Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rudy's Republicanization

Yesterday, the Boston Globe ran an article revealing the gradual ways Rudy has Republicanized (Romneyized?) his once moderate-to-liberal views, particularly on civil unions.

This week, a lengthy profile in the the New Yorker details two major shifts.

On guns. Once a near "absolutist" and "heartfelt advocate" of gun control, he now sees himself as a federalist on the assault-weapons ban:

He was a visible ally of Bill Clinton’s during the Brady-bill wars in the 1990s, and has been something close to an absolutist on every gun-control issue he has ever confronted, going back to his time in the Reagan Justice Department (when he opposed Edwin Meese, the White House counsel, on the issue). It is the subject on which he becomes most contorted in trying to square his past positions with his current political imperatives.

As mayor, Giuliani pressed for federal legislation banning military-type semiautomatic weapons (“assault weapons”), and requiring that anyone wishing to carry a handgun be licensed. As a Presidential candidate, Giuliani portrays his gun-control advocacy as an anti-crime tool, particular to New York, and says that gun regulation is best left to the states. “I was extremely aggressive in enforcing New York gun laws, and all the gun laws I could think of, to the point of reducing crime in New York,” he told me one afternoon in Baltimore this spring. . . .

Yet Giuliani’s past gun-control positions suggested the passion of heartfelt advocacy. He not only enforced existing laws; he lobbied for new regulations, and was the first Republican mayor to join other cities in taking gun manufacturers to court in a strategy that mimicked the anti-tobacco lawsuits meant to take down the big tobacco companies. When President Clinton signed the crime bill banning assault weapons, in 1994, Giuliani attended the White House ceremony and sat in the front row. That ban has since expired, and I asked Giuliani if he would support its renewal. “I think assault weapons would fall into the category of things that you could reasonably look at to prohibit,” he said. “But I’d really prefer to see that done on a state-by-state basis.”

On illegal immigration. Once so pro-amnesty that he instructed NYC cops to defy I.N.S. agents looking for illegals, he now employs the fence-first, secure-the-borders-now rhetoric:

Hard-liners on illegal immigration criticized Giuliani for his policies in New York, where he instructed city employees—including cops—not to cooperate with federal I.N.S. agents looking for illegal aliens. Today, Giuliani says that the I.N.S. was wasting resources by chasing after “cooks and gardeners,” and that he was worried that illegal immigrants would stop cooperating with police during criminal investigations if they were afraid of being deported, but his heart is plainly on the side of those who have come to this country illegally in order to work, or to build new lives for their families, and he intuitively sympathizes with any immigration plan that would ultimately find such people a place in society.

His own immigration-policy plans, framed as a national-security issue, were not different in any meaningful way from the compromise bill that consumed Congress this spring, except that he wanted every illegal resident to come forward for a tamper-proof identity card before getting in line for citizenship. It was, in essence, another form of amnesty, with a few extra requirements—besides getting their I.D.s, the immigrants would have to learn English, and they would have to go to the back of the line. When I asked him if he would support the compromise legislation if it contained a provision for tamper-proof identity cards, he said, “If we could get the I.D., it would make the rest of it work for me”. . .

[In fact,] as a guest on the Hugh Hewitt radio program, Giuliani said he thought that the immigration problem could be solved without any new legislation. [But] [b]y the time I saw him address a crowd at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, on June 26th, his position had made a full migration. Echoing the view of the conservative broadcaster Sean Hannity, on whose show he has become a regular guest, Giuliani said he had become convinced that the U.S. government had to first demonstrate that it could control the borders before taking up the question of eventual citizenship for illegals. “If you do that,” he said, when the applause died down, “I think you will see much more of an ability of the American people to accept some compromises here that will lead to sensible results.”

As for securing the border, Giuliani proposes the construction of what he calls “a technological fence,” which he insists would be much more effective than a simple physical barrier. . . . The innovation is a sensor-based platform that can be launched aloft and will “see” a 20-kilometer area, in a 360-degree panorama. “It will be able to conduct a surveillance, actually,” a person familiar with the project told me. “It can follow an individual, or follow a car, at very far distances.”

On abortion here, here and here.