“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
— Mark 8:36
In 1973, the wrong-headed thinking of six Supreme Court Justices made abortion on demand the law of the land in Roe v. Wade. By 1980, the core of the Republican Party had shifted from the highbrow ideology of the Nelson Rockefeller country clubbers to coalesce around a set of values that included the unabashed promotion of family values, especially the right to life. Indeed, not since Gerald Ford edged out Ronald Reagan at the 1976 convention have GOP voters handed their presidential nomination to a pro-abortion candidate. 2008 could change all that.
An alarming number of Republicans this year seem enamored with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who, at the end of his two terms in office, found himself thrust into the national spotlight by the Islamist attack in the heart of his city. The media dubbed Rudy “America’s Mayor.”
Giuliani was, for a time, just that. As we all watched him guide America’s largest city through the worst trauma in our nation’s modern history, he seemed briefly to rise above the chaos of 9/11 to provide leadership many considered worthy of the greats: Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt, Thatcher, Reagan. Giving credit where it is due, some leaders have greatness thrust upon them by momentous events; others respond with failure. Witness how the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina brought down the governorship of Kathleen Blanco in Louisiana.
The political attraction of a Giuliani candidacy is obvious. Just as Democrats must find a way to turn red states blue, the converse is also true, and hizzoner could change the color of the map radically. Consider the electoral vote-rich states that could fall into the GOP column with Giuliani as the nominee: California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and, of course, New York.
At the same time, a Rudy-driven GOP “win” could spell the end of the pro-life movement within the Republican Party, because much of Giuliani’s appeal in those traditionally Democratic strongholds revolves around his liberal positions on most social issues, especially abortion.
Giuliani is leading in most polls at this early stage, largely due to his record as a tough mayor who cleaned up America’s biggest, dirtiest city and because of his leadership in the aftermath of 9/11. But many Republicans also are personally drawn to him, as I was when I met him three years ago in Iowa when we were both working for President Bush’s re-election. The man is very engaging. He is also unacceptable to pro-lifers.
Conservative voters may be suspicious of the pro-life bonafides of John McCain and Mitt Romney, but they should understand that Rudy Giuliani is an openly pro-abortion candidate. His basic position on the largest social issue of our time has not changed; and no matter how he tries to downplay it, he still believes that American women should have the unfettered right to kill the human life within their wombs for the entire nine months of pregnancy. This is a radical departure from the position of Republican presidential nominees for the last three decades.
Pro-life leaders have fought long and hard to keep the right-to-life plank in the Republican platform. Yet there are those in the GOP who don’t share our passion on this issue and would like to see it go away altogether. Rudy Giuliani is their dream candidate. He is acceptable to their wing of the party, the wing that loves tax cuts and commerce but is embarrassed by talk about the slaughter of 40 million innocent unborn children. Imagine their boldness in marginalizing this issue should Rudy Giuliani become President of the United States.
Yes, the war against Islamist fanaticism demands an alternative to Hillary Clinton. Yes, a Giuliani administration would be preferable in many important ways to a Clinton or an Obama administration. And yes, he is probably electable if we give him our nomination.
But at what cost?