January 24, 2008

The Weakness of Rudi

Having hammered Danny Finkelstein recently, its nice to see him return to form with a perceptive analysis of Rudy Giuliani's campaign strategy so far. Essentially Finkelstein rightly points out that Giuliani didn't abandon the early states, he did so after they all turned dark for him. The campaign strategy to avoid them was a neat way to say that he didn't mind about bad results there- it was a press strategy in reality to stop them running stories about him not winning those early primary states. Danny rightly points out that the implication of this in a wider way is that most political strategy is pretty adhoc, it runs to the moment and its success is often reliant totally upon the moment. One week's strategical genius (Gordon Brown last summer) can look like an idiot the next week (Gordon Brown last autumn) and vice versa. However such movements do reflect a kind of reality.

What do they reflect in Giuliani's case? In my view, and I say this as a longtime sceptic about Giuliani's potential as the Republican nominee, they reflect that Giuliani is a weaker candidate than he immediatly appears. America's mayor has nice bipartisan positions and a good record of government but as soon as opponents focus on him, other disquieting things emerge. His private life has not been unimpeachable- he has links with dodgy figures in New York Politics (Bernie Kerik anyone?) and also the Catholic Church. He divorced his wife on nationwide Television without telling her first. All these things are easily transformed into quick disadvantages especially in the remorseless environment of a Presidential election. Anyone who doesn't think that Mr Giuliani is a very bright guy is an idiot, but anyone who doesn't think he is very vulnerable is also struggling. Perhaps in Iowa, New Hampshire etc you were seeing that vulnerability emerge- it will be fascinating to see how Florida goes because should he lose there that could be the end of his campaign.


Vino S said...

Although I don't support him (in fact, my the US presidential candidate I am most sympathetic to is John Edwards), I do think it is a shame if his strategy does not deliver some success. I think it is odd how a handful of states at the begining of the process can winnow down the number of candidates. Surely the bigger states should have a say, before seeing what could be a popular candidate winnowed out by a poor early showing in unrepresentative small states.

Also, the current primary season can been unusually foreshortened by states moving them earlier and earlier. A victory for a candidate who ignored the attention-grabbing attempts of states like Iowa, NH, Nevada and Michigan would be good since it would show other states next time around that there is no need to have their primary very early just to have influence.

Ruthie said...


I'm resigning myself to reality now.

I would have liked to see him win. He made such a huge difference for New York.

Gracchi said...

We'll see- there is still Florida- I haven't looked at the polls recently but having said that, they have been wrong before. I do think there are lots of people like you Ruthie though who will see this as a missed opportunity- its a real separation, those who judge a politician on his record or on his character and its an interesting question as to which is more relevant.