Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rudy's Wrongs


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.)


Todd Seavey said...

I didn’t realize a NYPost Jacob Sullum column already used the title “Rudy’s Wrongs,” but I will compensate for inadvertently ripping off his title by urging you to read every book he has ever written or contributed to.

bbartlog said...

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.

Actually, no. Rudy’s attempt to cloak himself in federalism on this issue is not consistent with libertarian or constitutionalist principles, any more than advocating for local control of the press and free speech. The second amendment, as part of the Bill of Rights, makes guarantees for *all* US citizens. It’s not OK for local authorities to override the second amendment, any more than it is for them to decide that prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment don’t apply in their town.

For what it’s worth, I doubt that Giuliani’s federalism is even sincere. It’s just that his record on some matters (guns, abortion, maybe gay marriage) is so far apart from the Republican base that it’s the only stance he can take that would give him any credibility in the eyes of the right.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Ron Paul for OMB, not Treasury. One wants him in charge of the budget but kept a very safe distance away from macroeconomic levers.

None of it will happen in any event, of course– no one will give Ron Paul a position of responsibility in any administration, and no Republican will win in 2008. But still– for geeks who engage in serious analysis of science fiction and counterfactual history and comic book continuity, it’s important only to wish for things that one would actually want to see come true.

Eric Dondero said...

Todd, I’m impressed. You did it in a back-handed way, but we Libertarians for Giuliani will stay take your endorsement of our guy!

Congrats, you are now on record as a “Libertarian for Giuliani” (albeit with serious reservations).

We heartily welcome you in our camp. You join a growing list of libertarians and libertarian conservatives supporting Rudy: Deroy Murdock, Steve Forbes, Sally Pipes, William Rotunda, Dennis Miller, Ed Royce

Libertarians for Giuliani:

Todd Seavey said...

Jacob, as a political scientist you must, I would think, have some reservations about your sweeping GOP loss prediction given that the leading Dem candidate, in the latest polls, is behind _all_ the leading GOP candidates. She may well win, but surely we’re roughly at the now-routine break-even point for presidential elections, right (though Hillary may well be polling better up there in Canada)?

D------ said...

The day of FDR/Eisenhower/Johnson/Reagan landslides are over. Both the Democrat and the Republican presidential candidate will get at least 200 Electoral votes. It will come down to a few battleground states. A shift of several thousand votes may be enough to tilt the election. On the basis of Bush’s unpopularity, I think he will drag down the Republican candidate. (Paul would be the exception since he has opposed the president on many issues from the libertarian right.) Also, if the economy slumps before next November, that will also help the Democrat.

In Congress, many Republicans are leaving retiring. I think Democrats could pick up many of these open seats.

So I think, for the Democrats, it will be 1992 all over again when they won the White House and made gains in Congress.

The good (and bad) thing about elections is that they “settle” things only until the next election.

So we’ll see if the GOP can rise from the ashes in 2010 like they did in 1994.

Todd Seavey said...

And just to be clear, once more, in case the Dondero comment above is taken too seriously: I plan to vote for Ron Paul in the NY primary if he’s in it, not Giuliani, and I indeed prefer Ron Paul to Giuliani.

Above, I’m merely describing the Rudy pro’s and con’s that would be weighed in my mind _if_ he rather than Paul becomes the nominee. The pro’s and con’s of a fallback plan, in other words, if Paul, who I heartily endorse (not that he’s perfect either, of course), doesn’t win the nomination, as of course he may not.

And perhaps Rudy won’t either. Nor even Romney. Perhaps we’ll all be reduced to picking between godawful Huckabee and Hillary come November, at which point one must reluctantly return to the bosom of the Libertarian Party, I think.

Eric Dondero said...

That’s a bit convaluuted Todd, but I think we’ve got it. Once again, I am aware of your problems with Rudy, but I still most definitely appreciate you going on record in support of him, however back-handed your endorsement was.

How’s this for convaluuted:

If Ron Paul, or Mike Huckabee win the GOP nomination, I’m voting for the Libertarian Party candidate no matter who that may be; even the Dweeb George Phillies. Though, I’m hoping Wayne Root gets the LP nod.

If McCain is the GOP nominee I will vote for him against all LP nominees except Wayne Root.

If any other GOP candidate gets the nomination – Giuliani, of course, Romney, Thompson, Tancredo, Hunter, I will vote for them over any and all LP nominees.

So, Paul or Huckabee? My vote goes LP.

McCain? My vote goes LP unless it’s Root.

All others? My vote goes GOP! Even if the LP nominates Root.

Christopher said...

“And just to be clear, once more, in case the Dondero comment above is taken too seriously…”

Um, it’s not the “comment above” you have to worry about. You appear to be the lead article on Dondero’s website with a picture of you and the headline “Top Libertarian Activist from New York backs Giuliani.” The article begins, “Todd Seavey, a Radical Libertarian from Manhattan, has gone on record in support of Rudy Giuliani for President.”

Eric Dondero said...

And for good reason. So many hardcore Libertarians have been blasting Giuliani as “not a real libertarian.” This despite the fact that numerous prominent libertarians have endorsed his candidacy.

Todd joins a growing list of Libertarians for Giuliani. Granted Todd is not yet a LFG. As he says, he’ll wait til after the primaries shake out. But when it’s Hillary vs. Rudy, we’ll be proud to have Todd as an official LFG. Maybe we’ll even send him a plaque or something?

Todd Seavey said...

So that picture of me (in anarchist black standing in front of the DC Comics building) is not so much a picture of the actual present-day Todd revealing his “STUNNING!” allegiance to Giuliani but more like a Todd from _one possible future reality_, an alternate timeline to the one in which I remain a Ron Paul loyalist. Yeah…yeah…I can see that — and I’d be able to see it even more clearly with the help of certain substances that Paul would legalize and Giuliani would not, so paradoxically, the more real the Giuliani-timeline Todd becomes, the less we are able to perceive him.

Still, anything that makes me more like a Michael Moorcock character is OK with me. If all the alternate-future versions of me team up, though, watch out, because an army that size can afford to demand complete control of its PR rollout.

Christopher said...

“Todd joins a growing list of Libertarians for Giuliani. Granted Todd is not yet a LFG. ”

I am beginning to understand the logic necessary to be a Libertarian for Giuliani.

Eric Dondero said...

Yes Todd, you’ve got it. A “future reality scenario.” But some of us know the real score. You’re backpeddaling a bit. Your original post was more Pro-Giuliani. Then you got a concerned call or two, or maybe a couple emails, from a certain Congressional office on Capitol Hill. This certain someone, pointed out that such an endorsement for Giuliani, even if it was a back-handed endorsment, would prove hurtful to a certain “other” Presidential candidate. Thus, the new explanations.

No problem. I understand how this game works. Remember, I used to work for that “certain Congressional office.”

Todd Seavey said...

My position’s been exactly the same throughout. Get back to me when the convention rolls around and we can reassess. _It will still be true then_, though, as it is now, that Paul is better than Giuliani, who is in turn better than Clinton, as are (marginally) the other GOP candidates. And with that, I’m done for now.