Yes, it's rather early to be making such endorsements. So SWNID, while not acknowledging actual doubt, nevertheless reserves the right to change his mind later. But for now, the Time Man of the Year for 2001 and current favorite to be appointed by Bush as Czar of Katrina Relief is our pick for Leader of the Free World in 2008.
Why? He's a tough-minded prosecutor and a get-it-done chief executive. He's proved superb at the substantial and symbolic tasks of executive political leadership. We theo-cons can hold our noses on abortion and gay marriage, neither of which are much within a president's power to affect anyway.
David Brooks, insightful opinion columnist for the New York Times, notes part of the reason that Giuliani is the man. Our tough times bode some political change. Brooks offers that a liberal resurgence would be one possible change. But SWNID says not in times that call for assertiveness abroad and effective administration at home. So the change will be within the conservative spectrum. And Giuliani is the personification of that change.
An unsigned piece in the Garden City, NY News gets more of it. The liberals, they note, are not fit for times like these. They argue further that the only potential Republican candidates with national impact are Giuliani and McCain. But SWNID, never a fan of McCain, notes the unlikelihood that any sitting senator can be elected president (only two in the last one hundred years did so, and one needed his daddy to buy the White House for him). Both Giuliani and McCain would need to find a way to energize the social conservative base of the Republicans, especially in the primaries. But SWNID believes that Giuliani's breathtakingly effective leadership in New York City makes him reasonably appealing to the base, while McCain's maverick pose makes him unappealing even to the unaffiliated, who want to know what they're voting for. The News's reporter notes that Giuliani was notably popular with delegates to the 2004 Republican convention, despite his reputation as a social liberal.
Giuliani is highly appealing to Republican operatives because of electoral college calculus. He would likely steal NY from Hillary and the Ds, making a Democrat victory mathematically impossible. We will all go to bed early on the first tuesday of November 2008 if Giuliani runs.
There are alternatives. Condi Rice is the most interesting. But she's never run for office before, and SWNID, utterly confident of her executive abilities, questions that she has the bloodlust that a winning campaign requires. Stanford beckons for her return. Mitt Romney (see last month's Atlantic profile) is highly qualified but not well known outside of MA and UT. He's the likeliest social conservative to challenge Giuliani, but he can only manage it if he can rise to the occasion of projecting presidential authority to voters.
So, allowing that Romney is a dark horse who may emerge from early primaries and thereby gain stature, and Rice would make a superb president whose campaign could change politics for a generation, we nevertheless look to Mr. Giuliani.
Remember, you read it here first.