Archive for August, 2007

Rudy Holds Strong Lead for California Primary; Leads Among Conservative Christians

August 29, 2007

The most recent California Poll (pdf) conducted by The Field Poll organization shows that Rudy Giuliani maintains a solid lead among Republicans, some six months before the California primary on February 5, 2008.

Mayor Giuliani leads with 35% support among Republicans, virtually unchanged since the Field Poll’s March survey which showed Giuliani at 34% support. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is second with 14%; former Senator Fred Thompson is third with 13%; Senator John McCain fourth with 9%. With Giuliani’s support in California remaining solid, the second-tiered candidates are jockeying for position. In March, McCain was second with 24%, Thompson third with 8%, and Romney fourth with 7%. While the past five months have seen Romney and Thompson increase their support among California Republicans, and McCain’s support collapse, Rudy’s support equals the combined preference for Romney, Thompson, and McCain.

Of particular interest in this month’s California poll are some of the details: Among Republicans who identify themselves as “strongly conservative,” Giuliani’s support is higher than his average support among all Republicans: 38%. Romney and Thompson are tied among the “strongly conservative” at 16%.

Giuliani also has a strong support among born-again Christians: 37%, compared to Thompson’s 16% and Romney’s 7%. Interestingly, Giuliani’s 37% level of support among born-again Christians is slightly higher than among Republicans who do not consider themselves born-again: 37% to 35%.

These results, again, fly in the face of the conventional wisdom of some opinion leaders on the right who still, at this late date, maintain that Rudy will not win the support of the conservative base of the GOP, including evangelical Christians. In fact, these two groups give Rudy a higher level of support than the across-the-board numbers of all Republicans in California.

Often touted as a national bell-weather state (while what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in California tends to spread to the rest of the nation), Giuliani’s solid position across-the-board among California Republicans may prove to be a fair predictor of his support nationally among Republicans.

Greg Alterton


Fred Thompson’s State of Mind

August 23, 2007

Anyone who knows Fred Dalton Thompson knows he cares deeply about the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.  No one doubts his sincerity on that issue.  However, Fred’s latest critique of New York City and its former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, makes one wonder how deeply Fred cares about other things.  Like, say, being straight with voters, for instance.  Fred takes issue with current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s lawsuit against gun stores in other states whose negligence in allowing “straw purchases” (illegal purchases of handguns for someone else who is legally barred from purchasing or owning a handgun) results in illegal guns in the hands of criminals on New York’s streets.  Fred calls Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to protect his City by cracking down on the roots of New York’s black market gun problem “bizarre” and “bully”-like.  Ol’ Fred can’t seem to see what all the fuss is about!  Fred rises to the defense of these inattentive firearm vendors, stating in bewildered tone that the guns they sell just “somehow ended up in criminal hands,” as if the guns themselves got up and walked into the NYC black market on their own, and these specific gun sellers’ apathy toward preventing straw purchases had nothing to do with it.

Fred acknowledges that money isn’t what New York City could possibly be after in suing these local small-time gun shops, and the only other reason Fred can manage to think of is “politics.”  It’s just Mayor Bloomberg trying to push his liberal social agenda on the rest of us gentle, peace-lovin’ folks in America, he assumes.  Apparently, it never crosses Fred’s mind that maybe there’s a third option…like, “practical reasons,” for instance.  (But why should we expect Fred Thompson to understand such things?–after all, he has no experience running a government, a city, or having any real administrative responsibilities for that matter.)  Now, no one’s saying Mike Bloomberg isn’t liberal, but the more reasonable explanation is that he’s simply trying to deal with a problem that’s facing the City: illegal guns.  It just so happens that 90% of all illegal guns come from out-of-state, so what does Bloomberg do?  He goes after out-of-state gun stores that have been exceptionally negligent in preventing the flow of illegal firearms into New York.

Now, I’m not saying I agree with the tactics Mayor Bloomberg used, in sending his own private investigators out of state to illegally purchase guns without notifying or collaborating with local law enforcement or ATF officials.  However, Fred is unsettlingly lenient on these irresponsible gun shops, and is equally unsettlingly harsh on Mayor Bloomberg for simply trying to curb the flow of illegal firearms onto his City’s streets. 

But Fred’s underhanded swipe at Rudy Giuliani goes from unsettling to just plain melodramatic.  Fred states: “There are lots of things about [New York City] I like, but New York gun laws don’t fall in that category.”  What exactly are all these horrendously unconstitutional gun laws that Fred speaks of?

Well, a straightforward list of New York’s firearm laws are available right here for anyone who’s curious.  Basically:

  • If you’re a felon or mentally incompetent, you can’t have a gun.
  • If you’re age 12 to 16, you have to be supervised by an adult in order to shoot on a range.
  • If you’re a minor, you have to have a hunting license and be accompanied by an adult in order to hunt.
  • You need to have a license in order to own a handgun, much like you need to have a license in order to drive a car, and you renew the license every 3 years.
  • You don’t need a license for antique or replica firearms.
  • You can’t have machine guns, or an assault weapon, but if you bought it prior to September 1994, you can keep it.
  • Gun sellers must sell their guns along with child safety trigger lock devices.
  • You need to have written permission to carry a gun on school grounds.
  • You can’t point a gun at another person unless it’s in self-defense.

It’s up to debate on the specifics whether these gun laws actually go too far or not, but when reading through them, they hardly seem unreasonable.  In fact, in an extremely densely populated urban area that has historically had problems with organized crime, street gangs, and drug rings, many of these laws are absolutely necessary.  Which of these laws exactly does Fred so vehemently dislike?  Minors having to be (gasp!) supervised by an adult when using a firearm?  Or the fact that you can’t have a machine gun–whatever shall New Yorkers hunt or defend themselves with?  Perhaps it’s the fact that, heaven forbid, you actually need written permission in order to carry a gun on school grounds.  Or maybe it’s the fact that in order to get a gun license, you have to fill out paperwork that in some cases can take up to twenty grueling minutes to complete!

But Fred’s next statement is just plain laughable.  He says: “Anybody who knows me knows I’ve always cared deeply about the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. So I’ve always felt sort of relieved when I flew back home to where that particular civil liberty gets as much respect as the rest of the Bill of Rights.”

Ever portraying himself as the down home, good ol’ boy, average rural American, “Ol’ Fred” (as he called himself during his 1994 Senate campaign, whilst hooking his thumbs under his suspender straps that he wore at campaign stops before he climbed back into his luxury car and donned those impeccable Gucci loafers) likes to make us think that he’s just one of us, a simple country boy.  For those who don’t know, Fred Dalton Thompson actually doesn’t have a home in Tennessee–his permanent residence is inside the Beltway, where it should be, considering he’s spent the latter half of his life as a D.C. insider and lobbyist.  So when Fred Thompson talks about leaving New York City and going “back home” to real America where the Second Amendment gets the respect it deserves, he actually means “back home” to Washington, D.C., where up until recently, personal ownership of guns was all but banned (a circuit court ruling supported by Rudy Giuliani overturned that law).

Fred Thompson breathes a sigh of relief the moment he’s out of that abominable New York City and back in the D.C. zipcode, where gun laws are more like Australia and England, just the way they should b–wait.  Maybe Ol’ Fred should be straight with voters.

Here’s some straight talk for Mr. Thompson:

Thompson condemns New York City’s supposedly draconian gun laws, citing the fact that despite an increasing number of states allowing citizens to carry guns, violent crime is actually way down in America.  He’s absolutely right.  The more gun rights are honored, the generally lower crime is (if criminals know law-abiding folks might be armed, they are less likely to attack), and the more gun control is relied upon, the generally higher crime is (just look at England, Australia, and, heck, Fred’s own zipcode).  The only problem with this line of reasoning is, if the gun laws in Giuliani’s City were/are supposedly so restrictive, we should expect to see rampant crime, and intrepid criminals confident in the knowledge that their victim won’t be armed and able to fight back.  However, the exact opposite is the case.  Rudy Giuliani took over a city that was the “ungovernable” crime capital of the country, and when he left, crime was half what it was when he was inaugurated, the murder rate had been slashed by two thirds, and shootings were down seventy-two percent.  If Thompson really wants to shift the debate onto security/law & order turf, I’m sure Rudy would oblige, considering he’s got the best record on such issues out of anyone currently running for President, and, well, the best that Mr. Thompson can claim is that he acted in a TV show that happened to be called “Law and Order.”

If Thompson wants to talk about truly ridiculous gun laws, he should look at his own hometown (the one that makes him breathe a sigh of relief when he gets back to), where truly unconstitutional gun control produces–per 100,000 people–1,459 violent crimes, 35.4 murders, 721.3 aggravated assaults, and 649.7 burglaries a year, compared to New York City, which the FBI proclaimed the “safest large city in America” after Rudy got done with it.

It makes one wonder what exactly Mr. Thompson despises so much about New York City, which actually isn’t that drastically different from the rest of America on gun laws (especially in comparison with other developed areas of the world), other than the fact that it has Rudy Giuliani in it, and the fact that Rudy Giuliani is running for the same presidential nomination that Mr. Thompson is–excuse me, might–run for.  Ironically enough, NYC actually has 19 gun shops that I can find, which is 19 more than Thompson’s hometown can claim.  And just for the record, even Nashville, the capital of Tennessee (the state Thompson used to represent in the Senate) only has 3 gun shops that I’m aware of.  Doing a little math, if NYC, with an area of 322 square miles has 19 gun shops, that’s about one gun shop for every 16 square miles (not bad for a city that supposedly doesn’t respect its citizens’ right to purchase and own firearms).  If Nashville, with an area of 526 square miles has 3 gun shops, that means that citizens only have one gun shop for every 175 square miles–now why is it that gun enthusiasts should be so relieved when leaving NYC?  Oh, and just as a side-note, if Washington, D.C., with an area of 68.3 square miles has no gun shops, that means citizens have zero gun shops for every square mile.

Perhaps, the next time Fred Dalton Thompson is going to make wild claims against another candidate (not to say that Thompson himself is actually a candidate…I think) for political gain, he should be a little more straight with voters about the facts.  The real record is that Rudy Giuliani has actual experience turning around a large government and making it work in order to keep its citizens safe.  He did this not by instituting all kinds of crazy gun control measures (as some candidates would have us believe), but by vigorously enforcing the law with proper respect for the Constitution of the United States.  Rudy Giuliani’s record goes beyond theatrics and political rhetoric–it’s a record of results–something Fred Thompson was not necessarily known for during his brief career in government, and something Fred Thompson should address before he goes off baselessly attacking those of his fellow candidates who are actually running on a record, and not just a personality.

Josiah Schmidt

Ward Cleaver For President 2008?

August 10, 2007

For those who grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s (or for those with access to Nick at Night or TV Land in later decades), the show Leave It To Beaver epitomized the way a healthy, normal suburban family should work.  Most notably, the ideal parents in this post-War sitcom, Ward and June Cleaver, have become the golden standard of wholesome child-rearing.  It should come as no surprise then, that many Americans want those same Cleaver-esque qualities in our leaders, especially our President.  There’s something heart-warming about photo ops of our Commander-in-Chief finding the time to play catch or throw the ol’ pig skin around with his children.  Polls have shown that the most likeable First Ladies are those who are most June Cleaver-esque: quiet, submissive, noncontroversial, modest, and matronly.

Well, to put it straight and honest: Rudy Giuliani is no Ward Cleaver.  At least not in the public eye.  There’s no doubt that Rudy really does love Andrew and Caroline as much as Ward loved Beaver and Wally.  Rudy is fiercely protective of his kids, and he tells the political paparazzi where they can stick it when they violate his children’s privacy.  However, Rudy Giuliani has made several big mistakes in regards to his personal and family life, and he takes the heat for them everywhere he goes.

Let’s get it all out in the open: In 1968, after graduating from college, Rudy married his second cousin, Regina Peruggi.  After a trial separation in the latter half of the 70’s, they got their marriage annulled in 1982.  In 1984, Rudy married local television reporter Donna Hanover.  Together they had two children (the aforementioned Andrew and Caroline).  The latter half of the 90’s saw Rudy and Donna’s marriage slowly fall apart, leading to a separation.  Tabloids raging with rumors of secret affairs, the entire ordeal culminated in a messy 2002 divorce, which Rudy announced in a public press conference before telling Donna.  Rudy revealed that he had begun a relationship with a friend of his who had been helping him through his prostate cancer treatment, nurse Judith Nathan.  Rudy tried to move Judy into Gracie Mansion (NYC’s mayoral home), Donna protested and won, and Rudy was out of the house.  After that, a couple of Rudy’s gay friends offered him a place to stay, and in 2003, Rudy officially married Judy.  Rudy’s relationship with Ms. Hanover and their children has been visibly strained over the past several years, and for one period of time, Rudy and Andrew didn’t speak for almost a whole year.  Both children have said they won’t actively campaign on their father’s behalf (Andrew citing his attempts at starting a career in professional golf, and Caroline being in school).  In fact, Rudy’s daughter (a self-described “liberal”) has even expressed some level of support for Barack Obama!

How on earth, one must ask, could a man who divorced his wife so publicly, who had started a relationship with another woman before he’d even finalized his divorce, who has had such strained relationships with his children, and whose own daughter doesn’t even support his political ideals be fit to lead this nation, much less this political party?  Surely a man with this kind of personal history would do unthinkable damage to the institution of the family in America.  Surely, a man with so many private mistakes would be incapable of attending to such higher duties as the Oval Office would require.  But, perhaps, it’s not so sure.

We conservatives tend to idealize and immortalize our most successful leaders: Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich.  We remember them favorably, and curiously forget the shortcomings of their personal lives.  We forget the rocky marriage of Abe and Mary Lincoln, we mentally erase from history Reagan’s made-for-tabloids divorce of his first wife and his painfully distant relationships with his wayward children, and we amnestically overlook the mastermind of the 1994 Republican Revolution’s embarrassing indiscretions.  It is unthinkable, nay impossible, to assume that God and destiny would use such deeply flawed, morally wanting, thoroughly human people to accomplish such great things, right?

Conservatives drink up the magazine gossip about Judy Giuliani, who reportedly (and unverifiably) uses her position as Rudy’s wife to push people around and is so arrogant to actually demand an extra airplane seat for her Louis Vuitton handbag.  Could a man with such a choice in women really make good decisions in a time of war?  Of course, people retrospectively praise Abraham Lincoln’s almost divinely providential victory in the Civil War, concurrently ignoring Mary Todd Lincoln’s reputation as the White House “hell-cat,” the eccentric and difficult First Lady who reportedly used taxpayer money to fund her lavish personal shopping sprees, who (it was rumored) used her influence to subvert her husband’s policy-making decisions, and who was later committed to an insane asylum by her own son.  Hardly a 19th century equivalent to the Cleavers.

The Christian right vehemently denounces Rudy’s conduct in divorcing Ms. Hanover and finds grounds enough for rejecting him in his strained family life alone.  Could a man with so many mistakes in raising his children be trusted to run a government?  Of course, we conservatives politically deify Ronald Reagan for his strong foreign policy, his unwaveringly supply-side economics, and his promotion of culturally conservative family values, but how often in our discussions of the Gipper does it come up about how he divorced his first wife (Jane Wyman) in typical Hollywood apathy in front of all the tabloids and how distant he was from his own children during his political years?  We moralizers scoff at Giuliani because his daughter joins an Obama Facebook group, yet conspicuously never mention how Reagan’s daughter went off and posed nude for a Playboy cover.  We values voters laugh off Giuliani because his son chooses not to publicly campaign for his father, yet conveniently sweep Ron Reagan, Jr. (a self described “liberal atheist” activist) under the rug.  Surely a man who demonstrated such masterful control of conservative governance would evidence an equal immaculacy in the leadership of his own household.

We evangelical activists can’t fathom claiming Rudy Giuliani, a man who carried on a public affair and has taken two women to divorce court, as a leader of the conservative movement.  Could a man who showed such carelessness and unrestraint in his personal life at one point in time possibly be expected to restrain the growth and spending of a now-massively outsized federal government?  Of course, we conservatives reminisce nostalgically about the leadership that Newt Gingrich provided Republicans in 1994 when he led us to historic victory and we laud him as one of the greatest conservative thinkers of our time, but hesitant are we to mention how someone who accomplished something so great carelessly treated his second wife, when he came to her hospital bed when she was suffering of cancer not to console her but to discuss divorce proceedings.  We pat Newt on the back for getting the adulterous, perjuring Bill Clinton impeached, but reluctant are we to mention Speaker Gingrich’s equally abominable affair that he was carrying on at the same time.  Why is it again we are so eager to claim Mr. Gingrich as a spokesperson for our beliefs and values?

We are told to disregard Rudy Giuliani’s appeal to look more at his public record as prosecutor, US Attorney, and Mayor, and less at his personal shortcomings.  But really, when we are perfectly honest and realistic with ourselves, we have to ask the question: Lincoln, Reagan, and Gingrich were all three no Ward Cleavers–but how did it affect their leadership?  Lincoln unified a country and ended one of the most vile forms of oppression in human history.  Reagan re-energized a nation and stared down an evil empire.  Gingrich brought conservative values back to the forefront of the Republican Party and gave us a long-awaited majority in Congress.  These were some of our most imperfect people, and yet they were used to accomplish some of our greatest successes.

Now, with 2008 fast approaching, presidential candidates are playing into this unrealistic perception that they must have the most Cleaver-esque family — that family-life stability somehow directly translates into governability and leadership material.  When candidates release Norman Rockwellian home videos of their family Christmases with the grandchildren, it’s certainly heartwarming.  And it’s hard not to like a candidate whose kids get together to tour the country like the Partridge Family in order to help their pop get elected.  However, how much does it actually help these candidates in the long run?

True, you can’t help but smile a little when you see stories like this, but deep down, there’s something just a little bit disconcerting.  Every other normal person in America came from a family that was dysfunctional in one way or another.  You and I, normal average real American folks, had problems.  We had fights with our siblings, we had issues with the way our parents raised us, we had schisms in the family sometimes.  To many, whether we admit it or not, a candidate and his or her family who try to cast themselves as the Brady Bunch smells a little bit of dishonesty.  It maybe just makes that candidate seem unrealistic or inhuman.  For some reason, it’s just harder to relate to a candidate who has, apparently, never made a single identifiable mistake as a parent.

Also, candidates who play this role run another risk — that of setting the bar too high.  If you want to make yourself the trademark of all things wholesome and perfect, you’d better be expected to live up to that standard.  And when you make Ward and June Cleaver your standard, any slip-up or cracks that might appear become a big deal for you in a way that they wouldn’t be for other candidates whose private lives had already been vetted by the media.

Here’s the real question: Why do some voters think it important for a candidate to have a neat ‘n’ tidy personal/family life in the first place? One answer: Because, they want their leaders to use their influence to strengthen the societal institution of the family.  Can Giuliani do that?  Let’s see:

Finding Homes For Children

Giuliani has actually made the strengthening of the American family a seminal part of his campaign.  Rudy often points out that hundreds of thousands of children are currently in foster care, and though many of them are up for adoption, it is extremely difficult for families wishing to adopt to cut through all the red tape.  Rudy has committed to making the promotion of adoption a significant aim of his presidency, and he will do this by streamlining the process and cutting federal bureaucracy.  He did this as Mayor of New York, when he created the Administration for Children’s Services, the first NYC government agency of its kind.  While Giuliani had a tendency toward reducing the size of government (he cut city-funded bureaucracy by nearly 20% as Mayor), he did increase focus on children’s services, education, and law enforcement.  This resulted in a 133% increase in adoption during Rudy’s administration over the previous 8 years (as a side-note, the increase in adoption also contributed to NYC’s decline in abortions, which fell even faster than the national rate while Rudy was Mayor).  As President, Rudy has vowed to fix the problems of unreliable court schedules and overburdened case workers, give states control of child welfare spending instead of the federal government, make sure pregnant women are fully informed about the realities of an abortion and the benefits of putting the child up for adoption instead, and build partnerships with faith-based organizations to encourage adoption and provide assistance to women who choose adoption.  Also, being the tax-cutter he is, Rudy has proposed making permanent a $10,000 tax incentive for adoptions.  A President Giuliani means more orphaned children getting into good homes, faster, and he has the record to back up the rhetoric.

Cleaner Neighborhoods

Part of Rudy’s approach to strengthening the family means helping to create an environment where wholesome families can flourish.  A big piece of that means reducing crime and combatting drug use.  Rudy proposes sustaining drug prevention funding levels in the federal budget, which would otherwise be cut, and he wants to reform and focus interstate and intergovernmental cooperation in going after drug dealers and traffickers.  We can trust Rudy on this because he has the record to back it up–not just because he took down some of the most infamous drug and crime rings as a New York prosecutor, but because he remarkably cleaned up New York City while Mayor.  Using innovative Compstat programs that tracked and pinpointed the most effective ways to combat crime, as well as the “Broken Windows” approach that created an environment inherently inhospitable to criminal activity, Rudy and his Police Chief Bill Bratton dramatically cut crime in half, and now localities across the country are taking their lead.  However, perhaps the most notable success Mayor Giuliani had in his battle for cultural conservatism, was the turn-around in Times Square, the face of the city, where he cleaned up the dump of sex shops, porno theaters, and prostitution by using creative zoning laws.  When other candidates speak of cleaning up pornography and promiscuity in America, they speak idealogically, but Rudy has actually done it, and any one who has been in New York pre- and post-Giuliani can attest to the night-and-day difference in the cultural atmosphere.  When Rudy took over the city, it was the crime capital of America, and when he left, the FBI declared it the “safest large city” in America.  A President Giuliani means preserving the innocence of our children, and he has the record to back up the rhetoric.

Protecting Children From Predators and Abusers

Rudy is fierce when it comes to protecting children, and his vitriol against child abusers, predators, and pedophiles has been cultivated from his years as a tough-as-nails prosecutor who brought such creeps and scum to justice.  Rudy has committed to ensuring the full implementation of the Adam Walsh Act of 2006, which will expand the national sex offender registry, toughen federal penalties for crimes against children, make it much harder for predators to reach our kids online, create a child abuse registry, and require investigators to do background checks on adoptive/foster parents before they take custody of a child.  Rudy will also toughen child porn, abuse, and trafficking laws, he will work with private organizations to kick sexual predators and pedophiles off social networking sites, and he will undertake coordinated international efforts to bring an end to sex tourism, human trafficking, and Internet child porn.  When Rudy talks about cracking down on creeps, he speaks from extensive experience in the justice system doing just that.  A President Giuliani means preserving the safety of our children, and he has the record to back up the rhetoric.

Encouraging Parental Responsibility

Finally, Rudy also emphasizes the need for parents to take responsibility for their children.  This means that parents need to be working, need to have more opportunities to create a successful life for their family, need to have more options in educating their children, and need to be held accountable for their legal responsibilities to their children.  As Mayor, Giuliani was known for his crackdown on bum dads who didn’t pay child support, but he also realized the need to create as much incentive as possible for parents to be as responsible as possible.  Rudy did this by creating an economy and an education system that allowed and encouraged parents to raise their child in the best possible way.  By slashing the individual citizen’s tax burden by 22% and moving 60% of the city welfare rolls into employment via a “workfare” system, Rudy encouraged parents to work harder toward providing a better future for their families.  Rudy is also a crusading pioneer of school choice–he established the nation’s first and most generous charter school fund, and opened school choice to many New York families for the first time ever.  By allowing families to spend their hard-earned paychecks in the way best suited to their needs, and by allowing parents greater choice in where to send their children, Rudy promoted possibly the most key family values of them all: the benefit of hard work, and the dignity of personal responsibility.  A President Giuliani means stronger, freer families, and he has the record to back up the rhetoric.

So, we know that Rudy Giuliani, as a policy-maker, would make the absolute right choices for our nation’s families, however, there is another answer to our question that must be addressed.  The question is: Why do some voters think it important for a candidate to have a tidy personal/family life? The second answer: They want a leader who is decent.

Giuliani’s private failures must be seen in their proper context.  The fact is, Giuliani has admitted that he has made mistakes in dealing with his wife and children, and he’s talked about how he’s learned from those mistakes.  Often, those with acknowledged mistakes under their belt are the wisest.  But those who can’t acknowledge any mistakes in their personal or family life raise an interesting question about themselves: Would they know how to deal with a tough personal issue when it arises if they’ve apparently been so spotless all their life?  But, acknowledged mistakes or no, the desire is a rational one.  We want our President to be a decent person.  And by that, we mean that we want him or her to be respectable, modest, fair, kind, generous, and appropriate.

One can sit and read through the tabloid accounts of Rudy’s second divorce, and say, “Gosh, well, Rudy certainly wasn’t fair or kind here… What he did here certainly wasn’t respectable… And that there was totally inappropriate.”  However, we must not forget that a decent man is still capable of being disrespectful, immodest, unfair, unkind, selfish, and inappropriate.  He is capable of being those things once, twice, or many times throughout his life.  But, what we really want to know is: Is this man, at his core, a decent person?  When all is said and done, is he still, deep down inside, decent?

It’s certainly hard to picture Rudy Giuliani embodying all those aforelisted qualities of “decency” when you look at the specific chapter of his life that included his divorce with Donna Hanover.  However, we must understand that people slip up, good people do bad things, and sometimes really truly decent people do things that are contrary to how they normally act.  There is one chapter of Rudy’s life in particular that really gives us a glimpse into his soul, his core being, who he really is deep down inside, and that is 9/11.

I realize that the last thing anyone wants, including me, is for the “9/11 card” to be overplayed on behalf of Rudy.  What happened on September 11th, 2001 is a national tragedy, whose sorrow and remembrace belongs to all Americans, regardless of their political party, political philosophy, or whom they’re supporting for President.  However, to bar Rudy Giuliani from talking about the events that happened on 9/11, and what they revealed about him, and how they influenced him, is as inane as barring George Washington from talking about his leadership at Valley Forge, or Dwight Eisenhower from talking about his leadership on D-Day.  The truth is that the events of September 11th opened, quite possibly, the clearest and purest view into the innermost soul of Rudy Giuliani that we ever have, and ever will, see.  It is said that as flame tests metal, so also the deepest view into a man’s soul can be seen when he is under the most intense pressure.

When his very life is in imminent danger, how does he respond to the needs of others?  An indecent man would put his own survival first and shut his ears to the suffering of others.  A decent man has a sense of duty and responsibility that would compel him to walk into the very flames of hell if necessary in order to ensure the safety of others.

When he has nothing to lose and nothing to gain, what roles and responsibilities does he take on?  An indecent man cares only about covering his own hide, trying to ditch as much responsibility as possible onto others.  A decent man rises to the occasion, and does anything and everything in his power to do what’s right.

When he is going through the most emotionally trying time of his life, how sensitive is he to the feelings of others?  An indecent man spends all his time weeping and bemoaning his own problems, while not caring about the problems of others.  A decent man has a genuine love for human beings that compels him to console and support as many people as he can. 

Here’s what Rudy Giuliani isn’t: Rudy Giuliani is no Ward Cleaver, but he is a decent man.

Here’s what Rudy Giuliani is: Rudy Giuliani is an occasionally-insensitive, sometimes-selfish, oftentimes-egocentric, and historically-tempermental man.  He is a man who, as NYC historian Fred Siegel put it, “made his own enormous ego serve [his] city’s well-being.”  Rudy Giuliani injected his flaws into the service of overarching ideals that transcend politics as usual.

It’s not unreasonable to desire a President who has a nice family life.  However, we should also want a President who we know has the focus and moral sense of obligation to do what’s right for the country, no matter what personal difficulties may arise during that President’s tenure.  We should want a President who learns from their mistakes and applies that gained wisdom in the most positive ways possible.  We should want a President who is real with us about just how human he is, and a President who will do what’s right for the nation, even if he once did what was wrong in his own personal life.

Rudy Giuliani may not be the most flawless man, but he is the most experienced, the most tested, the most focused, and the most capable to lead, and that’s what should really count.

Josiah Schmidt

Are Conservative Christian Leaders Proving To Be A Detriment To The Faith?

August 9, 2007

In an article appearing on, published on August 8, Bill Berkowitz reports that, “Despite their differences, social conservatives appear ready to give two thumbs up to…former Tennessee Senator” Fred Thompson’s candidacy – when and if he announces. Berkowitz cites Gary Bauer, head of American Values, a social conservative public policy organization, and Tony Perkins, director of the Family Research Council in Washington, DC, as more than likely embracing Thompson’s anticipated candidacy. The article also quotes the enthusiastic assessment of Richard Land, who heads up public policy for the Southern Baptists, toward a possible Thompson candidacy. “It’s almost as if the man and the moment have met,” Land is quoted as saying about Thompson and his place in history. Land also succumbs to hyperbole in saying that support for Thompson is spreading “almost like a prairie fire” and has predicted that some conservative leaders would endorse Thompson’s candidacy in coming weeks.

This news of the impending muscle-flexing by conservative Christian leaders for Thompson has not been met with universal excitement from all conservatives. A comment posted on the conservative forum bemoans the efforts of certain Christian leaders to play the role of kingmaker, stating that American churches haven’t been “doing their job and have, in a way, tried to put the responsibility onto the government to revive morals in the nation, using government for social engineering.”

I’ll go even further, and analyze it from a theological perspective. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “Once abolish the God, and government becomes the God.” Our society has become increasingly secular, and increasingly atheistic (if not in conviction, at least in practice). This secular humanism has its most comfortable home in such leftist ideologies as socialism and Marxism (or socialism-lite…the American Democrat Party).

Many on the left, as they jettisoned the God of the Bible, didn’t jettison God, per se, but adopted a new god — the state — with politics as their religion, and politicians as the priesthood. In this analysis, Ann Coulter was correct in her book Godless. But what Ann failed to recognize is that many on the right have also “deified” the state, and have opted for politics as a more powerful religion. And, both sadly and ironically, most of those on the right who have followed the contemporary culture in its adoption of a political religion belong to the “Christian right.” They look to government to do what only God can do: change hearts and change lives. They’ve given up on the power of prayer and the power of the Spirit and have opted for the power of the state and the influence of politics to accomplish what Christian religion in this country hasn’t accomplished — a reformation and revival of morals.

So, the Richard Lands and Tony Perkinses of our society are guilty of idol worship in a sense — paying homage to the new god of this age, the god of secular humanistic liberalism, namely, the state, and politics through which the power of the state is wielded. And like every worldly Christian down through the 2000 year history of the church, they are blind to their mistake.

These folks have outlasted their positive usefulness. Jerry Falwell was on to something when he formed the Moral Majority in the late ’70s. His goal was to get pietistic Christians to start considering that they have a responsibility to apply their faith and convictions to the political realm. And millions of Christians who had avoided politics and political involvement began to do that. They were instrumental in helping elect Reagan president in 1980.

But those who came after Falwell and tried to build upon what he had started never took this Christian interest and involvement in politics to the next level…helping people to think for themselves, and apply their faith in an intelligent way to their responsibilities as citizens. Instead, organizations such as Land’s, and Perkins’s Family Research Council, created a dependency of sorts, establishing themselves as the “spokesmen” for conservative Christians, and seeking to attract followers of their organizations, not enabling Christians to think critically for themselves as they integrated their faith with their political actions. So, they’ve largely created a constituency of “sheep,” and now they “speak” for conservative Christians. Put more bluntly, they’ve created slaves who look to them and their organizations to tell them what and how to think, and they’ve adopted the idol worship of politics and the power of the state as means to achieve what they view as a positive Christian agenda.

Here’s hoping that 2008 will be an election where the Republican Party is freed from a slavish devotion to self-appointed Christian opinion leaders. People of faith should certainly think for themselves and apply their convictions to their political actions, but I do not believe that Christians should delegate their thinking to self-appointed leaders like Richard Land and Tony Perkins. Just as politics should be freed from the influence of statist religionists on the right, American Christianity needs to be freed from a worship of politics and the state.

Greg Alterton

Giuliani Proposes New Policies To Ease Adoptions, Reduce Abortions

August 7, 2007

In Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Monday (8/6), Rudy Giuliani expanded on his commitment to increase adoptions and decrease abortions. 

These proposals mirror accomplishments Giuliani achieved as Mayor of New York, as pointed out in an earlier blog entry —

Under Mayor Giuliani’s administration, New York City abortions plummeted by 16%, even steeper than the 12% nation-wide decline during the same period.  Rudy did this via a three-pronged approach: Doing nothing to promote abortions, aggressively promoting abortion-alternatives like adoptions (the increase in adoptions that occurred during Rudy’s tenure was 133% higher than the increase that occurred in the previous eight years), and by fostering a culture of respect for human life, personal responsibility, and family values.

It can be said that these proposals represent the most proactive and pragmatic pro-life position ever taken by a candidate for president. Rudy deserves kudos from the pro-life community for proposing a practical alternative to abortion.


The following is the text of the press release of the comments, followed by more detail supplied by the campaign, found here.

Rudy Giuliani Commits to Increasing Adoptions and Decreasing Abortions

Fort Dodge, IA – In remarks today at an adoption center in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Mayor Rudy Giuliani will speak about his commitment to increasing adoptions and decreasing abortions, part of his 12 Commitments to the American People.

As President, Mayor Giuliani will be an advocate for children by promoting adoption as a responsible and rewarding choice. He proposes simplifying the adoption process, enhancing tax incentives to encourage adoption, and partnering with faith-based organizations that promote adoption.

The Mayor also commits to reducing abortions by encouraging informed decisions. He will also oppose any attempt to change restrictions on federal funding for abortion.

“Protecting children is a fundamental responsibility of good government, and it is a commitment I have carried forward throughout my career in public service,” Mayor Giuliani has said. “My administration will streamline the adoption process by removing the heartbreaking bureaucratic delays that burden the current process. By working together to promote personal responsibility and a culture of life, Americans can limit abortions and increase adoptions.”

Increasing adoptions, decreasing abortions and protecting the quality of life for America’s Children is one of Rudy’s Twelve Commitments to the American People, his bold vision aimed at moving America forward. He will continue to travel the country this summer detailing the remaining Commitments.


Promote Adoption As A Responsible And Rewarding Choice: Rudy is committed to promoting an innovative national effort to communicate the rewards of adoption to potential parents and make government more supportive of adoptive families. 115,000 of the 514,000 children in foster care in America are eligible for adoption, yet there are more than 500 married couples and three houses of worship for every eligible foster child.

Simplify The Adoption Process: Rudy will streamline the adoption process that is unnecessarily hindered by unreliable court schedules, overburdened child protection workers and failures to follow regulations designed to speed up and simplify the process.

Give States Control Of Child Welfare Spending: Rudy proposes allowing all states the option to participate in a flexible funding system that allows federal dollars from the child welfare fund to be spent most effectively to best serve children and families. Allowing states more control will increase efficiency, reduce paperwork and free front-line child advocates to focus on the needs of children.

Build Partnerships With Faith-Based Organizations: Rudy will help focus the work of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, directing the program to promote organizations uniquely prepared to provide the necessary assistance to women who choose adoption.

Enhance Tax Incentives: The $10,000 adoption tax credit should be made permanent, allowing adoption advocates to focus on children.



Promote A Culture Of Life: Adoption is a compassionate alternative for women facing the decision of having an abortion, and as a society, we can help foster a culture of life by providing additional options. The measures that have reduced abortions since their peak in the late 1980s must be maintained.

Encourage Informed Decisions: Rudy is committed to ensuring that women have access to complete and up-to-date information on the adoption process.

Improve Federal Abortion Data: Current federal data collection is incomplete and slowly released. States and localities should be encouraged to submit timely, thorough and reliable data to allow us to track progress toward decreasing abortion.

Maintain The Hyde Amendment: Rudy will oppose any attempt to change restrictions on federal funding for abortion. He believes the Hyde Amendment must not be removed by Congress.