Governing A House Divided

It's increasingly clear that even in the unlikely event that the GOP manages to hold on to the White House in 2008, the Democrats will probably expand their Congressional majorities and hold a commanding position on Capitol Hill. This is the context in which Reihan makes the tentative case for John McCain, and it suggests an interesting subtext to the GOP nomination contest. The various candidates are essentially competing to spend four years bickering with a Democratic majority, and it's safe to say they'll go about it in different ways. A vote for Mitt Romney, for instance, is probably a vote for Clinton-style triangulation, and a Republican White House that views bipartisan reform efforts (health care, anyone?) as the ticket to high approval ratings and second term. The same goes for McCain, most likely, given his track record in the Senate - unless he ends up engaged in a political war of attrition with the Democrats over Iraq. A vote for Rudy, on the other hand, is likely to be a vote for confrontation over triangulation - which is probably why so many conservative primary voters, a confrontational bunch if there ever was one, find him so easy to like.

My calculus here has less to do with ideology than with governing style. You could argue, based on his record as New York's mayor, that Rudy Giuliani is technically ideologically closer to the Democratic Party than most of his rivals in the field. But I'm nonetheless willing to bet that Washington would be a more polarized and nasty place with Giuliani in the White House than with McCain or Romney (or Huckabee or Thompson, for that matter) occupying the oval office.