Rudy Giuliani, Pat Robertson, And The Future Of The Republican Party
Brad notes the undercurrent of Republican misgivings about Rudy Giuliani’s candidacy and expresses the idea that the race for the GOP nomination is going to be a lot more exciting than people might think.
While I certainly hope he’s correct, there also seem to be some signs that the various factions of the party are coalescing around Rudy Giuliani, for better or for worse. Listen to guys like Sean Hannity on a regular basis and you’ll see that Rudy is the golden boy of the conservative right, which is ironic that he’s neither conservative nor particularly very right-wing.
Earlier today, for example, Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination for President:
Rudolph W. Giuliani scored a coup today by winning the support of Pat Robertson, who, as one of the nation’s best-known televangelists, could help Mr. Giuliani reassure Republicans who are wary of his support for abortion rights and gay rights.
Mr. Robertson, the founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, said in endorsing Mr. Giuliani in Washington, that he believed “the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists” and praised Mr. Giuliani as a “true fiscal conservative.”
While Mr. Robertson did not mention Mr. Giuliani’s support of abortion rights, he said approvingly that Mr. Giuliani “has assured the American people that his choices for judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia,” who have argued against Roe v. Wade.
The endorsement comes just a month after a coalition of other prominent Christian conservatives threatened to back a third-party candidate if Mr. Giuliani were to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. The support of Mr. Robertson could not only help Mr. Giuliani present himself as a viable candidate to the Christian right, but could also help him improve his standings in Iowa: Mr. Robertson finished second in the Iowa caucuses during his own run for president in 1988.
The political value of this endorsement should not be downplayed, as Mark Ambinder points out:
Unlike Paul Weyrich, who endorsed Mitt Romney yesterday, actual voters have heard of Pat Robertson. Actual voters in Iowa helped place second in the 1988 Iowa caucuses.
Robertson is the most significant conservative Christian to endorse, and his endorsement goes to Rudy.
The question, of course is why Robertson or any other conservative would endorse someone who is plainly not a social conservative, who is pro-choice, more tolerant of homosexuals that anyone of Robertson’s ilk would ever be, and further to the left on social issues than any of the other Republican candidates. Ambinder says it all boils down to the War on Terror:
Both Giuliani and Robertson share an apocalyptic worldview about the clash with [radical] Islam; for Robertson, it is religious and based in biblical prophecy. For Giuliani, it is secular — but given his 9/11 experiences, just as personal.
Evangelical Christians cite the war on terror as their chief policy concern, and it is not that surprising that Giuliani, who is more identified with an aggressive prosecution of that war than any other candidate, is doing well among evangelicals. It’s not that they ignore his views on social issues; it’s that they see the war on terror like he does: black-and-white, good-versus-evil, a struggle for the soul of civilization.
And Andrew Sullivan agrees, though in far harsher language that pretty much captures my personal opinion of the former Mayor of New York and the Charlatan of Virginia Beach:
Robertson blamed Americans for causing 9/11. He is a charlatan and a religious phony. He has enriched himself at the expense of millions of gullible Christians who did not understand that this man’s sole principle is his own power and wealth. It doesn’t surprise me that he sees eye to eye with Giuliani. They are very similar characters. But he does represent what may be becoming the consensus among Christianists: that the war on Islamic terrorism is the prime issue; and that the way to tackle it is by increasing military aggression, bombing or occupying Muslim countries, preserving Israel solely to hasten the Apocalypse, and entrenching torture as a pillar of American national security policy. The fusion of Giuliani’s authoritarianism with Robertson’s Christianism is indeed one future path for the GOP.
There’s one thing that still unites what’s left of the Republican base, and that’s the War on Terror. Rudy Giuliani has become the symbol of that war by virtue of the fact that he happened to be Mayor of New York on September 11th — ignoring the fact that there is much well-placed criticism of the state of the New York’s emergency response system that made the job that the firefighters had to do more difficult. But none of that matters, because Rudy’s pro-War on Terror all the way — and folks like Pat Robertson think he’s just the guy to lead us into what they’ve come to see as a religious struggle of Biblical proportions.
So the future of the GOP, in the eyes of Pat Robertson and Rudy Giuliani is fairly easy to see — New York style authoritarianism combined with evangelical Christianist fatalism. Its a turn off to civil libetarians, to pretty much anyone who lives outside the Bible Belt, and to middle class Americans who don’t like seeing their politics mixed with religion, but it’s exactly where the GOP is headed in 2008 unless the bandwagon that is the Giuliani for President campaign is derailed.
Adapted from a post at Below The Beltway