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March 02, 2007

Giuliani's Speech

It was standing room only to the point the fire marshall forbade any additional spectators. I tried to get in, teling a guy "I'm, uhh, media or something?," to which he responded that the fire code didn't have special blogger exception.

Which reduced me to watching the speech on closed circuit TV, which is kinda dumb, given I could just watch the entire conference at CSPAN's website. Which is what I'll probably be doing now.

Giuiani's speech seemed the most anticipated. Every tv had dozens, maybe thirty, of people gathered round watching him, making it hard as hell to navigage one's way through the rabbit warren of the hotel's exhibit hall.

The speech was a good one, though I snarked it was the best presidential speech for the 1992 elections since at least 1992. Many of the points Giuliani hit in order to demonstrate his executive exerpience and leadership, but he was talking about what have become decidedly second-order issues by now. Crime? Not as scary now. Welfare reform? Well, everyone now agrees with it -- or at least only the angry/unhinged left doesn't, and even they're too cowed to say boo about it anymore.

Mostly he talked about first principles -- freedom, accountability, private solutions, and "ultimately the profit motive" -- and while this is standard boilerplate for Republican candidates he has the genuine executive experience to weave in anecdotes illustrating each. A Senator may be able to boast of his work in committee on an issue; Guiliani can speak of actualy reducing crime and lowering the welfare roles. Not talking about issues or revising leglisative language, but actually doing. So this part of the speech was more effective than a similar version of it given by a hundred other candidates.

Addition: During this part of the speech he spoke at length about the need for school choice and general improvements in education. He was forceful in noting that man parents do not want to send their children to the horrid schools that they are, by law, required to send them.

On foreign policy, he sounded a bit like Chuck Hegel, offering a vision of a peaceful America which only goes to war as at last resort (and sometimes too late, he noted, citing WWII), but which would much rather sell foreign citizens stuff than fight with them (or, as a second-best possibility, buy from them). It was a bit of classic GOP peace-through-superior-economic-firepower bit. However, while he expressed this as America's default desire, he stated clearly that such a default policy was suspended in a time of war.

Getting into terrorism, he said all the right general things while offering no specifics. He only mentioned Iraq once, and in passing (only noting that Democrats were uncomfortable with the war, because of pre-9/11 thinking) and mentioned Iran not at all. Mitt Romney was more specific about Iran at the NR Symposium last month, but specific in a way that failed to excite the audience, menitoning "engagement" and "pressure" as the keys to defanging the Mullahs. Giuliania avoided the rheorical error here by simply avoiding the entire subject -- but, of course, offering no hint whatsoever as to what his plan as regards Iran might be.

Beyond that, he repeated that the US must remain on "offense," including military offensive strikes as well, and most continue engaging in electronic surveillance, "interrogations" (note he did not say "coercive" interrogations, just interrogations, as everyone would agree with; the "coercive" was implied, and yet he did not say so). He also expressed the hope -- a rather daffy one, it seems at the moment -- that just as Japan and Germany ultimately became our allies after WWII, so too "would the people we now consider enemies" be our friends at some point in the future.

Correction: He did speak about Iraq for a paragraph or two, likening it to the Battle of the Bulge, where the great general Eisenhower made a mistake, but (this was the subtext) a mistake that still had to be vindicated. He was speaking here not of Iraq being a mistake, but of specific desicions being miscalculations like the Battle of the Bulge, and that such mistakes did not invalidate the necessity of winning the war.

He also likened George Bush to Harry Truman, in that he was confronted with a radically chaged world, and the decisions Truman had to make -- the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, etc. -- are similar to the ones Bush was confronted with, and that the Cold War might have gone on forever -- if not have been lost at some point -- had he not made those decisions.

Apologies for forgetting this part of the speech earlier.

...

Possible, I suppose; that was my hope for Iraq. But that seems a long way off now.

It is almost unnecessary to even note that he did not address abortion, gays, guns, or immigration. The entire speech was about Reganite economics, creating the proper incentives, protecting the public's greatest right, to walk about freely without fear of crime or terrorism, etc. The speech was smart in that respect -- everything he said had conservatives nodding in agreement (punctuated by warm applause). It was a good speech -- Michelle Malkin, I heard second-hand, liked it an awful lot -- but one that entirely avoided all the difficult areas of Giuliani's politics.

The speech did not disturb the status quo -- anyone inclined to support Giuliani remained inclined to do so (perhaps slightly more inclined to do so, as it was a good speech), but anyone still questioning whether he's got the conservative chops remained with all the same question marks they had before.

It should be said, though, that even in this very conservative gathering, an awful lot of people seemed pretty enthusiastic about him.


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posted by Ace at 03:47 PM

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