In a recent post at my blog (mdvoutlook.com), I ruminated about an article that argued that Rudy Giuliani is a new kind of social conservative. I wasn’t completely swayed by the author’s argument, but it is clear to me that Giuliani is in many ways a very solid conservative. For those who are troubled by his being labeled a “social liberal” I think that moniker is misleading.
Let’s compare him to another “social liberal” who has run for office in the last several years and has a track record governing America’s most populous state, California. Yes, I speak of Arnold (you know you’ve reached a special status in American culture you’re on a first name basis with everyone).
Actually there is no comparison. Arnold may be a “social liberal” but he is much worse. His kind is the bane of all conservatives, the “moderate.” Moderates are a strange breed; they claim to be down the middle, neither left nor right. Pragmatic is a word they often use to describe themselves. They have no time for ideology, and they think they possess a special gnosis that the more ideologically minded are blind to. From what I’ve seen of these types of politicians they always come down on the liberal side of the political spectrum when it comes to public policy. They are more secular-oriented than not and as such are easily rankled by religious conservatives.
Arnold is a classic "moderate." He talked a good game when he became governor, but when push came to shove, he had no conservative principles to keep him from moving left. At this point he doesn’t look all that much of an improvement over Gray Davis.
Rudy may take some socially liberal positions on a few issues, but that is where his liberalism ends. In my mind they are out of place with the rest of his worldview, but this may be an inconsistency many conservatives will be able to live with. He is by nature and philosophy a solid conservative everywhere else, and how he governed NYC reflected that. Will it be enough to secure the nomination? We’ll see, but that so many social conservatives are willing to seriously consider him is a testament to his conservative bona fides.