Sunday, March 05, 2006

Is Rudy Ferguson's Gladstonian answer?

Two articles seemingly unrelated, but quite related in another way illuminated the monitor today.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, historian Niall Feguson says the US is ripe for a Gladstonian moment. Ferguson refers to William Gladstone's 1878 campaign to recapture Downing Street by pounding home the severe shortcomings of the foreign policy of his archrival Benjamin Disraeli.
While believing George Bush fights for the right cause in the Middle East, Ferguson claims the president has failed to bring his theory to practice due to his incompotent game plan. Democrats should not start planning '08 victory celebrations because according to Ferguson: is highly unlikely that the next Democratic contender for the presidency will be in a position to deliver a modern version of Gladstone's Midlothian speech. Why? For the simple reason that, unless it is collectively stark raving mad, the Republican Party will select a candidate to replace President Bush who subscribes to every single one of Gladstone's principles. The challenge for those who aspire to the Republican nomination will be to create as great a distance between themselves and Mr Bush as it is possible to do without explicitly disavowing him.

Turning to a second article, this one penned by Newsweek's Howard Fineman, Rudy Guiliani looks like a presidential candidate by not looking like a presidential candidate. Reading past the horse race issues, Giuliani comes to mind as a plausible American Gladstone in the Ferguson mold. Along with current top contender John McCain, Giuliani represents a candidate voters trust as very compotent and strong on national security. Who can doubt Giuliani's devotion to the Bush foreign policy vision? GWB had no greater support from a politician than that he received from Rudy Giuliani in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. There is no indication that he will lose that faith. It's hard to find fault with McCain here too, but I think Giuliani's personality ultimately makes him a much more likeable candidate, a huge factor in presidential campaigns.

BTW, skeptics who want to immediately write off Giuliani as a non-starter for conservative Republicans because of some of his liberal social views, Fineman quotes Ralph Reed, arguably the country's most successful conservative political strategist, who sees Rudy as more than able to win conservative support:

Ralph Reed, a godfather of religious conservatives, thinks Giuliani's charisma may help him overcome his social-issues liberalism in the Bible belt. "He can take control of a room better than any politician I've seen," said Reed.

We'll see how it plays out.

Update: Orrin Judd doesn't think as much of Rudy's chances.


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