Finally, Rudy Giuliani realizes the only path he can credibly take in this primary campaign. He cannot duck from his core convictions that gay people are equal citizens and decent human beings, that women should have a choice over whether to have an abortion in the first trimester, that personal freedom in a multi-cultural society often means living in a society that may not always reflect your own moral values. Nor should Rudy have to duck these issues. His live-and-let live approach to conservatism is essential to a diverse, civil society. It was once the hallmark of a "leave-us-alone" coalition called the Republican party. It is extremely healthy to have a major candidate stand for these things in the current GOP. There are many people open to voting Republican who simply cannot support the religious intolerance, fusion of faith and politics, and anti-gay hysteria that fuels so much of the Christianist base. I fear the Republicans have to lose the next election really badly before they realize how extreme they have become. But Rudy is giving them something of a life-line. Money quote:
"Where people of good faith, people who are equally decent, equally moral and equally religious, when they come to different conclusions about this, about something so very very personal, I believe you have to respect their viewpoint. You give them a level of choice here."
I disagree with Rudy on his opposition to civil marriage for gay couples...
But he does what no other current candidate has done: positively support an alternative for us under the law. He calls it "domestic partnership," which is what I and my fiance have in DC. It's not marriage; and its mealy-mouthed rights and responsibilities are a social signal to homosexual citizens that their lives and relationships are worth much less than those of their straight peers. But they're not nothing. And they at least begin a conversation among Republicans about what exactly to do about gay people and their relationships. What's staggering about the current field is how none of them even take such a stand - at least with any candor or conviction.
Rudy is also right to reiterate his own long-standing position on gun-control. I am not an opponent of gun rights, but I know many cops who'd like to see better control of guns in the hands of criminals, and the issue has assumed within the GOP an almost theological status as unquestionable doctrine. For Rudy to disown his own experience in this area on NYC would be unconvincing and uninspiring.
My own concerns with Giuliani remain. They have mainly to do with his contempt for civil liberties, his support for torture, and my fear of what damage he would do to the Constitution in the wake of another terror attack. I don't believe he fully understands the difference between being a mayor and being a president, or has any grasp that the leader of a republic is often celebrated for what he doesn't do as much as what he does. But this speech in Houston definitely prompted me to take a second look at Rudy. On abortion we now have one clear pro-lifer, one clear pro-choicer, and one person who will say whatever is necessary at any moment to advance his own career. That's a good trio of choices for Republicans. I'm glad Rudy has added the third choice.
(Photo: Jeff Fusco/Getty.)