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Giuliani's Viability (updated)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Glenn Greenwald has a very interesting post today arguing that, contrary to what I and many others have asserted, Giuliani does in fact have a real chance to win over Christian conservatives. According to Greenwald, Giuliani's tough anti-Muslim rhetoric, his record in New York in combating pornography and obscenity, and his generally authoritarian demeanor will appeal to conservative evangelicals. Furthermore, Greenwald thinks that Democrats are deluding themselves if they think the Theocons will be dissuaded by Giuliani's personal life.

Glenn's assertion that Giuliani would be far and away the most dangerous general election foe is certainly true, as he would neutralize the concerns of seculars and social liberals while competing in Democratic base states like New York. And he is correct to say that the religious right has never cared much about people's personal lives.

Where I think Greenwald is wrong is his evaluation of the relative importance of anti-Islam as opposed to issues like gay marriage and abortion. There is a great deal of religious chauvinism on the Christian right. Bush has been brilliant at tying millenarianism to the so-called War on Terror. But having lived in the South, I can attest to the naked power that gay marriage and abortion have over many voters. Conservative evangelicals are quite simply obsessed with these issues. Any candidate - no matter his position on any other issues - will be summarily rejected by religious right voters if they express tolerance to the "gay lifestyle" or flirt with the pro-choice position. Guiliani's support gun control laws are just as lethal with respect to many blue collar males in exurban regions.

The minute southern conservative christians learn that Giuliani is pro-choice, pro-gay right, and anti-gun, they will label him a New York liberal masquerading as a Republican and move on. I can assure you that Giuliani's rivals for the Republican nomination are as aware of this reality as I am, and will be eager to make Republican voters aware of his positions.

If Giuliani were to win the Republican nomination, I would be worried. But he won't be.

P.S. Lawrence O'Donnell chimes in here.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:30 AM
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