Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rudy Giuliani: credibility on national security?

I hear it all the time. In fact, I just heard it again on Face the Nation. Rudy Giuliani has credibility on national security issues. This appears to be based entirely on his actions on 9/11/2001. Rudy was visibly engaged coordinating the response to the attacks, frequently on radio and television reassuring the populace and showing resolve at a time when the President and Vice President were running and hiding at undisclosed locations. I've always given Rudy credit for that. But that proves he's capable at disaster management, not national security. From what I can see, he's no more an expert on national security than the members of the NYPD and NYFD who risked their lives that day.

I haven't yet seen anyone connect the dots between Rudy's credibility and substantive actions or strategies. Like the Giuliani supporters quoted before, everyone feels he's strong and capable, but they don't quite know why.

From the NYT:
“Giuliani may be in the best position of any of the Republican primary candidates on this because he uses very strong language in support of the war and its goals, but he doesn’t have to take simple up-or-down votes, like McCain does,” said Dan Schnur, a Republican political consultant who worked for Mr. McCain in 2000 but said he expected to sit out 2008. “He can voice the same ambivalence the voters feel.”

Polls suggest that Mr. Giuliani, far more than Mr. Romney, has credibility on terrorism and national security questions, and he and his aides see it as a central part of his appeal. When he speaks of possible setbacks in Iraq and a long fight against terrorists, analysts say, Mr. Giuliani enhances that image, sounding tough but realistic.

“I think it’s an effective pitch,” said Charles R. Black Jr., a Republican consultant who is not involved in the 2008 campaign. “The idea that the war on terror will go on for a generation plays to his strength.

In the past, Mr. Giuliani has often injected notes of pessimism into his comments on security, or warned of a protracted struggle. Campaigning for Republicans around the country last year, he often said that it was inevitable that the United States would be attacked again, and that the nation had no choice but to be at war with terrorists for many years.
So he uses strong language, believes the war will go on for generations and essentially guarantees that we'll suffer another attack. Is that reassuring?

Ironically, Giuliani’s stock as a presidential contender is widely expected to rise if the U.S. is attacked again by terrorists.

“If we are still at war, and we get hit again, I think that changes the dynamics,” says Michael Long, chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State. “He is seen as a strong leader.”

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