The Giuliani problem has become the NR problem
Giving political advice to Giuliani, Richard Lowry at the Corner writes:
If he can start to talk about his conservatism having three legs to its stool like Romney does, he will have at least minimized a huge strategic vulnerability.The three legs are patriotism and national defense, free market economics and limited government, and conservative social values. Lowry thinks that merely by “talking” about the third leg, conservative social values, Giuliani will show that he believes in the third leg. But Giuliani cannot plausibly talk about conservative social values, for two reasons.
The first reason is his outspoken record at a social liberal, his annual marching with the homosexuals, his opposition to gun rights, and so on. As Carol Iannone argued persuasively at the Phi Beta Cons blog yesterday, “the standard for social values can be carried only by conservatives, the only political segment to care about them, and the only segment that understands the important philosophical and spiritual connections among the three [legs].”
The second reason Giuliani cannot plausibly talk about conservative social values is his scandalous and disgraceful personal history, his public adulteries as mayor of New York, his effort to kick his wife and children out of Gracie Mansion while he was mayor so that he could bring his mistress there, his children’s present alienation from him, and so on.
Ironically, Lowry is in a position analogous to that of Giuliani himself. Giuliani, as Lowry sees it, must in order to win the presidency convince conservatives that he believes in conservative values. But since his whole history demonstrates that he does not believe in conservative values, this is impossible. Nevertheless, Lowry, in his ineffably callow and clueless way, imagines that by “talking” about conservative values, Giuliani can somehow make the manifestly untrue appear to be true.
Similarly, Lowry, as editor of NR, which has been pushinig Giuliani and will surely support him if he is nominated, must convince NR’s readers that NR has not thereby abandoned conservatism. The problem is that anyone who supports Giuliani has by definition abandoned conservatism. When the flagship journal of American conservatism endorses Giuliani for president, it will have passed some definitional line whereby it will become impossible to think of it any longer as a conservative magazine, just as, when the Episcopal Church ordained the publicly practicing homosexual Eugene Robinson as a bishop, the Episcopal Church passed some definitional line whereby it became impossible to think of it any longer as a Christian body.
So, just as Giuliani must, according to Lowry, make himself appear to be a conservative in order to gain or keep the support of many Republicans and become president, NR, in the act of supporting Giuliani, must continue to appear to be conservative in order to keep its identity and its franchise as a conservative magazine—and, of course, to keep its readers. And one way Lowry seeks to maintain NR’s conservative image is by urging Giuliani to “talk about social values.”
Giuliani and Lowry, partners in sophism, have the same big job ahead of them.
Under the subject line “Devil’s Advocate,” Mark Jaws writes:
I am with you with regard to a Giuliani presidency. His administration would be filled with Arlen Specters, Christine Whitmans, and John McCains. But for the sake of discussion I am going to take up the inevitable Sean Hannity talking points, which would bring up the disastrous judges Hillary Clinton would surely appoint to the federal judiciary and to the possible realization by President Giuliani that “compassionate conservatism” was a disaster, the monstrous growth of the federal government must be reversed, and that a moral, self-restrained people make far better citizens and build more vibrant and productive communities and cities than clients of the welfare state. And as far as his egregious personal behavior goes, I am sure many of Giulianistas would point to Saint Augustine as an example of one who led the life of the libertine, but during times of crises saw the error of his ways and the need to take up the holy life. As you have pointed out, the Liberal Right can be just as delusional as—perhaps even more so than—our adversaries on the Left.LA replies:
If Mark Jaws is speaking as the Devil’s Advocate, he must be trying to give the Devil a bad name. Apart from the judges issue, he bases his entire argument on the baseless hope that a President G. “might” realize that liberalism is bad and change his whole philosophy once in office!Mark Jaws replies:
Good response, and I learned something about Saint Augustine. But do you really believe that left and right liberals will cling to their delusions (about universal equality) to the very end and go down with the Titanic? My friend always reminds me that as soon as our affluence begins to wane, our tolerance will head south and we will re-assert the harsh reality which has gone on hiatus for the past 40 years.LA replies:
These suppositions are all apart from the actual arguments pertaining to the effects of a Giuliani nomination and presidency. Basically what you’re saying is, it doesn’t matter what Giuliani’s beliefs are, because such a huge change is coming in the world that all people are going to change their beliefs. But of course the same argument could be used with regard to Hillary’s beliefs.Spencer Warren writes:
Lowry’s bland writing is pathetic. And his point that G. should sound such and such is what a politician would say. A journalist in his position should be writing about what the politician actually should think and do, not what he should pretend to think and do. Lowry is O’Sullivan’s bequest to NR; he wrote this rubbish when he was a cub reporter too.LA replies:
That’s what I meant by calling Lowry a sophist. The sophists were the political consultants of fifth century Athens, advising politicians how to shape their message so as to win popular support.David B. writes:
Yesterday, I made the mistake of turning on Sean Hannity’s radio show. A liberal caller had chastised the GOP as hypocrites for backing morally deficient people, such as Giuliani, while criticizing the Clintons. Hannity said, “None of the GOP candidates has been accused of raping anybody. None of the Republicans has groped anybody.”A reader writes:
This is a scream. The last writer on this thread mentioned that Hannity defended Giuliani by saying he didn’t rape anyone, as Clinton did. So the standard now is RAPE! As long as you haven’t RAPED, you’re ok with the conservatives!!!
Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 08, 2007 12:13 PM | Send