Why Rudy's the Man

John Podhoretz explains why even conservatives like Rudy:

Many on the right profess amazement at the lead [Rudy’s] opened up among Republican primary voters, considering his pro-choice views and sloppy personal life.

Meanwhile, writers on the left express disbelief at the notion that a pro-choice Republican candidate might be able to win the GOP nomination. According to the best Leftist analyst of American politics, Michael Tomasky, abortion is simply “too fundamental an issue for most Republican caucus goers and primary voters (even in California, with its likely Feb. 5 primary) to work around.”

There’s a perfectly simple answer to the Rudy paradox. When Republican voters look at Rudy Giuliani, they know one key fact about him: They know he’s no liberal.

They may not exactly know why yet, but they know it.

… more than any other candidate in the race, Rudy Giuliani is a liberal-slayer. When he rejects liberal orthodoxy, which he does often, he doesn’t just oppose it. He goes to war with it – total, unconditional war.

He spent his political career chewing up liberal orthodoxy and spitting it out – and I think that somehow, in some way, voters in Oklahoma and Kansas get that about him even without knowing the specifics.

His success in turning New York around wasn’t merely a matter of changing policies. He had to sustain those policies when they came under deliberate, systematic and unrelenting assault by the city’s liberal elite.

In case after case, he refused to accept the veto of liberal public opinion. He drove porn shops out of residential neighborhoods, even though his administration had to fight more than 30 lawsuits on the matter. He crusaded against bilingual education, a disastrous policy that had gone unquestioned in this city for decades.

And most important, he stood up for the police department against any and all attacks – which were incessant and incredibly unjust. The race baiters and their shills at the Not-So-Great Grey Lady talked as though the NYPD was engaging in genocide when the opposite was the case – many thousand of people are alive today who would have died if the NYPD hadn’t taken on its newly aggressive posture under Giuliani.

Did Giuliani go too far in defending the police against charges that officers were trigger-happy and brutal? Sure he did, and some of his more aggressive efforts in this regard will also become campaign fodder over the course of the next year or more. But his defensiveness was nothing compared to the shameful and shameless effort to delegitimize his crime-fighting approach by slandering the NYPD as a bunch of goons and killers

He basically took the view that these 38,000 people were an army fighting an enemy, and that they were liberating the people of New York City from a reign of lawlessness.

And this, more than anything else, ties into the national sentiment about Rudy as the Hero of 9/11. He didn’t just represent New York to the nation and the world. He had, in fact, changed New York in a way that made this city’s response to 9/11 so astounding.

In September 2001, as his mayoralty was winding down, New York had achieved civic equilibrium. This was a city at peace with itself, no matter what Al Sharpton might have said. The New York of 1991 would not have responded with the calm dignity and sense of common purpose that the New York of 2001 did.

The New York of 1991 was a city governed by the liberal elite. The New York of 2001 had been changed utterly by an anti-liberal mayor.

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