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Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Goldberg on McCain

Jonah sounds the voice of reason:

It's an annoying habit, but conservatives should consider their other options. By any measure, Rudy Giuliani is the more liberal candidate — indeed, the most liberal serious candidate Republicans have fielded in decades. But because Giuliani made the right enemies — chief among them those vexatious New York Times editors — conservatives respect him, even though they disagree with him on almost everything. And they give the cold shoulder to McCain, who agrees with them on most of the important things.

McCain's been a consistent pro-lifer (which distinguishes him from pretty much everyone else in the race so far). Until recently, Giuliani argued passionately for partial-birth abortion as a constitutional right. McCain has voted to confirm every conservative Supreme Court nominee, including Robert Bork. He voted "guilty" in Bill Clinton's impeachment trial. He campaigned for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, even after Bush beat him. Giuliani says he was ideologically simpatico with Clinton, and he endorsed Democrat Mario Cuomo for governor of New York.

My point isn't merely to make invidious comparisons between McCain and Giuliani (heck, to liberals they're not invidious at all). I'm actually a fan of Giuliani, and I think the GOP and the country could do worse in a president and Republican standard-bearer. But the double standard on the right seems more than a little self-indulgent.

Giuliani's chief selling point seems to be that he'll have "what it takes" to be tough in the war on terror. That may well be the case. But Giuliani's foreign policy experience is, at best, limited. Meanwhile, McCain's experience is deeper than the rest of the field's combined. There's no evidence that Giuliani is more of a hawk than McCain, who has spent the last four years arguing that Bush needs to be more aggressive in Iraq and who argued for a troop "surge" years before anyone used the word.

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