Rudy Giuliani: Goldwater Or RFK ?
David Weigel has a great piece in this month’s edition of Reason about Rudy Giuliani and whether libertarians should even give him a first look:
Some of Giuliani’s positions are libertarian, but the man himself is not. He has never looked over his shoulder and declared that Goldwater was right. Goldwater thought he was elected to repeal laws, not pass them. Giuliani, generally, likes to expand the boundaries of the state. He has no interest in rolling back the government to where it was before the Great Society, let alone the New Deal.
“We believe in giving freedom to people,” Giuliani said in a March speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee. “The Republican Party makes its greatest contribution when it’s giving more freedom to people.” Giuliani does not, however, view freedom as the absence of state control. “Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want,” he said in a 1994 speech two months after becoming mayor. “Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority.”
As the presidential primary heated up in September, Giuliani remained the GOP’s front-runner, to the general amazement of pundits. Only Fred Thompson, the actor and former senator from Tennessee, challenges his supremacy in national polls. Giuliani had long argued that the civil libertarians and traditional conservatives who criticize him are out of their league, second-guessing the decisions he made in “saving” New York. But his record goes back further than that. A more complete picture of Giuliani’s career and of his evolving philosophy shows a man who considers the crusading Kennedy the model for how to use power.
Americans have a certain disdain for political crusading. Movements burn out and leaders overreach, and the hotter the moment the faster the cycle works. That’s not how Rudy Giuliani operates. In 1988, wrapping up his career as a U.S. attorney, he announced a lawsuit against the Teamsters and drew quotes from Kennedy’s report on the corruption hearings, The Enemy Within. Kennedy, Giuliani said, took heat for aggressively attacking the union and for basking in the media’s spotlight. But Kennedy’s strategy paid off.
“He was ridiculed,” Giuliani said. “He was vilified. He was hated irrationally. But he was right.” Anyone who wants to criticize Giuliani for his ego, his love of power, his view of an interventionist state, his view of America as a transformative military power, or his particular sense of freedom should study those words. He wants to be remembered the very same way.
Considering Giuliani’s position in the polls and the near-teflon exterior he has developed, the entire article is worth a read. After finishing it, you might wonder, as I have for months now, why this man is the Republican front runner.