The Note: Rethinking Rudy

WASHINGTON, Mar. 5

The Gang of 500's previous unanimous view that Rudy Giuliani cannot win the Republican presidential nomination has come to a stunning end, and the Gang is now cleaved into three groups of indeterminate sizes.

The first group still believes that Giuliani can't be nominated -- despite the overwhelming lead he enjoys in all current national horserace polling. Members of Group 1 believe that there are 96 reasons that the former New York City mayor absolutely can't sustain his lofty position over the next eleven months, and his oft-discussed liberal positions on social issues aren't even the twelfth-most significant factor.

Group 2 contains Gang members who believe that Giuliani's chances are infinitesimally tiny and wee, but they are extant, if all the stars align, and if all the other candidates collapse and if 2008 is truly a different kind of election than the nation has seen in years and years.

Adherents of Group 3 -- surely still the smallest of the trio -- believe that the Giuliani campaign's mantra about leadership and the post-9/11 environment and the fact that one can now walk without fear from a Broadway show to a late-night dinner at Orso, will lead him to the nomination and the White House.

Eventually, The Note will publish the full list of 96 reasons why the smart money remains on Group 1's point of view, but for today -- with the Giuliani rise THE biggest story in American politics (yes, bigger than Obama right now), let's examine the reasons why Giuliani has been able to rise so high, and why he just might be able to keep it up for at least several more months:

1. McCain=Old Man Iraq, and Romney=Flip-Flopping Mormon, and the rest of the field=nothing (yet).

2. It is (theoretically) in McCain's interest to allow nomination voters to park (temporarily, his campaign assumes) on Giuliani to keep them from going to Romney, whom the McCainiacs see as a bigger threat over the long term.

3. Romney's current flip-flop problem makes him too flawed a messenger to effectively take Giuliani out.

4. Giuliani hasn't submitted to an hour-long interview with George Stephanopoulos, Ron Brownstein, or Tim Russert (and it doesn't seem like he has plans to do so any time soon).

5. 9/11 made Giuliani a national iconic hero, and New York City less toxic as a political base.

6. Giuliani's celebrity and television-created heroic image creates frissions of excitement in every part of the country. USA Nation loves made-for-TV drama.

7. Some key Bush-Cheney advisers have been telling elite political reporters for months and months that Giuliani can win the nomination, and that has laid a foundation of cred. 8. His image suggests to some that he can make Blue States competitive -- which, post-43, would be huge for the party.

9. Until (and unless) he fails to keep pace in fundraising, people are assuming he will keep pace in fundraising.

10. The press is still giving him the benefit of the doubt of the double standard (imagine if Chelsea Clinton said the kinds of things Andrew Giuliani did this weekend….).

11. No one else in American politics can walk into any bar in the country, be instantly recognized, and get a standing ovation and a free beer.

12. The national media has fallen out of love with John McCain and needs a new Republican crush.

13. The New York-based media, which has (mostly) lost its capacity to HEART Giuliani, is so far only being read by Howie Kurtz.

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