife was more interested in him running for President than he was.

The Right (and Left) blogosphere talks politics all day and every day. Like movie critics, it means they lose perspective and blow mole-hills into mountains.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at February 3, 2008 10:01 AM