So Rudy Giuliani has, we're told, decided to drop the tortured pretenses and run as an openly pro-choice candidate for the Republican nomination. Ross Douthat has a pretty good analysis of some of the implications:
I doubt that he can win the nomination like this, but it's not entirely out of the question, particularly in a frontloaded primary season where his weaker rivals may not have time to accept defeat, drop out, and allow the anti-Rudy vote to coalesce around a single candidate. (Though a brokered convention - the dream of pundits everywhere - might be a more likely outcome in that scenario.)In a larger sense, Giuliani's decision makes him a considerably more interesting candidate, since it clarifies his candidacy's role as a significant litmus test for conservative and Republican politics. Are there circumstances in which a candidate can win the GOP nomination despite openly rejecting the anti-abortion position that has been so important to the strength of the party's base over the past two decades?
The larger question is whether winning the GOP nomination as a down-the-line pro-choicer might prove to be a poisoned chalice. Frankly, if Giuliani being the Republican nominee doesn't prompt a third-party run by a pro-life candidate that cuts into his general-election support, then social conservatives ought to retire from politics out of sheer embarrassment.