Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rudy Giuliani: Up Close and Personal

For full disclosure, my candidate of choice for 2008 is Rudy Giuliani. With that said, I would like to announce my very first guest posting. This one is courtesy of Eric @ The Tygrrr Express. This one caught my eye because I have not yet had a chance to meet Rudy in person. Here it is full and unedited...

Several months ago, I wrote, “Why Rudy Giuliani is Right.” I was, and he absolutely still is, more than ever.

On Friday, September 28th, I had the pleasure of meeting Rudy Giuliani. About 100 people attended a private home to hear what he had to say. It was a joy to be one of them.
It is one thing to read other opinions of a person. It is still better to hear politicians speak on television. To be in the same room watching their facial expressions and looking into their eyes truly does add insight into the process. The bottom line is that after having met and spoken with Rudy Giuliani, his status as the top tier Presidential candidate is absolutely deserved.

The people that came to see him were a diverse group. Despite those who continue to denigrate the republican party as a “White, Christian Party,” there were plenty of Jewish supporters in attendance. Those who love to write about the gender gap would have a tough time explaining why the crowd was half male and half female. Geographically, the crowd ranged from Southerners to Midwesterners to Californians to very proud New Yorkers such as myself. People from several countries from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East were in attendance. There were social conservatives, libertarian republicans, and former democrats all there because they cared enough to attend a serious presentation of life and death issues in an adult manner.

Mayor Giuliani spoke for approximately 30-45 minutes, and unlike other tightly scripted political candidates, Hizzoner actually took questions. The audience were not Giuliani sycophants. They were serious individuals who wanted substance. He delivered.

Some people who prefer to live in what the Jayson Blair Times refers to as a “9/12 world (What is better described as a 9/10 world),” criticize Rudy Giuliani for spending virtually 100% of his time on the War on Terror. I personally wish he would do this. Nevertheless, his speech was 50% foreign policy followed by 50% domestic policy.

As an olive branch to liberals and their world view, I will cover the Mayor’s remarks backwards.
Mayor Giuliani’s understanding of economics is brilliant, which is to be expected of somebody who saved a city on the brink of economic collapse. He brought up two very important economic points, and he mentioned each one more than once.

First of all, he stated that, “When you take money away from rich people, rich people leave.” The second point he made is that, “Money is more mobile than ever before.”

Too many individuals who worship at the redistribution alter of Keynes think that rich people will just accept whatever is thrown their way. This is nonsense. Rich people will do what is best for them, because all people do this. Liberals complain about companies outsourcing jobs to India and other global places, but what should CEOs do, settle for higher costs and lower profits?

When businesses leave, economies collapse. After 9/11, companies had to choose between staying in New York City, or relocating to New Jersey, Connecticut, or even overseas. Wall Street is doing better than ever, and the friendly business climate Mayor Giuliani created helped turn around New York City.

Yes, he cut taxes 23 times. Yes, revenues went up. Yes, welfare rolls went down. This is not a miracle. It is Economics 101. He referred to rich people during his speech as “productive people.” When you punish those who are productive, they lose incentives to produce. Everybody loses.

He spoke about health care, and he had justifiably tough words for Hillary Clinton’s health care plans. For one, the idea of giving $5000 to each child was shredded. He pointed out that this was an idea with many holes. He inquired, “Would Bill Gates’s’ children be given $5000 apiece? Would the children of illegal immigrants, as U.S. citizens, be given $5000 apiece?” He blountly declared her plan what it was…”stupid.”

This is not the language of a tightly scripted man afraid to offend anyone in an effort to please everyone. This is a man who speaks plainly. On a very simple issue he contrasted himself with Hillary Clinton. He told a story of being asked to wear a baseball cap that was half Yankees, and half Mets. He refused to do so, because he is a lifelong Yankees fan. Mets fans would refer to him as a “bum,” and “much worse,” but as the Mayor pointed out, “Many Mets fans respected my honesty and voted for me.”

If he ever asked my opinion, I would tell him that I prefer football, and find baseball incredibly boring, a three hour nap disguised as a sport. He would disagree with me, but would respect my not trying to ingratiate myself to him in a phony manner.

Hillary Clinton has said that she would not choose between the Yankees and the Mets. When asked if she would choose the Yankees over the Cubs, she demurred.

This is not about baseball. It is about an unwillingness to take clear stands on anything. If a person cannot take a clear stand on a sports team, how can they be trusted to be taken seriously on hard policy issues?

Rudy Giuliani can be lighthearted, but he is a serious policy person. As he reminded his audience, it is one thing to talk about theoretically doing things. It is another to have a record of having successfully done them. Gotham City is now a world class city again, and it is because of him.

His record on crime is legendary, but he did not spend time discussing it. The first half of his speech was a clinic on foreign policy expertise. Unlike wavering republicans, the one time the Mayor mentioned President Bush, it was to reinforce that going into Iraq was proper. He spoke with Authority on Iran, and made it clear that force was an option.

Yet the War on Terror itself was where he, as always, shined. He reminded the audience that, “Terrorism did not begin on 9/11.” He also pointed out that, “We were attacked five times during the Clinton presidency. We were attacked in 1993 the first time the World Trade Center was bombed. We were attacked when the Khobar Towers were hit. We were attacked when U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed. We were attacked in 2000 with the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. These were acts of war, and were never treated as such.”

At the 2004 republican convention, Giuliani connected the dots even further. The 1985 murder of Leon Klinghoffer was an act of Terrorism. The 1972 murder of Israelis at the Olympics was an act of terrorism. In 2007, Mayor Giuliani continues to refer to Hamas, Hezbollah, and the late Yassir Arafat as terrorists. He mentioned them at this event.

Rudy Giuliani is the frontrunner in this race. He did not mention his republican primary opponents by name, with the exception of a brief mention of how much he respected John McCain. He stated that the reason why he did was because Senator McCain, “does not change his positions to please other people.” While this could have been seen as a veiled swipe at fellow republican opponents, there was no mistaking that the democrats running for the White House were the recipients of his overt ridicule.

Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack O’Bama were criticized on their lack of experience. There were no personal attacks. He went after them on policy, or more specifically, their lack of understanding of domestic and foreign policy.

He also defended General David Petraeus, and made it clear that when the New York Times and Moveon.org combined to smear a respected military hero, he immediately spoke up. He did remark that Hillary Clinton was still deciding what her position was on the issue.

The Mayor took several questions ranging from social security reform to the falling dollar to possible military action against Iran. He did not give sound bites. Every question that was asked was given a several minute response. The questions were not scripted in advance. The people allowed to ask questions were not chosen in advance. It was an actual, real, thoughtful question and answer session.

I asked him a question myself.

“Mayor Giuliani, I deliberately flew to New York on 9/11…” The Mayor then interjected.

“Thank you for doing that.” I replied, “Thank you sir,” and continued.

“I had the pleasure of seeing you at the Freedom Concert on 9/11, and was inspired by the crowd. My question is this…besides raising money and voting for you, what can I and my friends do as private citizens to help you win the War on Terror? What can we do to help defeat guys like Armageddonijad and others?”

(The people who caught that I said “Armageddonijad laughed, but the truth is I just used to have trouble saying and spelling his actual name)

I listened intently, and the first thing Mayor Giuliani did was say, “For one thing, people need to fly on 9/11. I think it’s great that you did that.” Yes, it feels good to be complimented by somebody, even someone who has every incentive to do so. However, he did not stop with that. He then again reminded everybody of the various serious worldwide threats.

He took several minutes to remind everybody that before any of us can do anything, we need to know who we are fighting against. If we are going to fight back, we have to openly acknowledge who and what we are fighting. He reiterated that Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah all need to be dealt with, and that “they declared War on us.” He reminded the audience that he “wanted peace, and most people want peace.” He just made it clear that the steps to get to a true, lasting peace are not always peaceful.

After he thanked the crowd, he did something else that I was not expecting. He stayed. I have seen politicians dash out of a side door of a room, before anybody can ask them anything. Mayor Giuliani spoke with several of the people, took pictures with them (in addition to the picture he took with every attendee before his speech), and most importantly, looked people in the eye when he shook their hands and spoke to them.

I have met several of the other candidates, and his republican challengers are all fine men. After meeting Rudy Giuliani, and hearing what he had to say, and looking into his eyes, I can say that he is more than a fine man. At this time in history, with civilization itself hanging in the balance, Rudy Giuliani is the right man.

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