Giuliani Too Weird to be Elected President?

Steven Taylor examines the evidence and finds that, “Hero of 9/11” or not, Rudy Giuliani will have a lot of trouble getting past the “Weirdness Factor.”

He cites a Smoking Gun story on a “secret study” conducted by Giuliani’s own people.

He surely could not have been pleased to read that his “personal life raises questions about a ‘weirdness factor.’” That weirdness, aides reported, stemmed from Giuliani’s 14-year marriage to his second cousin, a union that he got annulled by claiming to have never received proper dispensation from the Catholic Church for the unorthodox nuptials.

Taylor breaks down each of these and finds that they are indeed pretty weird. Further, the fact of two divorces under some pretty, um, weird circumstances may not bode well: “I remember a lot (and I mean a lot) of folks arguing about how can we trust a man to be president if his own wife can’t trust him back in 1992 (and for the next 8 years).”

That’s a fair point. While I think the circumstances surrounding Giuliani’s divorces are less problematic than those surrounding Newt Gingrich’s–both on their face and because he’s a NYC moderate rather than a Southern social conservative–they’re still going to be fairly embarrassing. Then again, John McCain won’t be attacking him on this front, either. And, should it come down to a Hillary-Rudy matchup in November 2008, I suspect the adultery sword will remain sheathed.

The question for Giuliani, I continue to think, is how much 9/11 inoculates him from all that went before. If, as I suspect, the answer is “almost totally,” then he gets to run on ideas and competency. That doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily carry the day–it’s a strong field–but it gets him a shot.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ugh says:

    God help us if Rudy gets his hands on the Presidency.

  2. Triumph says:

    The question for Giuliani, I continue to think, is how much 9/11 inoculates him from all that went before. If, as I suspect, the answer is “almost totally,” then he gets to run on ideas and competency.

    Giuliani will get trounced if competency is his only attribute.

    This is the man who had the brilliant idea to put the Emergency Operations Center for the city in the World Trade Center after it was attacked by Islamic terrorists in the early 90s!

    He was also the patron of Bernie Kerik who–working for Giuliani’s consultancy–trained the mighty Iraqi police force.

    Giuliani Partners were involved in numerous shady deals that Fortune discussed a couple of months ago. As the campaign heats up, more scrutiny is going to be placed on his post-Mayoralty. If his hack, Bernie Kerik couldn’t get appointed to Homeland Security Secretary under a Republican COngress, the baggage carried by his pal Rudy is likely to seriously derail his candidacy.

    Competence is not his strong point.

  3. Anderson says:

    I just don’t think 9/11 is a free pass for anything & everything. It gets G. initial favorability; it doesn’t keep the public by being turned off by his being a jerk.

  4. I don’t know, it’s entirely possible that these facts will thwart Rudy’s presidential aspirations. Certainly, anyone who comes from the NYC political scene has some explaining to do. But Rudy might have more than most.

    Still, he has been leading the GOP field for over a year, something many observers didn’t think was possible. I’m not saying he will continue to do so, but this fact does suggest he has at least some power to overcome his past.

    Listening to talk radio, numerous people call in and suggest they would support him even with his baggage. They aren’t necessarily representative of society, but they are the most conservative voters. If they give him a pass, I’m not sure who wouldn’t.

  5. If, as reported elsewhere, Mitt Romney is one of the three GOP top tier candidates with Giuliani and McCain as the other two then I believe he can overcome the hedging on pro-choice/pro-life as Giuliani self-destructs and past history weakens McCain’s chances.

  6. Fersboo says:

    I see the standard OTB leftoids have crawled from under the woodwork to claim Rudy unfit for the Republican nomination. How droll.

    JJ, there are many borderline moderate/conservatives that know what Rudy did to turn around NYC before 9/11 and are willing to overlook some of Rudy’s ‘weirdness’. It’s all about priorities and without law and order and a strong national defense/anti-terrorism stance, all the other issues Rudy might fail in are irrelevant.

  7. Anderson says:

    the standard OTB leftoids

    Dibs on the band name! We’ll call our first album “Fersboo.”

  8. My goodness, are there no perfect candidates most of the populace can agree on? Everyone is flawed to some extent and has to compromise to a further extent to garner 50% + 1 votes.

    While I’m no fan of Mr. Guiliani’s positions on gun control, global warming, and a few other things, he is still vastly preferable to any of the Senators, ex-Senators, and various other gadflys and nutroot choir directors who have officially declared. No one who advocates freedom and a strong defense to the extent I would like to see them will ever be elected president, but I’ll still end up voting for someone. Likely, it will be someone who is still willing to fight the GWOT.

    Many of the comments about Rudy remind me a little of comments 6 years ago concerning George W. Bush. As Archilocus once wrote, the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. And whatever the virtues of their many bits of wisdom or rumored abilities, that one big thing is something the foxes still seem to want no part of.

  9. Tlaloc says:

    And, should it come down to a Hillary-Rudy matchup in November 2008, I suspect the adultery sword will remain sheathed.

    Hillary’s popularity skyrocketed during the lewinsky scandal. You really think that “sword will remain sheathed”? Hell, no.

  10. Triumph says:

    Many of the comments about Rudy remind me a little of comments 6 years ago concerning George W. Bush.

    Dude, this certainly doesnt bolster your argument! Bush, by every account, has been a disaster for the country. I am not willing to go as far as you and speculate that Rudy will be in the same league as Bush…although the challenge of cleaning up Bush’s mess will likely doom whoever his successor is to failure.

  11. Well, I don’t regard the Bush presidency as quite the disaster that you do Triumph, certainly not by every account. Justice Alito and Cheif Justice Roberts do count for something, after all. That’s not to say I’m happy about everything that has happened, but the economy remains phenomonally strong, and at least we’re still fighting the GWOT, albeit somewhat halfheartedly. Given the option of a President Gore or a President Kerry (… shiver…), I’ll still take Bush. I’d like to see a poll on how the last presidential election would turn out now even with Bush’s ratings in the doldrums given that John Kerry has been running around the world with a case of sour grapes bad mouthing the country that spurned him and looking for someone for the US to surrender to in Iraq. I find it rather telling that virtually no one wants Gore or Kerry to run again in 2008. You know, it’s not like the Democrats have been making brilliant choices when given the chance, or they should have been able to find someone, anyone, who could beat what you regard as a fool, a tool, and a war criminal.

  12. Terrence says:

    My goodness, are there no perfect candidates most of the populace can agree on? Everyone is flawed to some extent and has to compromise to a further extent to garner 50% + 1 votes.

    Exactly.

    I think G’s the best option we have right now from the GOP, although Newt would be the better pick if his “weirdness factor” wasn’t already higher than G’s.

  13. Anderson says:

    Good points, Mr. Austin.

  14. ken says:

    Hillary’s popularity skyrocketed during the lewinsky scandal. You really think that “sword will remain sheathed”? Hell, no.

    It is an interesting phenomenon, perhaps unprecedented in American history, that the more publicity the Clintons get, positive or negative, the more the American people like them.

  15. cian says:

    And that’s just the weirdness we know about. I would suggest the intricately carved woodwork which surrounds the Giuliani portrait is literally crawling with God knows what- highly questionable appointments from his days as Mayor, business associations so dodgy you’d need a spirit level to keep them straight and his one moment of shining glory is wide open for tarnishing (Kerry thought his war record was secure enough to use it as an opening salvo in 2004).

    The fighting dogs of the democratic political machine are howling as we speak over the prospect of a Giuliani run.

  16. Triumph says:

    Justice Alito and Cheif Justice Roberts do count for something, after all.

    Ok Charles–of course, by Bush’s own measure his Supreme Court nominees were unfortunate second choices.

    According to Bush, Harriet Miers is the most qualified person in the country for the court and he was unable to persuade the Senate of that fact.

    I agree with your assessment on the Democrat’s incompetence. Although Gore clearly had the support of most of the American people in 2000, the fact that the election boiled down to a surreal supreme court decision should not eclipse the fact that Gore should have picked up more states.

    As for Kerry, his failure was due to the stupid ploy of buying into the Republican frame on nearly every issue.

    I think the next election people will be looking for someone with good judgement, over all else–this is why Giuliani’s candidacy is dead in the water.

    It is difficult to predict which Republican candidate can tap the judgement argument since they all are flawed in this regard. On the Democrat side, Clinton cannot pass the test. Edwards is trying by expressing regret for his support for the war–but it may be too little too late. Obama and Vilsak have demonstrated good judgement, but their relatively obscure backgrounds may hurt them.

  17. Triumph, Justice Alito was the second choice for the second Supreme Court vacancy that opened up when Chief Justice Rehnquist passed away. John Roberts had already been nominated to replace Justice O’Conner after her retirement, but he was then bumped up for the Chief Justice billet. Harriet Miers nomination never made it to the Senate for rejection. She asked that her nomination be withdrawn before it ever came to a vote. I don’t know how unfortunate Bush thought Justice Alito was as a replacement for her, but I’ll take your word for it.

    I assume by surreal you mean interpreting the law regarding Gore v. Bush. Oh, and, of course, you do know that had Gore prevailed in the US Supreme Court he still would have lost under every conceivable vote count except the one where he got to cherry pick votes from only three counties in Florida, right? Even the NY Times said so.

    Personally, I thought Kerry’s failure was due more to the stupid ploy of being John Kerry, you know, reporting for duty with his magic hat in an SUV that wasn’t his and so on and so on…

    As to what constitutes good judgment from a candidate and which candidates possess it to what degree, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I mean, I wouldn’t want to waste any lives words arguing about it.