McCain and Giuliani GOP’s Best?

McCain and Giuliani GOP Linda Chavez argues that, of the Republican candidates seeking the presidency, only John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are qualified.

Many of the Republicans, whatever else their appeal, simply don’t have the experience to lead America during wartime. Mitt Romney doesn’t have the gravitas needed; he’s too eager to please, willing to shape his positions according to the polls.

Much the same can be said of Mike Huckabee.

Ron Paul is a bona fide crank. Last week we learned, for example, that he not only opposes the war in Iraq, but that he regards the Civil War as a mistake as well.

And Fred Thompson? He should go back to “Law and Order.”

That’s the entirety of her argument against the rest of the field. Granting the limitations of an 800-word syndicated column, that’s a rather shallow dismissal.

Gravitas was thrown around a lot in the 2000 cycle but it’s a self-fulfilling modifier. If one thinks someone has what it takes to be president, you think he has gravitas; otherwise, you don’t.

That Romney seems to change his positions on major issues in short order, conveniently aligning himself with the electorate to which he’s seeking to appeal, is a much more reasonable basis for rejecting him. It’s rather hard, though, to make that particular charge stick against Huckabee. After all, his positions on many social issues are well to the left of the GOP base.

That Paul is a “crank” is perhaps not a particularly difficult case to make. But the fact that he “opposes the war in Iraq” is hardly a major piece of evidence in that regard; indeed, that puts him decidedly in the American mainstream. And, while I disagree with Paul that quickly ending slavery could have been accomplished by having Uncle Sam simply pay owners for their slaves, the belief that an internecine battle in which over half a million Americans were killed should have been avoided is hardly the height of insanity.

Chavez’ dismissal of Thompson doesn’t even qualify as half-assed. Why, exactly, should he go back to acting?

Indeed, while devoting more time to her two favorites, she doesn’t exactly tell us why she thinks they’re qualified. She thinks we live in a dangerous world and need serious men to lead us. But what makes them serious? She doesn’t say.

Couldn’t one just as easily retort that McCain is an old geezer who’s out of touch with his party? Or that Giuliani is a one-trick pony with a tendency toward fascism?

It’s probably true that most of us ultimately make such judgments at a gut level and apply intellectual reasoning post hoc. We instinctively gravitate towards certain candidates and find ourselves put off by others. But those in the professional punditry business ought at least do us the service of offering up some analysis.

Photo source: Charlie Neibergall/AP.

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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.


  1. says:

    James Joyner says,”Ron Paul is a bona fide crank. Last week we learned, for example, that he not only opposes the war in Iraq, but that he regards the Civil War as a mistake as well.”

    After considering Joyner’s critical analysis of Dr.Paul’s opinions I venture to guess that James Joyner swims without touching the water.

  2. xtrabiggg says:

    It’s a sad day for journalism when name-calling substitutes for critical thinking, and mere differences of opinion on a subject automatically disqualify someone from consideration.


  3. milton pearch says:

    Linda Chavez is a neocon shill and a political hack. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are only qualified to lead us further and further into the Iraq quagmire and away from the Constitution. Dr, Paul is the only true conservative.

  4. DL says:

    Linda Chavez is a trumpeter for a divided America. Just as some will vote for Obama simply because he’s black and some will vote for Hillary simply because she’s not a man, Chavez tries to tell us that we should support certain un-conservative candidates because they support ,breaking fundamental American laws, that have Spanish blood. Never mind the fact that legal immigration for many years has radically discriminated in favor of Mexico.

    he Special interest politics – “my group versus your group” – has destroyed the historically great melting pot experiment called America.

    The left has successfully divided and fractionalized AAmerica and eventually will conquer. Linda has become, in my book, just another Huffington turncoat.

  5. says:

    Since I cannot delete my previous post, I will issue this correction in light my erroneous understanding of who said what regarding Dr.Paul. It is Linda Chavez who swims without touching the water. James Joyner, on the other hand dives in head first.

  6. Tlaloc says:

    James Joyner says…

    No actually JJ didn’t say that. There’s a reason there was a blockquote. Kind of like how I put the words *you* said in a blockquote to indicate someone else besides me said them.

    I realize the concept of a quote is extremely new, having originated a mere ten millenia ago.

  7. bgodley says:

    Well lets talk about the “cranks” two main positions, the economy and the war. The economy is now the number one concern among surveyed Republicans.

    The reason the economy is more of a hot topic than Iraq is because people’s pocketbooks are at home, our soldiers are in another country.

    People are starting to feel the pinch. We don’t have the home equity to refinance our troubles and many are losing their home. Some experts including Greenspan are predicting a recession, some are predicting worse.

    However, Iraq goes hand in hand with the economic thing. We have borrowed silly to finance the war. We are going to spend at least 4 trillion on it. That is trillion with a T. If we didn’t put this on our national credit card with interest each family in the US would have been sent a bill for the war. It simply would have said:

    Dear US family,

    Even though we didn’t find any WMDs in Iraq we are going to change it into a war on terrorism thing. Even though you don’t support this activity now you did when we started so we are going to send you a bill for your portion.

    $100,000.00 (actual figure)

    Please send in a check or money order with your tax return.

    If you can’t pay it please forward the bill to your 8 year old or 10 year and do the interest calculation because they are going to have to pay a lot more.

    There is a host of supporting economic indicators, historical foreign policy positions, historical Republican Party positions, Bush administration distortions that I could write a 300 page novel about which would support Paul’s ideas. The only thing required is a non closed mind.

  8. Louis Lambert says:

    It is quite clear that Ron Paul is the only candidate who is qualified to lead the country as he is the only one with a plan to address the looming financial crisis and reverse the march toward fascism that the other candidates simply ignore as real issues.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    James, you never seem to tire of stirring up the Underpants Gnomes, do you?

  10. Tlaloc says:

    You know if we had two presidenets, one to deal with foreign policy and the other domestic, I’d vote for Paul for the former in a heartbeat.

    I just want to keep his hands off of, well, everything back here.

  11. a libertarian says:

    I, for one, will happily ignore the opinion of someone who dismisses Fred Thompson without even bothering to give a reason. As for Ron Paul being a “crank,” it’s a sad day indeed when one of the very few candidates the Founding Fathers would have even recognized as an “American” is seen as being “too weird.”

    Strangely enough, he’s also probably quite correct about the Civil War. Had anyone but Lincoln been elected in 1860, the slavery issue might have been resolved peacefully within the succeeding two decades. As Dr. Paul pointed out, which keeps being omitted by people referring to the interview, every other civilized nation of the 19th century managed to abolish slavery without a civil war. So it’s not at all unreasonable to think that the US just -might- have been able to pull it off….

  12. Derrick says:

    As Dr. Paul pointed out, which keeps being omitted by people referring to the interview, every other civilized nation of the 19th century managed to abolish slavery without a civil war. So it’s not at all unreasonable to think that the US just -might- have been able to pull it off….

    Unfortunately, unlike most countries, we had an entire region of the country that was subsidized based on the free labor provided by slavery and had a racist philosophy that blacks were significantly inferior. Most civilized countries didn’t have a region willing to go to war over slavery and quite frankly didn’t treat their black slaves as non-humans. For gods sake, the South still won’t let go of the Confederate Flag, so to think that they would have let go of slavery at that time without a fight is pure fantasy.

  13. davod says:

    Chavez is shilling for these two because they are ambiguous on illegal immigration and she is for amnesty.