Yesterday I saw a book by John Podhoretz, the main thrust of which was that Hillary Clinton needs to be prevented from becoming President, and there are certainly a lot of things that the book says with which I agree. But I’m not going to go into what he says about Hillary here. I noted, however, that the book’s cover mentions that in the book Podhoretz makes a surprising endorsement for the nominee to run against her, and I looked inside to see who it was. It turned out that he supports a person who’s been mentioned favorably by me in this blog: former mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York.
But as I read the chapter in question, it became clear that Podhoretz does not understand what makes Giuliani the person he is. Podhoretz makes the mistake that a lot of dogmatic conservatives (and, in mirror image, a lot of dogmatic liberals) do: he assumes that a person who shares many of his ideas with the conservative (or liberal) dogma agrees with all of that point of view. And thus, Podhoretz thinks that Giuliani’s ideas on such topics as abortion and gay rights are not what he has stated, but are in fact the conservative ideas that Podhoretz would like them to be. He seems to think that Giuliani only proclaimed himself on the so-called “liberal” side of those issues to get elected in liberal New York City. And Podhoretz is wrong.
If Giuliani were to take a position opposed to his real beliefs on any issue for the sake of election, it would be on an economic issue, not a social one. New York City is dominated by organized labor, and Giuliani’s real courage was shown by his taking on the city’s unions. That he was willing to do so shows that he really has the courage of his convictions. I think that part of Podhoretz’s error is in his thinking that, because Giuliani took on an “anti-Catholic” exhibit by the Brooklyn Museum, his loyal Catholicism would not permit him to take a position opposed to that of the Catholic Church on those issues just mentioned. And a Giuliani who is willing to fight the labor unions in New York City is certainly strong enough to have his own opinions on social issues, even when they run counter to Catholic doctrine.
Certainly, it is the opinion of this blogger that Giuliani would make a good President. But Podhoretz’s book misstates the case for him.
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