A reader recently e-mailed us as follows:
As someone who has become a rather enthusiastic supporter of Rudy Giuliani for the presidency in recent months but also an admirer of Mitt, I’d like to drop an email by hopefully to understand your views on Rudy and most specifically his social issues relative to Mitt.
Allow me to clarify my background a bit–I am a Mormon, native to the middle of Newt’s old territory in Georgia. Support for Mitt among Mormons is far from universal, obviously, but the feeling I get from many people is that any indiscretions or mistakes committed by Mitt would reflect sharply on the rest of us, far more so than mainstream Protestant presidents like Bush. There’s not a single person among us who doesn’t know of the early history of our church, and the attacks and betrayals of the mobs and the government. The church centered itself in Utah to get away from that. Now that it is spreading out once more in recent decades, Mormons are very observant as to other’s perceptions of them. I think many of us are afraid that Mitt in the spotlight and even worse, in charge of things, is going to raise up the same old hatred against us. This is far from a dominant belief, but I definitely see it out there among Mormons. That we will take the heat for any of Mitt’s screwups, and that anything he says will be regarded as our beliefs. You can see where this might lead, and some Mormons don’t exactly like the thought of it. Personally, I’m not so far into that group, but I definitely understand their sentiments and have my own doubts as to things. Talk about Mitt running in ’08 on major blogs seems to confirm those.
That being said, quite a bit is made of Rudy’s social issues stances which are admittedly pretty liberal as opposed to those of most Republicans. However, from what I’ve been following, he has lately expressed a firm belief in the appointment of originalist judges to the courts and as a former prosecutor I trust he knows what he’s talking about. This would definitely work against the influence of activist judges that try to impose federal mandates on abortion like Roe v. Wade, and assuming Rudy gets to appoint a couple of originalists, abortion like other social matters could be returned to the state level as the federalist system intended. He can be all for pro-abortion arguments in principle and in liberal states that support them like his own New York, but if he prevents judges from banning ballot measures against it at the state level, I’m not so sure that his view is incorrect. Countless Republicans including Reagan and Mitt himself have moved right on abortion–would in your opinion Rudy supporting the federalist system of social issues at the state level be enough, while most Republicans including Reagan and Mitt have tended to move further?
On most of the other issues Mitt and Rudy are pretty much identical from what I’ve seen–more concise than usual in talking about the war, good administrators, fiscally conservative. But to me, Rudy stands out much more so when it comes to security, as his record in New York attests to. Both are far more conservative than McCain. It seems a tradeoff between stronger socially conservative credentials versus stronger national security credentials. I’d personally pick the latter. But what are your general views on Rudy’s social issues, and any moves at moderation which seem to be forthcoming? I ask this, because even among social conservatives I see some divergence. Some will oppose Rudy to the end, others say it’s all about the judges, and still more say that social issues are irrelevant to national security in 2008. I personally see Mitt and Rudy (and Newt, for that matter) of the Reagan brand–fiscally conservative, socially sensible, administrative pragmatists who get the job done, and uncompromising on national security–and would welcome the election of any of those three.
Thanks for the consideration.
1. First, let’s dispense with this Gingrich business. Newt seems to be the flavor of the week for many conservative battle warriors (and I count myself one of those, just without the neo-Newtery). Before it was Mike Pence, but then he allegedly committed a mortal sin on immigration–which is another post in itself. But my response to the current Gingrich mania is the same as it was to the nascent “Draft Pence” movement: That dog don’t hunt. Pence, much as I like him, is simply far too minor a figure to be considered a serious presidential candidate. Gingrich, on the other hand, is just a loser. Sorry guys, but it had to be said. Thanks to his many PR (and policy) screwups in the 1990s, even if he were the best conservative candidate, he’d never win a general. It’d be a “gimme” for the Dems–simply cue the tape of the government shutdown or who knows what else and it’s over. He had his moment, and it was in 1994, and that was then, and this is now. Moreover, he is not the best conservative candidate–in fact, I doubt he could win a primary, the e-mails I get in his name from Human Events notwithstanding. Do you really think Southern evangelicals (to pick the media’s favorite bogeymen) are going to turn out for a guy who has left two wives now, one for his staffer? Sorry, but Ronald Reagan’s divorce (cited by Newt’s advocates) is apples to the Speaker’s oranges–not in the recent past and not due to philandering on the man’s part. (He’s not of the “Reagan brand” in this very important regard.) Perhaps (since I am approaching the altar myself) I am overly sensitive to this issue, but this soon-to-be Virginia evangelical–and, I suspect, my brothers and sisters in the real South–will be much happier voting for a guy whose view of the Trinity might be a little off than one whose view of marriage seems to be absolutely abhorrent.
2. This reader’s comments on Mormons’ attitudes toward Gov. Romney are very interesting. I think they are worth reproducing here because while we have heard similar views voiced many times before, the media-generated mythology seems to be that all LDS folks will turn out in lockstep for Gov. Romney. As with evangelicals, the media’s view of this group of religious believers is remarkably simplistic and does not jibe with reality. Shocking, really.
3. As for the issue at hand (whoops, sorry for that lengthy “No Newt!” diatribe), Gov. Romney is clearly superior to Rudy on the social issues. The reason is simple, and David alludes to it in his recent Hotline post. The reason all of us here support Gov. Romney is not that he has changed his words on social issues since 1994. Were that the case, his new words would be worth no more or less than the new ones Rudy seems to be finding on subjects like judges. (One exception here would be “gay marriage,” where I know of no shift in either man’s position–i.e. Gov. Romney has never supported “gay marriage” and his actions have borne that out, whereas Rudy continues to be an unabashed supporter.) No, our support stems from the fact that Gov. Romney has backed up his socially conservative words with actions. This is why we don’t–as our reader does about Rudy–have to say we “trust he knows what he’s talking about.” Forget what he talks about; we can see what he’s done. As we have said before:
Gov. Romney does not just say he supports traditional marriage; he has defended traditional marriage at great political cost. In 2003, through a breathtaking act of judicial activism, Massachusetts’ supreme court imposed same-sex “marriage” on the state. If not for Gov. Romney’s swift intervention, this action may have led to a national constitutional crisis. Same-sex couples from across the U.S. could have come to Massachusetts, gotten “married,” and then demanded that their home states honor the “marriages”—creating a national wave of litigation and conflicting decisions from state to state. Instead, Gov. Romney and his staff vigorously enforced a little-known 1913 law that prevents out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if their marriage would be illegal in their home state, keeping Massachusetts from becoming, as he called it, “the Las Vegas of ‘gay marriage.’” He followed this stand with a dynamic and articulate response to Democratic efforts to dramatically expand embryonic stem cell research.
4. Finally, our correspondent asks whether national security or social issues are more important in 2008. If I may be so bold as to speak for everyone, let me say that we here at EFM don’t think that is a choice that has to be made. First of all, “We also believe the War on Terror is not simply a national security issue, but also a values issue. The enemies of our country who are responsible for 9/11 hate our very way of life. They hate our freedom, our values, and our Judeo-Christian heritage.” See here. And if you don’t buy that, buy this: The choice betwen Gov. Romney is not between two local or state leaders who say nice things about national security and social issues. The choice is between one man who has done something positive about both (Gov. Romney) and one man (Mayor Giuliani) who has done something positive about one (security) and would be neutral at best, destructive at worst on the other (values). That is not a choice between two equals, nor is it a difficult one.
UPDATE, 9/6/06: Giuliani Blog is upset with me, claiming that Rudy is against “gay marriage” because, um, well, he said so. Apparently the recent American Spectator cover story on him says the same (I don’t have a link to it). I’m not exactly sure what this means, since Rudy has also come out against the Federal Marriage Amendment. He’s against “gay marriage” but doesn’t want to do anything about it? What is that supposed to mean, especially coming from this so-called no-nonsense man of action? Being against something ought to mean more than “I don’t want to do it myself” (which Rudy’s marital adventures–with women–make amply clear). Especially in the political world, it ought to mean “I will do something about this.” I’m amenable to the idea that there are more ways to do that than a constitutional amendment, but I can’t find Rudy explaining anywhere exactly what that would be for him. I can, however, find him confessing to being “out of sync” with the GOP’s base and more on the same page with (perish the thought) George Pataki and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Couldn’t have said it better myself.