Feb 11, 2006

The base be damned; what about the rest of us?

Mark Coffey posts about CPAC's last-minute invite to Rudy Guiliani; he was invited two weeks before the event but had a conflict. Rudy asked to speak at last year's meeting and was turned down. David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union sniffs that Guiliani's stance on a number of issues (abortion, etc.) makes him an unlikely candidate for 2008.

But, as Mark points out, Rudy polls high among Republicans--even social conservatives.
I do know this: I don’t like conservative big dogs presuming to tell me who is or isn’t a viable candidate. If I were a Democrat, I wouldn’t let the activist base persuade me, and I see no need to let that happen as a Republican, either.

For one thing, the base - on both sides - often doesn’t have a clue as to what issues Americans REALLY care about. If Rudy, or McCain, or some other presumed moderate takes the nomination, what are the Keenes and Weydrichs going to do - vote for the Democratic candidate? I don’t think so…

Too right. We've already seen the Democrats kiss up to their base to disastrous effect. The truth is the mass of Americans are somewhere in the middle of the issues that divide us whether it's the GWOT or abortion; and firebreathers on the right or the left are apt to cause alarm, pushing the voter to the candidate who seems more balanced.

This is not to say, however, that a candidate should be without principles. Look at the 2004 race: The Dems became alarmed at Howard Dean's stridency and backed Kerry instead for the sole reason that he seemed "electable." But the public saw that a man who voted for something before he voted against it was not a man with nuance but a man without a moral spine. Nominating Bob Dole because it was "his turn" was similarly stupid.

People like Rudy Guiliani because they perceive him as strong leader and a man with principles. He handled 9/11 superbly. He also turned down money from the Saudi prince on principle. Likewise, he's been a staunch defender of Israel. The war on terror isn't going to end when George Bush leaves office. Not surprising that many see Rudy Guiliani as a fit successor to carry on.

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