A common charge against Congressman Ron Paul is that he does not take the threat of terrorism seriously and seeks to "isolate" America from the rest of the world. Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, is praised by Republican elites and many average voters as being "strong," "tough," and somebody who would "take on the terrorists." Giuliani is seen as the candidate who will spread American greatness and keep America safe, while Paul is portrayed as a "crazy old uncle" who wants to ignore the rest of the world and leave the nation vulnerable to attack. Which characterization is actually closer to the truth?
The myth of Rudy Giuliani began on September 11th 2001, a date he frequently evokes and bases much of his campaign around. The events of that terrible day resulted in his multimillion-dollar earnings, his revived public image, and his being taken seriously as a Presidential candidate. While Rudy entered his second term of mayor with strong favorability ratings inside New York City (not exactly a city dominated by traditional conservatives and libertarians), by September 10th his popularity had imploded.
On September 10th, Rudy was seen as washed up politically. He dropped out of his New York Senate race earlier in the year, blaming it on an easily treatable form of prostate cancer, when in all reality it was because of the circus surrounding his public and political life, and all polls showing him getting stomped by Hillary Clinton. Rudyís sudden withdrawal significantly weakened Republican chances at winning the seat and the party was forced to pick a replacement candidate to rally around only six months before the general election and only several weeks before the state Republican convention. That election, as we all know, ultimately went to Hillary Clinton, who is now also running for President on the Democratic ticket.
On September 10th, Rudy was perceived by many former admirers as a bully and an authoritarian. His second term was so unfocused that he began picking fights and drawing criticism on everything from cracking down on jaywalkers to drawing headlines for publicly freaking out at people about the worth or lack thereof of ferrets as pets (Iím serious). He was seen as bossy, authoritarian, and the majority of New Yorkers were ready to see him go as his then poll numbers in the mid-30ís indicated.
On September 10th, nobody would have dreamed that Rudy Giuliani would ever be a plausible contender for the Presidency of the United States. But after September 11th, that all changed. Suddenly the myth began that Rudy had stared down terrorists due to the fact that he handled public relations well the day of the attacks and put on a confident public face. This doesnít minimize the fact that he was indeed out in front that day when others were being shipped off to "undisclosed locations." But how does Rudyís marching in front of cameras and making speeches at funerals suddenly make him the best man to lead the free world, the best person to protect America from her enemies, and the best and most knowledgeable person to deal with foreign nations?
Without those 3,000 dead Americans from the September 11th attacks, the media-assembled Rudy would not exist. He would not be as rich as he is now. He would likely not be very popular. He certainly and definitely would not be running for President or even be thinking about it. If it was not for September 11th, sellout conservatives would not be rallying around a man they once reviled. The multiply divorced, pro-abortion, pro-gay rights candidate who not long ago seemed to purposely flaunt his character flaws to the public would not be getting major endorsements from Religious Right leaders like Pat Robertson.
Is it not a bit eerie and cynically ironic that Giulianiís vast wealth, popularity, and political capital can almost all be traced back to thousands of Americans dying in one of the worst national tragedies to ever afflict the nation? Without those dead bodies and the national fear that resulted nobody would be taking Rudy seriously. Again, this does not negate the fact that America was scared and wounded and that they found some sense of strength in the New York Mayor. But as far as polls seeing Giuliani best equipped to fight terrorism, what in the world is that actually based off of?
Giuliani has never served in the military and instead opted for multiple deferments. He has never served in a capacity where he has had to make foreign policy decisions (sorry, dealing with the NYPD is not the same as commanding the US military or dealing with other heads of state). His "experience" that he is credited for boils down to a public relations campaign after September 11th, making speeches after the attacks, and surrounding his Presidential campaign with some of the most notorious hawks in political and journalistic circles.
In fact, while many are cheering Rudyís "toughness" they are forgetting his strong-arm style is the same thing that made him so unpopular in NYC. A look back into Giulianiís career shows a heavy-handed federal prosecutor, mayor, and somebody with a quick temper and often poor judgment. And yet this same person who couldnít deal with many locals in New York is now expected to deal with foreign nationals and project Americaís image abroad?
If Americans are suckered into this "Rudy is tough and will keep us safe" lingo they will likely be in for a rude awakening. Some of his top advisors are frothing at the mouth to bomb Iran. Rudy will continue to defend torture and will take the crackdown on civil liberties to new extremes. Basically, if you are not a fan of President Bush, or a conservative unhappy with the President, take everything you donít like about him, times that by ten, and thatís what youíll likely get with Giuliani.
And throughout the power grabs and international belligerence, Rudy will do what he has done all along: cloak it in September 11th Ė speak and rely on fear and bullying to get his way. Detractors will be denounced as un-American, unpatriotic, and soft on terrorism. Rudy and his backers will do as all neoconservatives do, speak with an air of superiority and act like all dissenters are morons even though theyíve been factually wrong on most matters related to the war in Iraq. The same crowd was wrong about most everything in regards to Iraq is euphorically behind Rudy for President and they are using the same talking points and fear-campaign to open up a third hot war prematurely against yet another Muslim country.
Weíve seen the neoconservative record on Iraq regarding their predictions and factual assertions; why on earth are people continuing to believe their hosehockey in regards to Iran? While the country can barely keep up with the two wars itís fighting, the Republican establishment and neoconservatives everywhere are rallying behind Rudy to start more wars, drop more bombs, spend more money and send more kids to die for their already disproved vision of the world.
Just how exactly is Rudyís past record or his future vision going to keep America safe? I suppose if a voter is in support of writing more blank checks for even more wars, supports torture, public fear campaigns, blockades, embargoes, and all the rest, then Rudy is indeed their guy. But is this really an internationalist? Or would this go a long way forward to further isolating America?
On the other hand, Ron Paul is denounced as "crazy" for wanting to do the opposite. Ron Paul seeks to actually dialogue with other nations and use diplomacy ("dialogue" and "diplomacy" are seen as sissy words to most Republicans these days and warning signs that one is "soft" on terrorism). He is not anti-military as he is actually a military veteran, unlike the great hero Rudy. He wants a strong military; he just doesnít want to use it for nation-building crusades and for causes that do not further Americaís interest. Nor does he want to bomb countries for charges that are not substantiated ("Iran will have a nuke by next Tuesday and we will all die if we donít act NOW!"). He believes in trading with all and spreading our values throughout the world, but without trying to artificially force them upon other nations.
A Paul administration would not come in with a stand-offish and hostile view towards the rest of the world. It would seek to be proactive in establishing Americaís influence throughout the world, but it would do this without perpetual foreign aid handouts to corrupt regimes and dependant allies and without trying to police the world. A Paul administration would actually leave our military in stronger shape instead of the weakened, stretched-thin shape it is now. A Paul administration would seek to regain Americaís standing in the world instead of perpetuating the image that it is an arrogant empire. Oh, and of course, the Republican candidate who leads in campaign donations from rank and file active and retired military men and women is not Rudy Giuliani, but Ron Paul.
Again I ask, who are really the "isolationists" here? Who are really the ones pursuing "crazy" policies? The idea that Rudy Giuliani is a strong hero who will protect America is almost entirely rooted in myth. The idea that he and his neoconservative cheerleaders offer the most coherent and proven leadership for the country is negated by the past seven years, especially the past five years in Iraq. What a great irony that the very people who have been wrong about almost everything with foreign policy still want to pass themselves off as the experts. Itís like a D student claiming intellectual superiority over everyone else; it simply does not line up with the facts.
If more Republican and conservative voters actually looked at the facts, studied the Giuliani record and compared it to the vision and policies of Ron Paul, they would come to an unmistakable conclusion. The real candidate who will push for policies and leadership to make America safe from her enemies and prosperous at home is not Rudy Giuliani or any of the other assorted candidates who are basically all saying the same thing in slightly different ways.
As the Ron Paul campaign ad says in New Hampshire about their candidate, "heís catching on." And he will continue to so long as voters separate fact from fiction on the real record and visions of Paul vs. the rest of his opponents. It is Paulís opponents, and not Ron Paul who will really isolate and weaken America if they reach the White House.
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In: Iraq, Iran, News
Tags: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Obama, Rudy Giuliani. John McCaim, Republican, Candidates, Election, CNN, Fox News, Debate Polls, Polls, President, race, New Hampshire, Iowa, primaries, primary,
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