Right now, the conservative movement is longing for the second coming of Ronald Reagan, and no candidate is truly wowing it. Rudy is looking to step in and make this his moment. He's getting more than his share of help from writers on the right. Columnist Deroy Murdock has made the case that abortions went down in New York during his tenure and has written that "conservatives seeking a proven leader to lasso taxes and rein in runaway spending have a natural choice for president: Rudolph W. Giuliani." Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute also fondly recalls Giuliani's term as mayor. "The private economy, not government, creates opportunity," he said. "Government should just deliver basic services well and then get out of the private sector's way." These things, too, will help with social conservatives already attracted to the Brooklyn-born tough-guy executive.
I'm not sold on the Rudy idea quite yet. Like many conservatives, I watch the rock-concert-like crowds that Obama attracts and think, "We could really use a superstar." But I also would like a Republican nominee who is an all-encompassing leader. He may not be running for priest-in-chief, but it would also be nice to have a president who's not a cad-in-chief, fodder for daily tabloid headlines.
In other words, character matters. Now, is character also telling Yasser Arafat you have no place in my city, as Giuliani did as mayor? You bet. However, that's also Romney refusing to give protection to the former president of the terrorist state of Iran when he was speaking in Massachusetts last year. The exciting thing about this presidential cycle is that although it is painfully long, it also gives us the opportunity to really get to know the candidates -- the good, the bad and the ugly.
The bottom line? The guy who will clearly stare down the jihadists will ultimately earn conservative votes. That may be Giuliani. For now, however, I'm holding out for a leader who comes with even more than that -- the one who knows not only that we have a civilization to fight for, but also understands that marriage and the preservation of human life are essential to keeping that civilization going. That may be Romney.