American Family Association Resorts to Defamation in Anti-Rudy Push Poll

September 20, 2007

AFA's defamatory push poll.ATTENTION:

The American Family Association, an organization that has traditionally been a reliable promoter of family values, has stooped to a truly low level today.  In a blatant act of dirty politics, the once-trustworthy AFA has shown it has no intention of living up to its own high moral standards, as it trashes presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani and spreads falsehoods about where he stands on the issues.

The AFA today sent a push poll to an estimated 3+ million voters, asking whether or not they would vote for Rudy Giuliani knowing that he was “pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage.”

Calling Rudy Giuliani pro-abortion (which is basically akin to calling someone who in favor of keeping the death penalty ‘pro-death’) is a bit misleading.  The office of United States President has very little influence on abortion policy, but on every abortion-related issue that a U.S. President has the power to influence, Rudy Giuliani sides with pro-life conservatives.  From maintaining the Hyde Amendment and Mexico City Policy (which ban almost all federal funding for abortions) to the Partial Birth Abortion Ban to parental notification laws to promoting adoptions as an alternative to abortions to his (probably the most important) belief in sending conservative judges to the Supreme Court, a President Giuliani wouldn’t be any different than President Bush on the matter.  But AFA’s misleading generalization on this issue isn’t the real problem here.

Calling Giuliani “pro-homosexual marriage” goes beyond misleading to outright falsehood.  Rudy Giuliani has always been in favor of preserving the traditional institution of marriage between one man and one woman.  Here’s what Rudy has had to say on the issue:

  • 2006: “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that it should remain that way, it should remain that way inviolate, and everything should be done to make sure that that’s the case.”
  • 2000 (even before he was running for President):”The institution of marriage should remain defined as a man and a woman.”

Social conservatives, regardless of whom they support for President (if we let the AFA get away with slandering Rudy, then they can get away with slandering any candidate) should speak out against the “American Falsehood Association.”  We should demand that they (1) send out another e-mail to their mailing list subscribers to correct the error, (2) correct the statements on their website (, and then (3) issue a written apology to Rudy Giuliani for defaming his name.

We urge all social conservatives to contact the AFA at to demand that they take actions 1-3 mentioned above.

We also urge you to go here and sign the petition urging the AFA to renounce its dirty politics and apologize to Rudy.

AFA Defames Rudy.  Sign The Petition Demanding An Apology.

Rudy Recap — Educate Yourself On The Truth:


Anti-Roe and Pro-Rudy

September 14, 2007

Excellent article in the New York Times today by Eric Johnston.  He takes a fascinating new perspective on the pro-life case for Rudy Giuliani by arguing the point that Rudy will be able to present an anti-Roe case from a democratic perspective, and might just help shake up the popular thinking that being anti-Roe is simply a “Christian thing.”

TO the disbelief of the political class, Rudy Giuliani still leads the polls in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson seem unable to compete with conservative affection for a thrice-married, twice-divorced, socially liberal New Yorker.

Perhaps I can help alleviate the pundits’ bafflement. I am a fervent pro-lifer, and I like Rudy Giuliani. And it’s not because, as some suggest, I think national security is more important than abortion. I think Mr. Giuliani will be the most effective advocate for the pro-life cause precisely because he is unreligious and a supporter of abortion rights.

Read More>>

Fred Thompson Stumbles Out Of The Gate

September 13, 2007

After months of slouching toward a campaign, Fred Thompson finally breaks out of the gate, it seems, only to immediately stumble over his own lack of focus or ability to run a campaign, coupled with his hazy record on the issues and a weeklong slog of lackluster performances:

A Rocky Rollout For Thompson – George Will, Washington Post

Fred Thompson’s plunge into the presidential pool — more belly-flop than swan dive — was the strangest product launch since that of New Coke in 1985. Then, the question was: Is this product necessary? A similar question stumped Thompson the day he plunged.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985, with the company’s president piling on adjectives usually reserved for Lafite Rothschild — “smoother, rounder yet bolder.” Almost 80 days later, the public having sampled it, the company pulled the product from stores. Perhaps Thompson’s candidacy will last longer than New Coke did.

The Thompson Campaign – Paul Weyrich,

It is not entirely clear what Thompson believes. When he was Senator he seemed to support an open-borders approach to immigration. In recent speeches Thompson has not supported President George W. Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, which was soundly defeated.

If the Thompson balloon were launched high but then returned to earth, with Thompson falling behind other candidates, that would mean the several-month tease in the form of his exploratory committee would have been for naught.

Fred Thompson’s Campaign Clarifies Marriage Amendment Position – David Brody, CBN

[Thompson will] take some heat for that but the larger issue for social conservatives may be this: If California start to have legislatures endorse gay marriage and have a liberal Governor sign it into law then what Thompson is saying is that he’ll live with that because it didn’t come from an unelected judge but rather elected representatives. How will that go over with conservative pro-family groups?

An Almost Unforgivable Mistake That Should Not Have Been Made – Erick,

One would hope that on the fundamental, driving issue of national security — the issue that is driving so many as we head toward 2008 — having to backtrack on the very basic issue of what to do with Osama would be unnecessary.

The first Thompson statement was a tacit endorsement of the Clinton policy this nation repudiated after September 11th.

And at this stage in the game, even Hillary Clinton has answered more competently on that subject that the Thompson campaign’s first stab at it.

That the campaign required a second stab at that basic question makes me shudder with disbelief.

Sleepwalking in September – Gail Collins, The New York Times

When it comes to overhyped underperformers, Fred Thompson’s entry into the presidential race was right up there with Britney Spears at the MTV awards.

The Republican Party’s great tall hope announced his intentions on Jay Leno’s show, and timed it to coincide with his avoidance of the candidate debate in New Hampshire. That was supposed to send the message of – what? A fear of crowds? A preference for answering questions only while seated? His performance certainly could not have been more low-key. You do not often hear somebody say “I’m running for president” in the same tone Jay’s guests use to announce that they’ve signed on for the next season of “Dancing With the Stars.”

The Field So Far – Rick Brookhiser, National Review

Now that Fred Thompson is officially in the race, it is appropriate to say that he is, on the face of it, by far the weakest potential president of the top tier Republicans.

Strongest is Giuliani who, alone of all the candidates in both parties, has done something. Two things—saved New York City; and led America for two days six years ago.

Fred Thompson came to the offices of National Review some years when he was still in the Senate. I liked him fine. He has done nothing, anywhere, ever. The Hubble Telescope could not find what he has done, because he has not done it.

It would be unwise to put such a man in the White House at this moment in history.

Hat-tip to

Ditto: “Why The Conservatives Like Rudy” — Jennifer Rubin

September 4, 2007

I just wanted everyone to see the great article by Jennifer Rubin in the New York Observer today, entitled “Why the Conservatives Like Rudy.”

Heading into the post-Labor Day sprint to the primaries, Rudy Giuliani has utterly defied the pundits who predicted that Republican voters would never accept a twice divorced, pro-choice New Yorker.

Rather than wilt, Mr. Giuliani has cemented his lead in national polls and in South Carolina—one of the most conservative states in the country. The latest Diageo/Hotline poll shows that he not only leads his closest competitor Fred Thompson by 10 points, but also leads among Evangelicals by the same margin and is up by six points among voters who believe abortion should be banned entirely.

Why did the pundits and many conservative critics get it so wrong, and why is Mr. Giuliani scoring so well with died hard conservatives?
Read More>>

I would also add that on top of Rudy’s commitment to appointing justices to the Supreme Court who will interpret the Constitution as it was meant to be interpreted (read between the lines: be more likely to see through the judicial faux paux that is Roe v. Wade), Rudy also sides with us pro-lifers on all of the relatively few areas where a President can possibly influence the abortion debate:

President Giuliani will:

  • Maintain the Hyde Amendment, which restricts almost all federal funding for abortions.
  • Maintain the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.
  • Maintain parental notification laws.
  • Work with private organizations and faith-based groups to make concrete statistical reductions in abortion, promote adoption as an alternative, and ensure that all women are fully educated about the benefits of putting their baby up for adoption instead of abortion, before they make a choice.
  • Cut the red tape involved in the adoption process, bring in more case workers, and make permanent a $10,000 tax incentive to promote adoptions.
  • Make federal abortion statistics more up-to-date so the American People can keep him accountable on his promise to reduce abortions.
    (See here for more.)

Not only does Rudy hold the line on all the greatest successes of the pro-life movement in recent decades, he goes above and beyond, making the saving of actual unborn lives a priority.

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.

A Singular Issue: Why Abortion Shouldn’t Doom Giuliani’s Campaign

July 22, 2007

In June, Ramesh Ponnuru, a writer for National Review Online, explained in an article entitled “A Singular Issue: Why Abortion Should Doom Giuliani’s Campaign” why he thinks Rudy Giuliani’s stance on abortion alone should be enough to “doom” his chances at earning the Republican presidential nomination.   Ponnuru has four main concerns about a Giuliani nomination that he lays out in great detail: (1) Ponnuru feels Giuliani has not sufficiently reached out to pro-life Republicans, (2) Ponnuru feels Giuliani’s record is unredeemably pro-choice, (3) Ponnuru doesn’t trust Giuliani to put conservative judges on the Supreme Court, (4) Ponnuru thinks nominating Giuliani will cost the GOP votes in November 2008 because of Giuliani’s personal pro-choice stance.  However, each of these concerns can easily be allayed by simply looking at the facts.

Meeting Us Half-Way

Ponnuru stated in his article that he felt Giuliani’s nomination should come by meeting pro-life Republicans half-way.  If Rudy should win the nomination, he “wanted it to come only after [Rudy] had sweated blood trying to appeal to us.”  He (as all of us do) want Giuliani to reach a “modus vivendi” with pro-lifers.  This seems like a perfectly reasonable request.  However, when one looks at where the presidential candidate Giuliani is now and all that he’s already said and done on abortion, one gets a feeling of bewilderment at what exactly Ponnuru wants from Rudy.

Giuliani has already promised to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, uphold the Hyde Amendment (which bans almost all federal funding for abortion), appoint conservative judges in the mold of John Roberts and Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia, and make the reduction of abortions and the promotion of abortion-alternatives like adoption a key goal of his administration.  Rudy Giuliani has made it clear that he knows he’s in the minority in the GOP when it comes to abortion, and has gone to great lengths to assure pro-lifers that he’s not going to try to change the party platform, as well as the fact that he’s not running to advance some liberal social agenda.

Really, Giuliani has been working like crazy to build bridges, stake out common ground, and reach lots of important modi vivendi with social conservatives, many times going into the heart of pro-life fortresses like Houston Baptist Seminary, often for the primary purpose of discussing issues like abortion specifically and at-length.

In fact, Rudy has even made fighting abortions and promoting abortion-alternatives like adoption one of his 12 core campaign commitments.

It seems as though Rudy has been making all the right gestures for Mr. Ponnuru short of simply taking the exact same view on abortion that Mr. Ponnuru has.

Also, Ponnuru doesn’t take into account just how early it is in the presidential campaign season.  Rudy has hardly had a chance to develop his relationship with pro-lifers and social conservatives–he’s only just begun opening campaign offices and hasn’t even aired any commercials yet!  Perhaps Mr. Ponnuru is jumping the gun (just a little?) in pointing the finger at Rudy for not having offered enough outreach to pro-lifers at this early stage in the campaign.  He needs to keep in mind that the primaries are months away, the campaigns are just now picking up speed, and Giuliani hasn’t addressed the abortion issue as fully as he is going to.  Giuliani is intelligent, he knows he’s not going to get a free pass from pro-lifers and it is unimagineable that he does not plan to make a stronger appeal to pro-lifers and build more bridges with the pro-life movement.  Even if his general campaign strategy is to consolidate economic and defense conservatives first, he knows he’s not going to slip through the cracks of pro-life Republicans.

Partial-Birth Abortion

Ramesh Ponnuru’s essay goes on to question Giuliani’s character on account of Rudy’s apparent support for keeping the partial birth abortion option available to women.  Ponnuru states: “Our society is not so far gone that people cannot grasp [the] horror [of partial birth abortion].”  Ponnuru states that even many of those who are pro-choice in the first trimester of pregnancy oppose partial birth abortion and he implies that the fact that Giuliani didn’t strongly oppose partial birth abortion as Mayor means Giuliani is morally “far gone.”

While I personally happen to be as opposed to partial birth abortion as Mr. Ponnuru, perhaps it is best we put the procedure in its proper context for the benefit of our readers:

The vast majority of partial birth abortions actually take place in the fifth or sixth months of pregnancy, and so-called “late term” partial birth abortions are, in reality, relatively rare.  We also have to understand where Rudy is coming from on the abortion issue, and when we do, we see that Giuliani, a person of equally good intention as any of us, has come to this conclusion through what is to many people a logical, moral line of reasoning.  One doesn’t have to agree with Rudy on this one particular bit of philosophy (I don’t), but understanding his view will help one see that Giuliani is not the sinister politician Ponnuru makes him out to be.

Giuliani’s take on abortion is that the decision of whether or not to have an abortion is based on each individual’s personal religious belief in when a human achieves personhood, or a “soul,” and Rudy believes the government should not legislate one particular moral/religious belief over another.  For instance, the traditional Jewish belief is that full life/personhood is not achieved until a child is born.  Because of advances in science in recent years that have shown that humans can be medically dead while their hearts are still beating and/or lungs are still breathing, the definitive line that separates “alive” and “not alive” in the scientific medical community has become brain wave activity, something that begins around the fifth month of pregnancy, meaning that many partial birth abortions (which most often take place in the fifth month or earlier) are performed before the baby is technically “alive” under this view.  These are all rational, understandable viewpoints, whether you agree with them or not, and people who adhere to them are not necessarily monsters.

We can disagree with Giuliani’s stance, but suggesting (however subtly) that Rudy is somehow morally depraved to the point that he cannot be classified in the same group as “people of generally sound mind and good will” is a bit over the top.  Giuliani’s view is based on the foundation of moral libertarianism–that the determination of personal moral/religious beliefs regarding the meaning of life and the existence of souls shouldn’t be decided by the federal government–the same view espoused, for the same reason, by Barry Goldwater (the founder of modern conservatism) and Gerald Ford.  We can disagree, but it’s just that–a single point of disagreement–and it must be considered in the full context of what a President Giuliani would actually do about matters of policy like the Hyde Amendment, Supreme Court nominations, etc.

Ponnuru also takes issue with the fact that Giuliani supports the current Ban on Partial Birth Abortions, while he declined to support a similar proposed ban in 1999.  Giuliani states that he supports the current ban because it contains a clause that allows abortions in cases where they are necessary to protect the life of the mother, while the old proposed ban was inadequate in that respect.  “Aha!” Ponnuru points out that the ’99 ban did include a “life of the mother” clause.  And Ponnuru is right.  However, the missing “life of mother clause” issue Giuliani brings up refers to the added phrase “including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself” in the sentence: “This subsection does not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”  Perhaps Giuliani spoke too simplistically in saying that he didn’t support the 1999 Ban because he wanted a “life of mother” clause, when in actuality, he was referring to the concern that the original “life of mother” clause was inadequate, because it could be interpreted to not cover the justification of the procedure when a “physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself” is the problem.

Surprisingly, after complaining that Giuliani had not moved close enough to the pro-life movement, Ponnuru then turns around and attacks Giuliani as a flip-flopper for coming out against partial birth abortion.  But even if Giuliani has inched closer to the right on the partial birth abortion issue, why should that be used as a talking point to attack Giuliani?  Such a minor shift in opinion, if it was even a shift at all (more like a shift in emphasis), hardly constitutes a “flip flop” or undermines Rudy’s sincerity or political authenticity, especially when compared with the fact that virtually all the other Republican candidates have also inched to the right on abortion in recent years as more information on the issue has become readily available.  Giuliani himself has been perfectly honest about the fact that he’s been gravitating rightward on the abortion issue, often candidly stating that his position on abortion has “evolved” somewhat over the years.

Rudy’s Record On Abortion

Ponnuru attacks Giuliani’s use of the fact that during his tenure, New York City abortions (and, importantly, Medicaid-funded abortions) dropped more steeply than the national decline, while adoptions increased 133% faster during Giuliani’s 8 years than the previous 8 years.  Ponnuru cites the fact that Giuliani probably didn’t set out to specifically achieve those goals, and that, rather, the abortion drop and adoption increase were probably incidental effects from the overall rise in economic prosperity and the standard of living resulting from the Mayor’s toughness on crime and economic conservatism.  However, just because Rudy didn’t specifically set out to achieve those goals in the beginning of his last administration doesn’t mean that he can’t notice and learn from those phenomena and then seek to actively replicate them (this time on purpose) in his next administration.

Ponnuru also goes after the fact that as mayor, Rudy did nothing to promote abortions, saying that because NYC abortion laws were already so lax, the only thing Rudy could have done to promote abortions would have been performing them himself.  Mr. Ponnuru, however, is mistaken.  He fails to note the night-and-day contrast between how Mayor Giuliani handled the abortion issue and how Giuliani’s predecessor and successor (Mayors Dinkins and Bloomberg, respectively) have handled the abortion issue.

While Giuliani incidentally caused abortions to drop, his predecessor Mayor Dinkins fought to keep abortion clinics open when the possibility arose of closing some of them, in 1991 went out and organized a coalition of 30 mayors from around the country to push the federal government to legalize the RU-486 abortion pill, proudly proclaimed that “there is no mayor in this country who has done more for support of freedom of choice!”, and ironically attacked Giuliani for not being pro-choice enough in his 1989 and 1993 campaigns, citing the fact that Giuliani has questioned Roe v. Wade’s legitimacy and that as a Southern New York prosecutor Giuliani often fought pro-abortion policies.

Likewise, while New York’s Conservative Party Chair Mike Long has stated that he never remembers Giuliani once promote the abortion issue and didn’t know of any Giuliani initiative that advanced abortion, Rudy’s successor Mayor Bloomberg has actively sought to unseat pro-life politicians and told pro-choice voters not to vote for pro-life candidates period, went to great lengths to ensure that the Plan B abortion drug is available at every public hospital in the city, even issued an executive order requiring abortion training to be included in all OB/GYN residency curricula at the city’s public hospitals, began a $3 million campaign to increase access to “emergency contraception,” publicly encouraged New York Gov. George Pataki to sign legislation that would allow “emergency contraception” to be sold without a doctor’s prescription, and recently had NARAL praise his pro-abortion policies as “unparalleled” in NYC mayoral history.

The dissimilarity between the personally anti-abortion but pro-choice-as-a-matter-of-policy Mayor Giuliani and the thundering pro-abortion crusaders that his predecessor Dinkins and successor Bloomberg have been could not be more unmitigated.

What A Giuliani Nomination Actually Means

The other contrast that couldn’t be more stark is that between a Republican nominee Giuliani and a Democrat nominee.  Ponnuru fears the GOP nominating Rudy will put the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate in complete agreement on abortion (the only difference Ponnuru feels worth pointing out is that Rudy thinks the states should decide the issue, while the Democrat would think it should be decided on the federal level), but Ponnuru overlooks the key dissimilarities: Rudy has made fighting abortions a core component of his campaign platform and has vowed to uphold the Hyde Amendment and Partial Birth Abortion Ban, while Democratic candidates have pledged to vastly increase access to abortion and have vehemently opposed Hyde and the PBA Ban.  Rudy would fight to put more Scalias on the Supreme Court, while a Democrat would fight to put more Ginsburgs on the bench.

And perhaps the real icing on the cake for pro-lifers is the fact that Giuliani will (must) pick a pro-life running mate.  While Rudy probably will not get into the messy business of talking about potential VPs at this stage of the campaign, come Convention day, if Rudy is the nominee, there will be a pro-life running mate at his side.  Giuliani knows that if the ticket isn’t balanced in this crucial way, he cannot hold together the social conservative coalition.  Together, Rudy and his running mate will emphasize their plan to fight abortion, push adoption as an alternative, and fill the Supreme Court with conservative judges.

Ponnuru’s fears about a Giuliani nomination are understandable, but a little bit overhyped when taken in historical context.  The GOP’s nomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964 and that of Gerald R. Ford in 1976 didn’t set a precedent for pro-choice Republican nominees, and neither will that of Rudy Giuliani in 2008.  In fact, immediately after Ford’s nomination came the nomination of Ronald Reagan in 1980, who was arguably the most vocal pro-life nominee in GOP history.

The real question Ponnuru fails to answer is: How will having Giuliani, a Republican presidential nominee who is really quite moderate on abortion, but stands down on the abortion issue and promises to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, the Hyde Amendment, appoint strict constructionist judges in the stripe of Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas, and make reducing abortions and promoting adoption a key goal of his administration, and who (very importantly) will be running with a pro-life running mate, give pro-lifers “no representation” at the level of presidential politics?  Perhaps a nominee Giuliani would give pro-lifers less (“less,” not “no”) of that superficial kind of rhetorical representation that presidents like Bush offer when they give the obligatory speech to March for Life and things of that nature, but hardly would a Giuliani nomination give “no representation” to those of us opposed to abortion.

Think about it.  On all the most vital issues that pro-lifers have worked so hard to achieve (the passage of the Hyde Amendment, the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, and most importantly the nomination of strict constructionist judges to the Supreme Court who can one day overturn Roe v. Wade and send the abortion issue back to the individual states), we would have in Rudy, quite possibly, the strongest representation at the level of presidential politics that we pro-lifers have had in a decade.  Not even Bush 41, Dole, or Bush 43 have placed as much emphasis on the importance of conservative judges and making concrete statistical reduction in abortion a key goal of their administration as Rudy has in their respective campaigns.

Ponnuru pontificates: “The abortion lobby would not be alone in declaring the Republican party to have capitulated to this [pro-choice] consensus [that Roe and abortion are a settled matter] with Giuliani’s nomination.  So would neutral observers; and even some pro-lifers would give up the fight.” Now, no sane observer would declare the nomination of Giuliani to mean that a pro-Roe v. Wade “consensus” had suddenly arisen in the GOP.  Based on what Giuliani has already been through, and what he will surely go through in the near future, observers realize that Giuliani’s strength among Republican voters is based on his outstanding articulation of conservative principles and record on a wide range of conservative issues, not because of his personal pro-choice views.

In fact, suggesting that we pro-lifers would “give up the fight” if Giuliani was nominated is actually a severe insult to us.  It suggests that the convictions of the pro-life movement are so fragile that the moment we don’t have a Republican presidential nominee who scratches us behind our ear and claims to agree with us 100% on every issue, we’ll stop fighting for the lives of the unborn.  It implies that pro-lifers care more about access to powerful pro-life politicians than we do about taking actual action to fight abortions in America.  Ponnuru should be careful with what he insinuates in statements such as these.

And if all this is not enough, Ponnuru’s concerns over how committed Giuliani is to nominating truly conservative judges to the Supreme Court should be more than allayed by Rudy’s recent announcing of his judicial advisory team.  Rudy’s top-notch group has been called a conservative judge dream team, with many of our favorite picks for future Supreme Court nominees in it, including Miguel Estrada (2001 Supreme Court nominee), former Solicitor General Ted Olson, Federalist Society Co-Founder Steve Calabresi, former Deputy Solicitor General Maureen Mahoney (frequently nicknamed “the female John Roberts”), and many more.  If Ponnuru, or any social conservative for that matter, has any doubts that when Rudy says he is committed to nominating and fighting for strict constructionist judges on the Supreme Court, they need look no further than this sterling list of Rudy-supporters (and potential Supreme Court nominees in a future administration).

How (Or Who?) To Win The General Election?

Finally, Mr. Ponnuru expresses his concern that nominating a Republican who is personally moderate on some social issues but whose strengths lie in economic conservatism will lose a bloc of socially-conservative-but-economically-liberal voters who have been key to getting Bush elected.  First of all, the existence of such a nebulous group of capricious voters who are socially conservative and economically liberal but, in the end, will vote for the person they think is the ‘better Christian,’ and second of all, this bloc of voters’ influence on the election is pretty hard to discern, and relies basically on what statistics and/or polling data you choose to use.  The truth is, the effect is more the opposite.

Ponnuru implies that the GOP should sacrifice its commitment to economic, governmental, and defense conservatism for the sake of social conservatism, when necessary to win elections.  However, this theory is blind to the following fact: it was the very carrying out of such an approach over the past decade that resulted in the devastating losses the GOP suffered in Congress in 2006.  The GOP’s fixation on such issues as kicking gays out of the military and civil service, banning flag burning, and keeping brain-dead patients on life support, while at the same time allowing their ranks to be poisoned with corrupt lobbyists, producing record amounts of earmarks and pork barrel spending, and allowing the rise of the biggest and one of the most inefficient and unaccountable federal bureaucracies in American history, has already disasterously damaged Reagan’s Republican coalition that put 3 of the last 4 Presidents in the White House.

Neither Rudy nor I are saying that abortion should be left off the table this election cycle and pro-lifers should be sidelined, but we have to understand the newly discovered political principle that, while focusing simply on banning gay marriage might ‘mobilize the base,’ it polarizes America.  We need to mobilize America and we can only do that by restoring a government that is accountable to the people, that spends our tax money wisely, that allows us as much personal freedom as possible and gives us the opportunity to make our own success, and that keeps us safe by retaining a strong posture on the international stage.  Rudy Giuliani is just the man to do that, and his personal stance on the singular issue of abortion should be taken in the context of all those things.

Josiah Schmidt