That, according to Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen, is what the GOP used to be–and what nominating Mayor Giuliani may make it so again. She’s enthused, obviously. I’m not.
Ever since the presidency was a mere gleam in his eye, lots of New Yorkers have been predicting that Rudy, like a toddler or a genuine bagel, would not travel well across the country. It wasn’t just the quasi-liberal positions on abortion, gay rights and gun control: he could massage those, and sometimes has. It was his private life, which his former constituents have watched with all the avidity of a soaps addict tuning in to “All My Children.” There was the annulment from the first wife, who was his second cousin, the press conference he used to inform the second wife that she was history, the girlfriend he met in the cigar bar who became wife number three, and the very public estrangement from his children, both of whom have suggested that they won’t be stumping for Dad. To which the candidate recently responded at a town-hall meeting, “Leave my family alone, just like I’ll leave your family alone.”
This would be a reasonable response were Giuliani not a member of the Republican Party, which in the last three decades has often been less about public policy and more about moral judgment. It wasn’t always so. Once the GOP was moderate and secular. But then the ’60s arrived. Society divided itself neatly into the button-down and the tie-dyed, and the Republican Party rallied around something called “family values.” It’s a phrase that has appeared in every party platform since 1976 and is often accompanied by the adjective “traditional,” which translated means that if you don’t have a stay-at-home mommy, a dominant daddy, some kids, a marriage license and a church membership, you’re disinvited to the party.