Pardon my brush up against Godwin's Law in the post title, but it's wearying to read so much about how "moderate" Rudy Giuliani is supposed to be and so little about how authoritarian he actually is. I'm telling you now: there is one serious 2008 candidate who would be worse than George W. Bush on issues of executive power and personal freedom. That candidate is Rudolph Giuliani.
His record could hardly have been more conservative. The action that perhaps best captured his deepest, most sincerely held beliefs was his attempt to close an art exhibit because it offended his religious sensibilities. [...]Part of me is happy enough to let this "moderate" bamboozlement continue if it's enough to stop him from winning the Republican nomination. But it's bamboozlement nonetheless.
On other social issues, Giuliani likewise proved himself a dogmatic conservative. He wanted to seize property of suspected drunk drivers, dispensing with due process. He tried to support Catholic schools with public tax dollars, in a move that would have de facto legalized school prayer. He reflexively defended police--not just in the hard cases of tragic mistakes but in egregious instances of gross brutality--against innocents who were harassed, arrested, shot, or killed. He showed indifference or hostility to black New Yorkers. And for all the praise he earned after 9/11, what I remember about those weeks was a power grab so nakedly dictatorial that not even Richard Nixon ever tried it: seeking to postpone the upcoming mayoral election so he might stay in office despite term limits forcing him to retire.
If Giuliani ever becomes president, I have little doubt he'll show his true colors as a social conservative--abortion and gay rights notwithstanding. I have little doubt that in the upcoming campaign, his authoritarianism will shine through and will appeal to those who think America's major problems today are permissiveness, toleration, cultural decadence, and secular humanism. And I won't be surprised in the least if he wins the GOP nomination, becomes president and--exactly like George W. Bush before him--stuns the pundits who kidded themselves that he was a social "moderate."