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January 30, 2008

Rudy Lost Because He Refused To Meet Social Cons Half-Way

The social cons were entirely receptive to him -- but he stiffed them. Kind of a "no duh" thing, but it is occasionally important to say what is obviously true, especially when what is obviously true is competing with that which is false.

For example: It's not true, no matter how many times it's said, that Rudy didn't campaign hard in New Hampshire. He did -- for a time. He withdrew when he realized he was making no gains and that competing further would prove embarrassing, because it's easier to say "I lost, but I didn't really campaign there" than "I threw my whole might into that and came up well short."

There's some question about how effectively he campaigned there; some have faulted him for "drive by appearances" where he was mostly there for the media, not the would-be supporters, and failing to hold town hall meetings as McCain and Romney did.

But in terms of money and time -- he competed in New Hampshire. To no good effect.

This meme seems to have traction because it's easy for the media, and they like repeating crap they hear from each other, and the Giuliani campaign had no interest in correcting them -- he didn't want to say, "Actually, I did compete there; I just got my ass kicked. So I quit."

There is an interesting angle here, though. If he had continued competing hard in New Hampshire, even in a losing effort, could he have kept John McCain from winning? McCain was of course his main rival. Once Rudy ceded the field in New Hampshire to the other centrist/liberalish nominee, of course McCain got most of those votes. And that, of course, helped power the McCain rise.

Giuliani could have wound up mano-a-mano with Romney in Florida had the, um, Straight Talk Express never picked up a head of steam.

Ah, well. As was my catch-phrase when I was a child-star on the little-known sitcom Little Johnny Fucknuts, "Life! Who can figure it out?!"

Mary Katharine Ham also notes the NYT's and Politico's made-up, Hillary-planted story about Judith Nathan's security costs accounting had an impact. I think it was a one-two punch; conservatives were already sketchy about him on social issues, and with his kids refusing to support him, and the Nathan story on top of that, they finally abandoned him.

Hubris and a Hillary-planted hit doomed Rudy.

Lesser factors, like Rudy's over-reliance on his New York Narrative without offering enough programmatic specifics going forward, and his campaign persona as Uncle Chuckleface who seemed to come to debates not for the exchange of ideas but to laugh at the great jokes, didn't help.

That latter one bothered me. Here was this crusading, stubborn, brash, defiant, hard-charging New York prosecutor Mafia-busting tough-guy running for president. But in his public appearances he was jocular and not particularly serious. He softened his image to the point where even I saw him as merely soft.

The conventional wisdom is boring, but it's right.

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posted by Ace at 05:05 PM

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