Mary Katharine Ham

All right, I get Rudy's strategy. He can't convincingly convert to social conservatism, so he's offering social conservatives a deal, as I noted in my column. You get the judges, the charisma, the security from both terrorists and another Clinton presidency, but we're gonna have to agree to disagree on social issues.

I get that it would look silly at this point to walk back from all of his positions, but does he really need to pick the most reprehensible of all to reassert? I mean, public funding of abortion? A mighty stone indeed, which can kill both a fiscal and social conservative starling, as Matt points out.

I'm a fiscal/security conservative first, which makes me a conservative voter who is predisposed to both like Rudy and seriously consider the deal he's offering conservatives, but this puts even a more lenient social conservative like myself waaaayyy off.

This position violates the terms of the deal. The only reason a conservative would sign on to Rudy would be because we're assured that he's a pretty rock-solid fiscal and security conservative. If those two things are more important to you than social issues, and you're convinced he won't do too much damage on the social front, it's not a bad deal. But this position reveals a disheartening betrayal of free-market ideas and respect for both taxpayers and social conservatives.

The Rudy camp's spin:

And the Giuliani campaign noted later in the day that the former mayorwould not seek to make any changes to current law, which restrictsfederal funding to cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Why plant your flag there, Rudy? Of all the things he could walk back on, this would be the easiest. No one would question that he might reconsider support of public funding of abortions. A man of principle, as Rudy is positioning himself, could certainly have reservations about that.

I have found, for the most part, in talking to regular folks, that the affection for Rudy is so high that even dedicated social conservatives-- not social conservatives who are political operatives, but regular voters-- are willing to give him a chance. In Iowa, they said they wanted to hear him talk.

I don't think he can talk his way around this one.

Nor will this kind of thing help:

Per the quote, according to Dickerson, Rudy’s given to referringprivately to social cons, in contrast to himself, as “right-wingers.”

McCain's uncanny ability to exude contempt for large parts of the conservative electorate despite mostly agreeing with them is why the man from Arizona is trailing America's thrice-married Mayor in polls. Giuliani has always exuded good humor and respect, despite disagreements. If he abandons that, he's just McCain with worse conservative credentials. That won't get him far at all.

Update: Rob Bluey interviews former Maryland Gov. Bob Erlich on why he's supporting Giuliani, but Erlich's a moderate, so his endorsement won't matter that much to staunch social cons.

I'm interested in what Steve Forbes would say about public funding of abortion.

Also, Capt. Ed makes a good point:

This is an absurd statement on two levels. First, while Roe v Wade acts as precedent for the Constitutionality of abortion, nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the government must provide its citizens with what it allows. If that were true, the federal government would be required to arm every citizen. After all, the Second Amendment explicitly states that citizens have the right to bear arms, in language that actually appears in the document. If Giuliani's logic prevails, he should be arguing for a government plan to disperse guns, rifles, and ammunition -- as any impediment to access to a Constitutional right becomes the government's job to overcome.

Which makes Giuliani's position poppycock, if I can use a technical term.

Oh, and yes, I did write the column for The Examiner before I read yesterday's Rudy scoop. How'd you guess? Don't you hate it when the news cycle bites you in the rear like that?

I'm headed to New York today, and was hoping to get some interviews at Rudy's headquarters, but I'm told most of the spokespeople are out of the office today. I'll try nonetheless.



Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of HotAir.com, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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