Yesterday, in plugging the debate I’m hosting next week about the military, I explained that military and security matters don’t really decide my vote, so I don’t have a strong Bush-vs.-Paul or Giuliani-vs.-Paul preference on that basis alone. Let’s assume you’re with me that far.
Lest, though, any libertarians think that casting military/security matters aside should still leave me preferring Giuliani to Paul, since Giuliani arguably has a better chance of actually implementing his agenda, I have to say that (even aside from the sometimes self-defeating and self-reinforcing quality of such strategic arguments) we should keep in mind that Giuliani is not merely a watered-down libertarian of some sort. Though I do like him in many ways, he is also the man who, as mayor for half of the sixteen years I’ve now lived in this city:
•Famously belittled a man on-air for objecting to anti-ferret regulations
•Vowed to start enforcing anti-jaywalking regulations in Manhattan, which is arguably more insane than invading Iraq
•Intervened against public art funding not in a principled way — as by announcing at the very start of his term that he’d cut all funding, or for that matter even announcing in a principled way that that he intended to be a consistent theocratic censor, which would at least have made him predictable — but by swooping in out of the blue over one rabble-irking dung-containing picture of the Virgin Mary, as if half the objects in Manhattan aren’t more offensive than that
•Constantly sued his enemies for one thing or another while mayor, a position that should involve fairly thick skin and wide latitude for critics
•Loved the drug war, but then who doesn’t these days (besides Ron Paul)?
•Used zoning laws — bureaucratic, Soviet-like zoning laws — to strong-arm half the porn out of Times Square, as I reported for Reason almost exactly ten years ago
•First made a name for himself, not so unlike autocratic current governor Spitzer, by prosecuting Wall Street crimes in a showboating, heavy-handed fashion (few things are less libertarian than cuffing insider traders to make the nab look tough, as if insider traders — who shouldn’t be arrested in the first place — are likely to use their free hand to go for a jackknife)
•Cracked down on guns — though I like the fact that national political ambitions have forced him to massage that one as “OK locally, not suitable federally,” an accidental approximation of the correct, even Ron Paul-like decentralist position on such matters.
Still, less authoritarian by the economic measures that often matter most than Hillary and more libertarian in some ways than the other GOP candidates aside from Paul. So if it’s a New York series, er, general election, and Rudy rather than Ron is the GOP standard-bearer, Rudy gets my vote.
As for what I do in the unlikely event Ron Paul jumps ship and runs as a Libertarian Party candidate: well, that would be interesting, wouldn’t it? And not just to a few cranks like me, given the narrow margins that we all know can decide general elections. Rudy, in the unlikely event you’re listening: if you dominate by convention time, it seems like it might still be wise to placate the Ron Paul faction by making him Treasury Secretary or something. (But catch me, and the non-leftist Manhattan Project club, in the back alcove of the second floor of Merchants NY bar/restaurant, 62nd and 1st, tonight from 6:30 on, if you want to discuss all that. You probably won’t be alone in having an opinion.)