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January 02, 2008

Question: Why The Animus Against Romney And Giuliani?

I guess we've been through this before, but I have trouble understanding many conservatives' strong resistance to these guys. Oh, I understand why neither may be a first choice, of course. But I don't see why either should be branded "unacceptable" by so many.

Maybe explain it again to me?

Romney may have flip-flopped but he's flipped to the conservative position on the hot-button issues and he's not flipping back. That's evidence he's not strongly committed to, say, the pro-life cause; but honestly, not everyone makes that a priority. People compare it to Kerry's flip-flop on the war. Well, the thing is, Kerry didn't merely change his position on the war: He sought to evade responsibility for his own pro-war vote by claiming Bush had "misled" him and all of that rubbish. It wasn't just a change of position; it was a dishonest and dumb attempt to claim that he had, somehow, been "right all along" on Iraq despite voting in favor of the war and now being foursquare against it.

People change their positions, sometimes out of conviction, sometimes out of convenience. It's not laudable, but I'd prefer a Romney who flip-flopped to conservatism to a McCain who keeps his precious "integrity" by maintaining his pro-amnesty views.

On Giuliani, I get that he's heterodox on abortion and guns. But what practical impact does that have? Bush, remember, also favored the Assault Weapons (whatever they are) ban. And yet the law lapsed -- because even Democrats now realize that gun control is a net electoral loser.

I say again: Bush was prepared to sign a reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban into law. Congress didn't comply. And Republicans didn't have to filibuster, either. There are enough Democrats representing red states and red districts (alas) who know that a vote for stupid symbolic forms of gun control -- perhaps better called "gun harassment" -- is an electoral killer.

So yeah, Giuliani disagrees with those holding a strong gun-rights position. He thinks there are "reasonable" gun regulations that are proper and constitutional. But I'm having trouble imagining the net real-world effect of this impulse as significant.

Abortion is a similar case. The only real impact a president can make on this nation's abortion laws are via his appointments to the bench. Not only is Giuliani actually, truly a judicial conservative -- law and order guys hate the "living constitution" crowd as much as any pro-life stalwart -- but he's vowed to appoint conservative judges similar to Scalia, Roberts, and Alito.

True enough, it's quite possible that he would flinch in the face of political pressure from appointing the fifth anti-Roe vote to the Court. But I think virtually any candidate would eventually appoint either a squish like Kennedy or a random, unknown quantity like David Souter -- someone whose positions are entirely unknown, so it's a complete crapshoot which way he'll go -- because the Democrats will not permit anyone with even the whiff of a conservative record to fill a Supreme Court vacancy with Roe v. Wade on the line. They don't even have to filibuster, necessarily, to stop such a judge; with their 51 Senate votes plus their five or six (or ten?) Republican social moderates/liberals, they can win that fight in a normal up-or-down floor vote.

It just seems to me that Giuliani is being rejected largely over issues he is virtually impotent to influence while the issues he can influence -- law and order, the War on Terror, taxes, etc. -- are being ignored. And man, he is damn good on those issues.

At some candidates are going to begin dropping out or else will become unviable even if they do soldier on in the single-digits of support. I just think it's too bad that two of our stronger candidates -- not the strongest, mind you, but stronger -- are being dismissed out of hand for what I think is a fairly minor charge ("flip-flop") or for being suspect on issues that, while important, are largely beyond a president's power to influence.

Meanwhile, everyone's taking a second look at McCain, who remains unapologetically pro-amnesty and anti-Bush-tax-cuts and anti-harsh-interrogation. I don't get that. I'll vote for him -- if I have to. And we'll probably win with him, too. But we'll be winning with someone who is, let's face it, a moderate Democrat.

And yes, I know that Thompson has little baggage in this area. Most of his positions and past votes (with the exception of campaign finance reform, of course, and some apparent lobbying on behalf of pro-abortion causes) are pleasing to almost all conservatives. So, sure, vote for him.

But if he doesn't make it to Mega Tuesday, or if he drops out soon after, what then?

Romney Weak on the War? Yeah, I sort of had that vibe but couldn't remember anything to link to to establish that. "someone" sends along this David Fredderoso piece claiming Romney is the softest on the war of all the major candidates.

As for the anathema that he won't say he'd invade Iraq if he had to make that decision all over again... um, I think that's a rather close question, even if you come down on the pro-war side.

That's distinct from whether or not we have to win the war, of course.

Via Email... Anwyn says part of it may be that no one wants to contemplate a second choice, as that tends to undermine their first choice.

I get that and understand it. I'm not really asking for strong partisans to announce "I'll support my second or third choice, so don't bother voting for my first choice." I guess I'm more asking to consider other candidates... silently.

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posted by Ace at 04:22 PM

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